(GB / Game Boy)

Pokémon Red and Blue (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Pokémon Red and Blue Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stuart Reddick

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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User Comments (61)



MullaOslo said:

Even though i thoght pokemon was for kids back in the day when it came out... i was 13.. i LOVED the game..
Spent many hours with Picachu in Pokemon Yellow.. Great story.. Great Game



TwilightV said:

This made me think: What if they emulate the Super Game Boy adapter for the VC?



metakirbyknight said:

I love the old ones, 1st and 2nd gen, then just like the Sonic games did, it turn mediocre and I still play the retro ones.



GamerZack87 said:

That could work if they finally opened the Virtual Handheld section of the DSi Shop!

By the way, I've noticed that a lot of people refer to Red (the male PC in Chrome and its remakes) as Ash, and Blue (the rival in said games - his name's Green in Japan, to the one person who's interested) as Gary, just like the characters in the Anime. It's strange how much people associate the games and anime as a single entity, but I think that the games are completely different in every way, and I prefer the games to that regard.

Useless Fact for the Day: counting the different forms, shiny colourations etc. of each Pokemon species, there are somewhere between 1000 and 2000 physical variations of each Pokemon! Kinda makes you respect the fact that Chrome only had 151, doesn't it?



Firkraag said:

I had the pokémon blue version for my old gameboy pocket! was alot of fun, consumed alot of batterys this one did! Good times..



Pikamander2 said:

"In total there are more than 150 Pokèmon to capture and train"

I guess that 151 is technically more than 150, but that sentence still seems kind of strange.



Digiki said:

G/S/C improved on it's predeccesor, R/S replaced good features with annoying ones, then D/P made it ugly and slow (I hear Platinum fixes the speed, and doesn't suck).

Deserved a 10 back in the day, a 9 being played on the Gameboy is fair, since this is fairly slow, with archaic menus. But with Pokemon Stadium speed enhancement it's just as awesome as ever.



RevolverLink said:

I lived and breathed Pokemon Yellow and Blue back in the day. Then G/S/C managed to be even better and they remain the peak of the series, in my opinion.



Other_Dave said:

I had the blue version and loved it. Like other great GB games I'd be playing on my chunky as I sat on a train, then come home, slot the cart in my Super Game Boy and carry on.
For some reason I've never played the later games in the series but the original was definitely a great game.



SmaMan said:

Yellow was REALLY hard to really get started since the first gym leader was Brock and rock Pokemon don't take damage from Pikachu's electric attacks. I don't remember how I got past him... but I've picked it up again so I guess I'll find out soon enough.



XD375 said:

Digiki: What about D/P was slow?

The series has always been good. Sure, G/S/C marked the peak but I wouldn't compare the new games to Sonic's new games (which actually aren't as bad as people make them out to be). The only real problem with D/P is that the monsters themselves aren't as good-looking as the first two generations.



Outrunner said:

When are they going to make a proper Pokémon game on a home console is what I'm wondering.



MarkyVigoroth said:

1) I read a book that said that the Pokémon bubble had popped, yet this (as well as experience) suggests otherwise.
2) This is what is called an "AAA game," yet this is not a 10!
Heh, at least this gets rid of hater's concept of bias.



theblackdragon said:

good old Red and Blue... man, i miss the good old days when just capturing 100 pokemon looked like a nearly impossible task... i don't even want to know how many there are right now. it's the main reason i gave up on the series after Gold and Silver, it just got too complicated.



Adamant said:

Of course you're not too old. Why shouldn't you find them enjoyable? The only reason i could think of was if you're one of those idiots who consider everything other than bloody FPS games and GTA clones to be "for kids", but given that you're posting on a site dedicated to Nintendo games, I doubt that's the case.



Kawaiipikachu said:

40 Hours to complete the game ?
It should take no longer than 24 hours to complete the game i mean no more .
Winning every battle catchin 3 pokémon so you can defeat Gary in that famous final battle .
In every version of Pokémon i played usally takes less than 24 hours to complete .



