I hinted on Twitter that I was working on an old Pokemon review. Here it is! Since we’re getting closer to the release of Pokemon Lets Go Pikachu & Eevee I decided to review every main Pokemon game in existence! Starting with the games that started it all.
The gameplay of Pokemon has roughly remained the same to this day. You walk around the world catching monsters and using them to battle each other for recognition as the strongest trainer in the world. It’s been added to over time, but it’s still the same way and I love it. Don’t fix what ain’t broken! There were no double battles back then and the only way to have competitive matches was by using a link cable (remember those!) and going up against people you knew in real life. Yes, I said people you knew in real life. Pokemon Red is arguably one of the hardest Pokemon games to ever release. Why? Because there was no hand holding when this game released. Fighting gym leaders could be challenging if you didn’t prepare properly and I loved that they actually felt more difficult than regular Pokemon trainers.
Pokemon Red is a slow paced game compared to its later installments. You can’t run in this game, but you can ride a bike to get around a little faster. Your rival isn’t friendly towards you like he is in the later games. He treats you like crap in this game and eventually becomes the Pokemon master before you. This game has aged okay. It’s not a bad game. It’s actually really good and I couldn’t help, but fall in love with the original 150 Pokemon again.
Some of the best soundtracks in gaming history can be found in Pokemon Red and Blue. The starting theme at the very beginning of the game has been reused and remastered multiple times. The songs in Pallet Town, Vermilion City, and Cinnabar Island are amongst my favorites. None of them compare to Lavendar Town’s creepy theme. That track alone is reason enough to play this game from start to finish. The fact that the only ghost Pokemon in the game come from that small town makes the creepy theme that much more epic to me. The various different Pokemon sounds that were introduced back then are still being used today and have truly stood the test of time.
Not only did this game start the series it also introduced us to some of the best Pokemon ever. Gengar, Dragonite, Mewtwo, the legendary birds, Charmander, Bulbasaur, Butterfree, etc. I can keep on naming Pokemon that I still love to have in my regular lineup and they all came from this game! Yes, some of the Pokemon are very simple in design. Like Muk, but Muk is a freaking awesome Pokemon too and I’ll happily debate anyone that thinks otherwise. The Pokemon assembled here are classic and encouraged me to do multiple runs until I had tried nearly all of them. To this day I’ve never trained an Onix… I don’t know why.
The gym leaders here aren’t the best in the series, but they were all fun to go up against. I would say choosing Charmander as your starter is like putting the game in hard mode because the first two gym leaders can wipe the floor with him. My only complaint is that some gym leaders (Koga, Sabrina) had a very disappointing team of Pokemon that consisted of multiple of the same Pokemon. It’s lazy, but there weren’t a lot of psychic or poision types back then.
The story here is simple. You want to be the very best that there ever was. I’m totally singing the theme song right now while I type this :). You’re a 10 year old boy that gets to go on an adventure catching Pokemon and winning gym badges while fighting the evil Team Rocket. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it didn’t need to be. This is 1998 we’re talking about here and it was on the Game Boy. I was too young to grasp deep narratives back then.
The old Pokemon games had the ugliest red (or blue) palette over EVERYTHING. It was everywhere. Even the Pokemon were red (or blue) and it was ugly as shit. I don’t know who thought that was a great design choice, but thankfully the next two games got rid of it and gave us a proper colors. I know this was on the Game Boy, but man… I don’t remember the game being this ugly. Maybe it’s because I was just a little kid, but no rose-tinted glasses are going to stop me from calling this one ugly ass game. The Pokemon sprites (for the most part) look great and so do the sprites of the various different npcs that you’ll meet while wandering around the world.
Pokemon Red will always have a special place in my heart. It's not as good as the remakes on the Advance, but the fact that I can still get lost in its world and enjoy this game proves that it stood the test of time. At least it did for me. It's not the best Pokemon game ever made. Not even nostalgia will get me to say that it is, but I loved every second of it and I'll gladly take another trip down memory lane. This game was a huge part of my life growing up and I highly recommend it just so you can see how far the series has come since then.