Towards the end of 1998, the hype of Pokémon was still building strong, as players eagerly awaited the next game to be released, whilst replaying the original games time and time again, trading with their friends to collect the original 151 Pokémon and fill that Pokédex.
Nintendo just released a new console across the world between 1998 to 2000, in the form of a new Game Boy handheld called, Game Boy Color. As the name suggests, the Game Boy Colour was similar to the original Game Boy, but with more colour to the games, and with the rise in popularity of the Pokémon Anime, players around the world awaited the next Pokémon Game release, which would come in the form of Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition, or as it’s more commonly known, Pokémon Yellow.
Pokémon Yellow shares the same plot as Pokémon Red and Blue, with some changes to the starting elements of the game, as well as adding new enhanced features that weren’t in the original game.
You are finally old enough to have your own Pokémon and venture out into the world of the Kanto region. In your eagerness to get out there and explore, you head straight for the tall grass at the north side of Pallet Town, before being suddenly stopped by Professor Oak, who tells you that it’s dangerous to wander around in tall grass without a Pokémon to aid you.
In the original Red & Blue games, Oak should take you to his lab now and let you choose a starter Pokémon from three different options. However, in Pokémon Yellow, a wild Pikachu appears that Professor Oak catches, before you head back to his lab.
When you get back to the lab, you will notice a big difference from Red & Blue straight away, by looking over at the table where you choose your starter, and noticing that instead of three Pokéballs, there is only one.
Oak tells you to take the last starter Pokémon, but as you press the A button on the ball, your rival pushes you out of the way and takes the last one for himself. Leaving you to take the wild, untamed Pikachu that Oak caught a few moment prior.
This plot change was added to replicate the anime series that had become so popular, especially as Pikachu was becoming so popular amongst players for his iconic appearances in the series, which caused Pikachu to become a household name.
Pokémon Yellow is very similar to the original Red and Blue games (and green for Japan), but with new elements added in, to help make this version of the game a closer relative to the popular anime series. Instead of choosing your starter, you get a Pikachu that refuses to stay in it’s Pokéball, and will instead follow you around in the over-world, much like Ash’s Pikachu in the show.
Other aspects from the show such as Team Rocket’s popular dynamic duo, Jessie and James, making appearances throughout the game, beginning with your first encounter with them, after you choose one of the two fossil Pokémon in Mt. Moon. They will claim that the fossil belongs to Team Rocket and battle you with the same Pokémon they own in the anime, Ekans and Koffing, as well as Meowth also battling you as one of their Pokémon.
As previously mentioned in my Pokémon Red & Blue review, there were a lot of elements in the first generation of Pokémon games that didn’t get sorted until Gen 2 (Gold, Silver & Crystal), and some didn’t get perfected until Gen 3 (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, & Fire Red/Leaf Green), including the backpack. If you have played the later games in the series, and wanted to try your hand at playing the originals, then you will be in for a shock, as your backpack can fill up and you will sometimes have to choose between dropping an item that you may never get back, or using it to make room for the new item you’ve found, so for those of you who horde TM’s, then be prepared because you won’t be able to do that in this version.
Another mechanic that wasn’t improved and perfected until later generations, was the Pokémon storage boxes on the PC’s scattered about Kanto. In later games, you had a visual screen for the boxes with sprites of all your Pokémon in for you to see, but in the first generation games, these boxes were nothing more than a list of text on the screen, meaning you couldn’t see the Pokémon you were retrieving, especially if you nickname your Pokémon and forget what breed of Pokémon they actually are, you can’t find out until you take them out of the box and check their summary in the Party screen.
Pokémon Yellow also included a way to link to Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64, which added a new mode, “Colosseum 2”, to the Cable Club, because if Players who own the N64 game can defeat the Master Ball division of the Prime Cup, round 2, then their Pikachu could learn the move Surf and can be transferred/traded to Pokémon Yellow, giving you the only Electric Pokémon that can surf in the game. There are certain conditions for obtaining the Surfing Pikachu in Stadium however, so follow this link to learn more if you still own these games and wish to try and get that surfing electric mouse.
The Surfing Pikachu is needed to play a Yellow version exclusive mini game called ‘Pikachu’s Beach’, which can only be played with that specific Pikachu, and not your starter. To find where to start the mini-game, you need to head to Route 19 and find the Summer Beach House, and talk to the Surfin’ Dude that lives there.
However, these mechanic restrictions shouldn’t stop you from playing the classics, because they are always worth playing at some point either for that nostalgia from your childhood, or because you didn’t play the old ones and want to experience the true struggle of trying to catch ’em all without being able to run or see your Pokémon in the PC Boxes without taking them out first. However, if you play them now, even with owning other games, it will be difficult to truly catch ’em all since Mew is very elusive, and you would have to either have a way of cheating (i.e. Game Shark for GameBoy or PC Emulator) to get the adorable psychic Pokémon or find a friend that has it and is willing to trade, even if it’s just a trade back to fill that Pokédex.
As you can see from the screenshots, there is a lot more colour in this game than it’s predecessors, since this game was brought out for the Game Boy Color, meaning the new hardware was able to bring games to life that little bit more, whilst keeping the 8-bit style of graphics.
The 8-bit sprites were also updated in this game, with some visible changes to the appearance of Pokémon. For example, Pikachu appears to have lost weight since the Red and Blue games, and now rocks a slimmer yet still adorably chunky sprite model. Other visible changes include the length of Pikachu’s tail, as well as Pikachu’s overall pose.
Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition is a must have for collectors and avid Pokémon fans. It works alongside the previous two games, making it a solid choice to pick up if you have friends that you can trade with, or if you have two GameBoy consoles and two different games. The nostalgia factors in heavily here, but due to restrictions of the earlier games compared to the later versions, it’s hard to give these games a full 5 stars and call it fair, because later generations of Pokémon players might not find them as good as older Pokémon players do, because we have that Nostalgia. So, as much as I want to give this game 5 stars for it’s new front Sprite designs, game elements and being connected more to the anime, I can only fairly give it 4 and a half stars.