Aenaida said:

I loved my Red Version. One of my most played games out of my whole collection. The G/S/C versions are better, but they don't hold as much nostalgia for me.

I wish I had never caught Missingno. :l



Bahamut_ZERO said:

@kawaiipickachu: It takes about 24 to beat the Elite Four, but 40 to capture all the Pokemon.

Oh, and for the review, Ash was made for the TV show, he had no "real" name in game like the others (ex- Ruby has Brendan as the boy).



hamispink said:

Pokemon yellow was the best, you could easily get pikachu, charmander, bulbasaur, and squirtle, and i loved that he followed you around:)



GamerZack87 said:

Exactly! Personally, I prefer the Japanese anime names for Red and Blue (Ash and Gary just don't appeal to me at all)!

They actually made two full-blown (if not a little dark) games for GameCube (Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness, the latter of which I never got to play ). They added a new twist where you could catch other people's Pokemon, to a certain extent.

@Bahamut ZERO
Actually, the main characters of Chrome and its remakes were:
Red (Male PC)
Blue (Rival)
Leaf (Female PC-only in the remakes)
In GS, Blue is the Viridian City Gym Leader and Red is the 'true' final battle. As for Leaf, the reason she isn't called Green is because in Japan, the Rival is called Green.

Ow...my knowledge hurts...



SeniorDingDong said:

[Fanboy]The games should have got a 10/10. Sure, G/S are even better, but that doesnt make the original games less worthy for an 10/10 score.[/Fanoby]

What sucks in the DS versions is that the pokemon got so damn ugly. I even dont like the starter ones - cant imagine to play the next 200 hours with one of that guys...



Adamant said:

Actualy, neither "Leaf", the DP rival or any of the three GSC characters have real, ingame names. All you have to go on are the alternatives the games suggest you giv them when naming them - "Leaf", "Gold" and "Crystal" do not appear in their respective games unless you choose to play as them, and "Silver" and the DP rival will always be named by you.

Hence, the only playable characters in the series to have actual names are Red, Brendan, May, Lucas and Dawn.



Linkuini said:

To me, it only makes sense to get the newest version of Pokémon (I can't imagine training a Pokémon to level 30 just so it can learn Harden). That said, there's no denying the mark this made, and not just on the gaming industry. Of course, if you ask me, the gaming industry was the only place it left a GOOD mark.



ttplayer92 said:

Silver version was the best IMHO. The pokemon actually felt like a expansion to the first version rather then the same pokemon with a different look.



ttplayer92 said:

Also if wikipedia is to belive (actually is more reliable then many would think) Nintendo power gave this a 7.5 or something like that back in the day.



mastersworddude said:

I remember i first played it on my bros gameboy.
EDIT: @28. NintendoPurist: the Japanese anime names for Ash and Gary were Satoshi (Ash) and Shigeru (Gary).



Wolfcoyote said:

I was one of the suckers that bought Pokemon Red instead of Pokemon Blue - I wanted Meowth, Butterfree and Vulpix/Ninetails but they were in the BLUE version! What really stunk was that I knew no one else in my age group in which I could trade for those pokemon because I was twenty at that time...

I have to admit that I played so much of the original series (especially Pokemon Yellow) that my zeal ran out by the time Gold and Silver came out. Sadly I gave Pokemon Silver to my sister along with my Game Boy Color to play while I focused on my Playstation RPG collection and going to school. I miss Pokemon Yellow...



soniczelda_dude said:

You're not the only one! I too got the Red version instead of Blue and was always frustrated that I never had a link cable to trade pokemon with. Luckily, the DS has solved that problem.



Incognito_D said:

Possibly my favourite game of all time. Even just looking at the screenshots on this page brings back all the emotions I had when playing it for the first time on my brother's Game Boy Pocket. At the time, it was like nothing else I'd ever played. None of the subsequent generations have managed to capture my imagination in quite the same way as the first. It's completely unbalanced but I don't care. What a game. To me it's THE pokemon game.



