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Game Club #2 Roundup — Pokémon 1st Generation

 

Game club 2 Pokemon

It’s the end of the second Game Club! This month, we invited everyone to play Pokémon 1st Generation (Red, Green, Blue or Yellow). We got a handful of submissions, and we are proud to feature them today! Pictures were added by me (PushDustIn)!  I wish I could’ve contributed myself, but this past month was simply too busy for me to revisit the game. I really wanted to do more streams and really promote Game Club more, but organizing the live stream and interviews with three of the Smash announcers just took precedent. I’m going to try to be more involved with the upcoming Game Month. You can help us choose the game by joining the Discord Server!

[su_spoiler title=”Nirbion” style=”fancy”]

The first generation of Pokemon will always have a very special place in my heart. It really defined my childhood it got me REALLY into videogames even more. Today, I’m still a big Pokémon-Fan, but not as big as I used to be. So how was it to revisit Kanto? Is it really outdated as everyone claims?Cqp-3aKXEAA55_2

To my surprise, it actually holds up pretty well. Many elements really are “clunky” like the old Box-System or the use of HMs. And the menu interface is inconvenient and more complicated sometimes then it should be. But the core itself is as good as it was before. Traveling through the Overworld is exciting and catch and  train Pokémon is as fun as it was in the late 90s. And this is what I like about Gen 1: Even for its age, it’s actually not that hard to get into. But still, I wouldn’t recommend it, if you’re interested in playing a Pokémon Game since every game in the series improved the UI, but let the core intact. For a very long time, it was very safe in adding new elements to the core (and was heavily criticized for a long time for that). So there’s actually no reason to go back. So if you’re interesting in the first Generation of Pokémon, I recommend the GBA-Remakes, since it fixed MANY issues from the GameBoy Game and still kept the spirit and feel from the original.

But if you’re really interested in how PokéMania began, then go for it and grab one of the VC-Versions. You might get used to the outdated Menu-Design, but you will still find the Pokémon-Core, for what it is known and loved for so many generations.

Oh…I totally forgot: You might also get used to the graphics and old Pokémon designs.

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[su_spoiler title=”Voyager” style=”fancy”]

Pokémon Yellow, for Game Boy Color, played in the Nintendo 3DS virtual console.

This is my birthday month, so I decided to gift myself a copy of a game that I always wanted but never had *cue sad music*, so I buy one 15 dollar e-shop card and buy Shovel kn– no, that was last year – This year I bought Pokémon Yellow, a game that I had the joy to play in a friend’s game boy when I was 12. Now as a 28 year old, I’m still in love with the franchise, but I’ll try to drop the nostpokemon_yellow_cover_art_by_comunello76-d4xfrr5algia goggles and put ones that do nothing.

Let’s begin with what wasn’t effective at all

The item bag… Just 20 items? And you “have” to have 6 Key items always with you: The Map, the Bike, the Super Rod, the PokeFlute, the Item Finder and the Coin Case, also some PokeBalls, SuperBalls, UltraBalls and the MasterBall, making this the 50% of your end game bag… so in reality you just have 10 free slots for Potions (or Lemonades as I like to have), Status healing Items (Full heals at the end of the game), Revives, TMs/HMs…And so on.

And there is nothing more frustrating that having to leave the Seafoam Islands (or any other dungeon) because you have to go to the Pokémon Center to deposit items. Or even worse… you have to leave a dungeon to change your box because it’s full of Pokémon.

Now the stuff that wasn’t very effective.

One of the hardships about going back to the roots of a franchise is to deal with gameplay that was limited by the technology of its time, and in the case of Pokémon Yellow (and the other primary colored games) is the slow speed of the game compared with the recent instalments.

The character walk slowly, the battles are a crawl, my Pokémon team learn few moves and it take longer to get new ones, making the game a slow paced endeavor.

Also, the back sprites of some were really ugly…like, almost all of them.

Despite that there are things that still effective to this day

The difficult curve of the game gives you the need to keep leveling up your team every time you get a new quest to do, thankfully, the placement of trainers and the patches of grass make gaining experience a streamlined thing to do. Also, there aren’t plentiful side quests, but the hunt for the legendary birds is always fun.

Another thing that has become the staple of this version is that you can get all three starters, making the rest of Grass, Water and Fire Pokémon present on the game irrelevant. Unless you have the guts to train the Magikarp that some fishy dude sells you at the entrance of Moon Tunnel.

But some things were really super effective.

