This week Joseph Harper is drawn back into the Pokémon vortex like a starving Rick Stein stumbling across Magicarp at a market. He finds there is no better fuel for nostalgia than a solid run with a Pokémon trainer’s licence.
As part of their 20th anniversary celebrations, the Pokémon geniuses at Nintendo did the handheld gaming world a massive favour and released the original English Pokémon trilogy (Blue, Red and Yellow) as downloadable content on the Nintendo 3ds Virtual Console. Obviously I had to download one and become a psycho Pokémon obsessive for a while. It’s a helluva nostalgia trip for sure.
As a child I bought my cousin’s chunky, grey Gameboy using paper run money and for Christmas that year got a copy of Pokémon Blue. I spent the rest of the summer/year meticulously working my way around the Kanto region with a Bulbasaur derivative at my side (because Bulba is the cutest and best starter). It was excellent. A perfect game.
I had two friends who played too. Thomas Edgerton was a hardout and great fun to discuss Poké-analytics with. We bet prized marbles over whether Ash would beat Richie in the Indigo League (spoiler: He didn’t!?!). I had to meet up with Thomas at a local park on the sly because he was banned from our house after Mum overheard him saying the C-word while we played Age of Empires. My other friend was Hamza Ishikawa, who had Japanese versions of the games. He tried trading me his Mew and somehow in translation it become a glitchy Rhyhorn that effed up my game.
Still, it was cool and the original Pokémon games rank as my second favourite of all time. So that’s why as soon as it became available on the Nintendo 3DS virtual console, I started a replay.
My first idea was to have my partner (a Pokémon naive) attempt to play through the game but she was immediately disgusted (“What the hell is this little digital man?”) and confused (“I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t even want a Pokémon!”) so I just played it myself.
The game holds up well. The graphics are cute, the NPCs are weird/helpful and there is nothing as satisfying as naming your rival after someone you dislike irl.
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There’s a beautiful simplicity to the original Trilogy. And luckily the Virtual Console version maintains all the quirks (read: glitch to get Mew) of the original cartridge version. The only real update I could find was the ability to trade and battle via Wireless with your Nintendo friends. A stellar addition.
It took me 43 hours to defeat the Elite Four and amass a Pokédex of 115, and this week I’ve arranged a play date with a member of my indoor netball team so we can evolve each other’s Haunters and Kadabras. Exciting stuff. I highly recommend shelling out and setting out on your Pokémon adventure all over again.
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