Pros: wireless adapter included; new Training mode; EVERY POKEMON EVER!!!
Cons: it really repeats a lot of the previous games in the series
The Bottom Line: The Bottom Line thinks that 8 out of 10 gamers who own a Game Boy Advance will want this game.
Pokemon are at it again, invading innocent Game Boys everywhere. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past ten or so years, Pokemon are critters (more on the critters part later) who are featured in a long line of video games published for Nintendo game systems. Pokemon Fire Red (and its counterpart, Leaf Green) are the latest in the installments, these being for Game Boy Advance.
Ok, so what are Pokemon? Youre kidding, right? Im guessing you dont have kids. Just kidding, lots of people dont know exactly what Pokemon are. Pokemon are creatures that are loosely based on real animals and given cutesy names to help identify what theyre supposed to resemble. For instance a Meowth is, you guessed it, a cat. Some are not quite so obvious, such as Pikachu, an electric mouse critter. Well, say it slowly now... Peek...at...you.... ohhhhhh how cute. For a mouse. Anyway, the original Pokemon series had 151 different types of Pokemon. This new version features over 300 individual types of Pokemon. Ok, you must be thinking, what difference does it make how many there are? Well, youll understand that part shortly.
There are several different types of Pokemon including Fire, Water, Leaf, Bug, Rock, Electric, Flying and now, several others as well. Too many to really get into here, given the number of Pokemon that now exist. Youll discover them all soon enough. Pokemon types have a strong impact on their fighting ability. For example, Water can extinguish a Fire - therefore, Water types do more damage to Fire types than any other opponent. Also, Bugs can eat Leaves, therefore, Bug-type Pokemon are the biggest danger to Leaf-type opponents.
About the Pokemon Games The premise of the Pokemon games - all of them - is the same. You have to capture all of the Pokemon. Yes, thats right, all 326 of them this time around. This is madness! you say. Well, sort of... unless youre really into either a.) collecting things, b.) Pokemon, or c.) both. The game generally appeals to kids because of reason c. Kids love both collecting things and the cutesy Pokemon - and they are cute. Teens through adults typically are fans of the original T.V. series or some other aspect that made them take interest in the game. Either way, this game has an audience from age 6 through, well, the oldest I know of is 43, but it may go higher than that.
The Pokemon games started with the original Red and Blue versions, later adding Yellow. Then Gold and Silver. Then Ruby and Sapphire. And now, Fire Red and Leaf Green. And yes, all have the same basic idea - Gotta Catch Em All! The basic plot is you travel between towns accumulating Pokemon and raising the levels of the Pokemon you own by battling. This is important, as you will run into stronger opponents as you progress in the game. Also, some Pokemon evolve into another Pokemon as they grow and become stronger - this is the only way to catch them all!
So whats the same about this game? Fire Red (and Leaf Green) most closely resemble the original two games. The battle system has stayed the same, a turn-based system where you and your opponent take turns attacking each other with your Pokemon until one blacks out. Pokemon never die - they can always be revived. Battles are either one-on-one, or occasionally, two-on-two, a feature that was introduced in the Ruby and Sapphire games. You can still carry just six Pokemon in your inventory at once and can still switch between them during battles as needed. For example, if you are fighting a Leaf-type opponent, you may want to switch to that Bug Pokemon youve got instead of your Fire-type. The first Pokemon in your inventory is still the one that you will begin a battle with. Your inventory system is still basically the same - you carry items in a backpack and can remove them as needed while travelling or in battle. Being a Game Boy Advance game, this is, of course, in color (as a side note).
Ok, so why should I buy it? Well, there are some differences. More than some but I dont want to give everything away! First, and most importantly, there is now a Training Mode in the beginning of the game in case you dont know anything about Pokemon (and I obviously couldnt cover everything here!). In this game, you are also given the opportunity to create your character as either male or female. It may seem silly, but its a pretty big step for girl gamers everywhere. After youve settled in with the basics, your characters main goal is to become the greatest Pokemon trainer in the land. You accomplish this by following the story from town to town, leveling your Pokemon along the way to defeat main bosses in each area. Finishing the actual story will take the average gamer about 23-30 hours - fairly substantial for a game. Figure on 30-35 hours for those new to the series or younger children. And youre not even done there. Just while finishing the basic story, you may capture about 25% of the Pokemon, which means youll still be going back for who knows how many hours to catch them all. Another new feature is that on game startup, youll be shown a short review of the last few things you did, so if you havent been able to play for a week it refreshes your memory. A nice feature in a game where virtually every thing looks the same. You also have the ability to re-fight the in-game characters, allowing you to pretty much endlessly level up your Pokemon. In the originals, once you fought someone, that was it - meaning at the end of the game, most of your Pokemon werent leveled, and you werent able to capture all the Pokemon.
Pokemon Fire Red still allows you to battle other friends who have Fire Red or Leaf Green, except this time there is a bonus. Packaged with either game is the Wireless adapter. What does this mean? Well, you no longer need to buy the link cable separately to connect two players, making it less expensive. Also, everyone who owns the game will have the adapter, so there is never a problem of two people not being able to play together. Finally, since you arent restricted by a cable, you dont need to be sitting practically in each others laps to play. There are also some minigames available to two players linked together, but I definitely dont want to spoil those.
Who is it for? Pokemon is great for virtually all kids, and many older gamers have an interest as well. This would make a great gift for a kid - just make sure they have a Game Boy Advance first - this game does not work on the older Game Boy Color system. I wouldnt recommend buying this for an older gamer unless they specifically asked for it, as it is generally targeted towards kids. (Hey, if youre not sure, buy a gift certificate, right?)
Other general points of interest There is a game guide (a book that walks you through the steps of the game, for those who are not gaming-literate) available as well. I dont think it would be absolutely necessary for someone who has already played a Pokemon game, but for Pokemon newbies, this would be a massive help.
Both versions of this game are available virtually anywhere games are sold, but good luck getting your hands on one until probably mid-October - many stores are sold out because demand was way higher than anticipated. It took me eight stores to find one copy.
Expect to pay $34.99 - a little higher than the average Game Boy Advance game, but this is due to the inclusion of the wireless adapter. Granted, this is still cheaper than buying the adapter separately - trust me, you dont want to have to replace the one it comes with!
Final thoughts Any Pokemon fan will find this game enjoyable, and while it does echo much of the older versions, there are enough new features to make it worthwhile. And it will keep a kid quiet for all of the upcoming holiday vacation from school, so this is a good holiday gift idea. Its safe to say you cant go wrong with this game.
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About the reviewer
Tina Duncan (bunniesnbuggies)
Always super busy mom to a very energetic kid and a very devilish cat. Forever starting new hobbies and working on old ones. In my spare time I enjoy reading, video games, World Of Warcraft … more
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The world of Pokémon expands. Pokémon technology makes its next quantum leap. The new games are set in Kanto, the region where Pokémon first took root and exploded into a major phenomenon, and the latest titles stuff in tons of exciting new features. One thing's for certain: when Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen get into Trainers' hands, Pokémon fans stand to become the coolest, most connected gaming community in the world. When you get your copy of Pokémon FireRed or LeafGreen, you'll also nab Nintendo's cutting-edge peripheral: the Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter.