Pokemon: Yellow Version [Retro]
Developed by Game Freak, and published by Nintendo in 1998 for release in Japan, Pokemon Yellow was the top selling game in the United States during the year of it’s release: 1999.The Retail giant :Target, even had to issue a public apology due to the game’s “unprecedented demand”. Looking at the game now, it’s not hard to believe it either.
We all know Pokemon. Most of us have played the games fifty times over, each. Every person in the Pokemon fandom has a favorite game, and generation. So, rather than review one of them on this week’s Retro Relapse, I’m instead, going to do a retrospective (or a nostalgic rant for the sake of being honest) on my favorite game in the series thus far.
Here it is; the game that sparked my love for gaming. I remember my dad taking me to Gamestop back in 2002 because I had just gotten a Gameboy Advance as a Christmas gift and I had saved up enough money to get a new game for it. We clambered into his old pick-up and drove down a snow-covered country road and into town. This Gamestop (at the time) didn’t have one of the Mobile game cases that we all see today. I remember getting really bummed from not seeing any used Pokemon games on the shelf, but when I asked the guy behind the counter if he had any used ones in the back he smiled and pulled out a BINDER full of Old School Gameboy games. Copies upon copies of Crystal, Gold, Silver, and Blue were tucked within the pages of plastic. Pages full of them. Then I saw it: the single copy of Pokemon Yellow. I walked out of that store with not a single dollar to my name, but with all of the joy an eight year old kid can fathom. I was finally going to experience the Pokemon thing my friends were going on about; it wasn’t Gold or Crystal but it said it was “special” on the cover, dammit.
When I switched on my Gameboy Advance for the first time to play Yellow, I honestly had no idea what was waiting for me. I’d heard friends at school talk about it, I saw some of the TV show, collected the cards like all eight year old boys did, but never could ANYTHING have prepared me for this. Professor Oak drew me into this “World of Pokemon” with his talk of how these creatures fought alongside people, and how he made a living studying these “animals”. Being able to name myself was new to me as well, having only played Super Mario Bros, and fighting games like Mortal Kombat before I started the addiction known as Role Playing Games. With my friend as my rival, I was let loose in Pallet town and was allowed to go wherever I wish, as long as it wasn’t in the tall grass. This kind of freedom within a game was alien to me; talking to NPCs, interacting with objects, it was all I could do from going insane with joy. Every little thing I interacted with told me something, gave me something to think about; even people helped me out! “Press start and select save when you get tired and need a break!”.
After dealing with my Rival and Professor Oak, I was then set free to roam Kanto. There were no levels, no lives, no scores; just a world full of wonder. The combat was a blast; Pikachu tanked through most of it, and when I got hold of the three starters my team was unstoppable. I had a world to explore and the only limit I had imposed on me was the time I spent playing. Finding Zapdos in the power plant was like finding treasure. It was a Pokemon I hadn’t seen before, realizing I only came that way because I was trying out my “surf” move, and could have never found him at all was one of the coolest things about the game. Secrets were everywhere, and were just waiting to be discovered.
As I progressed through the Gym Leaders, and other various Trainers in my path; I kept hearing about the Elite Four and the Indigo Plateau. What were they? They sounded tough and exclusive, so I had to get there. My journey took me across a whole region and brought me straight back to Pallet Town, the place where my story began. I headed back to Viridian City and took on my last Gym Leader, and with that the last badge I needed to gain entry to Victory Road. I always enjoyed that name; it felt like when I stepped into that cave I had already won, that nothing could stop my momentum. I burned through the Elite Four, but took some hard knocks on my way through. When the dust had settled, it was just My Rival and I standing at the top of the Indigo Plateau. My adventure started with him, and it was just fitting that our last battle be the champion fight. We had met a few times before; the S.S. Anne, Lavender Town, Saffron City, and I had beaten him every time. This time would be no different.
As I watched the credits roll, and saw my team get enrolled into the Pokemon Hall of Fame; I jumped for joy. What more could I want as a kid? Looking back on my experience now I can honestly say that Pokemon Yellow was the best video game I have ever played. It taught me to explore my surroundings, and to always cautiously follow my curious mind; it taught me that no matter your limits you can still somehow come out on top with enough effort and some help from your friends. Game Freak did an amazing job on the series as a whole, but with Pokemon Yellow is where my heart lies. If you have a kid that wants a video game or are looking to share the joys of gaming with a sibling or a child, Pokemon is always a safe choice; if not the best. Because, sure you can give them a game; but why settle for a game when you can give them an adventure. It even says “special” on the cover.
4189 Views // September 11, 2014