Content at a glance:
Mild Violence: Bloodless attacks against non-human creatures. Opponents only faint after being defeated.
Fantasy Magic: Classifications of Pokemon include Psychic and Ghost. One area features characters called Channelers and hints at possession.
Ever wondered what it’d be like if your pet dog could spray water? Ever wonder what it’d be like to raise a dragon from hatchling to full-grown? Ever wonder what it’d be like to own an electric mouse? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you’re going to get that experience with the Pokemon series.
Pokemon first made its appearance back in 1998, and since then became a popular franchise to put it mildly. Kids loved being able to scoop up and train their very own Pokemon (short for Pocket Monsters). If it wasn’t the fun of collecting them, it was competing with other trainers, both your friends and the in-game opponents to see who had the strongest critter.
In 2004, the first two games got a bit of a revamp and were re-released as FireRed and LeafGreen. Even though they’re two separate games, it’s pretty much the same game; you just can’t catch all the Pokemon without the other. I always wondered why they got released in pairs, but that’s not really relevant.
FireRed and LeafGreen both take place in the fictional Kanto region. You start by choosing a character, either a boy or a girl. You give your character a name, and you also name your rival. Both you and your rival are aspiring Pokemon Trainers, with obviously a bit of history between you…not really good history either (hey he’s your rival remember)
When the game begins, you start off in your hometown. Both you and your rival are called for by the town Pokemon expert, Professor Oak and you both pick out a starting Pokemon, which your rival (who happens to be Oak’s grandson) can’t wait to take you on with. After beating your rival, your journey begins, but shortly after takes you right back where you started. Professor Oak asks you to fulfill his life’s dream by creating a list of every Pokemon out there, and he presents you with a tool to make that happen: the Pokedex. Armed with this electronic encyclopedia and a few Pokeballs (devices that capture Pokemon) you set out (once again) to do just that.
It’s not quite as simple though. During your travels, you get caught up dealing with your rival, a criminal organization called Team Rocket, and even the chance to prove you’re the best of the best with training your Pokemon by challenging the Pokemon League. All in a day’s work right?
FireRed/LeafGreen play out like any RPG for the GBA. The game takes place in a top-down environment consisting of an overworld, a few dungeons, and towns. In the overworld, if you walk in tall grass, you might meet a wild Pokemon, while just walking around in general causes you to run into said wild Pokemon if you’re in one of the dungeons. In towns, you can buy supplies to heal your Pokemon or capture more Pokemon. If you’re up to it, you can take on a fellow Trainer at the town’s Gym. After you defeat the Gym leader, the town is “cleared” if you will.
Battles are fought very much like most RPG’s. You choose an attack, the attack is performed, and then it’s the opponent’s turn to attack. This goes on until one Pokemon’s HP is depleted (if you’re fighting a wild Pokemon) or until you or your opponent runs out of Pokemon. There’s a strategy to these battles as well. Pokemon of a certain type are more vulnerable to attacks of a certain type. Some of these are pretty easy to learn. For instance, fire-type Pokemon are more vulnerable to water-type attacks, water-type Pokemon don’t stand up well to grass-type attacks, and grass-type Pokemon can’t take the heat of fire-type attacks. Other combinations are a little trickier to learn. What beats a bug-type Pokemon, or a rock-type? You’ll just have to find that out on your own.
All of this is mild and very bloodless. Pokemon attack with a variety of attacks, including fire, water and air blasts, hurling rocks, electric shocks, and more. In these cases, impact is shown, but with physical attacks like scratching, body slams, or slashing with claws, impact is not shown. The attacking Pokemon only moves.
If a Pokemon’s health is depleted, the Pokemon doesn’t die. It only faints and can be revived at a town’s Pokemon Center.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the Pokemon games, and this is the spot for it.
Some of your Pokemon include some supernatural types, such as Psychic and Ghost. The Psychic Pokemon attack with mind attacks. This didn’t seem to be any different than what’s used in Star Wars, if even that. A few rings just shoot out of the Pokemon in question. There’s no actual psychic material, like reading minds, fortune telling, etc. with these Pokemon however. Same with the Ghost.
There’s one spot that doesn’t fall into the fantasy segment though. In one town, there’s a spot that’s basically a Pokemon graveyard. You meet trainers there that call themselves “channelers” and I think it’s mentioned that they sent the souls of dead Pokemon over to the other side, or something to that effect. After you beat one, they comment that they were possessed. I didn’t like that they got into that, but I also didn’t think it was worth trashing the whole game for. In fact, I’d say that’s the only big problem with it.
There was also one part where you could regenerate a fossilized Pokemon and bring it back to life, but this was more sci-fi than spiritual.
None. Well, one of the female trainers might have worn a midriff-baring shirt, but I don’t remember seeing one.
Other Elements of Concern:
Some might interpret the game’s goal as glorifying greed. The game’s tagline, “Gotta catch ’em all” does give that impression as well. But I’d say Pokemon is more like our hobby of bug-catching, which I hear is what inspired the game.
The game also mentions evolution, but their version of evolution is more like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly than an ape turning into a man. When a Pokemon reaches a certain level or is given a certain item, it changes into a bigger, more-mature version of itself. It doesn’t change its species, so like I said it’s more like metamorphosis than actual evolution. Still, some may object to it.
The whole game revolves around doing something for a friend. Your character is willing to travel the world, pretty much, to help a friend fulfill a dream of his. I have to say, even for a video game, that kind of selflessness is admirable.
You also can’t steal another trainer’s Pokemon. If you like what they’ve got, you have to go out and catch it yourself.
Your character also is willing to go out of their way to foil the plans of Team Rocket, who abuse Pokemon for their own selfish goals. Your character certainly didn’t have to; it’d be all too easy to just keep on walking. But he/she decides instead to put a stop to Team Rocket’s ways.
I’ve been a life-long Pokemon hater ever since it came out. Didn’t know why either, but from the very start, nothing would’ve pleased me more than seeing it taken off shelves once and for all. Then later on, I mean years later on, I got to wondering, what about it I hated so much. So, I started doing a little research on it. The idea and the back-story behind it sounded a little interesting, a game inspired by collecting bugs. Finally, I decided to give it a try, and these were the first two true Pokemon games I bought. My first was Battle Revolution, but I didn’t like it that much; that’s for another time though. I have to say, I’m glad I tried it though. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
That’s not to say the game is without faults or is for everybody. I thought nothing of the Psychic and Ghost classes of Pokemon. I didn’t think there was anything to think about with them. But the Pokemon graveyard and the channelers with their talk of possession were some things to think about. I didn’t like them, but I didn’t think they were worth lighting a fire to throw my games in. But to some, it might cross a line, so I would pray about it. It’s a shame though; I could probably recommend it to everyone if not for those elements. So, I would pray over it.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
About this game
- ERSB Rating:
- E (Everyone)
- September, 2004
- Review Published:
- August 5, 2009 / 11:32 am
- Related Games: