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Review: Pokemon Red & Blue

August 15, 2012

Now that I’ve completely ruined my legs working the polls today (or yesterday, depending on your frame of reference), I might as well go into the Pokemon series and my own personal history with it.

I was in 6th or 7th grade before I was even exposed to the series – if I remember right, we were on a class trip to the local renaissance festival. I saw  a couple of the other kids playing it, thought it looked neat, and I got it for Christmas that year.

I was hooked. There wasn’t a place that I wouldn’t bring my Gameboy and at least one Pokemon cartridge. In fact, I was still carrying them around with me as late as college. Now, you may be asking your screen, “What about the story? What about the gameplay?”

Shut up and let me be nostalgic for five minutes.

Okay, on to the story. You play as [INSERT COMICALLY OBSCENE NAME HERE], on a quest to catch and record data about one hundred fifty-one pokemon, and to beat the four greatest trainers in the entire Japan-ish world, helped by world-famous researcher and your neighbor (bloody convenient, eh?) Professor Oak, and contending with his grandson and your rival, [RACIAL SLUR AND/OR SEXUAL ORGAN] Oak, who always seems to be a step ahead of you, but maybe that’s because you’re picking up packages for Professor Oak because the delivery team at the PokeMart in Viridian City are apparently playing grab-ass in the break room, or maybe it’s the old man who yells at you while lying in the middle of the road because he hasn’t had his coffee yet.

As for the gameplay, that’s fairly simple. Turn-based, rock-paper-scissors style combat. In a battle, you can do one of four things each turn: attack with one of up to four attacks, use an item (healing spray potions, poke balls, etc.), change pokemon, or run away. You can encounter wild pokemon in tall grass or on the water, and you automatically start a battle if you make eye contact with them (it’s some weird pride thing I guess, I don’t know). If you beat another trainer, you get money, but if you lose in battle, you lose some money and you pass out, proving that the player character is a pansy.

Pokemon is one of the flagship titles on the Gameboy and may well have cemented it as the handheld game console for a solid decade. But how well does it hold up? Pretty well, actually. Even with all the advancements that have been made in the generations since, the original pairing still stand the test of time, partially because the core game mechanic hasn’t changed, and partially because they are the originals. It’s like comparing a finished and set diamond to an earlier version of itself. Everything that makes it fit for a flawless engagement ring was there all along, just maybe not quite as polished or a little rougher than the cleaner lines of the finished product. They’re still great games and they’re still the foundation of the series – no new releases are going to change that about them.

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