My cousin James called me to come to his house. He had this new game, and I had to play it. Much to my surprise, this wasn't just a game. This was a gameboy game for his super gameboy. He didn't have a gameboy, everything he played gameboy was on that. And when I got down I noticed an RPG. Before Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy, I had Pokemon Red. Being the nice guy that I was, I somehow took over and played 90% of the game. Commanding our attacks and strategy the other 10%. I even borrowed that off of him a few times to get us farther into the game. I loved it. It was so wonderful. An RPG that proved simple graphics and gameplay were all you needed for a game. Oh yeah, this was 1996.
The premise is simple, you've a simple quest. The gameplay is simple. But theres a lot to do and things get more complicated. Never too much to be too taxing, unless you count the warp tiles in two dungeons, but other than that I really think this is a great starter RPG or a great RPG to play. Its simple really. You're a kid who wants to be the pokemon master. Pokemans, or "pocket monsters," are used for fighting. Each move uses a certain amount of power points and once thats out you'll have to recharge at a healing center. Also in play is a rock paper scissors element, fire attack beats grass, grass beats water, water beats fire. It gets more complicated than that with bug and pyschic pokemons thrown in, but theres a handy chart in the manual that I used many times to recall what beat what. Yes, I'm serious.
The gameplay is really easy to figure out. They give you one pokemon to start and its part of your goal to capture all 150 pokemon. There was also one extra pokemon available from special nintendo sponsered things, or if you're like me you used a cheat device to get it. But that's only half the goal and it isn't necessary to finish with that. No, the main goal is shown pretty early, mentioned below. Red/Blue are pretty basic RPGs. You've a six character party made up of the pokemons. Each pokemon having their own element or elements and elemental attacks. Whats strong against one is weak against another, for example fire beats grass but not water. Grass beats water but not fire. And so on. I really enjoy the weakness based gameplay. Each move your character uses a certain number of "power points" or PP. Run out of PP and you can't attack. Something which caused a lot of humor was running out of power in a big "boss" battle and hearing me or James say "No PP!" Obviously urine jokes were made about that. How can you not make a joke about that? It's so easy and we were just ten.
In the world there are 8 gym leaders. Each one specializes in certain elements. A rock leader, one with water, another with electirc, and so fourth. Thats your quest. In pretty much all the pokemon main series that is your goal. There are 8 masters to beat. Once you beat them, you're allowed to fight the elite four in a guantlet style battle with no healing center in between. So be sure and bring healing items! After you finished up that, you could go get the secret "clone" pokemon MewTwo. And that was it as far as a single player game. I've played through that several times over, its lost none of its charm for me. All the monsters are all memorable, or mostly memorable. You can also go get three "secret" bird pokemon, each with elemental powers.
I've one major critism of Pokemon blue and red. Pokemon Red/Blue are RPGs that are both the same game, except for certain pokemon in certain areas aren't in the other game. It encourages trading between players, real people playing the game with a "link cable," to get everything. I really would prefer not to have stupid side dungeons or team rocket to go off on. I'd rather just have the eight gym leaders to get too. A little bit of a hassle in between, but I recall being stuck on that boat for so long. And then the ghost tower and then in saffron city. Even with the guide I bought, remember buying guides? I sure do. Even with that, I was still lost. And I'm still lost when I tried to replay it.
Some debate ranges about which pokemons are the best. For me, I prefer my Charizard, Sycther, and more of the intimidating mean looking pokemons. Like Gengar. But for sheer power, I liked MewTwo. Whenever I finally managed to battle anyone, a full few years later on the N64, I dominated with my team. Unstoppable. Josh and James both couldn't handle my pokemons against theres. Of course, I probably leveled up too much. Either that or I commited too much to memory about how do to battles. Or maybe I'm revisionist. I always won. I'm the best the ever was. Yeah. I never lost to his Blastoise ever.
