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Pokémon Yellow Package Art
  Game Freak

Pokémon Yellow

Pokémon is huge! We all know it, we’ve all decided by now whether or not we like it, and I’m proud to say I’m head over heels about the whole concept. That’s right, this will be a positive review despite the fact that Pokémon Yellow does have a few chinks in its armor. Sincerely, Pokémon Yellow is not an immediate or essential purchase for any fan, since there have only been few cosmetic alterations to the game’s art and even fewer for the gameplay. But if you’ve been putting off buying Pokémon Red or Blue make good on your intentions and nab yourself Yellow since it is the most consistent version with the world of Pokémon today.


For an RPG on the GameBoy Color, Pokémon looks exceptional. The graphics engine is laid out in 10x8 square grid system that Ash (or whatever name you choose) can wander around in. It’s not a super-detailed quest but the terrain, towns, and characters are individualized enough to differentiate them from each other. When battles occur the view cuts to a “behind-your-Pokémon” view where you get to see the little critters go head to head. This is one place where Pokémon Yellow elevates itself from its primary color counterparts. All 151 (can’t forget Mew) Pokémon sport new artwork that differs varyingly and looks more reminiscent of the cartoon’s style.

Another Pokémon Yellow bonus is the color. Now, even though the cartridge is yellow don’t be fooled, this is not a GameBoy Color optimized Game Pak, instead it just drags along with it a less-impressive set of pre-programmed GameBoy color schemes. Some of these switch to different palettes when you walk from town to town and route to route. There’s also a significant amount of hues and shades thrown around in the battle view, highlighting and detailing the feisty critters, which is a good thing.


It’s GameBoy, so you don’t expect much from the tinny little speakers of the painted portable, do you? Well, even though Pokémon Yellow doesn’t have the most groundbreaking tunes you’ve ever heard many of the town themes are somewhat memorable, the best being the title screen melody. Unfortunately, the music track for the battle scenes gets old quickly and this problem could have been avoided had there been a few more songs that were chosen at random for the numerous duels that take place.

Sound effects are of normal fanfare but they’re clocking in here at high numbers. For all the Pokémon attacks and battle cries there’s a different and unique sound that registers. Quite an amazing feat when you consider the number of creatures in the Game Pak. The only other interesting note is that since this is Pikachu’s game he gets special attention in the form of digitized character speech. Instead of the little tinkley-tink of Red and Blue Pikachu comes packing a handful of garbled, low quality voice samples by the woman in charge of Pikachu’s cartoon representation.


The premise behind Pokémon relies on the player navigating the hero in a fantasy world where you discover and capture animals known as Pokémon and force them to fight with other Pokémon be they wild or owned by other trainers. The set up of all the different types of Pokémon is extensive and deep, and trying to figure out whether a fire type Pokémon holds the advantage over rock type Pokémon is all part of the master plan. A plethora of attacks accompany the rabid creatures and aid/hurt you in your quest, and like any good RPG, these attacks are both offensive and defensive in execution. The art of Pokémon relies in your battle and capturing techniques. Battles come about in a turn-based manner with a menu system for choosing your attack. You can only carry 6 Pokémon at one time so plan before you start fighting, and choose your group to best outdo the disadvantages of your opponent. To catch a Pokémon requires a pokéball (for transporting them) and one of your existing Pokémon to weaken it. Once added to your catalogue of pokémon you can do one of many things including trade them to others (in game characters and friends via link cable), toss them, or evolve them through battle experience. Depending on what you do will affect their future abilities and attributes.

The goal of the game is to become the greatest Pokémon Trainer ever. Seriously, that’s it. No princess to rescue, no cheesy, haunted houses, and no kingdom to lead to salvation. You start your journey from home where you take the highways and towns towards destiny. Whether it is someone who leaves his GameBoy in the corner of the closet or the greatest Pokémon Master in the universe is entirely up to the player. Along the way you meet up with some bad guys most notably Team Rocket, who are hell bent on capturing Pokémon for evil purposes, and Professor Oak’s nephew, Gary, who’s just a pain in the you-know-what. All in all, the quest is perfectly balanced, mixing just enough action with the right amount of humor, exploration, and depth.

Pokémon Yellow offers some gameplay variants from the Red and Blue versions. First of all, as stated before, there’s a boatload of new graphics for the characters. Second, different sets of pokémon are available to capture in the wild, very different from the other two versions. Where an early quest of Red would have you seeing Weedle on Route 2 version Yellow eliminates Weedle from that area and replaces it with Nidoran. The new Pokémon replacement thing has affected all of the game’s regions, giving players who have beaten Red and Blue something decent to look forward to. Also, Pikachu, your mandatory first Pokémon, will follow you around on screen through your quest. You can turn around and find out what it’s mood is too by pressing A, which is likely to put a smile on any player’s face. There’s even a bonus game where you can surf with Pikachu and earn high scores for special stunts. Wierd.


After many battles using the link cable it’s apparent that this is one of Pokémon’s strongest selling points. The ability to hook up with your friends and enemies in order to trade and take out your aggression on them is a wonderful option, especially when it’s for the benefit of your game. This is a fact because some pokémon won’t be able to evolve unless they are traded to another person, but once they are their range of attacks and stats will be significantly larger. As previously mentioned, Pokémon Yellow offers is a different group of Pokémon who appear in the wild that are not obtainable in Red and Blue without trading. Likewise, Pokémon Yellow has it’s set of missing Pokémon but that’s the art of the game. It’s centered on the idea of trading, collecting, and sharing and such qualities in gameplay evoke social gaming, something there’s not enough of in this world.


Pokémon, no matter what the color version, are fantastic games. The RPG genre has been given a boost of life from Pokémon due to its unmatched gathering and swapping of pokémon creatures and the depth of gameplay is not appreciated until it’s experienced. Despite it’s unoriginal turn-based fighting menus, mixed sound, and color utilization, Pokémon Yellow is a must-have if you don’t own Red or Blue. If you do, go for it if you absolutely must have everything Pokémon. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

final score 9.5/10

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