"You've finally been granted your Pokémon Trainer's license. Now, it's time to head out to become the world's greatest Pokémon Trainer. It's going to take all you've got to collect 150 Pokémon in this enormous world...can you develop the ultimate Pokémon strategy to defeat the eight Gym Leaders and become the greatest Pokémon Master of all time?"
—Blurb on the back of the boxes of Pokémon Red and Blue Versions
The first installments of the Pokémon franchise hit the Game Boy in 1996 in Japan (as Red and Green; see below) and in 1998 in North America. Taking place in Kanto based on the Japanese region of Kanto, the plot is simple: you, an eleven-year-old with a Nice Hat, are offered your very first Pokémon by Professor Oak, the local authority on Pokémon. He gives you a choice of three different types: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. His own grandson, your long-time Rival, gets second pick, and takes advantage of this to snag whichever one happens to be strong against your chosen partner.
In exchange for your first Pokémon, Oak wants you to run an errand for him: travel around the world (or at least the whole region of Kanto) and collect as many different Pokémon as you can, recording all of them in your Pokédex. Of course, along the way, you're more than welcome to challenge the eight Gyms, collect their badges, and take on the Elite Four in hopes of becoming the Champion. Then there's the emerging threat of Team Rocket, a proudly evil organization that uses Pokémon for its own selfish ends. Somebody's gonna have to deal with them, too -- and who better than an eleven-year-old and his team of trained monsters?
While the game's balance is undeniably broken (Balance? Psychic types LAUGH at your pitiful thoughts of BALANCE!), and glitches abound (Missingnoooooo!)...it's Pokémon.
It should be noted that in Japan, the first two games were released as Red and Green. Blue was released later as a third version, with a bit of a graphical improvement over the originals. For the international releases, the names Red and Blue were used. Although the Japanese Blue provided the graphics and game script for translation, the Japanese Red and Green provided the wild and version-exclusive Pokémon for the international Red and Blue respectively. This makes the Japanese Blue the only main series game to lack an international release.
As evidence of its incredible popularity, Pokémon Yellow was later released as a fourth version in Japan in 1998, and as a third version in North America in 1999. Yellow took elements from the TV series and transported them back into the games, however loosely. Instead of picking one of the usual trio, a wild Pikachu ends up as your starter, and follows you everywhere rather than get into the usual Poké Ball. The familiar Team Rocket trio also show up.
Jump ahead a couple gens, and Red and Blue reappeared once more in the form of their Video Game Remakes on the Game Boy Advance: FireRed and LeafGreen. These allowed players to relive the classic games with many of the new benefits, tweaks, and balances of the second and third gens, though it took some Retconning here and there, and added in some new areas to explore after finishing the familiar challenge.
Another detail worth noting is that many of the tropes listed under Red and Blue's category also apply to Yellow, FireRed, and LeafGreen.
- All There in the Manual: The manual explains the basic background of you and your rival, states your age, and states the events that lead up to the start of your adventure.
- Apocalyptic Log: The records of Mewtwo's birth, found in the Pokémon Mansion.
- Beat the Curse Out of Him: The chanelers in Lavender Tower. See Demonic Possession Below.
- Crap Saccharine World: Celadon City, an antique, green, and cheerful city that harbors Team Rocket's headquarters.
- Demonic Possession: All the channelers in Lavender Tower are possessed by Ghost Pokémon (until you defeat them).
- Dummied Out:
- Apparently, the first Generation was originally supposed to have 190 Pokémon. Thirty-nine of them were removed and became the glitch Pokémon Missingno. What little is left of them is still accessible via hacking or glitching, but they are glitchy, unrecognizable and some of them even potentially Game Breaking Bugs.
- Early Installment Weirdness: A given, considering how glitchy and unrefined the originals are compared to future installments. The most glaring example would be a programming error rendering Psychic-types completely immune to the Ghost type, one of their only two (at the time) weaknesses.
- Eldritch Location: The infamous Glitch City.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Kanto = the Kanto region of Japan, and eastern Chubu as well, with Johto from Generation II being based on the western part of Chubu in addition to Kansai. (Kanto is the only region in the Pokémon games to share its name with the Japanese region it is based on, but the geography was still similar with later ones; Johto resembles Kansai and western Chubu, Hoenn and Sinnoh resemble Kyushu and Hokkaido, respectively, and Unova resembles New York City as well as a bit of New Jersey.)
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The same Juggler who later appeared inPokémon Gold and Silver who says "Whoops,dropped my balls!" or a resonable facsimile, is in one of the gyms in this game.
- Infinity+1 Element
- The Dragon type was probably intended to be this, being equally effective against all other elemental types, despite that there was only one evolutionary family of Dragon-types, and the only actual Dragon-type attack, "Dragon Rage", was a Fixed Damage Attack (and exempt from Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors altogether).
