Pokemon 20th Reviews: Pokemon Blue



spr_1b_008Dude the Wartortle

spr_1b_020 Fourval the Raticate

spr_1b_025Ash the Pikachu

spr_1b_051 Richard the Dugtrio

spr_1b_093 Reggie the Haunter

spr_1b_017 Nelson the Pidgeotto

So here it is – the first in my series of Pokemon game reviews in the lead up to the 20th anniversary games – Pokemon Sun and Moon. When I first booted up my freshly downloaded 3DS Pokemon Blue re-release, and eagerly picked my starter (Squirtle, obviously) I realised just how laced with nostalgia the first generation of Pokemon games are. I had to pick Squirtle, and I had to name it ‘Dude’, because that’s what I named my first Squirtle. My team looks remarkably similar to what it was back when I first played this because I naturally gravitated to the Pokemon I was nostalgic for. Bear in mind also that I played this game well after it first released, so my nostalgia for this game isn’t all mine – it partly comes from the social nostalgic feelings for these games pervasive in in pop-culture, instead of just from my own early 2000s childhood memories of playing this on my brother’s old Game Boy Pocket.

You may have noticed, then, that my team at the top of the page has something strange about it – not all my Pokemon are fully evolved. The reason for this is because I didn’t finish this game. I’ve finished this before, mind, but this time I couldn’t do it – by the time I was faced with the eleven floor Sliph Co, the rose-tinted spectacles had been forced away from me by a slow, annoying, ugly game that has been even more retroactively spoilt by the conveniences of more recent games in the series. This recent play-through reminded me of everything I’d purposely forgotten in the nearly 6 years since my last complete run of the original trio – no running-shoes, limited space in the bag, glitches, awful sprites and weird difficulty curves. I just wasn’t having much fun.

That’s not to say there wasn’t anything I enjoyed about Pokemon Blue – the core Pokemon game play is still there, and battling and catching Pokemon is still intrinsically fun, although somehow both simpler and more frustrating in these games. I also enjoyed how easy it was to get lost. Game Boy Kanto’s basic textured routes and sprawling, non-linear paths make it easy to find it difficult to get to where you want to be, and that appeals to my love of exploring the Pokemon regions. Besides, getting lost in real life or when playing a game, is always fun (unless you need to be somewhere, in which case, it’s just horrible).

Despite flashes of brilliance, and the initial pang of nostalgia that many a Nintendo/Game Freak game capitalizes heavily on, replaying Pokemon Blue started off my replay series on a slightly dour note. It’s impossible to look at this game objectively, either you’re blinded by nostalgia or, like me, you see it through the lens of more recent games that have improved on this in such a huge way that it dispels the oft-heard criticism that ‘Pokemon never changes’. Or maybe I’m just too lazy for old games…

Next time we’ll be looking at Pokemon Crystal, which I’ve already started playing (and (spoilers) am enjoying much more. I should have a few more posts before that, however. 


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