Developer: Game Freak/Creatures, Inc.
Platform: 3DS eShop (originally on Game Boy and Game Boy Color)
ESRB Rating: E
My Rating: ****½:5
After many years of fan demand, “Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow” were given a re-release on the 3DS Virtual Console for the 20th anniversary of the series in 2016. While the games have aged since their original releases, they still provide an ideal way for longtime fans to relive their favorite experiences as Pokémon trainers and also appeal to a new generation of fans.
The premise of the series has been firmly established with these three initial titles: as a young man from Pallet Town, you are given the task of capturing Pokémon for Professor Oak in order to complete the Pokédex. These games started gameplay conventions that would be the standard for all future installments.
Notably, all three games are presented in their original forms. While “Pokémon Yellow” represents when the series began transitioning to full color for those who owned a Gameboy Color, “Pokémon Red and Blue” are rendered in their native black and white (or black and yellowish-green for those who use a filter on the 3DS to simulate the effect of the original Game Boy’s screen). While the games’ once state-of-the-art graphics may be a product of their time, they provided the foundation for all subsequent incarnations of the franchise.
Despite the fact that much has changed since the games were initially released on the Gameboy and Gameboy Color, the success of the Virtual Console releases of the games has proven that many people still love the original “Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow” video games. Since they were put on Nintendo 3DS eShop, the games have been downloaded over 1.5 million times. They were also included in a limited-edition model of the New Nintendo 3DS to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
Even with the core graphics and gameplay having seen much change since the “Pokémon” series was first released in Japan in 1996, the success of the Virtual Console releases of “Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow” proves that the games still hold considerable appeal to both longtime fans and new ones. Much like fellow Nintendo series, such as “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Metroid,” they define the idea of being easy to pick up and play, but remain tough to truly master. With the possibility of other “Pokémon” titles being included on the eShop for the upcoming Nintendo Switch, there has never been a better time to pick up the series or get into it for the first time. Gotta catch ‘em all over again!
Review by Steven Pryor