Friday, September 9, 2011

The Original Pokémon Trilogy

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Choose your destiny!

Pokémon, or as it is called in Japan Pocket Monsters. What started as a simple game about catching animals and making them fight for our amusement turned into a massive ever expanding multibillion dollar industry with no foreseeable end in sight. Having come a long way since the days of the Gameboy these newer Pokémon games boast 3D graphics and moving sprites. However with all this glam do they still contain the heart that was put into the first trilogy? That what I’ll be reviewing today the first three Pokémon games, Red, Blue, and the special Pikachu Yellow Edition.

Though before we get on that subject lets talk about its history seeing as the series been going strong for more than a decade. When Satoshi Tajiri was young he lived in a suburb outside of Japan where during his free time he would spend his days catching bugs and tadpoles. As he grew older Satoshi decided that he wanted to share this experience with other young people who live in urban areas with no access to nature. From this idea the concept of Pokémon came about. Satoshi gathered up several of his friends Shigeki Morimoto a programmer, and Ken Sugimori an artist, together with them they put together the prototype of the game called “Capsule Monsters”. Satoshi pitched his game and idea to Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo, Shigeru loved it and pitched it to Nintendo’s President gaining Nintendo’s support.

These are some of the draft’s for the prototype of the game.

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Godzilla battling King Kong? I swear I’ve seen this in a movie somewhere.

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Its good to know the game changed a bit from the prototype.

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Lapras looked a lot cooler back then.

When Pokémon was being designed Shigeki Morimoto decided to add one additional Pokémon to the games original 150. He made the Pokémon a secret and was planning to use it for post-launch events. Once the game was released it received average sales until it was announced that there was a secret Pokémon which would be given out at an event. This Pokémon was Mew. The games sales skyrocketed and the Pokémon series achieved total popularity with the Japanese people. Later on the idea of bringing the game overseas to other countries was pitched and the localization teams began to work on the games feverishly. In Japan there were three Pokémon Games out, Red, Green, and the third one in the series Blue. Blue was the version that was ported overseas due to it being a more streamlined version of the game as it had better sprites, less glitches, and a better musical score. In 1995 the games were released overseas as Pokémon Red, and Blue. Originally the localization team wanted to change the sprites believing the “cutesy” sprites would never be popular with Americans, Nintendo said no. The game became an overnight success and games flew off the shelves throughout the year.

A year after the games release the Anime adaption of it aptly called Pokémon was released in America and translated by 4Kids entertainment. The show proved to be a huge success and Nintendo followed by creating a new game based on the series. This game was Pokémon Special Pikachu Edition (or Yellow version as it was also called). The game featured a new story in which you played as Ash as he traveled the land seeking to be a Pokémon master, it also had newer sprites and a slightly altered score. It was upon the release of this game that the Pokémon series began to form a multi-million dollar franchise out of it’s popularity.

*Now for some reference seeing as Red, and Blue are the same game I will mostly cite differences between them and Yellow version while ultimately reviewing them as one thing.

Now the overarching point of the games series is to catch all 151 Pokémon which can only be done through trading across games, though in order to get Mew you need to either own a copy of Pokémon Stadium or you needed to go to one of the Nintendo events where Mew was given out. At first this may seem daunting as no game has all the Pokémon but with the incredible popularity of the series just getting one version and trading for the Pokémon exclusive to the other version was and still isn’t that difficult. In order to catch them all linking up with your friends or with a second Gameboy is a necessity and it is stressed that you do this to attain your ultimate task. Now each game on average is missing about eight Pokémon from its roster and has a host of super rares you will spend a lot of time trying to get a hold of.

CaptureCapture Chart Yellow

For your viewing pleasure here are the lists of Pokémon exclusive to certain games and what games have what. Generously prepared by Bulbapedia.

