Retro Review: Pokemon Red, Yellow and Blue

Before I go any further, please watch this video for the nostalgia:

…The only one missing from that is #151, Mew. Ah, well.

The games that started it all and changed the world. In 1996, Gamefreak (now The Pokemon Company) introduced the world to Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon for short. It would come to North America 2 years later. The franchise’s lead mascot Pikachu would come to be loved and hated by all. It’s the go-to choice for the Anime’s main character, has more trading card variants than all the rest and is prettymuch useless in the video games. Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow are part of the First Generation of the series, or First Gen for short. Other games that are part of the First Gen include Pokemon Pinball, Pokemon Stadium 1 and The Pokemon Trading Card Game.

I remember the first time I heard about Pokemon. I was watching CNN in 1995 when word of the imfamous Electric Soldier Porygon Episode (The Anime I’m talking about) in Japan first broke. Click here if you want to see it on You Tube but be warned: Although only a small amount of people a subject to seizures from flashing lights and patterens, the sequence in this episode actually did send 800 children in Japan to the hospital with epileptic seizures. DO NOT click the link if you are subject to epileptic seizures from flashing lights and rapidly moving patterns!

Moving on, after hearing about that incident I decided to research Pokemon on the Internet. Mind you this was back when the Internet of the late 1990s. My only reliable options were Serebii.net and Gamefaqs. Two in particular I memorized completely: Metroidmoo’s Guide and Marshmallow’s Guide. This was several months before I had a hands-on look at Pokemon Fire Red in the summer of ’98. I was 14 and at a summer camp program in Boston when a kid asked for help getting past the Team Rocket event in Saffron City. Armed with information from those guides I showed him the reason he still only has five badges is because he needs to go into Silph Co. and beat the Rocket Boss.

In the days that followed other kids with Pokemon Red or Blue asked for me for help or advice. They were impressed by the fact although I never actually played Pokemon Red and Blue, I knew prettymuch everything about them including the following:

  • The Magikarp you buy at the Mt. Moon Pokemon Center for 500 Yen is prettymuch useless until it evolves. To speed up the process, trade it to someone who has access to the Unknown Dungeon to evolve it for you.
  • If you receive a Pokemon in a trade with a higher level than your badges allow, there is a 50% chance it will not listen to you and do whatever it wants. My favorite LOL-Random Unruly Moment was having a Wheezing I traded to Yellow from Red use Explosion on Zapdos, killing it (I wanted it to use Smokescreen). This was after spending 30 minutes weakening it and putting it to sleep. I saved outside the Power Plant and had to trek through the place all over again.
  • You can find a free Eevee by entering the apartment next to the Celadon City Pokemon Center from the back and going to the top floor.
  • Jynx, Mr. Mime and Farfetch’d can only be obtained via in-game trade. Outside learning both Cut and Fly Farfetch’d doesn’t offer much in battles. Jynx is the only Pokemon that can Tank Mewtwo due to it being a Psychic/Ice Type. Mr. Mime is an annoyer as well.
  • Exclusive to the First Gen Games: Toxic + Leech Seed = Inf. Health and insta-death to non-poison types. Fixed in the second gen onward, how it worked was the mechanics of both moves happen in quick succession. Toxic’s effect doubles each round until it’s cured or the target dies. Leech Seed saps the target’s health until they switch out or the target dies (though it can be dispelled with Rapid Spin starting in Gen 2). The Toxic Seed Stratedgy is akin to benefiting from Softboiled every turn. No Non-Posion type is immune to it and it takes three turns to be rid of just Toxic in Link Battles.
  • Super Fang halves the HP of its opponents regardless of their type. Super-handy if you’re up against a Rhydon or Golem!
  • Amnesia on Mewtwo = Team Sweep. No Recover needed.
  • Scyther (Red) and Pinsir (Blue) are better off caught in the Safari Zone than playing the slots.
  • Porygon is cheaper in Blue (6500 coins) than Red (9999 points) so you should try to win it in Blue if you can.
  • No two wild Pokemon are the same.
  • You only get one Master Ball and it’s reccommended you save it for Mewtwo. Only those looking for a challenge would capture Mewtwo the old fashioned way.
  • Dratini has the longest Evolutionary Chain (Dragonair at 30 and Dragonite at 55) and is the also the most difficult to catch in the Safari Zone.
  • Abra can learn TM and HM Moves before it evolves at level 16.
  • The only way to get Golem, Alakazam, Gengar and Machamp is to trade their 2nd-tier forms to another Red/Blue/Yellow.
  • Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee are not named after Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee though it is an interesting coincidence.

And of course you should train a balanced team, not just one or two Pokemon if you want to make it through the whole game. This was a common problem I came across. That November my little brother got Pokemon Red and Blue for his birthday.Naturally I helped him out but by this time I was more than ready to play Pokemon on my own. The following year Pokemon Yellow was released. I got it and a Green Game Boy Color during the Memorial Day weekend. I literally played it until the game stopped working three years later.

Pokemon Yellow is a step up from Red/Blue and started the whole third wheel thing that contiued until the 5th gen (They broke tradition and released the sequels to Black and White) in that you’re playing prettmyuch the same game. The big difference between Yellow and Red/Blue is Yellow has the Anime tie-in complete with Talking Pikachu. There is even a Surfing Pikachu Minigame in Yellow open to those with Pokemon Stadium 1 if they want it.

When I went to summer camp with Pokemon Yellow I mopped the floor with everyone I faced. They were legit mindblown as I swept their teams with a single Pokemon and in case you’re wondering no I didn’t use Mewtwo to be fair. My Pokemon were all max leveled and max stat though. Later that year I got two Nintendo 64 games. One was Goldeneye 007. The other was Pokemon Stadium. Know what? Now that I think about it, I honestly don’t remember doing anything other than play Pokemon Stadium up until I got Pokemon Silver after school. Same with Pokemon Yellow. I remember visiting family in Brooklyn several times in 1999 and doing little outside play Pokemon Yellow. I was hooked.

Looking back now, Pokemon was what got me through High School. My very first Fanfic was a Pokemon Fanfic. No, not this one but one I wrote in a notebook. Pokemon went on to take 13 years of my life (I was 13 when I first got into Pokemon and I was 26 when I quit Pokemon cold turkey). When I decided to retire from Pokemon two years ago I had no regrets. It was a good run to be sure but for me it was time to move on.

Make no mistake Pokemon is for everyone who can appreciare it. My time at Gamefaqs, TPPC, Pokemon Crater and Serebii.net introduced me to like-minded people of ALL AGES who loved Pokemon and were proud of it. Speaking of which, this is my all-time favorite Pokemon even after all these years:

The ORIGINAL Super Legendary Pokemon.

When Pokemon: The First Movie was announced I geeked out like crazy. I even bought the movie soundtrack and listen to it to this day. Mewtwo is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube but he was so powerful Nintendo replaced him with Lucario in Brawl. A fellow fan of The Genetic Pokemon made this video on You Tube but be warned, it’s graphic:

The song is called Green Bird and is from the Anime Cowboy Beebop. The other Anime footage is from the first 10 minutes of the first episode of Elfen Lied (outstanding Anime in itself by the way).

It goes without saying Red, Blue and Yellow get a 10/10 for the nostalgia alone. The only way to get the original Pokemon games is via the internet or a gaming/anime con like Anime Boston or PAX East. Red and Green were released for the Game Boy Advance in 2007 with 3rd Gen graphics and mechanics. I may not play pokemon anymore but I will always have the memories.

Thank you. Pokemon!

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