With Pokemon: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire having just come out I thought I might take a look back at generation one Pokemon. Why Yellow and not Red or Blue? Well I could say I chose Yellow because it was the most different of the three, taking several elements from the cartoon and incorporating them into the game, but truth be told it was the first of any of these games I found that was under $25. Most Gameboy games are pretty cheap but Pokemon seems to be the exception to that rule.
My history with the Pocket Monsters
I really don’t have much of a history with this franchise. I never got into the games when they were new and my only exposure came from watching the cartoon on and off. It wasn’t until a few years later, after I graduated high school, that I would first play Red. A friend of my girlfriend had left an old Gameboy with it in it at her apartment and I found myself playing it while at her over there. Usually while waiting for her to get ready for where ever we might have been going. So while I have a few happy memories with this franchise, it doesn’t really have the same nostalgic charm to me that Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, or Zelda have.
Enough memory lane, what about the game itself. Well, you capture Pokemon, level them up with XP battling other Pokemon, battle gym leaders for badges, and on the side thwart the semi evil plans of the worst organized crime cartel in history, Team Rocket. That’s it. From what I understand that’s all these is to every Pokemon game except the one where you catch the Pokemon God Arceus in a Pokeball. What is it with JRPGs and killing or dethroning God at the end of the story?
Really though, saying the story is basic and repetitive with a Nintendo game is like complaining that a Batman comic takes place at night. Nintendo has always preferred to refine a formula in it’s various franchises, rather than constantly reinvent the wheel. And for the most part that’s worked out great. Unlike what Sega does to a certain poor misused hedgehog.
What makes Yellow stand out from Blue and Red were, as I said, the elements from the cartoon they brought in. Most of them were small like adding the Team Rocket characters from the cartoon rather than just the generic Team Rocket guy with a whip you fight over and over again in Red and Blue.
The biggest element from the show is this game forces you to go with Pikachu as your first Pokemon. And when you first get him he refuses to get in his Pokeball and instead follows you around. Personally when Professor Oak told me he doesn’t like it in the Pokeball I found myself saying “Who the hell cares? Get in the damn ball Sparky!”. What kind of trainer fails to establish dominance like that?
Also the game makes a point to tell you that your Pikachu doesn’t like you, although he warms up to you later. Not that it matters, I never had him disobey me in battle, even when he hated me. Just another thing thrown in there to be like the cartoon.
What’s there to even say about the gameplay? It’s Pokemon. The only real “challenge” to these games I find are just figuring out what Pokemon to catch and focus on building up. But poor choices in that regard can be overcome by some good old fashion grinding to level up. For instance the second gym leader was Brock who uses the Rock Types which Electric types like Pikachu suck against. The most well known weakness of the Rock Types are Water Types but I didn’t get any of those yet.
I could have used a Mankey which I had already encountered, I found out later they’re decent against Rock Types. Instead I just grinded like a mother fucker to get that Pikachu to a point where just pound could do the trick.
The simple pleasures
As with all Pokemon games you can name yourself, your Pokemon, and your rival, who is also Professor Oak’s grandson. I don’t know about you, but I love abusing that feature. I named my rival FAGGOT just because it amused me to see his grandfather call him that.
My personal favorite nickname I gave to a Pokemon was my Ghost Type Pokemon named RAPE DEMON. “RAPE DEMON used hypnosis.” Yeah, I bet he did. Something about that naming feature just brings out the eleven year old in me.
This game had a lot going for it. Many of the designs on the first generation of Pokemon are really cool, as I said the naming feature can be pretty fun, and there’s a certain satisfaction in being able to rip through battles like tissue paper once you get you’re core group of Pokemon built up to a high level.
The grinding can be tedious, and it’s the game’s only real source of a challenge. Also I’m no real fan of turn-based combat. And for a franchise who’s tag line is “Gotta catch ’em all” it seems pretty stupid that I can run out of room to store Pokemon I’ve caught before I have indeed caught them all
I really liked this game, and can see why it became the phenomenon that it did. If you’ve never played Pokemon before I would say it’s worth it to go through one of the first generation games at least once. Given how pricey the original games are, you might want to shop around first, or just go virtual console.