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Pokemon Red

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Overview

Pokemon Red and Blue are the two initial releases of Nintendo's long-running Pokemon franchise. Developed by Game Freak, Red and Blue were the studio's first major successes; the company would eventually go on to create several direct sequels to the games for Nintendo's portable consoles the followed the Game Boy. Although the official number of Pokemon was often touted to be 150 in the games' marketing, the actual number of acquirable Pokemon was 151, albeit with the caveat that the additional creature couldn't be acquired through normal means.

Bulbasaur, the grass-type starter pokemon.
Bulbasaur, the grass-type starter pokemon.

Storyline

The basic premise of Pokemon Red and Blue involves a nameable protagonist who sets off on a journey to thoroughly train, catch, trade, and ultimately master as many Pokemon as he can. After acquiring one of three Pokemon from Professor Oak; Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander, and then fighting a subsequent training battle with his rival, the main character sets off to explore the world to fulfill his goals. In order to achieve ultimate success, he must use his Pokemon team to fight and defeat eight Gym Leaders, specialists who each deal in a specific type of Pokemon, as well as the Elite Four and Gary Oak. Only after all of that has been achieved does the story technically end.

Gameplay Mechanics

Most Pokemon are acquired by "catching" them while they are still out and about in the wild. They can be found by the player simply roaming about in the Pokemons' native habitats, which usually happens by walking around in grass, swimming around in a body of water, or in other similar instances. Once a battle has been initiated, it is up to the player to weaken the wild Pokemon's Hit Points (HP) enough so that they can throw a Pokeball at them. Pokeballs are the containers which hold each trainer's Pokemon and as long as the wild Pokemon cannot break free from one, it can be freely used by the trainer who owns it. If a trainer's team is full at the time of the capture, the newly acquired Pokemon is then sent to a PC for storage and can be retrieved at a later point in time. Captured Pokemon can also be given nicknames, although doing so is optional.

Typical JRPG gameplay
Typical JRPG gameplay
Pokemon Red and Blue's battle system consists of gameplay mechanics which are common with many turn-based Japanese RPGs. Up to six Pokemon can be a part of a trainer's roster at any time, which is where the game's defining characteristics come into play. Since each Pokemon can have a different type (i.e: fire, water, electric, etc.) a system of strengths and weakness is employed, in addition to the standard calculations based on their individual statistics. Every attack is also assigned a type, which is also taken into consideration during battle. Although most Pokemon have limitations regarding which attacks they can learn, they are allowed to learn some which aren't the same as their type. No attack can be used an infinite number of times, though, as the amount of usage is dependent upon the amount of Power Points (PP) each attack has. These Power Points can be restored either through the use of specific items or by visiting a Pokemon Center, which is also used to fully heal a trainer's current roster of Pokemon.

Typical battle scene
Typical battle scene
As the Pokemon enter into battles and continue to win them, they gain experience points. Once they accumulate a specified amount, they level up, which serves two purposes. Leveling up your Pokemon in Red and Blue allows most Pokemon to learn new attacks which can be added to their arsenal, in addition to raising their individual statistics. However, because each Pokemon is limited to four different attacks, considerations must be made as they reach progressively higher levels. Leveling up also allows most Pokemon to evolve, enabling them to become a new species. The point at which each Pokemon may evolve is different depending on the species, although the trainer is allowed to prevent a Pokemon from doing so if they desire. One such advantage which comes from canceling an evolution is that more advanced and powerful attacks can be learned earlier if the Pokemon doesn't evolve, assuming the attack can still be learned in an evolved form.

With Pokemon, though, it is not always possible to evolve them via leveling up. In those instances, special stones can be given to the Pokemon to force them to evolve. The most famous Pokemon in the Red and Blue versions which are able to do this include Pikachu and Eevee, the latter of which has multiple evolutions depending on the stone applied. Some Pokemon still do not evolve in this manner, however, which is elaborated upon below.

Outside of battling, one of the defining traits of Pokemon Red and Blue is its trading feature. Because Red and Blue each have Pokemon which are exclusive to their individual versions, collecting all of the Pokemon requires trading with someone who owns the alternative version. Trading is done by connecting the two Game Boys via a link cable. Each person then decides which Pokemon they wish to trade and the duo's choices are transferred. With a few very specific Pokemon, the trading process allows them to evolve once the switching is complete. Although traded Pokemon are under the command of their new trainer, they still carry identification which indicates who originally had them.

Two linked Game Boys can also be used by trainers to battle one another. The majority of the rules which govern battle in the single-player game remain the same, although items cannot be used in linked battles. Skirmishes are otherwise the same, with a winner being declared once one trainer's entire team of Pokemon has fainted.