In a few weeks, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 will release. To build up to that moment we have something special for you all by team member Mysti.
Mysti here with another review, and this time, to eventually tie in with the release of new Pokémon games Black 2 and White 2, I’ll be reviewing one set of games each week until the new ones come out, starting with Red, Blue and Yellow!~
Red and Blue were released in English in October 1999, and since then have been followed by a whole stream of new Pokémon games [including Yellow in June 2000], each one better than the last. But that’s not to say that the two originals weren’t amazing themselves. Although they may seem somewhat faded or shabby today, they’re still perfectly playable, enjoyable games.
One thing you might notice immediately upon playing Red or Blue, if you’ve only played the later games, is that a lot of the Pokémon do look very different, as the style has evolved [get it?] over the years. But for games that are about 13 years old [older than some of the people playing it even], you’ve got to admit, the graphics really aren’t all that bad, especially considering the software they had to work with – I may have been late discovering this, but I noticed several years ago that it is possible to play Pokémon Red and Blue, if not Yellow as well, on an original black + white GameBoy.
Whether this has anything to do with the graphics of the games being somewhat simple, I don’t know. One thing that bothers me is that the defending Pokémon [i.e. your own] always appears more pixelated in battles, whether to create the illusion of it being closer or not, it’s always puzzled me. But to be fair, as far as I’m aware, that has continued even into the newer games, so most people would probably get used to it.
The sound isn’t particularly high-tech, but a lot of people do love the cheerful tunes, akin to that of a polyphonic ringtone, and I am one of them. The music fits with the game – for the technology available at the time, it’s pretty good, and almost cute. You can also find remixes and covers of them on YouTube I believe, some of those are great to listen to.
Story-wise, unless I’m mistaken, I don’t really see much of a story in Red and Blue. Yellow had slightly more to it, as it somewhat followed the anime – receiving Pikachu, ‘adopting’ the three normal starters, meeting Team Rocket members that resembled Jessie and James…but still, once that was done, I didn’t see much of a story, especially compared to the later games and, most noticeably, Black and White. In Red, Blue and Yellow, it’s pretty much just “catching ‘em all”, getting all the Gym Badges and defeating the Elite Four. Yes, the other games are a lot like that as well, and yes, you have a rival and Team Rocket to contend with, but that’s about it.
One thing I really liked about Red, Blue and Yellow were the town names having a theme – you start at Pallet Town [you know, like an artist’s palette], and proceed around all the colour-named towns – Viridian [a shade of green], Pewter [a grey], Cerulean [a blue], and so on. I thought it was pretty cool how they were all linked in that way, though unless I’m pretty unobservant, I couldn’t see a theme in any after Gold, Silver and Crystal, with its tree/flower-based town names [though if anyone could enlighten me I’d be most interested]. The Gym Leaders and Elite Four were also probably some of my favourites – even though their designs weren’t super-detailed, they each had their quirks, especially in the manga and anime.
However, there were also downsides. Only small ones though – firstly, the walking speed, especially after playing some of the newer games, feels incredibly slow, and even the bike doesn’t speed you up that much, unless you’re going down Cycling Road. I don’t really know anything about programming, but surely if you can make the character move that fast on Cycling Road, surely a little bit more speed when walking wouldn’t have hurt? Another thing was the size and structure of the bag. In the newer games, probably because of the difficulty in Red, Blue and Yellow, you have separate pockets for things like PokéBalls, TMs/HMs and Key Items. But in the originals, there was but one pocket, and a rather small one at that.
If you wanted to keep your HMs, bike, fishing rod, PokéBalls and various other Key Items on your person, you had hardly any other room for things like Potions and various Heals, which could get extremely annoying in places like the Safari Zone, where a]-there were LOTS of items, b]-there was no PC to move items onto, c]-you were timed and d]-there were lots of Pokémon. You could also only organise items manually, by making two at a time switch places, which I personally found somewhat time consuming, not to mention frustrating when you’re trying to place them in order of importance and you get new items almost every town you visit. Fortunately, this was improved, at least partly, in the next generation of games – as was the lack of the EXP bar.
The three starters, in my opinion, were pretty much the best. They’re the only ones where I actually liked all three of them and all three stages of their evolutions. The rather cute Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle become the almost legendary Charizard, Venusaur and Blastoise [I mean, remember how coveted those Charizard Pokemon cards used to be]. Each one had it’s own strengths and weaknesses, as they all do, but these three starters are the ones that even people who might not play Pokemon so much anymore remember. All three had their own hint of ‘epic’ about them.
The one thing Red, Blue and Yellow will always be remembered for are their Pokémon. The original 151, home to many people’s favourites to this day [including the start of my favourite Pokémon family – the Eeveelutions]. Ask anyone that knows Pokémon, and they will probably know the most about the originals [I mean, come on, those are the only ones my parents can name!] Some even refuse to acknowledge the other generations, declaring that “the originals were the best”.
I personally don’t agree, but I have to admit, they kind of have a point. Without the originals, we wouldn’t have a lot of the Pokémon we have today, and what a shame that would be.
All images belong to their rightful owners and used under fair use.