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Monday, November 21, 2016

Pokemon will never be better than the Red/Blue original

Retro reflections by Matt S.

In 1998, two years after realising that it was onto something big in Japan with a humble game called Pokemon, Nintendo and Game Freak unleashed their first monster collecting JRPG in the west, with little fanfare, and minimal expectations that it would succeed (over and over again does Nintendo - especially NOA - make this mistake with the JRPG).

Split into two versions, Red and Blue, Pokemon was a game about collecting, battling, and trading monsters. Its genius was in encouraging people to be social; some Pokemon you could collect in Red couldn’t be found in Blue, and so you needed to trade them (or buy both versions of the game, have two Game Boys and enough time to play through both games to collect all the ‘mons). With 151 different Pokemon to collect in that version, the ability to level them all up to 100, and plenty of hidden secrets and difficult-to-find ‘mons, Nintendo and Game Freak were able to tap into a couple of different but equally addictive feature sets: the addictiveness of forming complete collections of things, and the addiction that many people have in RPGs of statistically tweaking the best party possible.

Pokemon, of course, became a global phenomenon from there and has rarely looked back. Now, with the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon (we have a review for it coming soon, promise), Nintendo and Game Freak are also making their first genuine efforts to modernise the series. For the longest time, each Pokemon game has been an iterative build on what we’ve seen before, but S&M does take the series in some meaningfully different directions.

Truly a philosopher of the ages

That being said, Pokemon Blue and Red will likely forever be my favourite Pokemon game for a couple of key reasons: its focus, lack of bloat, and aesthetics.

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Pokemon will never be better than the Red/Blue original
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