Retro Corner: Pokemon Yellow

With the release of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 imminent, it’s worth taking a fond look at the first ‘sequel’ that started it all off – Pokémon Yellow.

Oh wait, did I say fond? Well…it’s probably fair to say that the first generation of Pokémon games might not have aged as well as you’d like. Gone is the touch-screen of the DS that made it so easy to access everything you needed. And you can only carry 20 types of items at a time, making for a harder game where you can’t always have Potions, Full Heals and Super Repels at your disposal.

So what do you have? A plethora of Zubats and Rattattas aside, you have the classic storyline, a modified one that fits in with the anime adaptation more than the original Red and Blue games did. Instead of being allowed to choose your starter, that bastard Gary grabs an Eevee and leaves you with a petulant Pikachu.

There’s definitely something still cute about being able to turn around and check on how your partner’s feeling – although there’s also something equally frustrating about him still hating you.

Your team is practically made up for you in Yellow, with all three starters being given to you at various points in the game, as well as the fairly cool Lapras and Eevee. The three legendary birds, Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno, are all catchable as well.

As in Red and Blue, you have to defeat the formidable (well, allegedly) Team Rocket whilst on your way to becoming the champion. But as an extra added treat, Jesse and James also pop up every so often to call you a brat and blast off again…and again…and again.

Whilst Jesse and James are a deliberate reference to the anime, there’s something different about them. Oh yeah! It’s the crappy graphics. Unlike in more recent generations, Pokémon battle sprites don’t move, and the colours are iffy at best. Jesse’s trademark red hair is laughable in game form, and the generic nameless characters you battle don’t fare much better.

At least you’re not getting phone calls every five minutes from Joey telling you how good his Rattatta is, right? Well, no, but the blank hikers, bikers, and juniors that you fight all have no urge to rebattle you, putting a dampener on post-game replayability. Once you’ve beaten the eight gym leaders of Kanto, taken on the Elite Four, and become the champion, there isn’t anywhere else to really go. In later games, there’s been much more emphasis on things to do after completing the main storyline, making things feel slightly anti-climatic once you’ve finished Pokémon Yellow.

With rose-tinted glasses firmly on, there is still a lot of fun to be had. And when we were kids, this game was awesome. But there’s no denying it – unless you’re a self-proclaimed genwunner – it hasn’t aged well at all.

There’s plenty of nostalgia to be had from spending a lazy afternoon or two of your summer on it, but when there are newer Pokémon games out there, and in fact, better games in general, why would you want to play it more than once?


2 Responses to “Retro Corner: Pokemon Yellow”

  1. Arnold Bennett

    Red/Blue / Yellow – Could still catch a pikachu really early on in the bug forest before the first city, and your team for the entire game was more diverse because you didn’t feel the need to shoehorn all the main starters in.

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