Review by CAHowell

Reviewed: 01/11/04

A Game that launched a franchise

If your game has the ability to sell millions apon millions of dollars worth of material, you know you have a hit game on your hands. Almost 8 years later, after the craze has taken the US by storm and fizzled out (but not before releasing a sequel and a side game), it may seem odd to some to review a game that is practically outdated by it's own series. Now, to present a retro view of things.

The series, although evolving, has used the same formula since the Japanese release. A boy from a small town sets off on his journy to defeat all 8 gym leaders and become the champion of his region, while at the same time, battles his rival and stumbles apon the shady underground world of pokemon training (AKA: Team Rocket). Although it may seem simple, it was groundbreaking back in '96.

The main goal of pokemon is to catch and train Pokemon, except the training part is a RPG that is somewhat similar to the Final Fantasy, and nearly all RPG's, battle system. Catching pokemon can range from being very easy (Catching a Pidgey) to damn hard (Catching a Mewtwo with a normal pokeball). But there is a catch: You can only catch wild pokemon. Any attempt to catch a trainers pokemon (Without a Gameshark) will end up losing YOU a pokeball.

Training pokemon, like stated earlier, is in the normal routine with RPG's. Battle rival trainers, gym leaders, wild pokemon, for EXP, defeat a boss (Either Gym Leader or Team Rocket boss) and continue on your way.

In all there is 150 Pokemon programed in the game (151 in the Japanese version), each with different elements and move sets. For example, a fire pokemon will natually be strong against a grass pokemon, while a fire pokemon will also have a disadvantage with Water Pokemon. For the most part, catching and raising all 150 pokemon can take up to 100 hours of battleing and catching to do (and you need the other Game boy Pokemon games to complete that).

The graphics can change depending on what version you are playing. Japanese Red and Green have their own exclusive pokemon sprite sheet (Which is somewhat better than the english one), while the American Red and Blue (and Japanese blue) have a more realistic, but ugly looking sprite sheet. No matter what version you are playing, though the overworld graphics look the same. Somewhat simple looking and plain in todays standards, but years ago, it was very advanced and some of the best for a 8-bit system such as the gameboy.

One of the most reused sounds in a game, the music and sound effects of the pokemon games all remain the same. The pokemon cry's have never changed (but are nothing more then 1-3 second bleeps and bloops that are made to sound like the pokemon's name). The music is also classic. Themes such as the main screen, battle, elite 4, and so on, are all excelent tracks and the game scenario shows that.

Similar to the older final fantasy controls. The control is very simple, move either up, down, left, or right. Selecting attacks is quick and painless, and navigating to choose what pokemon you want to switch out is also pretty easy, but now for the negative side. The item bag, at this point of the games life, was very simple and could only hold 20 items at a time, and those 20 items was in the order you picked it up in, so sorting though a huge menu of items just to find ONE pokeball or potion can be frustrating. The pokemon status window is also also pretty hard to navigate, since the only way to see how much EXP until level up was to look at the pokemon's status (Later fixed in Gold and Silver).

Differs depending on what you are doing. On the overworld, it is set up like a huge town in final fantasy (bulidings have depth, but are shown at a front and top point of view, along with the main character). Pokemon battles are viewed at the trainers point of view from behind the pokemon, faceing the front of the other. Although the battle field is a bit dull, the camera angles work perfectly for this game and it's future installments.

~Difficulty and Replayability~
Like stated earlier, the difficulty can range from battleing the Elite 4, to catching all the pokemon. Getting all the Gym Badges and defeating the Elite 4 is pretty easy, while collecting all the pokemon can be difficult and frustraiting. Fortunatly, the game has loads of replayability, but in order to fully get that feeling, you must buy the other versions (Since all Pokemon games only have one save file).

Like stated earlier, the actual story part of the game can be defeated withing 10 hours, while actually completeing everything and getting all the pokemon can take up to 100 hours of gameplay. Although there is few sidequest, there are loads of TM's to collect along with a special message from the Game Freak team for collecting all the pokemon, but nothing special for getting all the pokemon.

Pokemon has been a main part of many peoples lives, and although the vast majority of the players from 8 years ago have went on to doing other things, pokemon still holds a place in many gamers hearts. Although these older versions hold little interest to many of the newer gamers of today that play Ruby and Sapphire, the origional is still the most creative and beloved of the majority of the fans, and with two remakes to come out on the GBA with R/S features and so on, it may be too late to play the older ones. Even if these remakes surpass their origionals, one thing remains certain, Pokemon RED AND BLUE are the true origionals and will remain that way for years to come.

~Final Scores~
Graphics: 7/10 (Red and Blue) 8/19 (Green and Red Japanese)
Sound: 8/10
Control: 8/10
Story: 6/10
Length: 10 to 50 hours
Difficulty: Medium
Replayability: High

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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