Not only can you trade you can also battle with that spiffy link cable you will be using, Battling is a pivotal part of the game as well as a great deal of skill needs to be developed in order to battle effectively. . . or you can just throw a bunch of legendries in your party and call it a day. The core mechanic of the game centers around battles and the deep system which comprises it. In order to save both time and space I will use a chart previously prepared by Bulbapedia.

Type Chart

Click to Enlarge

Now the battle system in the games based around types and their respective weaknesses. In the series a battle is won by utilizing the advantages and disadvantages of a certain type or types of Pokémon to win a battle. Such as having a Fighting Type battle a Rock type, the rock type is weak to fighting therefore the fighting type should win. There are in some cases situations where this may not occur such as when a critical hit has occurred or if the attacking Pokémon has a negative status effect.

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Despite the overly simplistic menus battles are for the most part very deep and require some thought.

Switching between Pokémon is paramount towards victory as having even one Pokémon on your team faint can easily tip the scales when you are trying to battle through hordes of Team Rocket thugs. Now I could go on for hours about the battle system but instead I shall give you my abridged talk on how it works;

  • Each Pokémon has strengths and weaknesses according to its type
  • All attacks have a type assigned to them, i.e. Tackle being a Normal type move and Flamethrower being a Fire Type move.
  • Utilization of these moves and using them against Pokémon which are weak to that type of move typically discerns the victor.
  • Its key to understand the weaknesses of your own Pokémon and not send a Water type out to fight an Electric type.
  • Its Paramount to understand your Pokémon's strengths like sending a Rock type out to fight an Electric type.
  • Having a diverse range of Pokémon types on your team and making sure they know a diverse range of moves for use in different occasions.
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A bad matchup if I’ve ever seen one.

Pokémon isn’t just about battling there is also the act of catching the elusive Pocket Monsters.

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No relation.

You do this by walking in tall grass, typically after 4-5 steps you will be stopped by the screen flipping out and a change in music. Then the battle screen pops up and you are made to weaken the Pokémon before you can capture it. You do this by battling it and reducing its health to around less than 25%, then you have to toss a Poke Ball at it. From there it’s a matter of waiting to see if the Pokémon is caught and if it happens to break free from the ball you toss another. Sometimes when walking through tall grass you will encounter Pokémon you do not want. You can circumvent them by choosing the Run Away command, or you can defeat them and get yourself some experience points.

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Prepare yourself for capturing knave!

Now in this game Pokémon gain strength and evolutions through a leveling process typical of most all RPG’s you gain experience entirely through battle and the only shortcut through the process is through the use of the elusive “rare candy” item which nets you a free level. Now I’m sure you may have just thought “well I’ll just get myself some Rare Candies.” Now that is a foolish idea, for that free level you pay a price, you gain few if any stat yields and as a whole it does more harm then good. The leveling process is simple you defeat Pokémon either through a random battle or through a trainer battle and you level your Pokémon up; now the only real difference between this level system and any other RPG’s is that only the Pokémon that participate in battle gain Experience and those who participate share it meaning that however much you gain its split amongst however many Pokémon you use per causing a opponents Pokémon to faint.

 RedJuggler

Wut?

Here’s where we begin to find differences in the games, the story Red and Blue follows and the story Yellow follows are completely different. So I shall discuss them in turn:

In Pokémon Red and Blue you play as a young upstart from Pallet Town (whom you name) and your dream is to become the best there ever was, and to catch them is your real test and to train them is you cause. You will travel across the land, searching far and wide, and release from you hand the power that’s inside

POKEMON! Its you and me, I know it’s my destiny!

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Seriously though your objective is to become the best by defeating the eight Gym Leaders scattered through the region of Kanto and to ultimately defeat the Elite Four while catching all the Pokémon to become a master. Along the way though you will encounter the sinister Team Rocket who will unceasingly do bad things, which forces you to beat them badly and eventually face their leader. Back onto the topic of the Gym Leaders there are eight of them and each one has a theme, Rock, Water, Electric, Grass, etc. So you will need to adjust your team accordingly to face them. There are also other mysteries in the game to seek out, like the meaning of a journal you find in a burned out building, where the cruise liner disappears to, or the true reason behind your rivals appearance in Pokémon Tower.

