I really have't done much reviewing but I'll try and make it sound as good as I can.POKEMON GENERATION ONE REVIEW
As it stands right now, the Pokemon franchise is huge.
With over 20 games in the main series and more than 50 spinoffs, it's safe to say it's a very popular franchise. But is it any good? Well hopefully, I can give you enough of my own opinions on the series so you can come to your own conclusion. Starting with the first generation I will be reviewing each generation of Pokemon, listing the positives, negatives and my own personal thoughts on each game. There are lots of things I like and lots of things I don't, and that's what I'm here to tell you. Let's get on with the review.Overview and history
Grab your Power Rangers blanket and Fresh Prince VHS tape because we're heading back to the 90s, a time of cringeworthy music and obnoxious bright colours. Though it was actually released in Japan a whole two years earlier, a new videogame has just been released: Pokemon Red and Blue. (Japan had Green instead of Blue but more on that later.) Many have claimed that this game changed EVERYTHING, and while I don't quite agree with the scale of the statement, it is true that with the game's release, a new craze took hold of children everywhere. The game was the brainchild of series director Satoshi Tajiri, who was influenced by his childhood hobby of collecting insects. I find it quite charming knowing that Tairi was able to take something he was passionate about as a child and utilize it as the main motivation behind a series and concept that became so popular. Developed by the then-unkown development team GAMEFREAK, Pokemon was a handheld RPG that tasked you with travelling across the region of Kanto, defeating 8 gym leaders on the way with the goal of reaching the ultimate challenge: The Pokemon League. It was a fairly standard turn-based RPG with an emphasis on grinding and growing stronger, but the game had one main key feature that really set it apart from the competition and drove it to insane levels of popularity: The Pokemon themselves. With 151 different Pokemon in total spread across the region with varying degrees of rarity,
players everywhere set about on their journey to capture every single one of the creatures to fill their Pokedex. The game even emphasized this with its tagline, 'Gotta catch 'em all!' and oh boy did it catch on.
The popularity of the series spawned an anime adaption that was set in the same region as the game but followed a completely different story. The protagonist was Ash Ketchum, a 10 year old boy from the starting town of Pallet, who along with his Pikachu set off on a journey to catch them all and win all the gym badges. The series was quite enjoyable and interesting because it took some characters from the game who had relatively minor roles and expanded them into main characters, such as Misty and Brock. Even though they were merely gym leaders in the game with about 10 lines between them, the anime made them into Ash's travelling companions throughout the first couple of seasons. While it was enjoyable as a child, watching as an adult reveals that it is VERY
repetitive but I'm here to talk about the games, not the anime. Just know that the fight scenes can be really good especially in the newer seasons but be prepared to absolutely loathe the constant appearances of Team Rocket.
There were also a few spinoffs that I won't talk too much about but the most noteworthy is the trading card game. With every Pokemon having their own card, this also reached staggering heights of popularity, with players everywhere swapping and battling their cards. The card game is relatively easy to play and often times the artwork on the cards is downright beautiful. Gameplay
As I already stated earlier, the game is a fairly standard turn-based RPG. Each Pokemon can have up to 4 different moves they can use in battle. Moves are divided into two categories: Attack and Status. Attack moves deal damage to your opponent while Status moves can alter either you or your opponent's Pokemon, changing their statistics or inflicting detrimental ailments on one of the Pokemon e.g. Paralysis, Sleep, Poison. This can add an extra layer of strategy to a battle, with the ability to absolutely cripple the battling Pokemon if the player is smart with how they use the effects. Likewise, brute force is often a viable option with many Pokemon being able to simply overpower the other without much need for thinking about it.
The player's party can be filled with a maximum of 6 Pokemon at any time. If another Pokemon is caught while the player already has a full party, it will be sent to a storage space on a PC that can be accessed in the Pokemon Center of each town. Accessing the PC and depositing or withdrawing a Pokemon is relatively simple, though as is the case with pretty much everything else in the game, it has been streamlined considerably since its first incarnation.
Each Pokemon is assigned a typing, with certain types being super-effective against some, while being weak to others. For instance, the Grass type is effective against the Water type, while being weak to the Fire type. The Fire type, however is weak to the Water type. This essentially forms a complex game of Rock Paper scissors, with part of the game's strategy and enjoyment coming from picking different Pokemon with varying types to form an effective team that covers each other's weaknesses. The Pokemon moves have their own typing too, and if a Pokemon uses a move that is the same type as the user, the attack's power will get a slight boost to it's overall power. Some Pokemon even have 2 types, which can be both helpful and detrimental, with a weakness being added while also having one removed. At the start of the game you have to pick from three different Pokemon: Charmander (Fire) Bulbasaur (Grass) or Squirtle (Water). It's at this point you have to make a potentially game changing choice. You can either just pick your favorite right off the bat, or seriously consider how each choice could affect your team throughout the game. Charmander evolves into an absolute powerhouse later on but is quite hard to use near the start and will require a lot of support. Bulbasaur and Squirtle make the first few gyms relatively easy, but may not see much use later on. Depending on how well you know the game and how you play it, you might find yourself against a brick wall depending on who you picked, requiring you to spend some time raising up other Pokemon alongside your starter to support it.
