For many people, myself included, the start of the Pokemon empire was their first foray into video gaming. I know I have extremely fond memories of opening up that birthday present to find a silver Pokemon Gameboy color and Pokemon Blue. But having finished it ages ago and having it in storage for so long, is that all it is, fond memories? I was actually surprised to find that, after all these years, it still caught me and was just as addicting as I remember it being.
Obviously the graphics, being twenty years old, are lacking. Some of the portraits are a bit ambiguous and newer fans might not recognize them because of the detail in the updated designs, but for the most part it’s still obvious what everything’s supposed to be. The developers were smart that way and mostly kept things simple; a two-headed bird, a lump sticking out of the ground, a dragon, etc. The bicycle is obscenely expensive (and yet the bicycle theme is one of my favorites of the series) and walking is incredibly slow. With no happy medium or alternative, the pace is far slower than what it should be.
The inventory has a far lower capacity than needed and with the amount of key items that you cannot drop and technical machines you can only really carry a handful of items by the end of the game. Because of this you mostly have to choose between catching pokemon and battling; you can’t have a bunch of pokeballs and greatballs as well as a decent supply of battle items, so if you want to play effectively it’s one or the other.
The glitches present in the game are numerous, though only one (to the best of my knowledge) can be game breaking. Missingno’s effect on the game can range from a messed up Hall of Fame to a completely corrupted save file. On the other hand, there are helpful glitches, such as the one that allows the capture of Mew or the one that results in an infinite number of rare candies. Many glitches from Pokemon Blue (and Red), both good and bad, have gone down in gaming history and because of the various oddities it led to a whole slew of urban legends and creepypastas.
The flaws, though, are almost entirely balanced out by the good points. Leveling and combat can be as easy or as hard as you want; with a balanced team the fighting sections are tough but fair while power leveling one pokemon, primarily the starter, makes the majority of the game extremely simple.
The real joy, no matter how I look at it, is the journey. Capturing new creatures is exciting, and overcoming the challenge that the rival poses and becoming the Pokemon League champion is very satisfying. Following a kid from humble beginnings in a town consisting of three whole people to being at the top of the world was enjoyable. Your rival grows as you do, exploring and battling and putting his gained knowledge and skill to the test against you at every opportunity. The world starts small and slowly expands until you can go anywhere whenever you want.
To top it all off the music is absolutely splendid, some of the most memorable in a video game I’ve played to this date. The music is instantly recognizable and has inspired countless remixes and covers since debuting all those years ago. And the replayability! Not just playing it after years of having it tucked away, but immediately after achieving the main goal there’s still the quest to collect all of the creatures. There are hours upon hours of content fueled just by the simple joy of finding new pokemon and adding them to the collection.
So is my love for Pokemon Blue fueled entirely by nostalgia? I can’t deny it’s a part of it, but I still got hooked just the same as if it was a game I’d never touched before and I still thoroughly enjoyed myself, flaws and age and all. It proves that you don’t need any of today’s technical advancements to make a solid game. I’m glad I finally replayed it. It was fun, and at the end of the day that’s the goal for games new and old. Would I still recommend it when there are newer entries in the series? You bet I would. Not everyone will like it, but it’s such a cornerstone to gaming history it would be a shame to not give it a try at least.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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