In finishing my review for the Pokémon DLC “Isle of Armor”, I found that what better a way than to review the rest of the main series games! Now it would be quite a long challenge to go through and review each individual game, especially since most of the ones from the same generation are pretty much the same game. With that in mind, I am going to be focusing on each individual region for my game reviews. I will also be focusing on one region each week with various posts that are all connected to that specific region. In this case and for week 1, I will of course be reviewing the Kanto region games, giving my opinion and overall thoughts of all of the games released for this region from Pokémon Red to the Let’s Go games. I will not be reviewing the Kanto region that we see in the Johto games, that portion will be thoroughly reviewed next week when I cover Johto. Now let’s carry on to the original games released in North America, Red and Blue.
Red and Blue and Yellow
Thankfully I was born in the 90’s and lucky enough to have an older brother that wanted a Gameboy Color. I can’t exactly remember if I asked for the game or if he already had it, but I remember starting my Pokémon game journey off with Pokémon Red version. The reason I liked Red so much over Blue was simply the fact that I thought Charizard was much cooler than Blastoise. I still feel the same today (sorry Blastoise). I didn’t think much of it at the time, but one issue I have with these original games is that there really isn’t much difference between these two games unlike in all of the others where you get a version exclusive legendary. There is of course a Green version with Venusaur that was not released in North America, but again it wouldn’t have mattered all that much.
I did go back to looking into some of the version exclusive Pokemon since I couldn’t exactly remember what they were and haven’t played the games in a while, but even with the exclusives I still stand with my choice of picking Red over Blue. The biggest standouts for exclusive to only Red are Growlithe/Arcanine, Scyther and Electabuzz. This was a time though when they were just finding their footing as far as how to actually make each game unique while also having them be very similar.
I have seen several videos on the glitches or just general issues that these games had like how the psychic typing was very overpowered and overall stats issues, but personally I just don’t get into all of that. I have always been the type of player for these games where I just casually enjoy the journey and challenge of beating the champion tow in the game. I don’t do any competitive battling so I just take the games as their put in front of me and these first games really set the stage for what would become my love for the series as a whole. It is simple enough to get into for the younger age while also still being challenging and enjoyable for the older fans like myself. I think the simplicity is rather refreshing when going back to play after being used to the newer games like Let’s Go or Sword and Shield.
It’s hard to narrow down the best parts of these games because it all just works so well. I have some very fond memories of playing Red over and over and over again, not getting enough of it until generation II was finally released. I think some of my most fond memories were that of going in the Safari Zone and trying to catch all of the Pokémon in their which at times was more challenging than catching the legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo. I think the story works well without being too complicated and also has my favorite villain in Giovanni. It also has the best rival with Blue, but these original games as I said, really set the stage for what the series would become and cemented my love for the series as well as many others. Heck, not even the graphics are enough to deter me away from going back and playing it again.
I’ll touch on Yellow real quick since it’s not entirely different from Red and Blue. The biggest difference being that it seemed to fall more in line with the anime where they start you off with a Pikachu rather than allowing you to choose between the three you normally got to choose from. You do however will have an opportunity to accept each of the three starters later on in the game in the same way Ash does in the anime. It was cool to see slight updates to the game from the previous ones and for them to give us an entirely new journey while also staying very close to what we had before. It was all familiar, but giving us a different journey. You also got to have Pikachu follow you and show its emotion which was a nice change that even now we as fans want more of and are starting to get with Pokémon following us again in the Isle of Armor.
Fire Red and Leaf Green
The release of the first remakes in the series being Fire Red and Leaf Green was also the first time that I was getting to play through the Kanto region with my very own copy that I got for Christmas. Did I “accidentally” find the game hidden somewhere in my house before Christmas? Maybe. Was I extremely excited when I got to open it on Christmas day? Hell Yes. Not only did I get this game, but I also upgraded from a Gameboy Advance to a Gameboy Advance SP, the blue version. It is probably one of my most memorable moments in my Pokémon Game playing career and I will always remember it.
