Pokémon Yellow
Yellow Version


   Essentially a remake of the original flavors of Pokémon, Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition brings 1998's game up to speed with the characters and story of the TV series. Many of the show's stand-by characters, such as Nurse Joy, Jesse, and James, were created expressly for the show and never appeared in the game that started the craze. The gang's all in Pokémon Yellow, though. You'll square off against Jesse and James at several points where you originally battled generic Team Rocket members, Nurse Joy works at the Pokécenters, and Officer Jenny make a few cameo appearances as well. Most of the existing Pokémon and trainers have been redrawn to resemble their animated counterparts; Pokémon Yellow also includes full Game Boy Color support.

Nurse Joy and her Chansey

   Of course, this stronger connection to the animated series means Pikachu's role has been upgraded from random Pokémon to leading man. Instead of choosing between Charmander, Bulbasaur, or Squirtle, Ash receives Pikachu at the beginning of the game, while Gary settles for an Eevee. Pikachu then tags along behind Ash in the field; "talking" to him will bring up a picture indicating Pikachu's current mood. (Keeping Pikachu alive and in your party makes him happy, which opens up certain secrets.) And since Pikachu can't evolve into Raichu in Pokémon Yellow, he's been given a vastly improved list of moves as compensation -- he gets many moves at lower levels and can now learn Thunder Bolt.

   The addition of a loyal Pikachu might not be enough to justify Pokémon Yellow's status as a remake, but the changes go far beyond that. Many Pokémon that could only be obtained by trading with NPCs in the Red and Blue versions can be caught in the wild in Yellow -- fancy catching a wild Farfetch'd or Gyarados? Now you can! Conversely, Team Rocket's Pokémon (Meowth, Ekans, and Koffing) and a few other Pokémon can't be obtained at all in Yellow. Other minor gameplay tweaks include Pokémon evolving at different levels, revised TM and HM compability lists, a new floor plan for the Unknown Cave, different sets of Pokémon for the Gym Leaders (so that the same Pokémon they used in the TV series), and the ability to print Pokédex entries with the Game Boy Printer.

 Ash vs. Gary
Parasite Eevee

   All these features add up to an interesting enough title, but one that's still the same game you remember playing last year. The Pokémon nests may have been moved, but the dungeon layouts, sequence of events, and strategies for success are identical to those in Red and Blue. In other words, you've probably already played this game, and the real question is whether or not it's worth playing (and purchasing) again just to see it in color. Diehard Pokéfans will jump at the chance, of course, but most players simply won't notice the changes, let alone appreciate them -- if you're not having orgasms at the thought of being able to catch a wild Farfetch'd, Pokémon Yellow isn't for you.

   On the other hand, gamers who haven't given a Pokémon a spin should definitely start with this version; both of them should enjoy it tremendously. The core game remains addictive and worthy of at least a score of 4, and the gameplay balances and color graphics elevate Pokémon Yellow to a superior position. But for everyone else, there simply isn't enough new material to justify a $30 purchase. To use a time-honored GIA analogy, if RPGs were dating prospects, Pokémon Yellow would be the ex-girlfriend you liked once, but whom you just aren't interested in anymore.

Review by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition
Developer Game Freak
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium Cartridge (?)
Platform Game Boy Color
Release Date  Released
34 English screenshots / 3 movies
North American packaging