|| Pokémon Red/Blue - Review
How To Start A Plague Of Plushies
By: Jake Alley
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
Pokémon merchandise is everywhere today. From cartoons to toys to
card games, and even RPGs based on a card game. All of this makes it easy to forget that what
started everything was a quirky RPG for the Gameboy.
What sets Pokémon apart from all proceeding RPGs is that the main character does
not fight for himself. Instead, all battles in the game take place between Pokémon, the random
monsters found throughout the world. At the beginning of the game, players choose one of three unique
starting Pokémon. Using a special type of item, it is later possible to weaken and capture
wild Pokémon yielding a party of up to six Pokémon with up to 240 in reserve.
Each of the 151 varieties of Pokémon in the game has it's own stat progressions,
list of moves, and one or two elements which determine its strengths and weaknesses. Unlike most RPGs
which settle for four, Pokémon has fifteen elements, with complex relations. While as they gain
levels, Pokémon will learn moves from two or three different elements, no Pokémon
can know more than four moves at once, making the creation of a well balanced party a surprisingly
Creating such a well balanced party is rarely necessary however. Most areas
in the game feature Pokémon of just a single type. Therefore one can simply bring only
Pokémon which are strong against water to watery areas and so forth. Even then, if a player
focuses on using just one or two Pokémon, they will quickly rise to a high enough level
for such element matching to be unnecessary. Only at the very end of the game, or when fighting
against a human opponent via gamelink, is creating a well balanced party truly important.
The story of Pokémon can be described as utilitarian. Everyone in the world
is obsessed with capturing Pokémon and using them to battle in a healthy competitive nature,
thus the story simply follows the main character as he wanders from town to town besting the local
champions on the road to becoming the undisputed master. A number of sub-plots also factor in,
but it's not a story driven game by any means.
Aside from the main goal of simply finishing the game, Pokémon has an implied
secondary goal of acquiring one of each of the 151 varieties of Pokémon. This very involving
and time consuming quest is the key to the game's addictive nature. Most Pokémon can be caught
in the wild, usually in only one specific location. Others evolve from more common Pokémon
either at a certain level or when a special item is used. Still more can only be obtained by trading
between the different versions of the game.
Aside from these surprisingly complex monster catching elements, Pokémon
embodies many of the negative stereotypes associated with portable RPGs. The graphics are fairly
simple and undetailed when not fighting, and at that, one's own Pokémon are extremely pixelated.
The music for the most part is very annoying and repetitive. Entirely too much time is spent navigating
unfriendly menus. Then of course there is the translation which, while decent, tends to start far
too many words with the prefix Poké-.
On the whole however, the sophisticated game mechanics and addictive nature of
Pokémon more than adequately balance out its shortcomings. Of course, with its record setting
sales and mounds of merchandise, you probably already knew that.