Game Grind: Pokemon Red and Blue, a Retrospective Review

Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind! The place where any, and everything, video game related is analyzed, critiqued, and appreciated with boundless enthusiasm. Today’s topic is one that holds a special place in most gamer’s hearts, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. I have been taking advantage of the digital re-release of these gems, and have decided to do a proper review of them. Bear in mind that there is no way for me to do an unbiased review of these games as they are a cornerstone of my childhood and have played a huge role in shaping my worldview. However, just like anything else in life, these pieces of history are not without their high points and faults, and this post is going to go over both in spades. With that being said, here’s my review of Pokemon Red and Blue!

Pokemon Artwork 1

There is a reason why Pokemon Red and Blue are two of the most popular JRPGs of all time. These games took a lot of what made the genre great, and improved it immensely. A lot of the best JRPGs have a diverse and interesting cast of characters.However, a lot of games at the time of Pokemon’s released capped the character list off at around 30 or so characters. Pokemon presented players with a staggering 150 (technically 151) choices for exploring its world. The games also reduced the standard JRPG formula down to its most basic elements in order to make it more easily playable to an audience unfamiliar with JRPGs. The games also whittled down the story elements to the most essential parts, which allows players to readily project themselves onto the protagonist. The game also makes the end goal the simple, childlike, objective of becoming the very best. Which is actually pretty awesome and gets right to the heart of a lot any epic storyline.

Pokemon Red and Blue

However, Pokemon Red and Blue do have their faults and, after being around for twenty years, these faults are pretty glaring. The most obvious of these faults is just how slowly the game plays. Battles take forever compared to the most recent generation of Pokemon, and, until you get the bike, players are basically slogging through the overworld. These games play incredibly slowly and have menu navigations that are far less then intuitive. These games also are extremely unbalanced. If you choose Charmander as your starter, you are almost required to grind before the first and second boss battle. Granted, choosing Charmander is supposed to be the “hard” version of the game, but this fact is never made clear to first time players and will undoubtedly catch each and every one of them by surprise. The Psychic type is also VERY overpowered in these games. This is partially due to a glitch that makes Ghost types week to them, when they should otherwise be superior, but is also due to a somewhat poor game design. Another fairly big criticism of these games is that there is very little explanation and direction given to the player. While these games are fairly linear, players generally have to figure our where to go, what to do, and what types are strong to which, through trial and error. Which, while immersive and realistic, is a bit hampering and confusing.

Pokemon Red and Blue 2

In spite of these issues, Pokemon Red and Blue do possess traits that make them worthy of their reverence. One of these traits is the impeccable artwork and sprite-work that is beyond an kind of praise. Ken Sugimori’s watercolor promotional artwork is now iconic and the sprites of each of the Pokemon within the game is overflowing with character and heart. You can tell from the get go that these games were a labor of love and that everyone who was involved in creating these games completely believed in them. These games are also filled with an incredible number of secretes and lore to uncover. The world of Pokemon is filled to the bursting point with teasers and secrets to uncover. The greatest of these secrets is the post game boss, Mewtwo. However, discovering the legendary birds is an incredible experience in its own right. Everyone who played the original games as a child vividly remembers the sense of adventure and jubilee that resulted from finding the Power Plant after curiously exploring an otherwise nondescript section of water. The sensation of being in a world much larger than the player when viewing Articuno through binoculars in a way-point is an experience that is ingrained into my memory as well. These games do everything in their power to surprise and entice the player in a way that has not really been expressed in any of the subsequent games, and because of that they will always hold a special place in my, and many other gamers’, hearts.

Pokemon Red and Blue 3

When all is said and done, these games are far from perfect. However, they don’t really need to be perfect. Pokemon Red and Blue are beyond charming and more enticing than perhaps any other game. While future installments in the series may be technically and narratively superior (I personally believe that Pokemon Gold and Silver far surpasses the originals, but that’s a entirely different post in and of itself), Pokemon Red and Blue go above and beyond setting up what would eventually become a multi-million dollar franchise and media entity. These games set up everything that Pokemon is today, and I definitely felt that replaying the games twenty years later. While replaying these games I laughed, I yelled, and I cried. In short, these games are the essence and spirit of the Pokemon brand and more then deserve the place they have etched out in countless people hearts.

Alright, I think that sappy note is the perfect place to end this post and Pokemon Red and Blue Review. If you enjoyed it please give this post a like and feel free to share your fond memoirs or opinions of the original games in the comments section down below. If you want to stay up to date with this blog, you can subscribe in the upper right tab via your email. Alternatively, you can stay up to date by liking the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page or by liking me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. I hope you all enjoyed this post and that you all have a great weekend. Thank you so much for reading.

BaddaBing, BaddaBye

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Game Grind: Pokemon Red and Blue, a Retrospective Review