Mark Marrow
27 Sep, 2004

Pokémon Fire Red/Leaf Green Review

GBA Review | Time to go back where it all began, but is the trip back to Kanto worth it?
Back in 1998, Nintendo had released one of history’s greatest video-game franchises known to humankind, the magnificent masterpiece that was Pokemon. Underneath all of the anime TV series, trading cards and a long list of other worthless merchandise laid one of the greatest gaming phenomenons known to all video-game freaks. To celebrate the release of the two games that started it all, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, Nintendo has decided to give the two games a complete Game Boy Advance makeover. Both Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green will give fans of the originals a sense of déjà vu as they venture through the wonderful land of Kanto once again, but it’s always great to see familiar faces again right?

Coming into playing the two new Pokemon titles I must admit that I was a little hesitative to see if I had just blown away my cash on a mere remake of a game that I spent many hours of my childhood wasted on. Remakes aren’t always particularly worth it as it is, especially looking at all the remakes on the GBA that aren’t anything spectacular from the originals. Of course, with my expectations of the game extremely low for the remake, I hit the long road of Kanto to see if this game was really worth the money, and more importantly, our reader’s cash also.

The story starts off with your character reaching the tender age of where he or she (choosing to be a girl is new to this game) must kiss their families and loved ones good-bye and must face the harsh Pokemon world ahead of them. You start off in a small town and get to choose one of three starting Pokemon - in this case Charmander (Fire type), Bulbasaur (Grass type) or Squirtle (Water type). After you've picked your favourite, your adventure begins.

In terms of story the game is extremely straightforward from the go. Your goal is to become the greatest Pokemon trainer ever and to catch all of the Pokemon to assist with your local Pokemon expert, Professor Oak, with finally finishing his research on the little critters. Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green has absolutely no major twists in the story-line nor is there any romantic moments during the course of the game, it’s just one straight road to the top in eliminating any Pokemon trainers, including your rival, that are in your way. Also, to become the Pokemon lead campion, you must first travel the land to defeat all eight Pokemon Gym Leaders, of whom give you special badgers that allow you to progress further in the game – unlocking new areas and abilities.

Probably the only exciting plot sequence in the game is the appearance of the devious group Team Rocket, of who are plotting away at making Kanto are living hell. The idea of bringing in the whole bad guys regime is pretty interesting though, since it gives you an idea of how exactly good and evil people use Pokemon in assistance of helping them in everyday situations. These side stories have enough substance to keep the game lengthy and also prevent the game becoming too boring.

The Gameplay in Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green begins relevantly easy , and increases in difficulty as the game progresses. The creatures encountered in the first areas are very easy to defeat and capture, and there are handy hospitals nearby that'll rejuvenate all the Pokémon in the trainer's party. Probably the greatest addition to the game for newcomers is the handy trainer tips that are located all over on signposts, characters are chock full of advice, and early on in the game, a Teachy TV can be added to the inventory. Also the new online tutorial can be pulled up at anytime( by simply tapping either the L or R shoulder buttons) that give newcomers a real understanding on the complexity that is Pokemon and the strategies behind it.

The game is all about catching em’ all. To do so successfully, trainers will need to spend a lot of time battling their party of Pokémon against either wild Pokémon or Pokémon kept by other trainers. Winning battles will cause the Pokémon to level up and learn new fighting moves. The battles themselves are turn-based and offer trainers a choice to choose from battle moves, or to simply catch the creature or run away. Capturing the Pokémon requires the trainer to have a Pokéball to throw at it. These can be purchased or sometimes found lying around the ground. The wild Pokémon are hidden in grassy areas, water and caves, so are hard to avoid except by avoiding these areas totally. The whole point of battling Pokemon is to gain experience to build up your Pokemon’s abilties, such as their unique move set. This meaning, each Pokemon will always progress differently. Another good part about battling is getting your Pokemon to evolve into more powerful creatures once raised to a certain level, of which only a limited amount can do.

The game itself looks identical to last year’s Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire games, with the exception of an upgrade in the Pokedex( a lot more convenient) and various art styles. The game visuals are slightly brighter and a lot more detail has been added compared to the Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire games.