- The "Psychic" element quickly became broken, and not just because the strongest Pokémon in the first generation (the legendary Mewtwo) belonged to that element. Due to a programming error, the type's intended weakness to Ghost types was instead turned into a strength. It was weak to Bug types, but there were few strong Bug-type attacks or Bug Pokémon. Furthermore, most Bug types and all Ghost types had Poison as a secondary type, which was weak to Psychic. On the subject of Poison-types, Poison was far and away the most common elemental type of Generation 1, including most Bug- and Grass-type Pokémon. On top of that, Psychics tended to have a strong Special stat back when Special was the One Stat to Rule Them All. It was telling that one of the first things Gold/Silver did was introduce two new types specifically designed to counteract Psychics (Dark and Steel).
- It Will Never Catch On: Nintendo of Japan actually said this while releasing Japanese Red and Green and writing it off as a loss. It didn't top the sales charts, but it kept selling steady in a market where 80% of sales are made in the first two weeks. Nintendo made a few tweaks, released Japanese Blue and got their cash cow.
- Killer App: This game singlehandedly revived sales for the aging Game Boy, which ended up getting an upgraded version the same year as the North American versions of the games.
- Market-Based Title: described in detail above.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The original BubbleBeam animation was accompanied by the visual flashing negative with dramatic sound effects.
- Off-Model: Several of the in-game Pokémon sprites, especially in the original Japanese Red/Green. This was present to a lesser extent in Japan's Blue and the international releases: for example, Koffing's skull mark is shown above its face instead of below. All of the sprites were changed again for Yellow to make them more closely resemble the official artwork.
- One Game for the Price of Two: It's Pokémon.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: "Special" dictated both attack and defense power in regard to special-based elements (Fire, Ice, Lightning, Psychic, etc.). It was toned down a great deal in Generation II, wherein it was divided into separate Special Attack and Special Defense.
- Shout-Out: Considering how Creatures (aka Ape, Inc.) helped make the games, it should come as no surprise to find some vaguely familiar faces in Red and Blue. The crowning example...
- A Team Rocket member also mentions that he will make the player character an offer he/she cannot refuse.
- One that didn't quite make it: Red was originally going to be named Ninten.
- When you first start the game, watch the TV in your house. It shows four boys walking along railroad tracks, and based on your mom's dialogue about children leaving home...
- Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: In an in-universe example, every Gym has an NPC standing near the entrance who offers general advice about the Gym's leader -- except in Celadon City, where he's too busy playing slots at the Rocket Game Corner.
- Sleeper Hit: See It Will Never Catch On above.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: "Go, my super bug Pokémon!"
- Take That: When starting a new game, before entering the characters' names, the player's name is initialized to NINTEN and the rival's name to Sony.
- Teaser Equipment: The bicycle. When you first arrive in Cerulean City, it is on display for 1 million yen (more than your carrying capacity of money). After advancing the plot in the next town, you get a voucher to acquire one for free.
- Tonka Tough: A certain Red Version cartridge was meant to be the very best, like no cartridge ever was - to the point where one might think it had the Flash Fire ability. Video can be seen here; in-depth process can be seen here.
- Tutorial Failure: The game insists that ghost types are the best choices against psychic types. One trainer in Sabrina's gym even says "Psychics only fear ghosts and bugs!", which is, at best, a Half Truth in the original Pokémon generation. Not only are the only ghosts in these games weak to psychic attacks due to their secondary poison type, and not only are there no strong ghost attacks, but psychic-types are outright immune to ghost attacks. Furthermore, there are no strong bug attacks, and many bug Pokémon are also part poison. Ghost and bug types are thus in many ways the worst choice against psychics.
- Remedied, of course, with the newer Pokémon species (and attacks) introduced in the series.
- Updated Rerelease: As mentioned above, the international "Red" and "Blue" versions are actually based on the updated game engine of Japan's updated rerelease, importing the version differences from the original Japanese Red and Green versions.
- Urban Legend of Zelda:
- A rumor has always been around that when the games were first released in Japan, loads of little children got ill and committed suicide because of the Lavender Town music. Some people thought this was why the music was subtly changed to remove some of the high pitched notes in the American remakes. In reality, the music was changed because people in Japan had been getting headaches from the shrillness of it.
- Then there's all the rumors about how to catch Mew....
- Averted in that exploitation of how the game engine processes data will allow you to encounter any monster of your choosing... including Mew.
- Where It All Began: The map is naturally designed to send you back to your hometown of Pallet after you get the Volcano Badge; additionally, Viridian City, the first town you arrive at after Pallet, is both the location of the 8th gym, and where the road to the Indigo Plateau starts.
- Yakuza: Team Rocket. Changed to The Mafia outside of Japan.
- Canon Immigrant: A few characters from the anime can be found in early routes, like AJ and Giselle. Melanie and a much nicer Damien show up to give you Bulbasaur and Charmander as well. Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy show up too. And, of course, there's Jessie and James as well as Meowth (As one of their Pokémon, he gets no speaking lines), who are recurring enemies. Because of game mechanics, though, they aren't named.
