I remember playing Pokemon Yellow for hours on end when I was 10 and 11 years old on both my original Game Boy and my yellow Game Boy Pocket. I would take this game everywhere, school, on the bus going with my mom to take care of business, church when I used to go, etc. I used to beg my mom to buy batteries on such a regular basis, it probably got her mad a couple of times, I even froze batteries to extend battery life, just so I can train up my Pokemon and get ready for the Pokemon League, among the multiple restarts that I did. However, I grew up, and my days of playing nothing but Pokemon pretty much went with it, and I would dabble in it from time to time.
Upon hearing that Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow were making a comeback on the Virtual Console with wireless trading, I was ecstatic. I was overjoyed. I would finally be able to play my favorite game in the Pokemon franchise once again, and walk around with Pikachu as my companion. The question remains, did I enjoy it now as much as I did before?
Game Name: Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition
Platform(s): Game Boy, Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
Developer(s): Game Freak
Release Date: October 18, 1999 (Game Boy); February 27, 2016 (Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console)
Price: $9.99 via Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
*Game purchased via Amazon.com by reviewer, played on 3DS Virtual Console.*
First things first, folks, this isn’t your garden variety modern-era Pokemon game. This is classic. There’s no Dark Type, no Steel Type, no Fairy Type and no Eggs. Breeding doesn’t happen here, there’s no Running Shoes, and you don’t get the bike for a while. It’s catch, train, beat everybody. However, that doesn’t take away from the challenge that Pokemon Yellow presents to the player. While not as robust as the modern-era Pokemon entries, pretty much walking into the Pewter City Gym with just your Pikachu, a Butterfree and a Pidgeotto ain’t gonna cut it.
That being said, fans of the original series of games will be very familiar with the game as a whole, but younger fans may be put off by the lack of Pokemon available, as well as the overt simplicity of the game. That’s not an indictment of the game; however, it will take a serious appreciation for the franchise for younger fans to take to Pokemon Yellow, and by extension, Red, Green (Japan only) and Blue.
However, cultural appreciation aside, Pokemon Yellow is a reminder of simpler times in the world of Pokemon, where catching 150 (151 if you got Mew through the events or the famous Long-Range Trainer Glitch, known more commonly as the Mew Glitch,) species of Pokemon was all you needed to feel fantastic about yourself among your circle of friends, that and catching Zapdos, Moltres, Articuno and Mewtwo, and reviving Omanyte, recently reincarnated as Lord Helix (PRAISE HELIX.) A little added bonus, is that you can get the other 4 starter Pokemon, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle and Eevee, through normal gameplay in this game, adding to the experience of the game.
All in all, there is a faithfulness to the anime that can be seen here, as Pikachu is your companion throughout the game, walking outside of its Pokeball, and Jessie and James make their presence known a couple of times too, however, the core gameplay is similar to Red and Blue.
A classic that should be celebrated
Pokemon Yellow might not appeal to a more modern audience, but that’s okay. It still holds up after more than 15 years, and it’s a fun diversion. Obviously you won’t find yourself playing this game all day, every day, but you should find some kind of enjoyment in picking up the game once in a while, just to experience what it was like back in the late 90s for Pokemon fans everywhere.