2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise. The Pokemon company is celebrating the anniversary in a variety of ways. They created a Pokemon commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, they are giving away a different legendary Pokemon each month this year, and they have released a lot of limited edition 20th anniversary merchandise including trading cards and plushes. The most exciting part of the celebration for many Pokemon fans is the release of the original three Pokemon games on the Nintendo 3DS eshop: Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow.
Red and Blue were released in 1998 (99 in Europe) with Yellow following in 1999 (2000 in Europe). Being the youngster that I am, I never got the chance to play these games as a kid. The only thing I do remember doing was watching the Pokemon anime that I loved to death. However, for some reason I always thought the games to be “dumb” for whatever reason and I never got into them. Man do I have regrets. It wasn’t until the release of Pokemon Heartgold and Soulsilver in 2010 that I really stated to fall in love with the games. Ever since then I have played every major Pokemon title. Yet, I have always regretted not being able to go back in time to play the original. It wasn’t impossible, I actually do own a copy of the original Red and Yellow cartridges, but I have never had a Game Boy to play it on. Well… kind of. I own like 6 different Game Boys, all differing variations due to the way they were released (Color, Micro, Advance). The reason I didn’t play Pokemon or any other games on these handhelds was the absence of back lighting in the devices. Growing up with a Game Boy that already had internal lighting (the SP), going back and playing these older games was a terrible bother so I didn’t even try.
Now, enter the announcement of the release of the original Pokemon games on the 3DS eshop. I was ecstatic. I always thought that the Pokemon games would be great virtual console additions to the eshop, so seeing it finally being realized caused me great excitement. It has now been 4 days since the games released and I can say that the games have aged well. I bought Pokemon Yellow because its story is most similar to the anime, which I loved. Plus, you get a Pikachu as a starter Pokemon, something I always wanted as a kid. Currently, I am around 5 hours into the game and I get to live something that I missed out on. Although I would recommend any of the games, Pokemon Yellow is what I would suggest the most, just for the little add-ons and improvements from the last two games. Blue and Red are colorless, but Pokemon Yellow was meant for the Game Boy Color, so you can at least expect some tint to the Pokemon you catch.
Although the Game Boy Pokemon games can seem to be a thing of the past, I can assure you that they are still exciting to play. There’s something special about playing an older game, it feels cathartic and strangely calming. Playing through the game and seeing signs or text bubbles referring to it being 1997 really takes you back in time. Pokemon has come a long way, and I hope that it keeps going.