I wanna be the very best - Revisting Pokemon Red/Blue

This past summer my son and I decided to replay the original Pokemon games and attempt to complete the pokedex. Summer vacation always feels like a good time to catch some Pokemon and being a good RGB citizen, I naturally suggested we do it on the original hardware. :wink:

He took Red, I took Blue, and away we went:

It had been a long time since I played and first thing that struck me was how rough those Gen1 pokemon sprites looked. There are even better examples of this, but here’s the backside of Geodude looking like I-don’t-know-what:

And who knew Zubat, Nidoran, and Geodude were all related?

The big thing that hit me were how many quality of life features were missing back then:

  • No way to tell if you already had a particular pokemon in your dex during a battle
  • Item storage limited to 20 (carry) and 50 (PC)
  • HMs like cut require messing with the menu every time you want to use it
  • Pokemon storage boxes don’t automatically switch to the next one when full
  • Just caught a rare one? Better hope you have a free spot in your current storage box!
  • Oh, and every time you switch boxes, the game requires a save be performed…ugh

I often see comments that recent games have taken away any challenge in the gyms, but for the most part the gyms in R/B are trivally easy - the first gym is one trainer battle, then Brock! Where there is more of a challenge is in the pokemon used by NPCs in those battles, especially later in the game. You’re forced to pay attention and remember weaknesses. Later games in the series do make the gyms more interesting, and I agree that modern Sun/Moon stuff is quite streamlined, but Pokemon roots have always been a fairly simple game.

But despite the low difficulty level and lack of sensible QoL features, the game still holds up today. I had that sense of adventure, striking out on my own, and improving my character in order to overcome obstacles. There’s a reason the series has endured for over 20 years - it’s just plain fun to play.

All that said, while we beat the Elite Four and became champions, we weren’t able to fully complete the pokedex. A link cable with spotty connection combined with a clunky UI just became too tedious to deal with. Oh well, it was time well spent and an enjoyable journey.

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What an awesome way to spend summer vacation with your son ! I’ve been on a buying spree getting all the Pokemon games with a desire to play the series from start to finish and transfer my Pokemon through the generations with me.

If you guys do decide to push forward into gen 2 you may want to look into a new romhack for crystal called crystal clear. It makes the game " open world" and adds alot of the missing QOL features you mentioned as well as including all 251 Pokemon and it even has an NPC that simulates trading for the evolutions.

For anyone else thinking of replaying the series and wants to start with gen 1 on Gameboy you may want to look into a rom hack called red++. It adds alot of QOL improvments as well as alot of bug fixes.

FYI the generic 3rd party link cables are notorious for connection issues. The official Nintendo link cable has a tighter fit, if you’re using that then it may be 20 years of corrosion have gotten the better of it but it would be worth trying some DeOxit for future use.

Those link cable issues are such a bummer! Great post though. In many ways, despite the QOL issues you mentioned, Red and Blue were really great introductory RPGs.

I’m curious, what did your son think of the game?

Thanks for the tips on the rom hacks and link cables. My son enjoyed the game, but I could tell he wasn’t “omg hooked” like some other games. It helped that he’s a huge Pokemon fan and had watched all the original anime, but his starting point for the games was X/Y, so maybe that made it a little more challenging to go back. The plan is to move on to gen 2 later in the year so life as a Pokemon trainer will get easier. :slight_smile:

Nice. I only played Blue as a kid, then skipped to X when it came out and found it pretty boring honestly. I don’t think I was in the right mindset for it.

I’d love to get into the series again but damn is it daunting considering the large time investment to play the games in order. Especially if you care about filling the Pokédex.

The new switch games coming out this fall may be just the thing to ease me back in.

I know you were going for the completely original feel but whenever I want to replay the originals now I do Fire Red/Leaf Green. Especially if I am doing it with a partner since the originals would just be for nostalgia’s sake with how many system level improvements there have been so unless they have the same nostalgia for them it’s kinda a wasted effort.

The thought did cross my mind, but part of it was curiosity on how an 11 year old would view the original Pokemon experience, and part of it was wanting an excuse to break out my GBCs. :smile:

Great thread. I too revisited the games but back when they were released on 3DS Virtual console, and they really are quite easy, with some strange balancing choices. Dratini’s wrap move is also broken, since your opponent can’t act whenever they are affected by it.

I think Kanto still has the best map design. Once you get to Saffron City and you’re faced with those three new directions the game really opens up and lets the player get on with it with minimal backtracking too. It all links together neatly and the primitive-yet-detailed tiled visuals made it feel like an unknown adventure to me. Your brain would fill in the gaps.

I think generation 3 was the last Pokemon game with really good overworld design. The games that followed Ruby and Sapphire had increasingly simplified puzzles and route design.