The game doesn't have much in the way of an engaging story but it does have one that more or less serves as the narrative behind your quest to travel from town to town, gathering Pokemon and gym badges. The villains of the story are an evil organization named Team Rocket, who are out to steal the world's Pokemon and just generally act like a bunch of nasty thugs. They're not deep or relateable by any means but they serve their purpose as a motivation for you to get stronger and kick their asses. Another opposing force you'll have to deal with is your rival who will pick the starter Pokemon that has a type advantage over yours, so you better hope you're prepared to deal with him whenever he appears unexpectedly at the worst possible times, which he of course does.
While he isn't as much of a nasty twat that his anime counterpart Gary is, you'll still want to beat him whenever you hear that theme song kicking in. Yeah you'll be smelling something later alright.
In addition to using moves in battles you'll also have access to various items that you can use including healing potions and Pokeballs, which you can use to catch wild Pokemon.
Each town has a Pokemon Center that has a PC, and the nurse stationed there can heal your entire party for no cost. This is an incredibly useful feature and if your entire party is defeated in battle you will wake up at the last Center you visited with a newly refreshed team and some money lost. Money is used to buy supplies at Pokemarts, which some towns have. Here you can resupply on items to bring along with you on your journey.
Most of the towns have a Pokemon gym, which is headed by a Gym Leader. These are powerful trainers that specialize in a specific type of Pokemon, so it is a good idea to prepare for the battle by raising a Pokemon that is effective to the type they use. The game's narrative is somewhat driven by your goal of defeating the 8 leaders in order, so that you may challenge the Pokemon League, the final hurdle on your adventure. The Pokemon League consists of a gauntlet of 4 incredibly difficult trainers that are essentially much harder versions of the gym leaders. Each will again specialize in a specific type. If you have prepared a team that covers all type weaknesses then you should be able to conquer it. When you have defeated the final trainer you are faced with one final challenge: Your rival, who has always been one step ahead of you the entire time has ascended to the rank of Pokemon Champion, the ultimate trainer in the region. It's up to you to defeat your rival in an epic clash and claim the title for yourself. While the battles aren't much to look at visually due to the limited graphics capabilities, the imagination of the players can conjure up some grand visualizations of what is occurring on the screen. Though it just appears to be two static sprites launching dots and lines at each other, the tension of the battles can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming, especially in moments of dire need and near-certain defeat.Differences between games
The different versions are essentially the same, with some minor differences. Each version has Pokemon that are exclusive to it, though the number of these Pokemon is quite small. This was done to encourage trading and interactivity between players, a feature that Nintendo still promotes heavily even 20 years later. Originally when it was released in Japan, the games released were Pokemon Red and Green. A third version, Blue was later released with updated visuals. When the game arrived in the West, the versions released were Red and Blue, both featuring the improved visuals of Blue.
A third version of the game was later released titled Pokemon Yellow. Mostly the same as the previous games, it was altered to more closely resemble the anime, featuring the villains Jessie and James. The game's biggest feature was the inclusion of Pikachu as a character that follows you around in the overworld, and with whom you can interact and play a few minigames.Pros and ConsPros
-The game features a large variety of Pokemon with which you can create your team, adding and removing Pokemon as you progress and discover new ones. Though the number of Pokemon today as exceeded 700, the original 151 of the first generation still has enough available to provide some variety of monsters to pick and choose for your team. Some of the designs are really good, drawing inspiration from both real world creatures and mythical beasts. My personal favorites being Charizard, Nidorino, Aerodactyl and Articuno.
-The soundtrack is great and features memorable tracks that cover a wide variety of tones ranging from excitement, dread and even calmness. The 8-bit music might start to grate certain players after extended sessions of listening to it, but that's what the volume control button is for. It's a wonder that even though the technology was so limited the composer, Junichi Masuda was able to create such a memorable soundtrack.
