Pokemon its officially the best selling videogame franchise of all time and one of my personal favourites to sit down and play, I have only ever covered spin off’s on this website so far but I feel that we should start deep diving the main series, starting with Generation 1 and covering Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Yellow (Green never left Japan so I wont be discussing that one here)
If you are new to this series you may be a little confused as to why we are covering three games today, to makes things even more complicated all three are the same game with just minor differences. The reason for this is because Pokemon games are made with the idea of trading with friends as its main feature, in order to make it impossible to catch all 151 Pokemon on one cartridge developers split the Pokemon into two packages, the basics are in both but certain Pokemon were only either in Red or Blue meaning that in order to catch them all you needed a friend with the other copy and a Gameboy link Cable. Yellow was released two years later in 1998 and changed some dialogues, sprites and gym battles to better represent to anime television series.
I will be covering as many differences as I can throughout this review and will try to give Gen 1 as much justice as I can.
After your initial set up and introduction to the Kanto Region by Professor Oak you soon find yourself at his Laboratory where he will offer yourself and your rival one of three of Pokemon, you get to pick first first from either Charmander a fire type, Squirtle a water type or Bulbasaur a grass type. I always choose Grass as it is strong against Rock and Water types which just so happen to be the first two gyms of the game.
In Pokemon Yellow, you dont get to choose instead you are given a Pikachu, your Rival who most name Gary would then be given an Eevee.
Either way after choosing your first Pokemon you take part in your first battle, at this point your level 5 Pokemon will only have a few moves, normally scratch and growl, Scratch an offensive type will damage your opponent and growl will weaken their attack.
As you level up by battling you will earn money to buy moves but with patience Pokemon will learn most of the best moves when they reach certain levels or evolutions.
In the games there is a total of 151 Pokemon and players can build a small team using Pokemon that they trap in Pokeballs, their are different types of Pokemon who will have advantages and disadvantages against others. In Gen 1 there are 15 types you can get Normal, Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Steel.
As you progress through the game these encounters become more challenging and better Pokeballs such as Ultraballs are needed to ensure capture.
There are specials moves you find throughout your adventure which allows certain Pokemon to interact with the environment, these HM moves are generally very useful for example cut allows you cut down certain trees, flash can light dark areas, surf means you cross water, strength can move heavy boulders and finally fly allows you to fast travel back to areas you have already visited.
As Pokemon level up they may start to evolve this will change their form and ultimately make them stronger, it will also count as a completely new Pokemon which helps you on your quest to get all 151 (if you decide to actually do that) some however cannot exist or evolve without help from an item, early on in the game you get to choose between two fossils and which one you choose can resurrect an extinct Pokemon later on in the game. Items such as elemental stones or moon stones can help evolve Pokemons for example I used a moon stone on my Nidorino to get a Nidoking and then I used a thunderstone on the secret Eevee you can find to get my Jolteon.
Your journey takes you through many trials and landscapes, the main goal is to beat the gyms these are buildings with trainers and a leader focusing on one specific Pokemon type, gaining badges allows you further access to use HM’s and in turn further progress through the game.
For me the best part is actually exploring the different areas throughout the world, the SS Anne is a ship that is filled to the brim with Pokemon battles, its a great place to level up early in the game, Pokemon Tower a grave site for deceased Pokemon’s while pretty creepy its a fun place to catch the few ghost Pokemon of the game and my absolute favourite thing to do is find and catch the four legendary Pokemon Articuno, Moltres, Zapdos and Mewtwo (Mewtwo is only obtainable after beating the elite four)
A casino area in Celadon City is available in all three games, here you can play slots to earn or lose money, once you get high amounts of casino coins you can trade for rarer Pokémon’s, in Yellow a surfing minigame was added as one of the new features, it is a pretty fun game and is one of most memorable parts of Pokemon Yellow.
The Safari Zone might also be considered a type of minigame, you need to complete this to get Fly but its main purpose is as giant wild area filled with easier to catch Pokemon’s, you cant battle these but can make them angry or bait them in hopes of having a better chance of catching them, you only get 30 balls and can take 500 steps so try to finish the area and get Fly before you are forced to pay and start again.
As you slowly progress towards Victory Road and the Elite Four you will be catching and training many different Pokemons, its up to you to decide who will be your main team but you want strong Pokemon with a good balance of status and offensive attacks to win, this final stretch has you fighting 5 battles in a row with no chance to heal at a Poke Center so taking all of the potions and healing items you need is completely necessary.
This time around my final team was Venosaur, Ninetails, Snorlax, Nidoking, Jolteon and Lapras.
The soundtrack is one of my favourite videogame soundtracks of all time, there is not a single song that I dislike, I feel they all suit the game extremely well, the opening gets you so pumped for the adventure your about to go on and from there it just gets better and better, the creepy music from lavender town always comes to mind as quite unsettling, the silph co music is ton of fun and of course that battle music is insanely good. It could be nostalgia talking but this particular soundtrack really does mean an awful lot to me.
The first generation of Pokemon is what made up a lot of people’s childhoods, many a day was spent trading Pokémon’s and battling our friends using the link cable and today it holds up very well, there are not many people to trade with these days but the actual main campaign is a lot of fun, it has a great story, memorable characters and really fun areas to explore. The game can be very challenging because the difficulty does increase vastly as you progress so some grinding and strategy is required to beat the game.
The only issue I had with the game was that the item storage system was badly organised and I had to rearrange it and empty it a lot, the PC storage system has a limit so that filled up quickly as well, one final slight annoyance was that status effects happened far too often, I would get poisoned or burned then use the item to get rid of it but the opposing Pokemon would just reapply the status effect almost immediately, this happened a lot and while I know it is part of the game I feel maybe the developers could have made these effects happen just a little less often than they did.
Apart from these tiny set backs Gen 1 is a really a great set of games, obviously Yellow is slightly better than Red and Blue because you can get all of the starters in that game and that extra minigame is a bonus but these are pretty solid titles that even today I would give Red/Blue 9.0/10 and Yellow 9.3/10.
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