Lotice-Paladin said:

Tell me who was 10 when this came out on the Game Boy? I was and it was a hectic year back then Trading Cards and playing the games. Fun times indeed.



Omenapoika said:

I was 11... I have probably dozens of brain cells dedicated ONLY for this game, it has imprinted on my mind. Most infuential and emotional game I know. Technically Silver is better, but still amazingly awesome.



Deviant_Mugen said:

If Red and Blue got a 9, then Yellow should definitely be a 10, seeing as it was the more aesthetically pleasing version...

Great games, though...



LEGOF said:

I'd appreciate it if you didn't refer to the main character as Ash. Their names were Red and Blue (and Yellow but this is a R/B review). They may look similar but Ash was just a character in the anime, Red and Blue were their own characters in the game and the manga.



andsta said:

9/10 !!! no way it got the same as the latest Pokemon game sure the story's good and it is a Pokemon game but soul silver/ heart gold is way better than this game it has better graphics, better audio, colors, bigger places to roam, 2 WHOLE REGIONS !!!, way more Pokemon, better scenery, cool videos's throughout the game (not very many at all), the pokewalker and loads more cool gadgets.
so how can you rate this the same as soul silver/heart gold !?!
this should be rated about 3/10 or 4/10 !!!



PATUX3T said:

@andsta - Because, smart one, they're rating based on how good it was BACK THEN. Of course they won't have all the new features of Heart Gold and Soul Silver, it's a Game Boy game! These games came out in 1998, so NintendoLife rates them as if its still 1998.

...and of course, back then, these games were pure Epic.

...this should've gotten a 10/10!



Nintenzo said:

I never even knew that pokemon was by Nintendo until a few months ago.
So tell me. What is the difference between colors (i.e. red,blue.)?



Curt said:

When pokémon came out, it was an amazing, unique experience. Now, it's just a fad.



TKOWL said:

I beat Champion Gary yesterday, and I can say that this is the best GB game ever created. Even though the sprites are ugly by today's standards (What happened to Golbat?), the numerous glitches, and the primitive feel, the Pokemon formula shines the most in this game.



Aqueous said:

@Nintenzo - the difference is a few pokemon, (mentioning red to it's blue counter part)
ekans - sandshrew
mankey - mewoth
growlither - vulpix (maybe backwards)
weedle is easier to get in red, caterpie in blue
oddish - bellsprout
there may be more I am forgetting



HawkeyeWii said:

If they do only put one on the 3DS VC then I hope it will be the Japan only Green version. Yellow wouldd be a nice added bonus!



drumsandperc92 said:

am i the only one who got turned off when the number of pokemon climbed into the multi-hundreds???
i preferred the original 150! each was unique, well designed, memorable, and although challenging it was actually realistic to play the game until you caught 'em all! how many hundreds are there now??
last game i played was gold...the first inflation of pokemon.
it was a fantastic improvement on the original, but to this day i only remember maybe two or three pokemon from gold.
i still remember most of the original...the new ones just seem like the same concepts as the original but with new names that keep getting weirder and a new coat of paint. so whats the point of having 15 characters that are essentially charmander???
idk. to me if a new game came out that was as new to me as far as features, story, graphics, etc go as B&W are, but with the original 151, id actually buy it.



Squashie said:

It's strange how the game hasn't come to the eShop already. And having sold my copy of the game years ago, I have decided to hunt down a copy so that I can relieve that amazing adventure!



Kirbic said:

"...you’re a young light-hearted kid by the name of Ash..."

Must...resist...urge to correct...

Unless Yellow or the 2nd generation comes out around the same time, I'm snapping Red up on the 3DS's VC the second it end up there! Wireless support or otherwise, since I found plenty of play time from these games on my own.

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