Once upon a time, fans of the Pokémon franchise were given the luxurious gift of venturing through a world of cute little critters on the Game Boy. With the initial release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue in the fall of 1998, an RPG on a handheld device had never been so enjoyable. Nearly a year later, an enriched version of both Red and Blue featuring none other than Pikachu was released – Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition.
It’s undeniable – the very thought of Pokémon Yellow reeks nostalgia. Nothing so exquisite had ever been showcased on a light-sensitive handheld screen before. What could be more exciting than leading your own journey accompanied by Pikachu across the land, searching far and wide? When the power was heavy in your hands, the whole meaning of “gotta catch ‘em all” really felt personal, and it was.
I never get tired of good ole Pokémon Yellow. Switching on my dusty Game Boy Color and locking the cartridge into place reveals a giddy feeling only the old school Pokémon games could unveil. Unfortunately, only one saved game is granted, thus creating a very committed journey as a Pokémon trainer. You don’t realize how much blood, sweat and tears you put into a game until the opportunity of playing it again requires your previous data be swiped clean. Nah, it’s okay. I didn’t just put ninety hours into that playthrough, go ahead, DELETE IT.
A major revision in this special edition is that players don’t have the opportunity to choose between the three original starter Pokémon: Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. Pikachu is the trainer’s chosen pal, his partner in crime. Inspired originally by the anime itself, Pikachu dislikes being cooped up in a pokéball (who wouldn’t, honestly) and instead treads closely behind the player as he wanders the land. It’s shockingly delightful. Granted, Pikachu isn’t always a joy. The electric mouse refuses to evolve, just like in the anime. It’s his loss for not wanting the best life for himself. Two points for trying.
Besides Pikachu, Yellow’s universe is full of lovable little critters. Some are easy to come by while others are rare and difficult to capture. Not to mention, when most Pokémon reach a certain level, they evolve into a more agressive and tougher version of themselves. What? My Pokémon is evolving? Why is my heart racing so fast, and why are my hands so sweaty? It never ceases to amaze me.
Stepping foot in a grassy zone triggers the likelihood of encountering a Pokémon and either a) catching it with a pokéball or b) attacking it consecutively, causing it to “faint.” Yes, faint. It’s something magical how indubitably innocent the atmosphere is constructed – negativity isn’t strewn among conversations and Pokémon are always revivable. It’s the perfect world to reside in.
Though battles can be exciting, the mincing steps of back and forth attacks can become exasperating. Patience is a virtue, folks. Leveling up the trainer’s enchanting team of Pokémon may result in a lot of hard word, but is a significant advantage as he begins to bump into stronger Pokémon. Starting out, the trainer runs into an array of weaker Pokémon, presenting an excellent opportunity to put that Pidgey to rest and rack up some experience points. It isn’t ideal, but putting a couple hours here and there into purely building the strength of your team fabricates a much smoother journey.
In every RPG game, a rival of some sort is present. In the anime world of early Pokémon, that rival is none other than Gary. His character design in the anime mirrors that of what appears in Pokémon Yellow and is typically conceived as so. It’s a logical concept, considering Yellow closely follows the adoring anime. This rival can be called whatever your little heart desires, which then ensues the production of some obscene name, but that’s half the fun. Nonetheless, his prechosen Pokémon is the lovable Eevee. As the journey progresses, the Gary lookalike will emerge from almost any corner and confront the trainer with some cheesy and childish comment. Smell ya later!
Really, dude? Is that how you’re planning to get on my nerves? Because it’s working.
Not only does the trainer have to deal with his rival’s crap at sporadic times, but he also has to triumph through random trainer battles, confront Team Rocket, challenge gym leaders at each city, and eventually face the Elite Four. Trainer battles can typically be avoided, as long as intense eye contact isn’t made from across the screen. Yet, there’s always that one guy who needs to make his love for shorts profound – “Hi! I like shorts! They’re comfy and easy to wear!” Cue battle music. What a classic. Team Rocket shows up out of the blue as well, throwing the trainer into a frenzy but only momentarily. The battles with them aren’t anything to write home about, just a little extra something to spice up the adventure.
The gym leaders, on the other hand, will test your patience and your skills as a Pokémon trainer. Luckily, after defeating their team with a little bit of grace and bravery, a fancy badge is awarded. Tallying at a total of eight gyms, each leader specializes in a type of Pokémon. A handful of types are fairly straight forward, such as water, fire, electric, and grass type. If you have a rounded grasp of common sense, determining the general nature of a Pokémon is super effective in combat. A prime example is using a Charmander’s fiery ember to swiftly eradicate a Bulbasaur, a grass type. In retrospect, some Pokémon require a little trial and error battles to soak up what is powerful or weak against what. I personally wouldn’t expect a low kick from a monkey to annihilate a rock with fists and eyes, but it does.
After the eight badges are collected from their respectable gym leaders, the option to face the Elite Four (and the Champion) becomes available. Finally, being crowned Pokémon Master was achievable. Pouring my heart and soul into my insanely dynamic team of cuties was going to pay off. Well, hopefully. Venturing down Victory Road isn’t a walk in the park, but it is the final stretch. Stocking up on healing items is essential. Puzzles are put in my path, but they are merely simple rock-pushing riddles that only require a tinge of common sense (thank goodness.) Saving periodically throughout Victory Road is extremely important unless, you know, you want to go through all of that boulder nonsense over and over again. Pick your poison. Nonetheless, mustering through an array of talented trainers to reach the final realm is exhilarating and succeeding is tremendously awarding.
To say the least, Pokémon Yellow is a game that goes down in infamy. There is nothing more thrilling than stumbling upon a rare specimen and showing it off in battle. That’s right, Bug Catcher, I know you’re jealous of my Moltres. Though battles can appear to last hours even though it’s only been a couple of minutes, watching your team of extravagant beauties evolve and grow is incredibly gratifying.