Review: Pokemon Red/Blue (GameBoy)

pokemon cover

hardest decisionThink back to when you were a young child, a simpler time. You woke up and ate breakfast, went to school, did some playing, ate dinner, and then went to bed. You did this almost everyday, week after week. You didn’t have all the responsibilities that you do today. Your job was to just be you. All the decisions were made for you and you were okay with that, until that one fateful day on September 28th, 1996, you had to make the hardest decision of your life: Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur?

Pokemon, in videogame format, has been around for almost 20 years. Some of us aren’t even that old, and sadly some of you might not have actually seen or held a classic GameBoy. After reading this review, I hope you’re encouraged to go out and try to find your own copy of Pokemon Red or Blue. The cartridge is playable on the following systems: GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, and GameBoy Advance SP. It is also playable on PC.


pokemon rivalAfter naming you and your rival, you awake to find yourself in Pallet Town, a small little town in the region of Kanto. After attempting to venture out into the world, you are stopped by a man who turns out to be Professor Oak–the Pokemon Professor. He explains to you that it is dangerous to go out into the world without a Pokemon and invites you back to his lab where he gives you and your rival, who also happens to be Professor Oak’s grandson, your very first Pokemon. This is what I was talking about earlier; it’s always a tough decision to choose your starter Pokemon. If you change your mind, you can’t go back! You either have to start the game over or get someone to trade you a different starter, which, unfortunately, is unrealistic, as no one walks around with old GameBoys and link cables. Personally, all the Kanto starters are great, but everyone has their own style of raising and battling Pokemon. You need to find what suits you best!

After receiving your new Pokemon, you are free to go out into the world! As you travel the region you will battle with your rival, wild Pokemon, and gym leaders in order to get badges. Once you have all 8 badges, you are able to participate in the Pokemon League, where you battle against the Elite Four in order to become the Pokemon Champion. But throughout the Kanto Region, Team Rocket will try to sabotage you as they attempt to execute their evil plan.

Rating: 9 out of 10


pokemon battlePokemon uses a turn-based battle system which requires you to come up with a strategy, as your Pokemon can only have up to four learned moves at a time. Pokemon are classified by different types such as Fire, Water, Grass, Rock, Electricity, Psychic, Normal, and more. This makes things simple and easy to understand: a fire type is going to be weak against a water type, a grass type is going to be super effective against a water type, and so on. While this is simple and easy to understand, it can also be devastating if you’re not prepared for the right type of battle. But after a couple tries you should be able to get the hang of it, no problem. As you travel, you’ll want to try and catch as many Pokemon as possible so you can fill up your PokeDex, which is your database. This will earn you rewards from Professor Oak.

Pokemon is, for the most part, an open-world game. Certain areas will be blocked off until you progress in the story, but after you finish the story you can go wherever you please. As you progress in the game, you’ll obtain a bike for your character so you can move more quickly throughout the environment. Your Pokemon will also gain abilities that will help you progress throughout the game, such as flying to previously visited towns, or surfing across waters.

Rating: 9 out of 10


Remembering that this game was released in 1996, it actually looks pretty good. There might be little to no color, but we have it good these days. We’re able to play these games with backlights instead of holding our GameBoy up to the light like people used to have to do. Honestly, while the music is fun at first, I got tired of listening to it. It was pretty repetitive, but that’s only a minor flaw in this epic adventure.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Special Pikachu Edition:

pokemon yellowThe Special Pikachu Edition, or more commonly known as Pokemon Yellow, was released on October 19th, 1999. Pokemon Yellow added new features and added elements that were seen in the anime. At the beginning of the game, you are given a Pikachu which follows you around (instead of you carrying it around in a PokeBall). Pikachu is, at first, indifferent to you, but will soon love you or hate you. If you level Pikachu up, he will continue to be happy with you; however, if you let him faint frequently, he will soon become very unhappy with you. A happy Pikachu allows the players to gain certain rewards in the game. Some other differences in the Yellow version is that there is more color, you are able to obtain all three original starters from Pokemon Red/Blue, and the classic Team Rocket characters Jesse, James, and Meowth appear on more than one occasion, just like in the anime.

Last Minute Advice:

strong pokemon weak pokemonPokemon holds a very special place in many, many hearts. If you are able to start your Pokemon journey with this classic, I would encourage you to do so. It will help you appreciate the new generation even more. I see a lot of kids these days who have no idea what it was like to use a link cable to battle or trade, or they can’t imagine what a game would be like if it didn’t have 3D graphics. If you appreciate classic games like Pokemon and Legend of Zelda, you’ll appreciate the masterpieces we have today even more.

Also, if this is your gateway into the world of Pokemon, listen to these words: you have to be you in these games. As you progress to the newer games, you’re going to meet people who are going to want to win at any cost. Winning is important, but winning the right way is even more important. I leave you with this image as I take my leave.

Final Rating: 8.3 out of 10

The Bottom Line



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Jeremy Johnson

3DS, Xbox, PS3, Retro Games, & Television Reviewer.

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