Pokémon “Fire Red” and “Leaf Green:” development, gameplay, and review.

The games Pokémon Fire Red and Pokémon Leaf Green are 2004 remakes of the first entries of the franchise, the 1996 Pokémon Red and Blue, for the Game Boy Advance. Game Freak Inc. developed the games while Nintendo published them.

Development

The original Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version were role-playing video games released in North America in 1998. Red and Green were the original Japanese releas around 1996 .

Both critics and players praised the game for being innovative and unique, featuring a captivating game design as well as a complex strategy system. The success of this game snowballed into a highly profitable franchise for Nintendo.

However, during the course of several years, new technologies became available to game developers, leaving old consoles obsolete in an era where backward compatibility was technically non-existent.

Gamers who had made a great deal of progress with games such as Pokémon Red and Blue, or players who completed these titles had no way to transfer such achievements to newer entries in the series because of the differences in consoles.

Game Freak couldn’t solve the issues that prevented gamers from moving or copying the data stored in the Game Boy to newer games or hardware.

So, instead of keep trying to invent a new way to transfer this progress, the developers figured it would be easier to remake the games and release these new versions for the Game Boy Advance.

Junichi Masuda, the game director, stated that the remakes, just like other newer titles in the series, would center on the idea of simplicity.

For these games, the developers made some slight changes to the game engine they used for other titles such as Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire to enable backward compatibility, which allowed players to trade Pokémon between different games.

The composer Go Ichinose arranged the soundtrack, which is pretty much an updated version of the classic game music, with a few changes to some pieces.

Gameplay

Just like many other entries in the Pokémon video game series, this title features a third-person view, and a top-down perspective. The main screens consist of connected areas and locations, a side-view perspective used for battles, and a menu interface.

The most essential element of the gameplay is catching Pokémon. The lower the HP of the wild Pokémon gets, the highest chance of success the trainer may have when trying to capture it.

The game features several kinds of Poke-balls meant to catch Pokémon, some of them with a higher success rate of capture than others.

Players can use the menu screen to customize their Pokémon and items as well as configure the settings.

Players can carry up to six Pokémon while the rest of the captured creatures get sent to a storage system.

When a player faces a wild Pokémon or gets challenged by a trainer, the screen switches from an overhead point of view to a side-view perspective.

Each time a player wins, the game rewards Pokémon present in the battle with experience points. When a Pokémon accumulates enough experience points, it will level up.

After leveling up or meeting some other criteria, Pokémon will evolve into a different form that remarkably improves the statistics of the Pokémon.

One of the changes developers made for these versions is compatibility with the games Ruby and Sapphire, which allows gamers to trade and share content, as well as allowing players to connect with the GameCube.

However, the most notable improvement is the balance. When Nintendo released the first Pokémon games, they favored some Pokémon types over others creating a power imbalance.

This particular detail got fixed by splitting special statics between attack and defense and adding more variety for each individual Pokémon by creating a property called “nature” that causes some statics to increase and others to decrease.

That makes each of them more unique and adds a new layer of battle strategy.

Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green are also the first games to include compatibility with Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter, which improves interactions with other players.

Review

While some people are prone to think these games mainly appeal to nostalgia, Fire Red and Leaf Green offer a gaming experience filled with the joy and excitement of the original while featuring several improvements creating an overall better product.

The plot is as simple as it gets, the story sticks the standard hero’s journey archetype which adds an extra-push for players to finish the game.

The only difference with plot featured in Red and Blue is the fact it includes seven unlockable islands that grant access to other Pokémon that weren’t available in the original games while also connects the Team Rocket storyline between the first and second generations.

The game’s presentation features a lot of bright and lively colors that make all the details pop in each location and area the player visits.

Fire Red and Leaf Green allow the player to create their very own teams and offer addictive gameplay with colorful looks and endearing designs.

The newly improved balance motivates players to catch and train as many Pokémon as they can to build a truly battle-effective party to beat and in some cases complete the games.

These games are the best way to experience Pokémon, especially for newcomers. It’s definitively the better version of the first generation of Pokémon games.