Pokémon - Retroview

Extra! Extra! Theory Of Evolution Proved!.. Kinda...

By: Zachary Lewis

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 6
   Plot 2
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 10
   Visuals 3
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

30+ hours


Title Screen

   Although the Nintendo 64 era had many people wondering about the soundness of said company's fiscal outlook, there was always the hope that the Game Boy would uphold them in their darkest hour. By releasing Pokémon worldwide, they ensured the Nintendo name as a household synonym for 'video games'. And, though many older gamers look on the mega-monster that the series has become with more than a little disdain, the fact remains that collecting and training monsters is an RPG trend that will never die away.

   From the beginning, Pokémon is plagued by the lack of a true storyline. With little more relevance to the hero's quest than to learn independence, and thwart the evil plans of Team Rocket, it's a wonder that the game is as fun as it is. But, occasionally, story is not the driving force of an RPG. Albeit this syndrome is rare indeed, Pokémon plays the fact that you can never truly finish it without hours of scouring every inch of Johto province on a quest to collect the 151 Pokémon, as a trump card so massive that there has nary been a game with a more valid replay power. Considering that this was not the first game stressing the collection of trainable creatures, it's no wonder that Nintendo was able to perfect the formula enough that everyone from the five-year-old Kindergartener, to the forty-year-old college professor can play and enjoy the title.

No One Told Me Collecting Them All Would Cover This Much Distance...
No One Told Me Collecting Them All Would Cover This Much Distance... 

   Yet another standard Nintendo trademark of quality lies in the games' translation. Although not flawless, it is a far cry from having such classic lines as, "All your base are belong to us!", and their loathesome ilk. Sadly, how outstanding the game is ends there. Many of the other arenas that the game contacts, such as menu design, graphics, and overall originality, are little more than average. Simple text menus, the black and green LCD of Game Boy graphics, and taking much from previously existing games does nothing to enhance or hurt the game.

   Yet more areas of average gaming come in from the games' repertoire of music tracks and sound effects. Using many sounds that have previously been heard in Game Boy RPGs and recycling them doesn't generally produce the greatest of audio delights. However, one group of sound effects that were given great care are those used in the roar-like sounds that each Pokémon distinctly makes. And, although not nearly as distiguishable as the anime sounds of each creature saying its name, they come surprisingly close.

   One thing that the syndicated anime does show perfectly is the Pokémon battle system. Each trainer can carry around 6 of their captured helpers. Each species of Pokémon learns different skills that can affect the battle in a myriad of ways, from healing itself, to inflicting elemental damage on an enemy. Trainers can also randomly battle wild Pokémon either to attempt in their capture or to have their own Pokémon gain experience toward evolving and learning new skills. Yet another addition to the battle system is the ability to link 2 Game Boys together with the appropriate cable, and battle against your friends or trade Pokémon with them; a few Pokémon can only be gotten in this manner.

Best Your Friends
Best Your Friends 

   Toward the end of the game you will have the chance to battle some of the world's most powerful trainers; these battles will take both high level, evolved Pokémon, and a wide array of skills. Granted, these super powerful trainers are not just a simple walk through the park. But, with enough strategy and a good mind for memorizing the elemental weaknesses of each Pokémon, virtually all the difficulty in the game can be removed. The greatest difficulty comes from trying to form the 'ultimate party' of Pokémon. Having your bases covered against every kind of attack is a complicated process, but if you play long enough, you will succeed.

   Pokémon might not be as spectacular as its sequels, but with 2 variations of the game, and the ability to bring you back for more, time and time again, it has a level of distinction beyond what any numerical score can give. Play Pokémon and see for yourself why all the hype exists. You won't be disappointed.

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