Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pokemon Fire Red - Late to the Party Ryview

Pokemon Fire Red, by Game Freak.

For those of you who might not have ignored Pokemon for the past 2 decades, you probably already played this game and have fond memories of it (either in classic red or fire red). I, however, did not succumb to Pokemon's thrills when I was younger. That was mostly due to never owning a Gameboy. But now, using a very old Gameboy Advance, I'm playing Fire Red as my first Pokemon game ever (unless you count playing Pokemon snap at a friend's house, which I most certainly do not).

Pokemon Fire Red is a remake of the first pokemon game, Pokemon Red (just as Leaf Green was the remake of Blue). It features the original 150 pokemon (across the two games, only somewhere around 135 or so on Red itself) and therefore it was a good companion to Pokemon Go.

My first impressions were fairly good, it was nice to see these creatures I've been getting more acquainted with through Pokemon Go (and I may have just watched all of Indigo League). And I can certainly appreciate that as a media spanning franchise it's a pretty cool way to immerse yourself in the world. That being said, I'm definitely someone who would have preferred to play Pokemon Yellow (so you can have the full TV experience with Ash and Pikachu). Red is fine and all, but without Pikachu following you around it just doesn't have the same magic.

Pictured: The reason Pokemon has been on TV for 20 years [2]

As far as gameplay, I like the battle mechanics in general, although some of it feels a bit clunky by today's standards. I would like better descriptions of moves when I'm battling, rather than having to memorize what each one does. Why the hell does something called "Tail Whip" not do any damage?

Turn based RPGs are not particularly my jam, but this definitely flows quickly enough that it staves off the boredom. I like the random encounters, but fighting random trainers gets to be a bit of a drag when there's several in a row and you just want to watch across a damn field. And when they see you, you freeze and have to wait for them to come over, taunt you, then fight. And while I love the XP and money (for winning), I get pretty frustrated when they have a pokemon I've never seen in the wild and I'm not allowed to catch them because apparently stealing is wrong.

Grinding is a pretty realistic nuisance in the game too. I picked Charmander as my starter, and while he's pretty awesome in general, defeating the first gym was a nightmare. Rock type is strong against fire type, and normal type. And Onix was able to use rock tomb to kill all my guys in one hit. So I have to run through some grass. Over and over. And over and over and over and over. Until I finally had enough strong pokemon to survive a friggin' rock tomb.

The only difference is that I was wearing my *other* sweater vest when it happened [3]

By and large, I'm definitely enjoying playing it because I know the creatures from various media, but I don't think it would keep my attention well if it was just a normal turn based RPG from the Gameboy Advance era. But if you're looking for a healthy dose of nostalgia and you're already a fan of the world, this will be a fun romp if you can dig up an old handheld or if you buy it on the virtual console.

Any good stories about playing Pokemon from your less "embarassingly old to be such a video game fan" days? Share them in the comments!

Until next time,


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