|Nintendo Reviews Rating:
|Posted: January 4th, 2005
|Pokemon FireRed/LeafGreen was one of the most anticipated GBA titles of 2004,
promising graphical, gameplay and replay updates; the whole nine yards. Was it
worth the waiting?
Along with the other updates, the developers took the time to update some of the sounds you hear. A better money sound
is heard with a purchase at a local Pokemart, rather than the traditional dual beeps. The Pokemon cries are also now
altered so that at a lesser strength, their cries will sound fainter and more weak. If this update was in Ruby/Sapphire,
then I didn't notice. Other notable sound effects updates include boulders, rumbling, and even Pokemon cries heard in the
field, as in Ruby/Sapphire versions. There are many others not worth noting, and, all in all, good additions to the game.
The music is also slightly updated to meet the standards that were practically set in Ruby/Sapphire. The tunes are basically
the same, but with variations so that Stereo (headphone) listeners will hear the effects. The Stereo sound has always been
fantastic in Pokemon games, and well it does have that feeling to it here, but maybe not as much as previous games.
Anyway, back to the music. Most of the music is not updated for the better. I actually think that anyone can handle these
songs, but some are annoying and could have been better, such as the trainer battle theme. There are others I do enjoy,
like Silph Co. and the Pokemon Mansion. So that evens the slightly negative tilt a little bit. I just feel that some of the
surprise songs, like the ones on Islands 4-7, weren't even that good. There is some music borrowed from Gold/Silver
versions for these islands. They are nice to hear again, but they come only with average updates. So overall, I am not
impressed, but it isn't bad at all.
The play control section was updated quite a lot from Gold/Silver to Ruby/Sapphire versions, but maybe not enough as it
could have been. I was hoping that FireRed/LeafGreen would help the control out a little. It does, but not in the way I
expected or wanted. The only major difference I can see is that movement between text is easier. As soon as you are done
reading some text messages, instead of having to press A or B to close the text, you can now just use the Control Pad to
walk (or run) away from the text. On that note, you also have to wait longer to get the Running Shoes, but that isn't so
bad. I actually felt more like walking more than I would in a Ruby or Sapphire version.
There are also the L and R buttons being more useful. They are default set to provide help on any situation. You can use
this anytime, even during battle. You can even use it while the screen is blank (such as the one second pause for a battle
to load). These can provide great tips for beginners, but the only help veterans will probably find is the type-matchup list.
This is otherwise a pretty worthless function, and I eventually had to turn it off because bumping the L and R button
cause some undesirable annoyances. So once again the L and R buttons are underutilized. I was hoping that they would
actually use these like the Select button, where you can easily access items.
Despite the lack of many new stuff to help out, there are a couple other things. The plot synopsis feature records the last
four major events that you accomplished in the game. It the displays these events when you open your save file to play the
game again. This innovative idea seems awkward at first, but you will get used to it. And if you just played the game
yesterday, you can always skip this feature by simply pressing B whenever. More features would have been nice, but it is
good to know that nothing else was messed up in the process. All things that made the newer Pokemon games better
(since the release of the original Red and Blue versions), like easy use of HMs, is still here, and was long overdue since
the Red and Blue versions.
The obvious updates from Red and Blue versions are the color graphics, and the
GBA-feel. There are some elements from Ruby/Sapphire versions, like the
weather, that is not in this game. There are some additions. There are simple
drawings that render some extra feel to certain areas you approach, like Viridian
Forest and Mt. Moon. These drawings aren't meant to be very realistic, but do
provide a more real sense to the areas. There are also item animations, which
again, add a sense of realism, although some of them are cheesy.
Other than that, it doesn't feel much updated. One thing I have always noticed
between new Pokemon versions is the style of text. This style is probably the best,
because it doesn't seem as vertical as it did in Ruby/Sapphire versions. It just
seems that something more could have been added. The graphics, even with color,
just make the game feel like before. I needed to experience this game in color, but
I was expecting a little more. And for a GBA game, these certainly aren't the best.
I should probably start with the bad. Well, there are some more elements to add to the list of 'missing things' from
Ruby/Sapphire versions. The contests were actually a great replay addition to the previous versions, and for some reason,
were not added to these. That just gives fans all the more reason to buy Ruby/Sapphire. There is also no clock, so there
are no time-based events. At least Ruby and Sapphire versions had that! Some great aspects that tie into the record
exchange, like secret bases and the traditional battle tower, are gone. In fact, the record exchange is not here either. This
was one of the most fun parts of Ruby/Sapphire versions! In addition to that, there is no berry growing, no TV shows to
see...the list goes on.
