Pokémon - Review

Nintendo's Pokémon Offers Fun For All Ages

By Ryan Amos, RPGamer Writer

Review Breakdown
   Battle System8.5
   Replay Value9.5
   Time to Complete20 hours 

   When Pokémon was released three years ago in Japan, it was an instant success. In fact, it still is, the cartoons and other non-video games that have spawned off of it are a tremendous success. Pokémon, known as Pocket Monsters in Japan, has earned $4 billion since being released. And it's not hard to see why.

   The game itself is surrounded by an incredible amount of hype. About a month before the game hit shelves, the cartoon based on the game hit the airwaves around the country. This basically proves that Nintendo is aiming for a younger audience, though it's hard to see a nine or ten year old having the patience to build monsters' levels and capture new ones. This part of the game can be very tedious, especially because monsters which you capture are generally five to ten levels below the level of the monster with which you capture them.

   This said, the game is particularly easy. As the monsters you fight are usually grossly outgunned, not much challenge is involved. The real challenge of the game comes in capturing all 150 monsters. This is not possible with just one version of the game. There are less than 150 monsters in each version of the game, blue and red. So, you have to hook up with a friend who has the other version to update your "Pokédex," or your monster index.

A Battle
Pokémon hopelessly outmatch their enemies.  

   Overall, the battle system is great. It seems like a normal one-on-one RPG battle, but once one of the Pokémon are defeated, both sides are given a chance to change Pokémon. You can carry up to 6 Pokémon at a time, so you can match up with your enemies well. Often too well, as if you have a powerful Pokémon, you can dispatch a full set of 6 Pokémon with just one. If you have less than 6 Pokémon, you can capture "wild" Pokémon with a Poké Ball, which can be purchased throughout the game. The downside to this is that wild Pokémon usually have very low levels, so they must be built up for them to be useful.

   The plot, however, is basically non-existant. Basically, the path to becoming a world class Pokémon trainer has certain obstacles, such as Team Rocket (the villains in the cartoon) and your rival, whom you name in the beginning of the game. The goal is quite simple: gather as many Pokémon as you can into your Pokédex, and have strong fighting Pokémon to help capture them. The fighting also comes into play when you battle other Pokémon trainers, who can range from kids you meet in the road to trained professionals of the "Pokémon League." There is a path you should follow, and it is strictly linear, though you can go anywhere in the game you have been whenever you want.

   The graphics are done about as well as possible for a Gameboy game. The Super Gameboy support is very good, and it should be as good on the Gameboy Color, set to be released later this year. This is easily the best job I have personally seen done for any Gameboy game in terms of Super Gameboy support.

Pokémon Gyms house Pokémon masters  

   The music, however, is sub-par. The tunes are annoying, repetitive, and will probably leave your finger reaching for the volume to turn it off. While most Gameboy music is annoying, I would expect more from a game of this calibre from Nintendo. It is nowhere near on par with other, earlier offerings, such as Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Some of the music is so bad it makes me want to curse Nintendo for including a speaker on the Gameboy. (Well, then and when I get caught playing it in English class.)

   None of this much matters, however. Pokémon is insanely fun and addictive. This, in spite of the total lack of "mature content" so many RPG fans crave today. Pokémon really is, at heart, a kid's game, but that shouldn't keep older gamers from playing it. On the contrary, older gamers will get a great play out of it. The replay value is excellent, once you beat the game, there are still going to be tons of monsters you haven't caught, and there are some incredibly rare monsters in the game. Some monsters you will see once in the game, and then never again.

   All in all, Pokémon is an excellent game, especially considering it's easily mobile. If you're looking for a decent RPG for Gameboy, or just need a diversion from English class, Pokémon is a good candidate. Gotta catch 'em all!

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