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Pokémon: LeafGreen Version (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Pokémon: LeafGreen Version (Game Boy Advance) review

"Time and again I have been down those all too familiar roads. If you have never test-drived a Pokemon title then I would not say you have been missing out on anything, but I still would stare at you curiously. Though numerous in number, each version that has sprung up has at least shown some diversity. Whether it is the addition of hundreds of peculiar monsters or a slight graphical upgrade, every single one has at least been moderately fresh. However, with the arrival of Pokemon: Leaf Gr..."

Time and again I have been down those all too familiar roads. If you have never test-drived a Pokemon title then I would not say you have been missing out on anything, but I still would stare at you curiously. Though numerous in number, each version that has sprung up has at least shown some diversity. Whether it is the addition of hundreds of peculiar monsters or a slight graphical upgrade, every single one has at least been moderately fresh. However, with the arrival of Pokemon: Leaf Green, I just get the feeling that Nintendo is getting lazy. Now I understand that it is supposed to be a remake of the original on the first Game Boy, but there is just not enough here for a continual follower of the series.

Taking the original storyline into effect, you head off on your journey to be a “master” in this strange land. What I never understood was why the mother lets her eleven year old son go off into a dangerous world to collect ferocious, little creatures. Where are the schools? Are there even any educational establishments at all? I guess we will never really know. After you receive your little pal from the Professor, you head into the world to catch pokemon and force them to the battle to the death. The confrontations, while simple, move along smoothly compliments to the turn-based system. It definitely will not bother any rookies to the series, but I seriously wish they would just ditch this style for something different.

But it’s just too little, too late…

If you are just getting into the phenomenon, then I must say you have come several years too late my friend. Since the early days of the addicting collect-a-thon, many new elements have come along; from detailed statistical attribute distribution to providing a two on two battle sequence. However, the primary battle system has always stayed the same. Throw a monster out, use a powerful attack, watch the poor creature “faint,” and laugh at your opponent’s misfortune. I knew the game-play was easy, the fights were repetitive, and that my friends would throw things at me for playing it…but I simply couldn’t resist. There is something about these games that have pulled me in, most likely the fun of raising those creatures you love to hate. And, by itself, Green is a fun little portable to take on the road. It is just a pity that time takes its toll and how repetition can disintegrate a good idea.

Since Leaf-Green is based off of the original Red and Blue versions, I almost instantly had that rush of deja-vu. As soon as I entered a new region of the world, be it Pallet town or Cinnabar Island, I instantly knew what to do and where each pokemon was located. I know -- it scares me too. What I immediately noticed the most was the graphic makeover compared to that of the original, which first spawned on that big clunky fossil called the Game Boy. If you have recently run through the most recent Pokemon version, you will recognize the similar visual style right off the bat. Nothing too special or flashy, but it gets the job done. Thankfully, Nintendo took some of the best features from the Ruby/Sapphire series and implemented them into the mix. One of which being the EV stat system that added a strategic sense to the game. It is invisible at first, but each individual creature will grow differently, and you will notice which one grows stronger than the other as your level increases. The personality traits also show up again and are another component in distinguishing between similar monsters. This characteristic alone can help improve replay value, since getting those perfect attributes is almost always by chance.

Throughout every single version that has come out so far, there have been new creatures thrown into the already gigantic list. Up to date there are probably over 400 of these damn things running around and honestly I have just lost count. Even though it grew tiring, I still liked seeing unique monsters appear since it is the primary objective, in the game, to capture them. Despite a few secret pokemon that you can capture towards the end, there are unfortunately no new faces this time around. Just a simple remix of old and somewhat old that have been overseen throughout time. I mean come on, I know it is difficult to try to spawn some more ideas on the little guys, but you could have used just a bit more imagination here. I mean it has been quite a while since the last one. Disturbed by this little realization, I just had to come out and say it, I had officially completed the task of, “Catching them all!”

Thank goodness for one of the only few redeeming factors in Leaf-Green… the extended single player mode. After you trounce your final opponents, the Elite Four, the first time through, you will have the option of going to a new series of islands. It is here that I was able to unearth some new challenges, from both trainer and monster alike. Also, the new locations of some of the legendary type pokemon took me by surprise, especially the fiery Moltres and the deformed, cat-like Mewtwo. If you have played virtually every one of these games so far, then you know how much of an annoyance it is to catch them. There were moments I had these little buggers within an inch of their life, frozen, and drained of their best attacks. And they still broke out of my Ultra ball every single time. On a different occasion, I have thrown the weakest capturing unit at my disposal at a maxed out HP monster and caught him right off the bat. For you folks behind the times, you capture the little beasts with a variety of balls that vary in reliablity. It was this vital element that I was hoping they would have improved upon the most, but alas to no avail.

Throwing another wrench into the already rusted gears is the un-evolved challenge. The Pokemon series has been a staple for simple and incredibly easy game-play and again nothing has changed. The rock, paper, scissors way of orientating fights has gotten stale as well. Water quells fire, electricity short-circuits water, and ground, well, grounds electricity. It is a progression of an astute style of play, lack of diverse pokemon among trainers, and the easy to exploit leveling system, that continues to wrap things up quicker than ever. It is bizarre to me that I never really noticed all the major problems, until I had experienced enough of this tired series.

You have seen them all, caught them all, and battled them all, now what is there left to accomplish? In this case, the last thing on the checklist for me to do would be to return this one. If you are a newcomer to this whole thing and would like to try your hand at it, be my guest. Since this is a rehash of the original title, there would be no better place to start. However, if you are a fan and have not picked it up yet, do not bother. Red/Blue brought everything into form, Gold/Silver added new innovations and a longer story, Ruby/Sapphire changed the inner workings, and Fire Red/Leaf Green just dragged it out. It looks like the age of this phenomenon has come to a close for now. And it will fall upon the shoulders of the DS, to try and invent something spectacular, to bring it back to its once memorable status.

At least the anime is still fairly good…

destinati0n's avatar
Community review by destinati0n (December 05, 2004)

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