Pokemon Red/Blue Review: Slow, But Stellar
There are legendary RPG series and then, there is Pokemon. For 20 years, the series has continued to grow and evolve and even to this day, is beloved by children and adults alike. Although the games that started the Pokemon epidemic in the US and Japan, Red and Blue, have been released on the Game Boy Advance in the past, the virtual console releases represent these games in their purest of forms.
With all of the original glitches remaining, no experience share and just Pokemon Bank functionality added for future titles, this is the same Red and Blue you grew up on. For the young Pokemon trainer, this is an opportunity to experience the game the same way your brother, sister, aunt, uncle, mother, father and even grandparents did. For the aforementioned oldies, it’s a chance to feel young again.
But here lies the problem. The same way the first Lass you kissed doesn’t look the way you remembered her when you glance through your high school yearbook a few decades later, Pokemon Red and Blue are, far different games than today’s X and Y or even Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It’s not the worst thing, but it’s something that has to be stated.
For example, with no experience share, you’ll have to raise your Pokemon far differently than you do now. If you want a balanced team, you’ll have to use more defensive maneuvers and far more strategy. It’s not the sexy slugfest it is today. If you go into a game telling yourself that moves that lower offense, defense, special or put your enemies to sleep, paralyze them or poison them don’t mean anything (in the newer games, there are hordes of gamers that never use those maneuvers), you are in for a long road.
The same thing can be said for traversing the vast land of Kanto. It’s a long, slow road. It’s almost like watching every “Lord of the Rings” film, one after another. If it didn’t feel that way before, it was probably because you were a kid that you lose hours at a time playing games with no consequences. Spending so much time using maneuvers like Cut and Fly, being forced to go into your Pokemon list and select the move, can get aggravating. With no hotkeys, using things like your fishing rods or bike can be a pain in the neck, too. And don’t forget, there’s actually a limit to how many items you can carry at once. For a game that once seemed so deep, so large, it’s a reminder of how much things have changed in two decades.
Again, these are all warts on the game that haven’t added well, that will go to show you how much gaming culture has changed since this games were first released. On the other hand, the nostalgia factor is almost too cool to ignore. When you get your first final evolution Pokemon, whether it’s Butterfree, Kukuna or even a Charizard, you’ll get that same awesome feeling. Look what the hell I just did, man.
For the pure nostalgia factor alone, the 3DS versions of Pokemon Red/Blue area must play, even if it’s a reminder that the series has adapted a ton over the years. Regardless of its flaws, however, it’s still a great game that is the foundation of one of the greatest series in video game history.
Fun: The core gameplay is still just as solid as it was 20 years ago and as a result, they are still a pair of RPGs you can spend over 50 hours with.
Price: You’re not going to find a game with more playability for ten bucks on the 3DS- plain and simple.
Still Challenging: If you’re not a master of strategy, you can and will be defeated. After all these years, balance is still key to defeating any team you face.
PokeBank Compatibility and Trading: Although gamers will have to wait before they can trade in the Pokemon they catch in these games to the upcoming Sun and Moon titles, having wireless trading for the title makes it a worthwhile addition to any Pokemon fans’ library.
No Widescreen Support: We know this is a straight port, but it could have done wonders for the look of the game on the 3DS.
Slow: The sheer amount of random encounters and lack of an experience share slow down the development of your team incredibly, making you wish a few updates could have been made to speed up gameplay.
For better or for worse, Pokemon Red and Blue are on the 3DS. For gamers who own the original versions, there’s little reason to revisit the adventure, unless you have a younger member of your family who needs/deserves to experience the game for the first time. It’s still a fantastic RPG, but more than anything, it makes you appreciate all of the changes over the years that have been made for the benefit of the series.