Nintendo - 1995
Machine: Nintendo Gameboy
One of the all-time phenomenons of video games, this game ensured that the Gameboy became the greatest selling console of all time. No one was immune from the hype, the trading card games, the merchandise and the (fantastic) cartoon series... The biggest surprise of all was that the video game from which this all originated was simply genius. It came in two different colours, Red and Blue. Each were slightly different and contained different Pokemon from one another. The game was played from a view above, similar to (S)NES Zelda. It had goodies, baddies, strange puzzles and the strange joy that can be found in collecting things. (The designer of Pokemon based the game on his childhood experiences of collecting insects).
You play a youngster who wishes to become the greatest Pokemon handler of them all. You pick a Pokemon from Professor Oak's laboratory, and with his blessing you leave your village to explore the strange and vast land that surrounds you. As you walk between towns, you will meet wild Pokemon with whom you will have to fight. If your Pokemon manages to defeat the wild Pokemon, you are given a chance to capture and tame it. As the game advances you meet different Pokemon of higher ability. Battling these 'enemy' Pokemon means that your Pokemon become more experienced, and sometimes they start to evolve into more advanced species. Your Pokemon can be given carbohydrates, protein and iron to increase their speed, attack and defence respectively. It can also be taught new moves that are particular to the type of Pokemon that it is (Grass, Fire, Water Pokemon etc.) There are also other power-ups that can be purchased to enhance your Pokemon.
You will have to battle with other Pokemon trainers, who usually have their own batch of the little monsters thus adding a tactical element to the game. Some trainers are even willing to trade their Pokemon with you. It is also possible to trade Pokemon with a friend using a link-up cable with the Gameboy. The advantages of trading is that the Pokemon will start to increase in experience at a more rapid rate.
The game has a real enigmatic feeling to it, almost gliding at times. As you progress you start to win Pokemon badges that entitle you to enter more difficult competitions. Characters that you run into sometimes give hints and help with regards to improving your battling technique. Sometimes these people spread rumours about towns, people and even fabled cruise ships that specialise in Pokemon holidays(!) Bizarre sub-plots appear, with you having to defeat the odious Team Rocket and their plans for world domination.
Initially I was concerned about the ‘random factor’ element of having to meet and fight wild Pokemon. However, the fact that these Pokemon could be caught added an exciting and unexpected edge to the game play. The game has so many little details and surprises that the "Gotta Catch 'Em All" slogan actually makes sense. Easily one of the best games of the 1990s, everyone should try this game out. This is a game that is intrinsically in tune with the Gameboy, and it is best played on that system. Remember that second-hand Gameboys are only about £4 ($5-6).
Bubbaray 21 May '03
Pokemon Games - The official Pokemon video game site.
Pokemon Black - An unofficial free online multiplayer Pokemon game.