Preview: Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow

Gotta catch ’em all again!

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Pokémon is a franchise filled with nostalgic memories for many gamers across the world. Even if it’s an interest you’ve since grown out of it, chances are you still hold a game or two very dear to your heart.

For many, this all started with the series début titles, Red and Blue, on the Game Boy back in the ’90s. Some will say you can’t beat those originals – clearly a sentiment Nintendo had in mind when deciding to re-release the first generation of games as Virtual Console downloads for the 3DS.

The news couldn’t have been better for fans who had been begging for the original trio to see an eShop release since the 3DS first launched over five years ago. But why are these games so highly anticipated; so important? They’re almost 20-years-old now, so why are people so excited to play them again?

Well, there are a number of reasons for that. The Pokémon games were revolutionary at the time. For one, the RPG genre hadn’t quite been very accessible up until their release. With the simplified turn-based gameplay, RPG-light elements, the appeal of collecting cool monsters to battle and trade, and the accessibility of portable play, developer Game Freak was onto a winner. It was perfect for children and would create a whole new generation of gamers.

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It did just that and more. It introduced new audiences to an exciting medium, and changed game development forever.

The vast region of Kanto, consisting of grasslands, caves and waters, brought out the explorer in all of us. The 151 Pokémon populating the game-world added life and motivation to search every nook and cranny of the land for a chance at discovering a new species and adding it to your collection. The challenge to beat all eight Gym Leaders inspired us to use smart tactics and battle to be the most powerful we could be. All these aspects are the reasons the series is so universally loved, and it all started here. It only makes sense that we want to revisit these first memories.

The re-releases of the games have few changes for this reason. The messy 8-bit visuals, the blandly-coloured environments, the basic interface – it’s all as you remember it and enjoyed all those years ago. The only adjustments which have been made are in light of the hardware the games are running on and won’t affect the way it plays, looks or feels whatsoever.

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You might remember back in the early days of communication technology when players would require a ‘Link Cable’ accessory, wired between two Game Boy systems in order to trade creatures with a friend, or battle it out to see who had the most powerful team. While it might seem ludicrous to the modern generation of Pokémon fans, it was a phenomenal feature at the time, sky-rocketing the series’ popularity and laying the foundation for many games to come.

To replicate the original experience and preserve the “trading” appeal on 3DS, Nintendo has made full use of the system’s wireless capabilities. Now, it’s as simple as connecting wirelessly with a friend in order to exchange version-exclusive Pokémon – the same way you would with any of the current generation of games.

In another interesting, yet slightly less positive move, Nintendo has decided to remove the restore point functionality from the titles. These ‘restore points’ would allow players to create a save point from which to resume play at any point in the game. While the current library of Virtual Console releases support the feature, it will not be available for Pokémon. Presumably, this was done in attempt to prevent illegitimate methods for collecting critters, by means of cloning to create duplicates for trade. The lack of restore points thankfully won’t prove a detriment to players, as you’re still able to use the games’ traditional built-in save system.

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The only real downside to the re-release is that, unlike every other 3DS title, these games cannot be paused via the home screen. Being unable to suspend the software, it also means that none of the home menu’s features – such as the friends list or Internet browser – will be accessible while the game is still running. It’s certainly a disappointment, but one I’m willing to accept to enjoy another journey in the Kanto region and relive my childhood years of gaming once again.

Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow Version release worldwide on February 27th. marking exactly 20 years since the original games’ debut in Japan.

By Kerry-Lee Copsey

Available on 3DS eshop here

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