I was just coming off of playing Pokémon Sapphire and couldn’t have been happier to relive the memories I had of playing Pokémon Red with the updated graphics that we had for the Hoenn games. There really isn’t too much to say about these remakes that really changed my overall opinions from the original games. If I was more concerned about the stats or typing issues then I would say that these games are soooo much better, but I never worried that much about those issues so they were a bit of a non-factor. The updated graphics were definitely a plus for these games along with the addition of the post-game story. We got to visit the Sevii Islands along with being able to interact with both Johto and Hoenn Pokémon, so another plus is the expanded Pokedex this time around.
Really I just don’t see any negatives for these games at all. Any negatives that I see for Fire Red and Leaf Green would be just personal negatives like version exclusive issues. It’s a personal negative though because every game has version exclusives and I don’t see that ever changing. It just made it hard though because most of my friends also got Fire Red so I didn’t know anyone that could get those version exclusives from Leaf Green to trade with. Another issue I have that I didn’t bring up in the original games was the inclusion of trade evolutions. I understand the thought process of wanting players to connect with each other to evolve these Pokémon like Kadabra and Machoke, but I just hated that it was the only way of evolving them. Overall though, I really do love Fire Red and Leaf Green and see them as the ultimate perfect Kanto game that we have had.
Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee
Finally, we get to the more recent release and latest remake of Red and Blue being Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee which now that I think about it are actually a remake of Pokémon Yellow. Now I didn’t actually play both, but I did end up getting Let’s Go Pikachu. I’m not actually sure if I am in the minority of my mixed feelings about this game compared to the previous ones. On one hand, it’s the first main series game on the Nintendo Switch which is a far superior console than the 3DS so of course overall it was going to look better visually along with the mechanics being heightened. While I was expecting these games to feel like a true updated version of Yellow or Fire Red, it was actually disappointing to see that the focus was more towards the younger kids.
I know that all of the Pokémon games in general are kids games, but these especially felt more kid like and I wasn’t a huge fan. The catching mechanic was also changed in a way that was closer to that of the mobile game Pokémon Go and less like the traditional way. I am not a fan of this at all and felt that typical style of catching Pokémon being a major miss for this game. The other big issue is that they replace the rival Blue with Trace who just doesn’t compare to Blue at all. Outside of these issues though, the games really do hold up as good updates on the Kanto region, but tend to feel a little too easy and not challenging enough for myself.
On the other hand though, this was technically in generation VII so we got the inclusion of mega evolution, Alola forms, and the introduction of Meltan if you had Pokémon Go on your phone. Unfortunatley though, even with this game being in generation VII and having hundreds of new Pokémon available, it limits you to only Kanto Pokémon outside of Meltan and the Alola forms. There were some cool new mechanics like riding Pokémon or even having a Co-op mode, but they felt more gimmicky than actually useful. There also wasn’t any kind of post-game which in this modern age of coming as far as we have in the Pokémon games, makes this game feel somewhat hollow and incomplete. Overall, I am just mixed about how I feel about these games when they could have done the remakes justice and fell more in line with Sword and Shield. Because of the decisions they made, Let’s Go stands as being my least favorite of the Kanto games.
To wrap up my overall opinions of the Kanto games, I just want to reiterate that I love the Kanto region for all of my fond memories. These games set up what we have come to know and love for the series as a whole and have gone through changes from Red to Fire Red to Let’s Go. Fire Red stands as being my favorite of the three different generation versions, but all of them have aspects that someone will like or dislike. These aren’t my favorite games in the whole series, but they will probably stay in my mind as being the most cemented in my memory.
Looking towards the future though I think it would be great for a future game, maybe Sword and Shield, to use the Kanto region as a DLC of some kind to allow us to travel and explore the region with the graphics introduced in Sword and Shield. I would love to see the region to come back in play in the future, but it needs to be paired up with something else. A “Let’s Go Johto” or a remake again of Gold and Silver would bring us back to Kanto and that would also be ideal, but I feel that where we are right now with Pokémon games, the Kanto region as we see it in Red, or Let’s Go Pikachu is just too simplistic to stand as its own remake and I think it’s very evident in Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu.
That does bring to a close my overall thoughts of the Kanto games that have been released thus far and also kicks off Kanto week where I go in depth with various things relating to the Kanto region. There are a lot of great things to look forward to like my team that I typically use and even my ranking of favorite and least favorite Pokémon among other things so stay tuned!