One thing I want to say is the anime. The anime which aired around 2:30, was almost like a guide to the game. It was the game more or less. But they added two friends for your hero, the first two gym leaders. And a few things padded the story out. But it more or less was the game. You would see him in the show go to the next town and that was the next in the game. So every day that summer at 2:30, James showed up at my house. We would watch our show, then go play Pokemon red. The show ended on an episode with Eggexuctor, and the next bit of the storyline eventually got put out but was a noticable decline. Maybe I was too old for the anime by then, I still like some shonen stuff but not all of it, but the first set holds a place in my heart. And I cant talk about this game without mentioning it.
Now as good as Pokemon red/blue was, gold/silver was exactly like the first, but more pokemans and more gyms to fight. At this point I stepped up my game. My parents got me both versions. And on top of that, I had an old brick gameboy to trade with. So I could play with all three starters on my own game. I could do anythnig. I could trade myself. And on one occasion give the gameboy to someone else to battle myself. To say I was into this stuff might be an understatement.
My last big remembrance about pokemans was missingno. Remember missingno? At the start of the game is a guy who teaches you to fight with a Weedle, one of the lesser pokemans. Late in the game when you can fly and surf, you go talk to him, then fly to the fire gym town and surf along the coast. Sure enough, a glitch occurs called "missingno" and you fight this strange thing that lets you duplicate items, including rock candies that level you up instantly. This changed the game for the group. Suddenly Josh and James had pokemons capable of taking my own on. Of course, I always won. Revisinist history is great isn't it? I barely mention the HM moves and I always win. Pokemon Red/Blue was so great.
After about a year with this, I gave up on the pokemans. The movies and anime became lamer and lamer. Not that it wasn't already fairly silly and childish, it just became worse. I couldn't tell you what the hell happens in Pokemon the movie 3, but I know I saw it. It had a big puppy and Unknowns. Other than that, it was 90 minutes of pokemon gibberish. And as for the TV anime, once they veered away from the games I didn't care. It seemed incredibly stupid to do that. To steer a video game cartoon a hundred thousand miles away from the game. Good job.
But, then they released an incredible Nintendo 64 game. Yes, Nintendo 64 and incredible game in the same sentance. Pokemon Statium was such a huge deal for me, not only could I put my pokemon there and fight my friends, we could do it in 3D. And I could fight their pokemon from their games. No link cable nonsense. No super gameboy to gameboy nonsense. Here we could put our guys together and fight it out. I loved it. They loved it. It was great. I never tried pokemon statium 2, but it does the same thing with Gold and Silver. I'm fairly certain something similar exists on the gamecube for sapphire/ruby. Outside of that element the game let you fight battles against game controlled enemies. Very cool pokemon game, I just wish the single player experience had been like pokemon on the gameboy. XD Gale, a gamecube release, looks like that game, but I've yet to pick up a copy. Why? For one there are so many pokemon games and related series I can't bare to spend my time, as something of a grown up, deciphering which pokemon games are what. WiiWare has several, there are a couple in the Diamond and Pearl set. Well after Ruby and Sapphire, I'm a little burnt. I actually quit playing halfway into Ruby, then about a year later I played through Emerald. I don't even remember if I beat it, all I remember is not letting my mudkip evolve when it was really high leveled. That's a shame really that its all rolled together that I don't even remember what all happened in the game. I always remember games. I just sighed out loud. I've found gameplay thats very similar, but done in a more mature way in another series. Which makes me happy, but I still hold a special place for the pokemon games. I can always remember Pokemon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow as fondly as anything. One of our friends had yellow, I had blue, James had red, and I forget who had the other two colors. But for a good year, pokemon dominated our culture with the cards and tv show, and for me at least, the games. I even had that strategy guide, the official one with all the charts in the back. That thing was awesome.
I've a copy of Platinum that I've not started yet. But I do have it.
Have any of you actually NOT played a pokemon game? And did you catch em' all?
LOOK WHO CAME: