Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pokemon Red/Blue Review

In 1996, Nintendo launched an RPG on the Japanese GB: Pokemon Red and Green. These two games had a revolutionary idea: instead of having pre-set heroes like most RPGs, you had to catch animals and use them to fight. It was, at first, looking to be unsuccessful, until something clicked with the public, and they started selling like hotcakes. Nintendo took a risk and launched these games in America, and needless to say, our country has not been the same since.

Pokemon Red and Blue starts out like most RPGs of the day, but a notable difference is that it takes place in modern times. As the Pokemon Trainer Red (or whatever you named him), you walk around town, then you spot a patch of grass. The Pokemon Professor, Oak, will come over and tell you you need a Pokemon. You get to choose from 3 of the Pokemon he has. One is the cute Bulbasaur, the fiery Charmander, or the watery Squirtle. If you choose one, your rival (which you can also name) will choose another one that has a type advantage to yours (for example, Squirtle's a water-type, so his moves are more effective against the fire-type, Charmander). Type advantage is only one of the aspects of the Pokemon battle. To explain every single rule would take far too long, and it's best to figure out yourself every single rule.

Random encounters are very frequent in this game, but in a unique twist, you can "catch" a foe Pokemon and put them on your team. Only 6 can be in your party, so every team is different. The big catch about the game, really, is in the phrase on the box, "Gotta catch 'em all!" Some Pokemon are very frequent throught the whole game and are very easy to catch (with an item called a Poke Ball), like Rattata, Tentacool, and Zubat; while some are extremelly rare and very hard to catch, like Chansey or the legendary Mewtwo. The variety of the 151 creatures you can find and catch in this game is amazing, and has not been surpassed by any other sequel.

The plot itself is not the most amazing for an RPG, but it does the job well. You are tasked with beating all 8 Gym Leaders and getting their badges, then with those badges must ascend Indigo Plateau and challenge the Elite 4 to become the Pokemon Champion. Along the way you'll encounter Team Rocket (the "mob" of this game) and beat their leader, run various sidequests, and battle other Trainers (with their teams of Pokemon). The lack of various features from newer games like Abilities, a lack of a map, and Breeding means that this is one hard game. But once you develop a proper team, the challenge doesn't seem quite that daunting.

The music of this game pushed the GB to its utter limit: it still rocks today. Easilly some of the best on the whole system. The graphics, though, is something that might set those who started with the newer games off: they look downright ugly by today's standards. Another thing that might set people off is how slow Pokemon learn moves and how slow they level up. Get past those issues, and you'll enjoy a great game without all the confusions of the way-complex battle systems of today.

Gameplay: Not as complex as the newer ones, but still as addictive as it was back in 1998. 9.5
Audio: Fantastic. A joy to listen to. 9.75
Overall: If you're newer to the franchise, or wanna see where it all began, this is the perfect game to start out with. When you've caught all of the original 151, you really feel like the champion of the world. Easilly the greatest Game Boy game.
9.5 out of 10