The graphics in the game itself aren’t anything spectacular. You’ll see small details such as reflection in the water, cut-scenes and move sequences during the battles ( of all which make the game more enjoyable) but from what has been shown the Game Boy Advance is capable of producing much better than this. However, it’s still good to see that the original has been overhauled to be presented in a much presentable matter.

The audio in the game is probably the most notable upgrade once you begin your adventure. No longer is the sound quality jagged nor is it bad on the ears when the sound is up full. The conversion of the original favourites remain but sound a lot better, similar to the sound quality of Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire. There are a number of catchy tunes to hum along to throughout the adventure, each track more refreshing than the next. Again it’s not anything spectacular, but it’s still above average.

Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green are basically 80% original and 20% new, with the new additions making the game more enjoyable in terms of gameplay and length. The game sees new features in new areas to find and a additional extended environment after the competition of the game, which is quoted to last up to another 10hours on top of the games already 25-30hours game time. The new areas in the game allow for you to capture various Pokemon from the Jhoto region.

What's perhaps most welcome are the small touches that makes this game a lot more enjoyable. The Pokedex has become much more accessible and now allows sorting by everything from name to it’s Pokemon class. Not far into the game the player is granted the ability to run, making travelling much less tedious. Also present is a brief recap every time the player restores their game, which gives you a slight recap of what past events you did ( kind of feels like you’re part of a story or TV show). The actual use for the feature that I found, is that it helps eliminate that lost feeling you get when you haven’t played the game for a while and you suddenly forget what you’ve accomplished in the past.

The game features new abilities for your Pokemon, taken from Ruby and Sapphire, you can now collect berries again, attractive new cut-scenes that work their way in every time you enter a main area, the new areas add a lot more to the game in terms of enjoyment and length and also the game is just a steal with the new multiplayer options and the inclusion of the Wireless Adaptor ( included for free with the game).

The Wireless Adaptor allows players to forget all the problems that use to occur when battling with tangled cords all over the place, and sometimes even resulting in one of those cords falling out – oh no diaster. The wireless action allows players to hook-up with friends to battle it out, trade or talk via the new technology. There’s a lobby for the multiplayer action that allows up to as many as 30 different Pokemon players doing as they please. It’s definitely an idea that’ll be a hit for a lot of the younger kids around the playground at school.

Although the main downfall from the Wireless Adaptor is that the connections will become quite laggy compared to a connection with a usual link-up cable. The slow-downs do become rather annoying when you’re in the mist of an intense battle when you must wait several seconds to see your move make a hit or what move your opponent has made. There are a few problems with the Wireless set-up also, with there being interface problems on occasions for no apparent reason. Overall it’s still nice to be free of those cords once and for all.

Overall the game isn’t particularly a game that people who have played the two originals to death would enjoy. It’s ultimately a game suited perfectly for people who were never around to witness the greatness that was Pokemon Blue and Red and to also allow for those people who have never played a single Pokemon game experience what's so great about this series, personally I believe these two games are by far the best in the entire series. In all honestly with the new features, areas and a ‘free’ wireless adaptor I don’t think it should be a game that any Pokemon fan and gamers alike should past up.

There definitely was a lot of room for improvement that, in return, could’ve made the game a lot more enjoyable. There were a number of features from past Pokemon games that I felt should’ve been included in the game. The day and night feature would’ve been great if added, nothing like waking up at 1am to catch a rare Pokemon, there was no berry growing, no appearance of custom hide-outs and no single player mini-games. Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green are two magnificent games that pull off an amazing remake of two of the greatest titles in the franchise, however, I felt that there was a lot of room for improvement.
The Score
Fantastic game. It was great to see the original back with some amazing features that made the experience even better. However, with it being a remake and lacking a few essential features it does suffer from not being able to become a great 'new' Pokemon series to the franchise.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 years ago
Yeah I picked this game up yesterday, I like when you turn it off and re-boot it, it tells you what you did last play.
9 years ago
I really want fire red vesion.It is really good.But the game is nearly exactly the same as red,blue and yellow version.But fantastic graphics.
9 years ago
There are quite a few new islands too... icon_smile.gif
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

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Wireless Adaptor (TBC)

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