I’ve been a fan of the Pokémon franchise my entire life, I just don’t remember how I got into the franchise. The earliest memory I can recall has me and my mother heading into a used games shop on my birthday and picking up a little gem known as Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. It featured Pikachu on the box and I really loved the tiny electric yellow mouse from the anime so I knew I had to have it.

Although I started my journey here, the first ever generation of Pokémon that introduced the original 151 monsters. There are two other games before it called Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version (technically there is another Japanese exclusive game named Green Version, but that one never released in the west). I didn’t end up playing either of the two until years later.

Pokémon is a turn-based RPG that puts heavy emphasis on catching creatures known as Pokémon, battling the 8 gym leaders of the Kanto region, and finally becoming a Pokémon Master, the greatest trainer in the world. Though an RPG, what sets this series of games apart from others in its genre is the fact that these games encourage players to communicate with friends to trade and battle.

But let’s back up one second and explain the three cores of all Pokémon games: Catching, battling and trading.

Battling and Catching Pokémon!

Players encounter wild Pokémon by running through tall grass. Once in battle, there are four options seen above: FIGHT allows players to battle Pokémon using four moves they taught; PKMN switches out to another one of six Pokémon on hand; ITEM takes players to their bags to use items found during the journey, and the RUN option flees from wild battle. Your job, as the player, to weaken opposing monsters because the weaker they are, the easier they are to capture. Catching more and more Pokémon helps further your secondary goal: completing the Pokédex, a digital encyclopedia given to you at the beginning of your journey. It gives information about all Pokémon in the world that are contained in its database.

Not only will players be facing off against wild Pokémon, but many trainers will also challenge players along the way. Battles against these guys work the same as it does against the wild encounters with a few differences. Players cannot catch a trainer’s Pokémon and they cannot run from a battle. Reduce the foe’s Pokémon to zero to win and claim some prize money!

Trading With Friends!

Trading is the only way to fully complete the Pokédex in every single Pokémon mainline title as there are Pokémon only obtainable in one version of the trio of released games. This is where having friends come into play. Back when these games were still new, I had no one else to play with so I could never get the pocket monsters I wanted. However, traded Pokémon level up faster and risk disobeying the player if they do not possess enough badges to control them so be careful.

Exclusive to Yellow version, Pikachu can follow players on their quest. At various points, Pikachu shows how it feels about new areas, results of its last battle and how much it feels about you. There is also a cute surfing minigame only Pikachu can play later in the game.

Although I love and adore this franchise, the first generation of games has not held up to the test of time in my opinion. They’re slower compared to future games, there are glitches left and right, obtuse gameplay mechanics (you can only keep like 20 items in your bag at a time before running back to the Pokémon Center to rearrange the bag) and so much more. Still, these games got me into this amazing franchise and will always hold a special place in my heart. I recommend picking up one of these titles just to see where the series got its start. They are available on the 3DS’s eShop for a low price if you’re not into hunting down the original Game Boy cartridges for absurd prices.

Thank you for reading.