Now in Yellow the premise remains mostly the same only you are playing as Ash from the television series. You advance through the game where you experience events similar to that which is had in the show itself. These include meeting Jessie and James of Team Rocket, gaining one of each of the original starter Pokémon and having Pikachu follow you around.

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D’aaaaaaaaaaaaaw.

Your objective of being the best remains unchanging as you continue the journey of catching all the Pokémon and beating the Elite Four. Two of the Gym Leaders Brock, and Misty have dialogue from the show, but the do not follow you around like faithful Pikachu does.

Now one of the differences between the games is the Rival, he talks more like his counterpart from the Animated Series then he does in the previous games but ultimately still acts the same. He appears in all the same places,and the only major difference is that he has an Eevee on his team. He still appears everywhere though, everywhere. . .

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Dude I’m tellin’ yah those graves had totally been robbed before I even got here.

These Pokémon games have a very deep story to them and for younger players things may go completely unnoticed, one of these things is Gary. Over the course of the game you see Gary change as a person as he experiences many different things aside from the feeling of being beat down. Gary is a fairly tragic character throughout the game as he never gets to achieve his own dream regardless to how hard he tries. You also find a journal which talks about the experiments a scientist performed, and put to rest a resentful ghost. This game is really deep, surprisingly so deep that I had to replay these games to fully take in everything.

The game also has its flaws, these come in the form of glitches and battery life. There are a large cabaret of glitches that I won’t go into length about, but its these glitches which one can deliberately cause or accidentally cause that can ruin your game and make you lose everything. The most notably is Missingno. which is a glitch caused by talking to the old man in Viridian and then flying to Cinnabar Island and surfing up and down the coast. Missingno. Will give you 99 of whatever item is in your sixth slot if you beat it, but if you catch it and put it in your PC your game file will become corrupted. The other glitches aren’t nearly as useful and a majority will just ruin your game.

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These glitches are usually caused by you doing something the game didn’t intend and an overflow of data occurs where the game searches for something which doesn’t exist. What the game produces is a glitch in either the form of glitch city, or a glitch Pokémon. If you are really interested in these glitches you can find a list of them Here.

All of the Pokémon games up until the fourth generation have an internal battery inside them to store save data, and as all batteries do eventually they will die. The worst part about the battery dying is that you lose everything as a result and are treated to this beautiful screen. . .

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vader

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

This isn’t a regular problem as the the batteries generally last a very long time, some people boast that they' to this day have never had to change their batteries out; and even if it does die you can easily get a replacement battery at your local convenience store.

Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow are all great games and are enjoyable to play either casually or in one go. The games have a charm to them that is practically immortal from the silly dialogue to the catchy tunes, you know after a while you will be humming the beats to at least one location.

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That’s why he’s paid the big bucks.

The game even periodically rewards you for attaining feats without spoiling you, for every certain amount of Pokémon you catch you get a Key Item which will aid you; despite this the trainers and battles you will face will be challenging but not to hard so long as you grasp the basic strategy of type disadvantages and advantages. I can easily say these are the greatest three games for the Gameboy only closely followed by Dragon Warrior and the the Sword of Hope series. I’d recommend anyone who’s either looking to connect(or reconnect) with Pokémon's roots or wants to give the series a go for the first time, these are the games for you. What makes them even better is that they are all relatively affordable mostly being in the $12 to $18 bracket. I’d recommend you pick up a copy of either and while you are at get yourself a copy of Pokémon Stadium (or a Super Gameboy) so that you can play it on your TV

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Not only are the games in color they each have their own respective borders, pretty cool, eh?

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I bet you thought I wasn’t going to end with that, well you were wrong.

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