Pokémon Retrospective: Pokémon Red & Blue

By Tim Parsons


The Pokémon franchise has become a staple of entertainment for all, from kids from the 90’s to today. It’s grown to be the third highest grossing game franchise of all time, and with the seventh generation of games, Sun and Moon, coming to the 3DS in November 2016, I can’t think of a better time for a retrospective review of the main Pokémon games. This series will look at the mainstream Pokémon games (Red, Gold, Ruby, etc.), the sister games (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, etc.), remakes, and several spinoff games. Without further ado, lets take a look at the games that started it all, the first generation’s Red and Blue.

The story is very basic and gets repeated in every subsequent game. You play a ten-year-old boy who is given the chance to go out into the world of Pokémon with your very own partner. You have a Rival that challenges you from time to time, you are given the task the catch every Pokémon, collect all the gym badges, defeat the Pokémon League and become the best like no one ever was. Along the way, you must defeat the villainous Team Rocket, and their leader, Giovanni, through several encounters throughout the game.

Off the bat, I’ll say that this is the first time playing these games for me. For someone who has been a fan of Pokémon all his life and can’t remember a time without Pokémon, I started with the second generation games, so I have no nostalgic love of the originals and will not be as forgiving of their shortcomings. And sadly, there are quite a few of them.

Before you get your torches and pitchforks ready, know that I actually liked these games. It’s great to find how this series started out and it’s good to see how the games have only gotten better with time. To start with the positives, the most I can say is that it’s a Pokémon game. It’s always fun collecting different monsters, choosing the few that will aid you on your quest to become a Pokémon master, and watching them grow.

To start with the Pokémon designs, most of the original 151 designs hold up great in the new game. Pokémon like Nidoking, Arcanine, and Blastoise look great, but in every game there are lazy designs, such as Krabby, Voltorb, Rattata, and Ditto. An odd complaint I have is Venusaur’s back sprite. What the hell is that? It looks nothing like Venusaur. It’s a small gripe, but it’s always bothered me.

The story leaves a small bit to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, the main story of battling Team Rocket, all the gym leaders, and the reveal of your Rival as the champion are all fine and good, I’m talking about after the main story. There’s simply nothing to do. You can train all your Pokémon to the highest level if you want, or catch the rest of the pokemon you didn’t get in the main story, but besides that there’s a lot to be desired. Luckily, this would change in later games.

There’s no easy way of saying this next part, so here I go. THE MECHANICS SUCK!!! There are a lot of bugs in this game that bother me. For example, Critical hits and 1HKO are based on speed, so if you have slower but bulkier Pokémon, chances are you’re going to die a lot. Moves are dictated as physical or special depending on the type of move it is. For example, Normal moves are always physical, like Hyper Beam and Swift, while Water moves like Waterfall and Crab Hammer were special. This left Pokémon with stats conflicting with their types a very hard time, like Poliwrath and Lickitung. Another thing, the Special Attack and Special Defense are the same stat in the original games. So a Pokémon like Alakazam is not only incredibly tough to take down, but can do massive amounts of damage and even wipe out your whole team. Moves like Bind, Wrap, and Fire Spin keep the opponent from moving from 2-5 turns. Killing a Pokémon with Hyper Beam means you don’t have to recharge the next turn.

There are a lot more complaints I could make, but it would take up too many pages.

Like I said, I genuinely like these games. It’s great to see where my favorite game franchise started. The games are a lot of fun, but in my opinion they fall short compared to more recent games, including their remakes, which we will get to.

Pokémon Red and Blue get 2 ½ Pokeballs out of 5


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2 Responses to Pokémon Retrospective: Pokémon Red & Blue

  1. Mr. Panda says:

    The mechanics leave much to be desired especially in terms of Pokemon and item managment, but despite the glitches and incorrect typing chart in the original, the gameplay is still great and fun. Nostalgia aside, I enjoyed replaying this on Virtual Console even though I love competitive play with all the advanced mechanics in the newer games. Nice retrospective!


  2. reuseitgaming says:

    Nice honest review about the game. It’s going to be a little different experience to those that grew up with Blue/Red as their first game of the series as they will not be able to fault it (myself included), but the points you call out make perfect sense when you take away the nostalgia goggles 🙂


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