Like the introduction of the Happiness mechanic, in this game the only goal of it was to make Pikachu to do some cute faces, and to get Bulbasaur in cerulean city. But it was the first step into new evolution triggers, making those Zubats an interesting Pokémon to have, and creating attacks like Return (or Frustration if you are an evil person).

Also, the tone of the game. The first generation of games has some really dark moments, like the well-known murderer of Marowak, the creepy backstory of Mewtwo, and the Pokémon poaching and money laundering schemes of Team Rocket.

Finally, the Critical Hits

And no other aspect of the first gen is more iconic than its music. With a great use of the limited capabilities of the Gameboy sound font. My favorite theme is Route 11(12-13-14-15) with its cool and epic tune for a moment in which you probably have a six Pokémon team and are starting to feel more like a real champion in progress. I also recommend you to listen to the Viridian forest theme to get in a “dangerous” mood, which represents well your first dungeon in the game, it’s scary, full of bugs and your team still is weak, so it gives you some uneasy feeling, but still comes up as encouraging.Pokemon_gb_ashandpikachu

And as a final remark, I would like to share one interesting fun fact about my run.
My character is named Voyager, but my Rival was also named after how my parents call me as a child… That’s because my girlfriend give me all the names for the game, for example my Pikachu is named after our Pet, Guantesita (Little Glove), and well, every Pokémon of my team are named as we thought name her when she was a pup (despite the fact that in this gen there are not genders), like Odeth the Charizard, Venus the Blastoise, Nachita the Venusaur, Condesa (Countess) the Nidoqueen and Devora (as in Devourer) the Gyarados that we bought as a Magikarp in route 4.

That’s for me! Thanks you for reading!

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[su_spoiler title=”Spiral” style=”fancy”]

People may know me as a huge Pikachu fan, so it’s no wonder that I jumped on the first excuse to play Pokemon Yellow and share my thoughts on it. This has been one of my favorite games of all time, and I wanted to see how it holds up with my current experience with the Pokemon series.

137487_pokemonredblue-screen2While certain aspects most certainly have not aged well, and I longed for the convenience of current Pokemon games, I most certainly still had a boatload of fun playing this game again. Hearing Ikue Otani’s voice as Pikachu, even through the Game Boy’s best attempt to play it, is always a treat. My memories of playing this game as a kid came rushing back, though my new playstyle did bring up a few new challenges. Before I even entered Viridian Forest, I had a team of 5 Pokemon all struggling to get enough EXP. Since my team was weaker than normal, trips to the Pokemon Center were frequent. But even with that in mind, I noticed a difficulty difference between this and current Pokemon games. Trainers often gave out very little prize money, and it was difficult to stay stocked on Potions and Poke Balls, hence the aforementioned trips to the Pokemon Center. It is to be expected, since you mainly fight Youngsters and Bug Catchers at the beginning.

As I continued to play, I noticed a few things about this game that I wouldn’t have noticed before. One of which is that the RNG for critical hits is totally borked in this game (The Diglett owned by the trainer before Brock took out a third of my team getting nothing but straight crits…), but the more important thing is just how revolutionary this game was for the series in general. The Pikachu you get at the start of the game has a mechanic where your actions can cause it to like or dislike you as the game progresses, which became the basis for the Friendship mechanic used in every future main series Pokemon game. However, I feel that this mechanic is far more impactful in this game than it is in most future installments. In most future games, the only time Friendship is important is for using the moves Return or Frustration. While it’s true that Pikachu’s friendship doesn’t have any affect on gameplay, it serves well to characterise Pikachu. When you first get him, it’s clear that he doesn’t like you, and you can see it in his facial expressions and actions. As you continue through the game, you can see Pikachu’s response to different events and characters in the game. He’ll celebrate with you when you catch a Pokemon or defeat a tough opponent. He’ll get angry when you lose. He’ll interact with other characters in the world. Little things like these do something that, in my opinion, no other core Pokemon games has managed to do as well as Yellow did; it makes a Pokemon a character instead of a ‘tool’.