-The background story of the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo was handled well. While exploring the abandoned Pokemon Mansion on Cinnabar Island you may discover diary entries that detail a scientific team's efforts to create a clone of a thought to be extinct Pokemon named Mew. Throughout the mansion you find different diary pages that act as their own mini story that tells you about the progress of cloning Mew, and the eventual birth of the clone they named Mewtwo that eventually escaped. I particularly enjoy this because it was an important event that wasn't put in the forefront of the story and shoved in your face. It's possible to miss it entirely, though I don't see how anyone would pass by the diaries without reading them. While in the 4th town, Cerulean City you may have noticed a cave blocked off by an NPC that tells you that you weren't ready to enter. If you return after becoming the Champion you may finally enter the cave and face off against the scientific abomination that is Mewtwo. Players must have had one hell of a shock when they ventured inside and came face to face with the Pokemon that they read about in the diaries and their description of Mewtwo wasn't exaggerated. Mewtwo is an absolute powerhouse and will absolutely destroy your team if you're not prepared. On the other hand you can end the battle in one turn by using the Master Ball that you acquire from the story.
The theme of genetic manipulation was a major point in the first generation, with many Pokemon being a result of mankind's influence on the world. Grimer is a pile of toxic sludge that gained life and Magnemite is... a magnet. Mewtwo's unnatural birth is interesting and actually quite dark for game marketed towards children. A living being that was repeatedly experimented on and eventually gained such power that it destroyed the lab and escaped is something you'd expect to see in a more adult-oriented story, but there you go.Cons
-The game is quite glitchy. While the game is entirely playable, certain glitches exist that can hinder your progress if they are encountered. It is quite difficult to encounter such glitches and if you play the game regularly you are unlikely to ever encounter them. Other glitches, such as moves causing the exact opposite of their intended effect can be annoying, but easily ignored.
-Certain battle features are incredibly frustrating. Though these were changed in later games, that doesn't mean it's not a detriment to the games they remain in. For instance, the move 'Sing' will put the opposing Pokemon to sleep, meaning it can't attack for a few turns. While this itself is annoying to deal with, the real kicker comes when the Pokemon wakes up. Waking up takes an entire turn by itself, leaving you exposed as your Pokemon is awoken. If the opponent uses Sing again on the turn you wake up then you will immediately be put back to sleep. This is incredibly
-The item screen and PC are quite archaic. Having all of your items in one box can be irritating when sorting through it and the small amount of space to store items can lead to moments when you must get rid of an item in order to pick a new one up. Find yourself in the middle of a dungeon, without any inventory space to pick up that item? Better get rid of that valuable Nugget, should have remembered to sell it as soon as you can. While not as frustrating as the item screen, the PC is slow to use and you must manually switch PC boxes from a different screen in order to change boxes, should the first one be full. Thankfully both of these things have been much improved since then.
-The lack of balance. While it is true that for the most part the rock-paper-scissors formula works well, certain types stand tall amongst them all due to a lack of good counters. The most predominant being the Psychic type, only having 2 weaknesses in Bug and Ghost. This might seem all right at first, only there are no good Bug type moves and the only Ghost type Pokemon is the Gengar family, which is part Poison (that is weak to Psychic.) This essentially means that when dealing with the Psychic type you will have to rely more on overwhelming them with brute force and sheer power.
-Some of the sprites are pretty ugly, especially the back sprites that the player sees during battle. Though they have been spruced up since the original Japanese release (just look up Mew and Golbat, UGH) for the majority of the game the player will be starting at the pixelated lump of their Pokemon's back sprites.
-Going back and playing this after the other games can be a bit frustrating. The lack of certain features that players will have grown accustomed to can lead to irritation and frustration. For instance, the lack of a move deleter means that if you have taught your Pokemon any HMs (moves the Pokemon can use in the overworld) you will be completely UNABLE to get rid of them. Be careful who you teach Cut and Flash to.Conclusion
The first generation of Pokemon should always be remembered for starting it all. While there are some ignorant players who see this as the reason for it being the best while simulatenously disregarding all that came after it, it is hard to disagree that the series has improved considerably since the first games' release. The basic features are all there, which makes it a perfectly playable game, if a little bare-bones when compared to today's Pokemon games. However I don't think that comparing it to the series of today should negatively influence anyone's opinions of the games. You wouldn't criticize an old movie for having no good special effects because they simply weren't available at the time. And that I think, is something to bear in mind. At the time, the game was phenomenal. It captured the imagination of millions and though the series has moved on, the impact is still felt. It's been more than 20 years since the series began and the first generation is still looked upon fondly by the fans of the series. The core gameplay has largely remained unchanged since then, which some see as both a positive and negative. But you know what they say, if it aint broke don't fix it.
The series has had its ups and downs over the years and now with Pokemon mania at an all time high for the second time in its lifespan, there's never been a better time to jump into the series. While you don't have to start at the very beginning (the newer games are more accessible), I think it would be worthwhile to at least try it and experience the games that started it all and appreciate how things have changed over the years.