Why Game Freak would leave out all of these additions is beyond me, but it could be because they wanted to focus on the
wireless adapter. That focus is lost anyway, because the wireless capabilities aren't even that great. The new Union Room
sports a maximum capacity of 40 trainers. That leaves the opportunity for many battles, and maybe some trades. But come
on-who wants a chat feature when the people are going to be no more than 20 feet away from you? The chat feature is
actually very bad, as the amount of space for one line is short, and typing messages takes way too long. If you actually
enjoy these features, you'll love Nintendo DS, but that is besides the point.
The wireless adapter seems overused, but in terms of quality, it is underused. The wireless adapter should be stuck to
simply normal trades and battles. Who's honestly going to get 40 people together at one given time, anyway? The wireless
adapter could have been completely left out, and I would have been just fine with this game. The wireless mini-games are
also very boring, and if you get five people who actually want to play them, then more power to you.
Now there are some good things. The ability to catch around 200 types of Pokemon is a major bonus, as it always has been.
I won't be focusing too much on the National Pokedex, as much as I will for Kanto. Yes, the islands are a plus, but not
much so. If this game was without the new islands, I would still be satisfied with Kanto. Well, unless there would still be
no contests or anything else that has been left out. This game basically feels like before Ruby/Sapphire set a high standard
of replay. You'll easily get bored of this game after the Elite Four, unless you want to catch all the Pokemon.
And it's not like the adventure is short. You'll still spend a good 30 hours to beat the Elite Four, and maybe 5 more with
the islands. High-level Pokemon trainers will be pleased to hear that the Elite Four actually becomes harder and their
Pokemon will never be the same as your first encounter with them. There is a lot going for these new versions,
replay-wise, but leaving out a lot of old stuff was a bad decision.
Pokemon takes the next step in connectivity by including the new GBA peripheral, the wireless adapter. Certainly, those
who enjoy the multiplayer features f this game will get the most out of it. But as a casual gamer, I cannot recommend to
anyone this game if you base the decision on the wireless adapter. It is flawed, and the only real bonus is that five people
can play with it simultaneously, instead of just four. That's it, and is not a good reason to purchase this game. However,
there are some other things that I do like.
You may not like the idea of catching 150+ creatures, but it is addicting. The old 'trade with the other version' method
works well, as it is encouraged. The collecting doesn't feel overused, as there is around 200 to collect. Only if you connect
with other versions, can you collect all 386 Pokemon. But is it actually fun to collect that many? Maybe for some, but not
for me. I have always liked 200 as a number. The game can still last over 100 hours just because of this. However, the
extra elements that keep you coming back are eliminated. There seem to be no side-quests in this game, except for the
Unown. You could also consider the islands as side-quests, but the fun factor is low on these.
The game also has a bad pace to it. It seems to slow up until the Elite Four. You have to constantly battle high-level
trainers just to get enough experience on your Pokemon so you even stand a chance. Afterwards, the islands go by so fast.
I can't see anyone taking more than five hours with the low amount of challenges here. Unless you get stuck, it will
rapidly blow by. And unless you're interested in the new Pokemon, you won't find much value to these areas. Yes, the
Braille puzzles are back, but it is much shorter lived than it was in Pokemo Ruby/Sapphire.
It also seems like there is nothing motivating you to come back, except for all the Pokemon to catch. The Ruby/Sapphire
versions were loaded with extras, and they were actually fun and challenging. These games contain some mysteries,
similar to the Mew mystery back in '98. For example, what do the mystery events unlock, and what's really in the Altering
cave? And what about the mysterious Deoxys? These reasons may motivate you to hold onto these games, but you may
not want to play them. A lot of the fun from Ruby/Sapphire is lost, and it's very surprising that Game Freak couldn't live
up to that. It almost makes me think that these games weren't designed for the future, but rather for reminiscing. This
game does a good job of that. I have pointed out to myself many instances of deja vu. It's not necessarily what I wanted-a
trip down memory lane. It certainly won't act as an excuse for newbies to Pokemon, either. This is a bad example of the
Pokemon series, and the gameplay can only last so long considering all that this game could have been and was not.
It doesn't seem that the rest of the game holds up after how I degraded the replay and design, but the fact is Pokemon
games have always been enjoyable in one way or another. The different approach to this game isn't favored, but at least
they did not totally mess up the winning formula. The value to these games are great to Pokemon fans, as they are the
final link in being able to complete the National Pokedex of 386 Pokemon. It's also good for those who own other wireless
adapter compatible games, like Mario Golf: Advance Tour. The flaws can be overlooked if you can appreciate what Game
Freak did with these games. It's not for the best, but certainly something that the developers can build on for the future.