While I had often made up stories about my Pokemon when playing these games as a child, at the end of the day, they were what they were. They don’t really care what I did to them, nor did they serve as anything but a way for me to progress through the game. Even though I was proud of getting Footprint Ribbons for most of my Pokemon when playing through Pearl and Platinum, that was a very isolated case that didn’t do too much to characterise my Pokemon, especially when you learn that a similar Pokemon will get the same message. Amity Park in the same games was a cute distraction, but ultimately unmemorable and also seemed to miss the point of what I wanted to see from my Pokemon. What came closest to re-creating the feel of Yellow was of course, Heart Gold and Soul Silver. I played Soul Silver, and it also ranks up high on the list of my favorite games of all time. But even here, something was still off. While Pokemon do react to the environment in interesting ways, there’s still that generic feeling that holds it back. When one line is repeated amongst several different kinds of Pokemon, you don’t feel the individuality of each Pokemon as much as you feel a “<Pokemon X> reacted to you!” formula being reused, though it does lead to some unintentionally humorous situations (Snorlax is jumping for joy!).

surfing_pikachu_in_yellow__mediumThe difference in Yellow is the exclusivity of it. Because the feature is only for Pikachu, it elevates him to a state of uniqueness in the game and it lets you know that your actions matter, even if it’s just for this one Pokemon. It changes the relationship between the trainer and the Pokemon so that you’re on an adventure “with” Pikachu, and not just on an adventure “using” Pikachu. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder to me why Yellow is such a memorable game to me. My brother told me recently that he doesn’t think Game Freak could make a game quite like Yellow again, but I disagree. While I would be 110% behind a remake of Yellow, bringing with it the mechanics of current Pokemon games, I think this could be done in a core Pokemon game, just on a different level. Instead of going the Heart Gold and Soul Silver route of letting every Pokemon follow you, restrict it to just the starter Pokemon. If you’re working with just nine Pokemon instead of over 700, you can make each Pokemon more unique and with their own personalities and actions. They can interact with the environment and situations in different ways, and encourage players to keep them on their journey through the region. We could let players form a bond with their Pokemon again.

Or we could remake Yellow. Please, for the love of all that is good, remake Yellow.

[/su_spoiler]

[su_spoiler title=”NintenDrone” style=”fancy”]

Pokémon Red is one of my first video games, which was given to me due to my love of the anime adaptation. Pokémon Red is part of the first generation (popularly referred to as “Gen I”) of the popular Pokémon series, and is paired with Pokémon Blue (Green in Japan). The only difference between the two games is the available Pokémon. The games are available for the Game Boy as well as the 3DS Virtual Console. They also received remakes for the Game Boy Advance called Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. For this review, I played my original Game Boy cartridge via Game Boy Advance. As a disclaimer, I will not go over the game’s multiplayer battling and Pokémon trading, as I have not experienced them for myself.250px-Red_EN_boxart

The plot of Pokémon Red is simple for RPG standards. The player is given one of the eponymous creatures and a Pokédex (a device that records info on Pokémon) and sent on a journey around the Kanto region in order to defeat the Pokémon League and catch every Pokémon. The latter is not required for progression, although catching certain amounts of Pokémon will reward the player with helpful items. Along the way, the player will meet opposition from their rival, who’s always slightly ahead of them, and Team Rocket, a criminal organization that exploits Pokémon for profit. The characters are generally flat and not very fleshed out, existing to serve their story purpose and little more. Hardcore RPG players may feel let down by the basic plot, but it does what it needs to do in order to facilitate gameplay.

Pokémon is a turn-based RPG, so the game is divided between the overworld and battle modes. Battle begins when the player encounters a Pokémon or Trainer in the overworld. The overworld is comprised of towns, routes, dungeons, and Gyms. Towns are safe areas that contain shops, Gyms, and Pokémon Centers that heal the party and have a PC that stores Pokémon and items. Routes and dungeons contain wild Pokémon and Trainers to battle as well as obstacles that require an HM move to overcome. Gyms specialize in one Pokémon type and task the player with defeating the Gym Leader, placing Trainers and usually a puzzle in the way. In battle, each side uses one Pokémon at a time (out of a maximum of six), with the player using their Pokémon’s moves to either defeat the opposing team, or in the case of wild Pokémon, capture them with Poké Balls. If all of the player’s Pokémon are defeated, they lose half of their money and are booted to the last Pokémon Center that they healed at.

There are 151 Pokémon in Gen I, with a small number of them being exclusive to each version. The player obtains Pokémon by either receiving them from NPCs or whittling down the health of a wild one in order to increase the chance of catching it with a Poké Ball. Many Pokémon can also evolve into a stronger one upon reaching a certain level, having an item used on it, or being traded to another player. Some Pokémon are rare in that they can only be obtained once and/or require the player to miss an alternative Pokémon, such as the starter, fossil, and legendary Pokémon. Each Pokémon has one or two types, which determines how much damage they receive from each type of move. Each move also has a type, and Pokémon can learn up to four at a time via level-up or items called TMs and HMs. Each type is either physical or special, and moves are more powerful if used by Pokémon that are of the same type. A Pokémon’s stats are HP, Attack and Defense for physical moves, Speed for turn order and critical hit chance, and Special that controls both attack and defense for special moves.

