The Pokemon franchise certainly has some history these days, what started life as a little idea that someone made up from their own passion has blown up over the years to something seemingly unrecognizable from its original form. As the games are getting ready to head towards a perspective seventh generation we look back at where it all began, looking at where it all began (outside of Japan at least) with Pokemon Red and Blue you can see how far things have gone from the seemingly simplistic idea that was Pokemon’s core concept to the uninitiated. Honestly it is strange coming back all these years later but I can’t say the Pokemon spirit I have grown to truly love over the years has gone away.
I am not lying it is truly weird coming back to these games, seeing how the franchise has evolved over the years and evolving with it Red and Blue seem like strangers. But yet for how strange these games seem at first glance from the newer games coming back is a welcoming sense of nostalgia, a chance to revisit where my Pokemon journey and many others first began, but yet before we get to all that there is certainly an elephant in this room.
We all know that Pokemon Red and Blue had a number of issues, this was never made secret and many of these problems were rectified and improved in more recent games but still this doesn’t stop me coming back and noting some of the more annoying issues. For me one of the biggest problems I encountered while venturing back into the original Kanto was type advantages and disadvantages, again this issue was rectified in a later game but here it was completely messed up. Adjsting to the absence of the steel and dark typing was easy but one of the biggest obstacles is facing the games incorrect strength and weakness typing’s, admittedly it is funny to see how things are so incorrect but it came down to a matter of trial and error in the hopes of things getting right.
Any complaint I can honestly come up with for Pokemon Red and Blue are very much nitpicking as all the things I have to complain about are simply the original design, all the issues are later rectified in newer games but are they really problems? I would like to say they are with how we have grown accustomed to the general stylings of the Pokemon games over the years, but these problems are simply how the original games worked it may annoy me in a way but this is how it all worked.
But this also comes down to being one of the original games greatest strengths, entering Red and Blue is like starting Pokemon with a clean slate in entering the game you have to completely relearn how to play. It is not all that hard but we see the simple actions of what we have grown accustomed to change and have to relearn the strengths of our Pokemon and how they work in battle. This is honestly quite fun and makes Red and Blue actually feel refreshing and that is an honest surprise, I could not just enter with my knowledge and instead had to learn, it is these simple original designs that you forget about but it is good.
The nicest thing I can say about Pokemon Red and Blue is coming back to this game shows just how far the franchise has gone, we see all the adjustments made towards a more cohesive game. In twenty years Pokemon has gone through its own evolution all of which took the base guidelines created in this game and expanded it to find where things could be improved. With time a whole lot has been improved as the world saw technological advancements and all the problems I can nitpick in this game have just about been rectified, but in it all lies the spirit of the original games. Red and Blue plays homage to where the franchise began but also shows us how far things have gone and improved year by year, the face maybe different but the soul is the same. In coming back to Red and Blue I can’t honestly help but be in awe of the real truth of just how great this original game was.
I often forget what made me get into Pokemon in the first place, it was not the adorable characters, or my sister telling me to play the games. It was Pokemon Red and Blue, the magic of these games is in everything the games do, and surprisingly all these years later it like simply coming back to an old friend. It is not often that a game can still hold up years later, often with advancements in the franchise it is near impossible to return to where it all began but this is not the case with Pokemon. Red and Blue are still fun, they still hold a myriad of excitement even in venturing places I have been many times over the years somehow the different vision provides a fresh take that I needed.
Pokemon Red and Blue are games where you can’t really expect much from the story, basically I mean that no story really exists but this has never stopped the games. The now age old formula applies to this game, you start as a new trainer who gets their very first Pokemon and is given the task of completing the Pokedex. During this time you also go ahead and raise up your team and aspire to be the very best trainer in the world by challenging the gyms and eventually the Pokemon League. The story may be basic but this formula works and for this first installment we didn’t need a well told story, the true story of Pokemon Red and Blue was in the players hands as we were the story.
Our story is told by our adventure in Red and Blue and in most cases the major story is a lot less direct. Sure the games featured an overarching plotline of which the player needed to follow but the rest was about us, and everything story related we led to by means of simple barriers. This is one of the better things from Red and Blue that seems to have been forgotten, the journey is still about us but in most places we are simply guided and being told where to go. Red and Blue had none of this sure the game forced you to fulfil certain requirements to move forward but these were not outright told you had to use your brain and think about what had to be done.
While I am a fan of the more driven stories in later games Red and Blue is refreshing and I enjoyed being in a more simple time, I did miss my driven story but it was the time and Red and Blue did so much more they didn’t need it. The simple premise of collecting friends and allies, battling to become the best and ultimately defeating a generic team of evil doers is more than enough, could they have done more, of course but simplicity was the corner stone of what makes Red and Blue so enjoyable.
When I say simplicity I do actually mean deceptively challenging but this is a simple interpretation, Red and Blue are games that are easy to learn but take time and patience to master. The battle system is a timeless feature but even with some of the unusual strengths and weaknesses in this game it is still easy to pick up and learn. Red and Blue is built on simple design and experimentation, you learn which Pokemon is good where and adapt around it and also learn which moves will help you the most with your playstyle.
In battle you learn the varying strengths and weaknesses which go on to make the basic gameplay that is Pokemon’s turned based battle system. Some of this is in the simple nature of general weaknesses Grass beats Water, Water beats Fire, and Fire beats Grass, the battle system is as simple as rock, papers, scissors and battles are determined in this matter. As I have previously stated things are a whole lot more challenging and deep but at its core this makes Pokemon what it is.
Red and Blue takes us back to the simple days of having only one hundred and fifty one Pokemon to catch, in a task that today seems daunting this was one of the games biggest draws. Your team would consist of six Pokemon and you would work to catch them all and you wanted to get them all. Each Pokemon was as cool and interesting as the next from a lowly Weedle to an awesome Dragonite, this of course introduces the community aspect where Pokemon Red and Blue encourage you to trade in order to find all the Pokemon you need to officially catch them all. I wanted to get them all but of course still struggle to but this is just one of the many things that made the games great.
Even by today’s standards Pokemon Red and Blue are still visually stunning games, they may not have been the best looking games on the Gameboy or even pushed the boundaries but still they were pretty impressive. Now they remain just as nice to look at from the great looking Pokemon sprites (from the front at least), to the world itself this game does still look impressive and make a nice change from the normality of the current graphical trend. Likewise the game also features some music that is still pretty impressive, a lot of the scores play in repeat but many are full of power that gets you excited for the journey ahead, and some are just really memorable like the Lavender Town theme that succeeds at being both creepy and sad.
In one way Pokemon Red and Blue are not what they used to be, but in another they are still something truly incredible. These games started a trend which is huge now and they are still so fun to play, I personally think the games have improved over the years but coming back here just shows how incredible the franchise was to begin with and how great it is now. Red and Blue are great games and they started something that is truly incredible, whether a long time Pokemon fan or a more recent player these original games need to be played.