As you know from some of my recent posts, I was enthralled by the Twitch Plays Pokemon Red/Blue Stream. Now, they’ve moved on to Crystal, which holds a ton of sentimental value to me since Pokemon crystal was probably the earliest video game I can remember of my childhood. I had never held an interest in seeing where the series began, however, before I saw the TPP stream of the first generation. Since I have an emulator app of my phone, I decided to download Pokemon Blue and give it a chance. (Don’t hate on me for emulating; I may share my reasons in a later post, but that’s for another day.) So far, Pokemon Blue is a decent inaugural entry to the series, but it’s not without its fair share of issues which were remedied in the second generation.
So far, the storyline is the generic Pokemon storyline. The professor gives you a Pokemon of your choice; there are 3 to pick from: fire, water, and grass types. In this generation, your choices are Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur, respectively. Of course, these are the most iconic starter Pokemon out there. I chose Charmander, since I have a habit of always choosing the fire Pokemon.
I set out on my quest, and before long, I’ve come to the first gym. I beat it and move on to the next, passing through towns as I go. Really, it’s the typical Pokemon formula of getting a Pokemon and moving along through towns until you collect all the badges. I’m noticing a couple problems though. You see, Pokemon Blue doesn’t hold your hand like later titles do, but it takes the independence to an extreme. Out of the 4 Pokemon games I’ve played (Blue, Crystal, Black, Black 2), I’ve found that Crystal is the happy medium between guidance and independence. The problems in Blue? Well…
The map is hard to follow, so it’s tough to figure out where to go next. Paths intersect an divide in too many places, thus making it far too easy to head to the wrong town. The map is so non-linear that I’ve gotten lost a couple times, just trying to advance to the next gym. What does this have to do with guidance and dependence? Usually, there are NPCs who tell you things like “You should head to X town; that’s where gym leader Y is.” Here, I’m left guessing whether or not I should go left, right, up, or down quite often.
Next, getting the necessary HMs isn’t as simple as it should be. Getting Cut was easy enough, but getting Flash… not so much. I kept advancing toward Rock Tunnel without Flash, and I thought I would just walk right through the tunnel. Fat chance; I needed Flash to light the place up. So, utterly confused as to where Flash might be found, I stumbled around to random nearby towns for quite a while. Finally, I gave up and looked it up online (which I hardly ever do). Apparently, I was required to catch 10 unique Pokemon and only then would Professor Oak’s aide (found in a sort of visitor’s center in one of the towns that wasn’t even close to Rock Tunnel) give me Flash.
Now, in all the other Pokemon games I’ve played, catching extra Pokemon has been optional. There are items that can be received when a certain number of Pokemon have been caught, but in the other generations I’ve played, they’ve been optional, unnecessary items. Of course, “Gotta Catch Em All” has always been the catchphrase for the series, but for it to be taken seriously in only one generation seems like a failure on Game Freak’s part. So, I’m adjusting the way I play, and I’ll catch plenty more Pokemon, because I have a feeling I’ll need them for other necessary items like Surf or Fly.
Oh, one other issue I’m having with the game is that your pack can only hold a very, very limited number of items. I’m amazed at how little can be held. Oftentimes I have to toss an item just to see if the item in the Pokeball in front of me is worth picking up. This makes it really tough to carry healing items like Burn Heals, Ice Heals, and so on.
Long story short, Pokemon Blue is the same basic formula of level grinding, trainer fighting, and gym challenging. I can see that the series has some pretty solid roots, considering that the formula really never changed a whole lot from the earliest days. It’s simply a shame that the initial entry is bogged down by odd issues such as an irritating map, limited storage space, and constant Pokemon collecting.
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