As a Game Boy game, Pokémon Red has rather basic yet effective presentation. The overworld is made up of tiles, and makes sure that it’s clear what everything is. The battle screen is extremely basic, having a plain white background with the player’s Pokémon seen from the back and the opponent’s from the front. Outside of battle, people appear as small sprites, and Pokémon have generic appearances that roughly fit their body type. In battle, the characters appear in their full designs, which are nice to look at. Overworld animations are minimal, while battle animations (which can be turned off) include more elaborate execution of moves. The music is quite memorable and catchy, and I like nearly every track, with my favorites being the main theme and Trainer battle theme. The only tracks I dislike are Lavender Town and Pokémon Tower, as I find them to be annoying to listen to. The sound effects are effective and fitting, although some sounds get switched around in later entries, so it can be a bit strange for ones who’re used to the more recent Pokémon games.

pokemon-screen-6When you start the game, you must pick one of three starter Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. While my favorite of the bunch is Charmander, I picked Bulbasaur for this playthrough. The rival will always pick the starter that has the type advantage over the player’s, so he picked Charmander. You then fight him in a battle that is mostly determined by luck since the Pokémon only know basic attacks, but it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose. After running an errand for Professor Oak, you are given a Pokédex and sent on your way. You can now buy Poké Balls and start catching Pokémon to fill up your team. The early game is linear and slow, which is due to Gym Leaders Brock and Misty having very high leveled Pokémon for this point of the game, and the wild Pokémon being weak ones that don’t offer much utility or experience points. I had to grind for levels before Brock, and Mt. Moon took a while due to a lack of Repels to stop random encounters. After defeating Misty and getting the Cut HM, the game becomes quicker as well as more fun and open, as a larger variety of locations and Pokémon are available and levels don’t matter as much. One can choose to battle Lt. Surge, Erika, Koga, and Sabrina in whatever order they please, and Blaine can be battled after defeating Koga. Although the game expects the player to battle Surge first and Blaine last, the player can ignore their levels and save them for later based on their current Pokémon team. The game is not very difficult overall, but the level of challenge is completely based on your party’s ability to deal with different types of Pokémon. My team largely consisted of more powerful Pokémon that are found later in the game, so I was able to do later parts at lower levels. (For those who are curious, my team was: Venusaur, Dugtrio, Arcanine, Jolteon, Dragonite, and Starmie.) When I reached the Pokémon League, my team was nearly 20 levels below the final boss, so I raised my Pokémon’s levels just enough to evolve my Dragonair into Dragonite before entering. The Pokémon League is a final gauntlet of five battles, with each opponent being higher-leveled than the last. When I beat the game, I had clocked in a little over 50 hours and had caught 86 Pokémon. I could’ve shaved off several hours by not looking online to verify available Pokémon, items, and boss levels, however. Overall, I had a pleasant time playing Pokémon Red.

I had fun playing Pokémon Red, but that doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of problems. While the game isn’t very hard as is, it’s made easier thanks to the enemies’ rock-stupid AI, as they can be exploited, and a number of opponents seem to simply pick moves at random without any regards to strategy nor effectiveness. The game is not very well programmed in general, as a number of moves have unintended side effects or don’t work correctly. I even unintentionally triggered a glitch that evolved my Eevee into Jolteon without the need of a Thunder Stone. The inventory is incredibly small with only 20 slots, including key items. This has led me to constantly stop in the middle of a route or dungeon in order to store items in the PC’s storage, which is also limited. The game is poorly balanced, as the Special stat controls both offense and defense for special moves, and Psychic-type Pokémon are only weak to Bug-type moves, which have low power. The game states that Psychic-types are also weak to Ghost-type moves, but they are actually immune due to a bug. The implementation of TMs and HMs also irks me. Most Pokémon have a limited number of moves without the use of TMs, but TMs can only be used one time and most can only be acquired once, which prevents the player from experimenting. Any field move taught via HM requires the player to manually select it from the menu in order to use it, which is tedious when some have to be used multiple times. HM moves can also never be forgotten by a Pokémon once learned, discouraging the player from teaching these moves to a Pokémon that may learn a better move later. Finally, moves and items lack descriptions, so one must have a guide to know what they do. Fortunately, all of these issues are fixed in later installments.

