With the release of the first full Pokemon games on the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, we take a look back at the previous entries in the third biggest video game franchise ever made, starting with the Gameboy games.
Pokemon Red and Blue (and Yellow)
Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue were the first western releases in the franchise created by Game Freak. Set in the fictional region of Kanto, players take control of 10-year-old Red, a fledgling Pokemon trainer who is given their first Pokemon by Professor Oak. The player sets out into the world to earn Gym Badges, compete in the Pokemon League and ‘catch ’em all’.
Whilst simple in comparison to later games in the series, these first two established elements that would become series staples; and thanks to the tie in anime series and massive merchandising, it produced some of the most iconic Pokemon creatures of all time.
Released shortly afterwards, Pokemon Yellow took the popular animated series and made it into a game. Building on the previous entries, Yellow changed the central character to Ash Ketchum and took away the multiple choice starter Pokemon, replacing them with a Pikachu that would follow behind you on screen.
The game made other minor changes, including changing some character models to match their television counterparts, as well as moving the locations of some Pokemon in order to create a different experience.
Pokemon Gold and Silver (and Crystal)
The first real sequel, Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, were a radical improvement on the previous generation. Shifting the action to the new region of Johto, the games were able to introduce 100 new creatures, as well as a new breeding mechanic, gendered Pokemon, a night and day cycle, and more.
Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver were a radical new direction for the series, keeping all of the elements that made the first games great, yet addressing all of the issues that plagued them. The new additions were such a good improvement that they would remain staples of the franchise for decades and would inform all other subsequent entries.
As with Yellow in the previous generation, Pokemon Crystal took Gold and Silver and made a number of alterations. Crystal made big changes to the story, focusing on the mystical Pokemon Suicune and the alphabet Unown. As well as story changes, Crystal allowed players to choose if they wanted to play as a female character for the first time, along with animations on Pokemon when they entered into battle. This was also the first and only game that was exclusively for the Gameboy Colour.
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire (and Emerald)
The first entries in the series for the Gameboy Advance and the third generation of games, Ruby and Sapphire, took the series to the tropical land of Hoenn, home to 135 brand new Pokemon. Where previous games only differed in what Pokemon were available in each version, now each version also had different villain teams. This didn’t add a huge change to the story but it did deliver the most varied experience to date in a Pokemon game.
They also introduced double battles, where the player fields two Pokemon at the same time, as well as abilities and natures that could add surprising effects and alter the way certain Pokemon battled.
Combining together the two stories was Pokemon Emerald making the player face both Team Magma and Team Aqua. Instead of fighting a single team and stopping the legendary Pokemon, the player travels to a mysterious tower to unlock a new legendary, one capable to restoring balance to the worlds weather. While not a huge departure from Ruby and Sapphire, Emerald did offer a number of cosmetic changes.
Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green
Released onto the Gameboy Advance some eight years after the game series debuted in Japan, Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green were enhanced remakes of the original Red and Blue, incorporating all of the new features that had been added to the franchise since the first generation.
With updated graphics and gameplay, along with some new story features, Fire Red and Leaf Green were a huge improvement on the original games. Released in 2004 to an audience who may not have even been alive for the first run, these remakes offered some players their first chance to experience the original entries in the franchise and bolstered the experience for those old enough to have been there first time around.
Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu release on the Nintendo Switch on 16 November 2018. We’ll continue to run through the original series in the build up to its release, but if you have fond (or frustrated) memories of the Game Boy games, let us know in the comments section.