Pokemon Blue Version (1998 - GB)

For all the talk I remember of Pokemon being "too kiddy", the reality is that while the cartoons may have been more sanitized for a child audience, the original game is really not all that different from any other RPG of the time. If you've played a Final Fantasy Legend game, you've played something quite similar to Pokemon. As though the developers realized some older fans of RPGs might take an interest in it, the game's dialogue is often suggestive ("Hey kid, wanna see my Pokemon?"; "I dropped my balls!"; "I came when I heard you beat the Elite Four"), and there are blatant movie references, particularly to Stand By Me, The Fly, and Enter the Dragon.

The main difference, as though I even need to explain it, is that instead of buying weapons and armor to deal with the many randomly-appearing foes, you capture the monsters and use their powers against one another. The tricky part is figuring out what attacks work against which types of monsters, and in that sense, the game can be like a puzzle. You might run into a boss who uses thunder-based Pokemon, and you may wonder how to beat this boss. But nearby is a cave that has ground-based Pokemon that are immune to electrical attacks.

Like any good oldschool RPG, there is a healthy amount of exploration (which is particularly enjoyable in this game because of its potential to lead you to rare Pokemon), interesting dungeon designs, good music (great overworld and boss themes), and challenging battles. The story is unconventional, but the dialogue is entertaining (I loved how Celadon City went completely "meta"). Which version you choose to play ultimately depends on what Pokemon you care about capturing the most, but I chose the Blue Version over the Red Version because I wanted Meowth and the Porygon costs less money.

One might be concerned about the difficulty of completing the Pokedex, but my recommendation is to not worry about collecting all 151 Pokemon. I managed to capture every Pokemon that was possible without trading, which likely made the game take longer than it had to since I kept swapping out my team members to level them up for their evolved forms. If you assemble a decent team from the beginning and occasionally swap out a weaker Pokemon for a better one, it will probably go by much faster since you'll be more consistently leveled up. The game's design actually encourages this since it can be difficult to find decent places to farm experience points.

So, despite whatever annoyances the absurd amount of hype surrounding Pokemon Red/Blue caused back in the day, its innovations have definitely earned it a place in video game history and the status of a "true classic".


The Iron Giant (1999 - DVD)

The Iron Giant is an entertaining enough movie, but the reality is that it's basically E.T. mixed with Short Circuit, but set in the Cold War era 50s instead of the 80s. Like E.T., kid finds an alien, tries to hide it from his parents, government gets involved. Like Short Circuit, the alien is a robot, pondering about what it means to be human and alive ensues, government wants to destroy it.

Yes, it is based on a novel that predates both E.T. and Short Circuit, but the movie significantly altered the plot, almost beyond recognition. To see it once is fine, but I don't consider it a timeless classic. On a rewatch, distractions like Hogarth being an annoying kid rather than a well-rounded character stand out more. I'm also bothered by the way the ending has its cake and eats it, too - sacrifices are somehow less poignant if the character can just reanimate.

Rating: 2.5/5



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