Mike used FREE TIME!
It's super effective!
I came, I saw, and I conquered. For a game boy game originally released in 1996, this game requires a hell of a lot of play time. In order to catch/trade for all 150 portable atrocities (legitimately--no cheats), it took me just under 50 hours. (Sadly, this does not include the time I spent in the safari zone, saved in the grass looking for Tauros, Chansey, Kangaskhan and Scyther, turning the game off/on with an unsuccessful hunt. I'd be closer to 65 hours then.)
I chose Red, because I'd never really played it before, and Alan chose Blue. I'm glad I did, because I got a bonus for it. I was able to get my favorites from Blue (Sandshrew/Vulpix) by trading Alan and use the boosted experience points to have a much nicer time battling my way through Kanto.
Overall, this game really stands the test of time. The translation doesn't (perhaps the first recorded instance of 'kekeke' was used by a Channeler in the Lavender Tower), and later versions of the games have corrected some crappy features (Dragonite, you sonuvabitch), but nothing beats playing through Pokemon on an old game boy.
I had a great time playing it, and I'm kind of sad it's over. I'm really glad I had a ton of AAA batteries just sitting in a drawer, otherwise that could have been expensive. (See below - used game boy batteries ready to go to work and be recycled.)
Oh yeah, and my final team ended up being:
FUN: 5/5 - Gotta catch 'em all! (Gotcha catch 'em all!) Pokemon (mon mon mon mon). Best handheld RPG for the Game Boy. Amazingly fun.
DIFFICULTY: 2/5 - The actual difficulty of the game is surprisingly low. It's not a super hard concept, and if you were to just grind your way through with a Bulbasaur or Squirtle, the game doesn't even seem remotely difficult until the 3rd or 4th badge, when your bread & butter starter isn't effective. I actually used a Butterfree/Pikachu tandem as soon as I got to the Viridian Forest and grinded them out. Took a little bit of grinding, but just dominated my way through the first few badges.
PLAYABILITY: 4.5/5 - The one ding I'm giving this game here is the overall slowness in the system. I know it's an engine made in '95, but still, trading takes forever. So does changing the Pokemon around in Bill's PC. Pretty much everything at the Pokemon Center takes forever. I think that was part of the motivation behind making a free inn.
FRUSTRATION FACTOR: 4.5/5 - Two words. Tauros. Porygon. Dammit, those guys took a long time to catch.
Tauros. UGH, what the hell man? With the walking and walking and walking and OMG IT'S TAUROS! Should I throw a rock? He might run! But you can't catch him without throwing a rock. Ugh, *throw rock* Wild Tauros is angry! Wild Tauros ran! NOOOOO!!! Repeat about a million times. Especially when his encounter rate is officially labeled 4%.
And Porygon! Com'mon man! 9999 coins at the game corner? Winning takes a long time and even buying the damned coins takes FOREVER. Increments of 50 for $1000 are crap! Crap! Lucky I still have my groove for getting 15 coin spins. 4/4 time. Quarter hit, quarter hit, quarter rest, quarter hit. Gets you the goods about 75% of the time. But still! Argh!
BEST TAKEAWAY MOMENT - Beating a bunch of adults from Team Rocket in a Pokemon battle and scaring them off. And, of course, having Professor Oak call Gary out for losing before he could make it up to the Indigo Plateau. Seriously. That guy. What a loser.
OVERALL ASSESSMENT: 5/5 - It's Pokemon! What else is there to say? You love it or you hate it. And those that say they hate it are liars! =D