Poll Winner: POKEMON YELLOW
We did things a little differently for our poll game this go-round. Instead of letting you guys vote for a game I had you vote for my Pokemon team, which I thought would be a fun twist for us all. You ended up giving me a pretty good team which was also decently diverse: Pikachu, Machamp, Snorlax, Gyarados, Gengar and Venusaur.
Pokemon Yellow was the last Pokemon game for the Game Boy and the third entry in the series. It came stateside in 1999, only a year after Red and Blue. Pokemon Yellow is basically set in the same general plot line as Red and Blue, but adds some small tweaks that make the game more closely follow the Pokemon anime series. One major change is Pikachu, who was technically obtainable in the originals, is now your starter Pokemon instead of Charmander/Squirtle/Bulbasaur. Not only is Pikachu your starter, he refuses to stay in his Pokeball, just like in the show. The animations and sprites also received minor improvements over the originals. Its been a commercial success and another great entry in the cult hit series.
I am a HUGE Pokemon fan so I found it hard to be unbiased in my review. Pokemon played a gigantic role in my childhood and led to the forming of several early friendships in my life. While Yellow wasn’t my all-time favorite Pokemon game (SoulSilver holds that honor) it was one I enjoyed very much. I’ll try to approach this as unattached as possible to begin the review. Art-wise Pokemon Yellow follows Red and Blue‘s example of simply being a large artwork of its key Pokemon, in front of a color background of its namesake. Visually the game is a small step up over Red and Blue.
The over-world itself isn’t too enhanced, but the redone sprites I personally find to be fantastic. I prefer Yellow‘s sprites over most other games in the series, even the modern day iterations. Red and Blue‘s soundtracks are among the upper echelon of early gaming and Yellow is no different. The songs are all fantastic and have a great range from the casual and cheerful various city themes to the antsy and intense gym battle themes. There may not be a soundtrack that has as many numerous recognizable tracks as Pokemon. There may be a specific song or two on a game (like a Zelda theme or a specific Sonic zone here or there) that is historic, but no other games boast this high of a number of memorable songs.
The best thing about Yellow, as well as any Pokemon game, is the game-play formula. Its a JRPG formula with a small tweak here or there that simplifies things for players who may be new to the game archetype. The growth of the Pokemon includes a wide variety of things including stat improvements, new moves and evolutions into an even better Pokemon (which sometimes includes a change in “type” which increases tactics variety). All of those changes culminate into leveling up your team being a fun and rewarding experience. The type system includes various weakness and strengths. It plays out well in the first series and is even more fleshed out and balanced in current gen Pokemon games. Gym battles feel climactic, especially in Yellow, with fast paced music and interesting bosses. Oftentimes in Yellow you find yourself easily dispatching regular trainers but then getting to the gym leader to find that he or she is leveled ahead of you and can provide quite a challenge at times. This is something I think early games in the series did better than recent ones. The thing I appreciate the most about Yellow and all Pokemon games for the most part is the pacing. Hours of grinding isn’t required. If you fight all comers you find while progressing through the normal steps of the story you will be adequately leveled to take on difficult battles. Hours and hours of relentless grinding are not required unless you decide to make big changes in your team or you didn’t properly build a balanced team. Luckily you guys chose a pretty good team for me. I was weak to Psychic, with 3 of my 6 being weak to it and none of them having a move that Psychic is weak to. But with timing and technique I was able to take down some difficult fights, namely in the Elite Four.
If I had to make a complaint about Pokemon Yellow I guess I would say it needs a tad bit more post-story content. It has the legendary Pokemon to capture, but a couple big trainer battles here or there would be extra icing on the cake and is something recent Pokemon games have made a point to improve on.
Pokemon is fantastic, I don’t care who you are or how old you are. If you never got into it for whatever the reason, make sure to give it a fair try. The games are well crafted and hopelessly addictive.