Title: Pokemon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition
System: 3DS Virtual Console
Release date: 2/27/2016
The main game/story
In this slightly enhanced version of the original Pokemon Red/Green games, you take control of the main character, a young boy who’s officially off to get his Pokemon Trainer License! Unlike the other two Generation I games (Red/Blue over here), you are only able to have Pikachu as your starter Pokemon, though you do get the other three during the course of the story, which makes this slightly easier to catch them all in compared to Red and Blue.
A majority of the art assets are recycled from Red/Blue, with nearly every single map location, dungeon layouts, and gyms left exactly the same. The biggest difference, however is the fact that Pokemon Yellow is a Game Boy Color game on the Virtual Console, meaning that unlike the black and white Red/Blue versions, you can experience this game in full color! It may not have as much detail in the overworld like Pokemon Gold/Silver versions, with every map being a single color based off of the name of the city, (which means that Lavender Town is all Lavender, the routes are all green, and the caves are all brown, to give some examples) but thankfully the attention to detail is instead put into the Pokemon Sprites themselves. The sprites look vastly superior to their Red/Blue counterparts, and they also have designs based off of the official artwork along with the appropriate colors! Sadly, the back sprites for the pokemon remain the same as they did in Red/Blue, just in color. For certain Pokemon like Articuno, this can look quite jarring comparing its back sprite to the front. Overall though, this is by far the best looking of the Kanto Trio, even if the changes to the overworld are minimal in comparison.
Music and Sound
Every single song from Red/Blue is carried over to Yellow with no changes whatsoever, which means that they are all just like you remember them! Whether you prefer the simple town themes or the limited selection of battle themes, Yellow Version has them all intact. In terms of new tracks, I could only notice one during my 18 hour adventure, and that was the small theme that plays whenever the Rocket duo comes in to challenge you (more on that later). It still feels like it fits in with Generation I, despite the fact that the song only plays on a very rare basis.
During the franchise’s 20 year lifespan, the Pokemon series has almost always kept the general gameplay the exact same, for better or for worse. You lead a team of six Pokemon into battle, using moves of varying types in order to deplete the enemy Pokemon’s hit points to zero. Of course, this isn’t just an ordinary RPG where you beat all the enemies and bosses to level up and progress, as the main goals are to capture all 151 monsters available in the Kanto region while also hunting for the eight Gym Leader badges in order to qualify for the Pokemon League.
While Yellow version does allow you to capture a potential 129 monsters without a single trade, in order to get all 151, you need to trade with Red/Blue versions. (or use a famous glitch that spawns Pokemon based off of the Special stat if you’re that kind of player, which is the only way to get the elusive 151st Pokemon) Thankfully, the Virtual Console rereleases of Red, Blue and Yellow versions support local multiplayer, which works better than it did back on the original versions due to no longer having to worry about a fragile cable. When testing it out with a friend at a local Pokemon TCG league, trading and battling was simple, as all you really need to do is enter a Pokemon center, go to the cable club and the game will open up a separate menu to engage the link cable. While it’s still not as fast as the modern games, it works well for the most part, and the bottom screen turns pitch black when in the middle of communications. (probably to prevent something akin to the Mirror Move glitch from happening) Overall, a faithful way of trading between these classic titles.
In conclusion, Pokemon Yellow Version is a great title to choose on the 3DS Virtual Console, pretty much leading to it being the system of choice to play the game on, thanks to no more worries about the save batteries running dry, and because you’re playing it on a superior screen. In terms of which Generation I title to pick up, I strongly recommend going just for Yellow version due to the additions of color and a higher challenge level, but in terms of the main story, all three games are the exact same minus the extra boss fights and altered Gym Leader levels from Yellow. For those who prefer the idea of actually choosing your starter instead of being stuck with Pikachu, then Red/Blue are for you, but for those new to the first generation, or would rather have the best of the three, you can’t go wrong with a good challenge, and that’s exactly what Pokemon Yellow provides despite the premium price tag of $9.99. I give Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition a 9 out of 10.