Back in green.
I’ve always loved the core Pokemon games, i.e. Blue and Red. I can remember when I first got a Gameboy, and how it was bundled with Pokemon Blue. I played that thing to death, beat all the gym leaders, beat the Elite Four, and got every single Pokemon; I even managed to get Mew at one of those special Pokemon tour things. Blue ended up getting replaced by Gold, which, yeah, was pretty fun, but, truth be told, it just wasn’t the same.
I don’t consider myself a gamer. Yes, I do play some games, but I don’t spend a lot of time on them, and my purview is fairly limited. In that manner, I think I’m like much of my generation – video games to us aren’t instant cause for derision, but simply another form of entertainment which we’re willing to indulge in. And a lot of us do so on a very casual basis. And the original Pokemon games were perfect for this. (As were all those awesome NES and SNES games back in the day… fuck yeah, Castlevania!)
However, with Gold and Silver, Nintendo started to make things a bit more complicated, something which only became more pronounced with each iteration. Pokemon numbered into the four-hundreds by the time Ruby and Sapphire hit the scene, and Diamond and Pearl’s gameplay discourages one from actually catching every single Pokemon (admittedly, Diamond and Pearl came out after LeafGreen, but they do represent the overall trend). And never mind all the assorted errata that they added in with each new game. Quite frankly, it all got cluttered and complex; these were no longer games that were truly accessible to the non-gamer.
In light of this, LeafGreen is perfect. LeafGreen returns to the roots of the franchise, the land of Kanto, with all-new graphics and several other improvements over the original Red and Blue. But the basic premise remains the same – beat the eight gym leaders, get rid of Team Rocket, beat the Elite Four, and catch all the Pokemon you can. It ends up being a fun trip down memory lane for those of us who started off so long ago, and remains an easy entrance into the franchise for the younger crowd and others who simply never picked up the original games ten years ago.
However, it isn’t simply a re-run of Red or Blue with nicer graphics; there’s some additional geography added in the form of the Sevii Islands, which contain Pokemon from the Gold and Silver games. There’s also an additional plot here, lengthening the potential game-play far past that which the old versions had. At the same time, though, LeafGreen dispenses with the overly complicated features of Pokemon Red and Blue’s follow-up games, leaving the player with a game that remains purely fun instead of tedious.
A great game for folks who prefer their games to be pretty straightforward and not require the same volume of research as a term paper.