Review: Pokémon Red and Blue (GB)

Catching them all never felt as good as it did back in 1998.

To say that Pokémon has made its mark on the video game industry would be something of an understatement. While many claimed the franchise to be a fad when it first made its debut in each of the world’s four major video game regions, over time those people have been proven wrong. Even today, Pokémon remains one of Nintendo's best-selling franchises, but despite all of the subsequent updates the most successful and inspirational of all the Pokémon games are arguably Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green.

While the original monochrome Game Boy hardware certainly had its limitations, Nintendo and Game Freak pushed it as far as it could and in doing so creating one of the most unique, original, and enjoyable experiences on any platform. Because of the original titles, Pokémon has spawned a TV show, merchandise, and several sequels. The franchise spread across the globe like an epidemic and is still going strong today.

Here’s the deal with the first iteration of Pokémon: you’re a young light-hearted kid by the name of Ash who wants to become the greatest Pokémon trainer in the land. With a determined heart, he sets out from his hometown of Pallet Town. By using his starter Pokémon that Professor Oak gave him, Ash embarks on a life-changing experience as he befriends other Pokémon and engages in Pokémon battles to prove that he is indeed the greatest trainer in the land.

Located in eight major towns throughout the region of Kanto are gyms, and in these buildings Ash can test his skills against a trainer who has mastered a specific type of Pokémon. You see, there are many types of Pokémon, each with their own type. Types range from normal to grass to fire to water. Each type has its advantages against others and this is where a strategy element kicks in. It’s important to keep each Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses in mind when developing your team of six in order to make sure that you have a Pokémon that can defeat any other Pokémon that an opponent throws at you.

In total, there are more than 150 Pokémon to capture and train. While some can undergo a change in form known as evolution when they reach a certain level, others must be traded to another trainer in order to evolve. While this is probably the biggest problem with the game seeing as not everyone will have a friend to trade with, it is mandatory to do this in order to complete your Pokédex that you’re completing for Professor Oak.

In order to obtain all of the Pokémon that the game has to offer, you’ll need to explore every nook and cranny of Kanto. While most Pokémon can be found in tall grass, some can be found by dragging out a fishing rod or by exploring a cave.

It’s a simple task to find Pokémon but the same can’t be said about capturing them. For starters, you have to deplete their health and use status effects on them. When engaging in fights with legendary Pokémon, both of those things will prove vital as they’re much strong than a typical Pokémon.

While more recent Pokémon games have never been overly difficult, the first iteration is probably the most accessible of them all, and for this reason it's easy to see why it got so many people hooked back in 1998. However, because it's the first in a series, the game understandably lacks many of the features that are present in more recent entries; it also doesn’t have half as many Pokémon. These are minor niggles, and if you're willing to accept them then you can look forward to a 30-40 hour adventure that has tons of replay value, even after the end credits have rolled.


Many thought Pokémon was a fad a decade ago, but the past decade has proven that Pokémon is unquestionably here to stay. Each and every installment in the main series is so well crafted that each has managed to improve on its predecessor, but that's not to say the original isn't worthy of investigation today. While this first iteration may not live up to the more recent fourth generation, it’s still an amazing Game Boy title and one of the best RPGs ever created.

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