- Funnily enough, Metapod could only know Harden if you caught it in the wild, Caterpie that evolve get left out on the fun. However, since Ash's Caterpie learned Harden upon evolution, they made Harden a move accessible upon evolution, a change that surprisingly stayed in all later games.
- Crutch Character: Yellow added another Pokémon to Route 22 to help against Brock -- the Fighting-type Mankey. The Nidorans (found on the same route) could now learn Double Kick much earlier as well. Unlike most crutch characters though, they remain pretty solid throughout the game.
- Recursive Adaptation: It's a game based on The Anime of the Game.
- Remake Difficulty Spike: This game is actually quite a bit harder than the originals. Not only do a lot of random trainers actually have moves incorporating TM's on their Pokémon, but the Gym Leaders are a good deal tougher. Lt. Surge for example only has one Pokémon, but in return his Raichu is quite a bit higher leveled than in Red and Blue and carries Mega Punch and Kick to annihilate Ground types you bring in. Then, there's Koga whose best Pokémon is a level 50 Venomoth. The last gym leader? Erika's Pokémon were around levels 20-30. Yeah. Sabrina also has her Pokémon in that range to, and Giovanni as well as the Pokémon League are just all around higher leveled as well.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Blue was already unlikable in the original games, but in this game he flat out steals the Eevee that you were meant to start with! What a dick!
- Ascended Meme: Many new features and secrets seem to call back to the wild rumors that surrounded the original games. For instance, and the ability to find something by the truck near the S.S. Anne.
- Gambler-class trainers had their titles changed to gamer, leading to things like, "I'm a rambling, gaming dude!"
- That subverted rhyme aside, the change is less jarring considering that gambling is often referred to as "gaming" nowadays (i.e. Indian gaming, the Las Vegas Gaming Commission, etc.).
- Lavender Town's Pokémon Tower had a possessed woman say "Give...me... your...all"; contrast with the original line, which is "Give...me...your...soul." This particular instance of Bowdlerization seems a bit unpredictable, as there's another woman whose line remains as "Give...me...blood." in all versions.
- The "give me your soul" line was mentioned on a Christian Fundamentalist website as an example of how the game was Satanic. Perhaps this specific condemnation was common enough that the developers noticed it.
- Gambler-class trainers had their titles changed to gamer, leading to things like, "I'm a rambling, gaming dude!"
- Extended Gameplay: After defeating the Elite Four, the Sevii Islands start opening more so than after Blaine was defeated. The islands are one of the few places in the third generation games where you can capture Johto (or Hoenn) Pokémon.
- Forced Tutorial: Even more so than in the originals, and considering they were the first installments that's saying something. Professor Oak insists on explaining how a Pokémon battle works during your initial battle with your Rival, and before you even play the game, there are mandatory introductory screens showing you which buttons do what and telling you about the world of Pokémon in even greater detail than Professor Oak. It's understandable the game's producers simply wanted to help newcomers along, but come on.
- One particularly Egregious example occurs right in Pallet Town. A certain woman just has to show you what's written on a newly-placed sign near the lab, to the extent that you will not be able to leave Pallet Town unless you either read the sign or hear her recite what it says -- and all it says is press Start to open the menu.
- Inconsistent Dub: Unlike most examples, the error is present in the Japanese version as well: the Karate King, who was nameless in Generation I like every other Black Belt, was named Kiyo (Nobuhiko in Japanese) in Generation II, in which most Trainers gained names. In the Generation III remakes of the former, which added names to previously nameless Trainers, he's named Koichi (Takenori in Japanese); however, the Generation IV remakes of the latter went back to using the correct name.
- In the corner of Fuschia city is a young girl named "Charine", who self identifies as Koga's daughter in training. Janine, you mean?
- Now Where Was I Going Again?: Resuming your saved game gives you a quick recap about some of the things you were doing before you saved and quit.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: They added a female trainer, but kept the original dialogue. So much for averting the Les Yay of your youth...
- Retcon: In the original versions, there were only 150 known Pokémon in the whole world. In the Game Boy Advance remakes, this was changed to there being only 150 Pokémon known to inhabit the Kanto region.
- Shout-Out: Similar to the Stand by Me shout out present in the originals, you'll instead get one to The Wizard of Oz if you play as a female character in the remakes.
- Significant Anagram: "Tanoby" is an anagram of "botany" and the Tanoby chambers are named after plants. The Japanese name is an anagram of Nanakusa and the chambers are named after Nanakusa-no-sekku.
- Stealth Pun: There is a small island in Resort Gorgeous, just north of Five Island, where a lady named Gilligan is having her portrait painted.
- Too Soon: In Red and Blue, the Pewter Museum has a model of the Space Shuttle Columbia on display. FireRed and LeafGreen were released about a year after Columbia’s tragic demise; their display is just labeled “Space Shuttle.”