Saturday, March 22, 2014

Separating the Game Boys from the Men: Pokemon: Yellow

I never really got onto the Pokemon band wagon when it first hit. I mean sure, I was aware of it, and I even watched the show a little bit, usually just because I was waiting for episodes of Batman or Batman: Beyond, but I never played the games until a couple years later, 2002 to be exact, when Pokemon mania had faded quite a bit. A friend of a girlfriend had left a Game Boy with Pokemon Red at her apartment and I found myself playing it to pass the time while I would wait for her to get ready for where ever we would be going for the evening. I never played all the way through it but did find it enjoyable. So while I have fond memories of Pokemon, it doesn't really have the same nostalgic charm to me that Mario, Sonic, Mega Man, or Zelda have. But if I'm going to be looking at Game Boy games I really can't pass this franchise over.

The reason I got Yellow to review is I wanted to do one of the original generation and Yellow was the first one I found under $25. These games are surprisingly expensive for Game Boy games. From what I understand however Red, Blue, and Yellow are all almost the exact same game, minus a few changes here and there. Although when I mentioned that to a friend who was a fan he swore up and down they were all very different. I realized that's how I must sound as a Mario fan when I try to explain that flying with the raccoon tail in Mario Bros 3 feels different than the bunny ears in Mario Land 2.

Alright, with that background out of the way, let's talk about the game itself. Well, you capture Pokemon, level them up with XP battling other Pokemon, battle gym leaders for badges, and on the side thwart the semi evil plans of the worst organized crime cartel in history, Team Rocket. This version stands out as it attempts to bring elements from the cartoon into the game. For instance you don't get to chose the first Pokemon you get from Professor Oak, you're stuck with a Pikachu. When you first get him, he doesn't want to stay in his pokeball, and instead just follows you around. When Professor Oak tells you he doesn't like pokeballs my reaction was "Who the hell cares? Get in the damn ball Sparky." What the hell kinda trainer lets the animal call the shots? But anyways he follows you around and you can actually talk to him too. He hates you at first, but warms up to you. Not that it really matters as it doesn't seem to affect gameplay, I never had him disobey me in a battle. In fact the only time he disobeyed me was when I bought the Thunderstone to evolve him and he refused, just like in the cartoon. And he even supposedly loved me at that point. That really pissed me off actually, I spent a lot of money on that thing. The other thing they bring in from the show is occasionally you fight the Team Rocket characters from the toon.

As for difficulty, this game really doesn't have any except for just the process of grinding for XP and occasionally figuring out where to go next when the path isn't all that linear. The grinding however can get extremely annoying, especially around the time of the 2nd gym. You see the 2nd gym has Brock, who uses rock type Pokemon. And guess what rock types are completely immune to, that's right, electricity. And you don't get any of the types that rock types are vulnerable to before this gym, so I found myself having to grind up XP like a mother fucker to get my Pikachu (and my couple of others who were no better against that type) up to a high enough level so that Pikachu's tackle could take them down.

As with all Pokemon games you can name yourself, your Pokemon, and your rival, Professor Oak's grandson. I don't know about you, but I just loving abusing the hell out of the naming feature. I named my rival FAGGOT just because it made me laugh to see his grandfather call him that. At one point I had a Grimer, then later Muk that I named MUDTHUMPER, and a ghost Pokemon I named RAPE DEMON. Truly, sometimes the simple pleasures in life are the best.

All in all I really liked this game and can see why it became the phenomenon it did. Mind you, it certainly had its major flaws. The grinding can be tedious, and it's the game's only source of a challenge. Also I'm no real fan of turn based combat. And for a franchise who's tag line is "Gotta catch 'em all" it seems pretty stupid that I can run out of room to store Pokemon I've caught before I have indeed caught them all. But it's still a lot of fun. Many of the designs on the first generation of Pokemon are really cool, as I said the naming feature can be pretty fun, and there's a certain satisfaction in being able to rip through battles like tissue paper once you get you're core group of Pokemon built up to a high level. If you've never played it, you should definitely give one of the original three versions a shot, but given the stupidly high prices I've seen Red, Blue, and Yellow going for I would shop around a bit before you do.

No comments:

Post a Comment