I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Pokemon has kind of become a thing again. The game that many of us put hundreds of hours into in our childhood (and a few of us continue to do so in our adult lives) has suddenly become culturally relevant again. And not just for those clicked into the video game nexus. Odds are your mum has even heard of Pokemon Go and the various amusing stories that have come around because of it.
All of which hides the fact that Pokemon Go is a pretty broken game. It’s light on features and the incredibly frustrating tracking system still appears to be nowhere near working. A lot of the parts of what makes Pokemon great are missing and as exciting as it is finally finding a Pikachu the whole thing is a bit hollow.
Which in some ways might be useful for Pokemon Sun and Moon; both of which are due out later this year. Those games would have sold well because all Pokemon games sell well but you can bet that they will sell a hell of a lot better now. However, what if you can’t wait that long? What if you want to relive those childhood memories now?
Well, the natural place to go would probably be one of the other new Pokemon games. However, if you are an adult just looking for a nostalgia hit then they probably won’t do the job. They introduce a bunch of new features including feeding your Pokemon cake and a whole host of daft Pokemon that you can roll your eyes at.
So where next? Well, the answer seems to be the classic games themselves. Yellow, Blue or Red depending on your preference, which is exactly what I did, not because I don’t wish to play the new ones, but because I went through them only a few months ago. I dug out my Pokemon Yellow and years since I last played it I once again stepped into the shoes of video game Ash and set off on my Pokemon adventure.
So the question that I have very ponderously got round to is whether they hold up in 2016? Do you want to play the classic Pokemon games so far removed from their release? Well, the answer is yes and also a little bit of no.
Gameplay wise these still work perfectly. The battling system hasn’t changed over the years, and those classic Pokemon are still fun to catch and train. The premise of the games is also still near identical with you leaving home and heading off to the Pokemon League. All of that is fine, and there is nothing that feels dated enough to leave you scratching your head.
Where the problems come in is if you have played the later generations of Pokemon games. While things like the cake mentioned above aren’t missed, there are loads of little touches that are. Even the ability to map something like your bike to select so you can jump on and off it easily is frustratingly absent in these earlier games. And if you want to know how much experience your Pokemon needs to reach the next level you need to find out via the stats screen rather than a handy bar under their health during battle.
Those small niggles aside I’m enjoying playing Pokemon Yellow. There is something wonderfully simple about it that doesn’t age. I may now know the map so well that I could probably make my way through parts with my eyes closed but that doesn’t stop it being fun. In the same way that that compulsive nature of Pokemon Go keeps you addicted the original games do the same thing. If you are looking for a stop gap until these new games come out, or Go reaches its potential, then you can do a lot worse than going back in time.