Liam’s Game Room #50 (Pokemon Blue/Red, Game Boy)

Introduction

Pokemon Blue/Red are RPG’s that were developed by Game Freak and published for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1998 in USA and 1999 in Europe. The concept of Pokemon is around collecting many different creatures that co-existed alongside humans. The developers would do this throughout their childhood, however due to growing urbanisation that occurred in Japan throughout the 1980’s, the developers felt that future generations in Japan would not be able to experience the thrill of collecting bugs and creatures.

The development cycle of Pokemon Blue/Red was quite long because along the way, Game Freak had to develop quite a few titles on the side to raise the necessary funds to continue work on Pokemon. Such titles as Smartball, Yoshi and Mario and Wario were developed and were successful to raise the necessary money for Game Freak to finish and release Pokemon, which originally was called Pocket Monsters in Japan on the original release in 1996. However, a reskin of the game to change the name from Pocket Monsters to Pokemon and an upgrade to the graphics meant that the game was more successful than the original 1996 run.

Story

The story of Pokemon Blue/Red is that the player is in control of a character that they get to name prior to the game starting and starts off in the character’s hometown of Pallet Town. After venturing into small grass, Professor Oak who is a professor of Pokemon stops the player from continuing on by saying that the Pokemon in the grass are dangerous. Oak takes the player back to his laboratory where his grandson, who becomes the main rival of the player, is there waiting. The player gets to pick a starter pokemon from three choices and the rival will always pick the weakness.

After this battle, the player goes to Viridian City where the local store has a package for Professor Oak. The store gives the parcel to the player to deliver to Professor Oak in his laboratory. Once the package has been delivered, Oak calls his grandson back to the lab to give the player and the rival an objective.Oak states that his dream is to catalogue every single Pokemon that exists in the region of Kanto and gives the player and the rival the Pokedex. Oak also believes that either the rival or the player can become a Pokemon master and states that there 8 gym leaders to fight throughout Kanto, and then the final challenge being the elite four.

Considering that this game is a Game Boy RPG, the story has a huge amount of depth to it and also gives the player huge involvement because the player chooses the name of the character they control. The game does a great job of explaining the core components of the story without spoiling anything specific that happens. I feel that the story of the game as well gives the player some freedom to either work solely on the Pokedex and then beat the Gym Leaders or just focus on Gym Leaders.

Gameplay

The core gameplay mechanics of Pokemon are that the player has the opportunity to catch wild Pokemon in Pokeballs, which can be purchased from marts across the cities and town throughout the game. As the player progresses through the game, the player can buy more effective Pokeballs, which will greatly increase the chance of catching wild Pokemon because later on in the game, there are some Pokemon that will require these more powerful Pokeballs to capture.

The player can only have 6 Pokemon in their possession at any one time, whilst other Pokemon that are caught after this limit has been reached will be sent to the Box where they are stored. If the player wants one of these Pokemon that are in the box, the player will first need to store one of their existing Pokemon to obtain one of the box Pokemon. Each box can hold 20 pokemon maximum and the player will otherwise have to change boxes when a previous box is full.

Some Pokemon that the player catches have the opportunity to evolve later on the game when the Pokemon hits a specific level. Other Pokemon that evolve might requires specific stone such as Leaf Stone or Fire Stone to evolve, which come into play from the city where the fourth gym leader is based. There are also 3 or 4 Pokemon that will require the player to trade to another player to evolve, meaning that it offers the opportunity to trade with other players.

I definitely think that the steps that the player will be taking to evolve their Pokemon and train up the Pokemon does not feel like grinding at all unlike RPGs because there is a strange feeling of being attached to these creatures that the player is training up. Catching the Pokemon I felt to be part of the journey because of the fact that some Pokemon are harder to catch than others and when I get lucky and catch a Pokemon first try, it really feels satisfying. I think that the way the game uses the box as a way of storing more Pokemon is a really cool idea because limiting the player to 6 Pokemon in total would have taken away from the aspect of collecting Pokemon. The different ways of evolving Pokemon also adds a lot of variety to the gameplay because there is a sense of mystery for new players especially about when the Pokemon will evolve and how or when. The trade specific evolutions was a clever design choice by the developers because it encouragements trading and also the fact that some Pokemon are either Red/Blue exclusive will mean that trading will need to happen.

The core gameplay is to go around Kanto and obtain the 8 Gym Leader badges and the Gym Leaders are all centered around 1 theme, which is a specific type of Pokemon. Pokemon have quite a few different types and these types are what dictate the strengths and weaknesses of the Pokemon. This is where the strategic elements of the game come into play because can prepare for these gyms by training up Pokemon that would be strong against the Gym Leader. Each of the 8 badges is themed around one type of Pokemon, which means that some point in the game there will be a gym that will have every type apart from normal where a Pokemon will have a type advantage.

Throughout the game, the player will run into a team of villains called Team Rocket who are defeating trainers and stealing their Pokemon. Team Rocket’s plans are steal these strong Pokemon from trainers and sell them off to make money, which will be used for cruelty and evil research experiments on Pokemon. The whole purpose of Team Rocket is take over the world throughout cruelty and experimentation on Pokemon.

I think that the progression through the Gym Leaders and the deviations to defeat Team Rocket keeps the player involved in the story and I think it also think that Team Rocket player a break from the Gym Leaders. I also think that the way the type strengths and weaknesses in this game work is great because it means that the player will have to be intelligent with Pokemon choices in battles. The type differences also mean that the player will need a diverse team and use all of the available types of Pokemon available to them.

The graphics of the game still looks great and there is a lot of detailing on the buildings and the town that the players will visit. Also every single Pokemon has a unique look to them and there are not Pokemon that looks like cut out copies of other Pokemon. The designs on the evolutions of the Pokemon are fantastic because they look similar enough to the previous Pokemon they evolved from without looking like a carbon copy. I think that there was a lot of effort into the detailing on the Pokemon considering the limitations of the console. From what I can see, the developers pushed the Game Boy as hard they could to get the maximum out of the game and the console.

Conclusion

I think that Pokemon Blue/Red have stood the test of time extremely well and have aged marvellous. This is the sort of game that is perfect for someone’s first RPG and also a great introduction into the world of Pokemon. I think that the Pokemon variety and Gym Leader variety means that the type strengths and weaknesses are at the forefront of the game and these mechanics really shine to make a well rounded, memorable experience.

10/10

Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use

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