So recently, we’ve picked up a few Gameboys and old Pokemon games with a couple of friends. We’re currently playing Red and Blue.
We started playing last Friday, and got one of our friends who never played Pokemon and didn’t like the idea very much completely hooked. And he has every right to be! I haven’t played the original games in forever, but now that I’m older, I can see the reasons as to why it become so popular.
Pokemon, in its time, was one of the most amazing games there were. Seemingly simple at first, but turning out to be rather complex with lots of different monsters who have strategical advantages and disadvantages over each other, math-based mechanics to see who deals the most damage, and a vast world to explore. The level design is surprisingly good. Puzzle-y where it needs to be, simply beautiful everywhere else. For example, if you always take the first door, you’ll rarely find yourself backtracking because you found the end of a dungeon but didn’t explore all of it yet.
That said, the games are also hilariously bad. Or at least, their metagames are. And some mechanics are just so broken you’ll be peeing your pants in no time. For example, movepools (the different kinds of moves a Pokemon can learn) for most Pokemon are pretty shallow. Strip the TM and HM moves from that, keeping only the level-up moves, and you’re left with a pretty bare-bones creature.
Or the Freeze status. Oh dear. Unlike the other status effect that immobilizes you, sleep, Freeze doesn’t cure in a couple of turns. No, Freeze only cures when a Pokemon either is hit by a Fire-type move, or dies. That’s right. Once your Pokemon is frozen, there’s no way to get it out. (Sure, you could use an Ice Heal, but items are banned from most PVP matches.)
Don’t even get me started on Wrap and Bind.
Even though the metagame is kind of awkward compared to the other games from the main series, and despite the fact that there’s quite a few ridiculous exploits present in the games, they’re still really, really great. One of the first large RPGs, and they pulled it off extremely well. Also noteworthy, the humor level in the game. I never really got the jokes when I was younger, but now that I’m replaying Red, some dialogues and situations make me smile.
If you haven’t played them yet, get yourself a second-hand Gameboy and a Pokemon game cartridge.