POKEMON seems to continue going strong no matter how many games, television incarnations or movies are released. After the release of POKEMON RUBY and SAPPHIRE, I honestly believed that the craze had finally died down. It had been four years and, a few new Pokemon aside, the series hadn't changed that much. Maybe the reason for my thinking was because I hadn't played the new games that much, unwilling to admit that the series was just as addictive as ever.
I can honestly say I enjoyed POKEMON when the first game out. It was addictive and new, something that wasn't often found on the Game Boy. A few releases later, the only differences were a few hundred new Pokemon and the ability to battle with two Pokemon at a time. SILVER and GOLD were good, CRYSTAL was a rehash of the previous ones, and RUBY and SAPPHIRE didn't interest me. But lo and behold, FIRERED has sucked me back into to an ever addictive game.
While they are remakes of the first games, POKEMON FIRERED and LEAFGREEN upgrade POKEMON RED and BLUE games by adding new features, better graphics and new Pokemon found only in the newest versions of the game. As all of the games begin, you start off as a young kid leaving your house to go on a journey to become the greatest Pokemon master ever. Unlike in the original games, you now have a choice to be a boy or a girl (in the first release, all gamers were stuck with the male character). Along the way, you'll run into hundreds of Pokemon species to catch, the terrorist organization Team Rocket and numerous rival trainers. Getting to the end of the story takes about 20 hours, but you won't be anywhere near the end of the game as you'll likely only have caught a fraction of the Pokemon in the game. Of course, maintaining the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality, neither version contains all of the Pokemon, so you'll have to trade with a friend who has the other version to complete the game.
FIRERED and LEAFGREEN play just like the originals, and every game in the series: you'll run around in a vast world, battling trainers and catching more and more Pokemon that you can raise to fight for you. When going into a battle, the game switches to a turn-based battle mode that seems very simple, but can be somewhat complex. If you can imagine an advanced form of rock-paper-scissors you can understand how these games work. There are numerous types of Pokemon found within the game, each containing strengths and weaknesses (water Pokemon are weak against electric Pokemon, but water Pokemon are strong against fire Pokemon). The reason this can make the game difficult is because, during the game, you'll run into Pokemon you've never seen before. Figuring out how to battle it may take a few moments, and if you have the wrong type battling for you at that moment, it could result in some trouble for you and your Pokemon. Not to worry though, as you can carry up to six Pokemon on your character at a time, each gaining more and more experience until they evolve, gaining more strength and learning new moves.
The one downfall of FIRERED and LEAFGREEN is that, if you've already played POKEMON RED, BLUE, or YELLOW, you'll realize that you've played this before. Although the storylines in the POKEMON games aren't all that different, this is an exact remake of the original games, adding a few new towns after your initial quest is finished.
One new inclusion in the newest versions of the POKEMON games is the wireless adaptor that comes packaged with the games. Although I'm not sure why the wireless adaptor only works with FIRERED and LEAFGREEN and not any other of the countless GBA games, it works well here. There are lobbies for chatting within the games, although is kind of strange as you need to be in the same room as your opponents, but it's progress.
FIRERED and LEAFGREEN continue the POKEMON tradition of being great RPGs under the guise of kiddy games. While you may feel like you're in familiar territory if you've put in many hours on any of the previous games, the series always presents new challenges and addicting gameplay along the way.