Pokémon Red is a solid first entry on the series, and still holds up decently well today. I was surprised by how easily I got back into it after playing more recent installments, although I definitely missed features from later games. Overall, the game is worth looking into if you want to see the origins of Pokémon, although I’d recommend the Game Boy Advance remakes, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, over the originals. They have the improvements made by the second and third generations, and fix nearly all of my problems with the originals. However, if you want to play the original games, I recommend the versions on the 3DS Virtual Console, as they have wireless multiplayer and will allow you to transfer your Pokémon to the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon.

It was a fun ride playing this for Game Club, and I hope to participate in the future as well. See you next time!

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Thanks to everyone the participated in this month’s Game Club! We are still deciding what game to play for September. Let us know what you think in our Discord Server!

5 comments
  1. A trainer north of Cerulean had a Sandshrew, and it managed to wipe out half my team with consecutive critical hits… why does this game punish me with so many criticals…

    I have to agree with Nirbion and NintenDrone. If someone were interested in playing Gen 1 of Pokemon, I’d be inclined to direct them to Fire Red or Leaf Green. By today’s standards, the originals are pretty clunky and unclear in areas. But that doesn’t change my memories playing the games as a kid and loving every single second of them.

    And in response to Voyager, I also took a long listen to the Viridian Forest theme this time around, it was very foreboding. It gave me the feeling of “You’re lost, out of potions and antidotes, and your strongest Pokemon is poisoned”, even though I knew my way around it. The music in these games should never to be underestimated.

    Spiral on September 2 |
    • I did recommend FR/LG over the originals though. I only recommended the VC version for those who really want the original (non-remake) experience.
      “Overall, the game is worth looking into if you want to see the origins of Pokémon, although I’d recommend the Game Boy Advance remakes, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, over the originals. . . . However, if you want to play the original games, I recommend the versions on the 3DS Virtual Console”

      Nintendrone on September 3 |
    • thanks for the response =). the great thing of Viridian forest is that it could be very nostalgic. Like the gen2 version of it, it sound like “good memories”.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0X7sN-1lOo for the Gen 2 version
      and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcUHZv5o41I for the gen 4 Remake…
      Pokémon has really great music, it’s one of its biggest strengths (not pun intended)

      Rafael Mauna (@Fire_Voyager) on September 8 |
  2. *Sees Nirbion’s screenshot of the game*
    Perfection

    Smash44 on September 2 |
  3. After seeing everyone else’s reviews, I realize that I probably could’ve trimmed mine down a bit, but I wanted a full review of Gen I as a complete game rather than just my experiences with it. I doubt that any future Game Club write-up of mine will be quite as long as this one.

    Things that the other’s reviews reminded me of that I failed to mention in mine:

    While I said that the Pokémon and Trainers’ battle designs are nice to look at, I really only mean their front sprites. The player’s back sprite is fine, but most of the Pokémon’s back sprites are quite ugly and are unchanged from the original Japanese Red and Green, where pretty much every Pokémon was ugly as sin.

    I should’ve mentioned Gen I’s clunky UI besides the inventory. It’s slow and inconvenient to do simple tasks such as checking a Pokémon’s moves and stats, sorting items, and especially using the PC’s awful Pokémon and item storage systems. Pokémon storage in particular is a nightmare, as there can only be one open PC box at a time, and if it’s full, no more Pokémon can be caught unless the player manually changes the open box, which requires a save every time. There is no way to sort Pokémon within the box or swap stored a Pokémon with one in the party without manually depositing and then withdrawing. Also, for some reason the PC structure was downgraded from Japanese to international versions of Gen I, going from 8 boxes with 30 Pokémon each to 12 boxes with 20 Pokémon each, forcing the player to switch boxes (and save) more frequently.

    I forgot to call attention to how broken the Speed stat is in Gen I. I mentioned that it determines a Pokémon’s critical hit chance, but failed to mention that it’s actually the Pokémon’s base Speed and not its current Speed that does this. This makes it so that fast Pokémon such as my Jolteon score an insane amount of critical hits (about 25% of the time). This is furthered by a few moves having a 8x multiplier for critical chance Gen I, so any Pokémon with a base Speed of 64 or higher (read: nearly all fully evolved Pokémon) get a nearly guaranteed critical hit when using one of these moves.

    Nintendrone on September 3 |