7 Essential Beginner’s Tips for Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow – Game Guide

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It’s hard to believe, but the original Pokémon games are now 20 years old, filling anyone who played it as a child with equal parts nostalgia and a creeping awareness of our own mortality. A game about catching, trading, and battling tiny animals (pocket monsters, as it were) is now one of the largest franchises Nintendo managed to get under its belt, with new games released every few years, manga, an animated series, a trading card game, films, and hundreds of people wearing pikachu onesies to conventions every year.

Luckily Nintendo have re-released the said original games for the current generation, so if you’ve never played them before – or indeed never played any pokémon games – we’ve got some useful pointers to get your little pokémon trainer’s adventure off on the right track.

Choose your starter

At the start of the game an elderly man is going to offer you a free pokémon and tell you to leave home, and unless you’re playing Pokémon Yellow (where you get Pikachu as your starter by default) you need to choose which of the three he offers is going to be your starter. In Red and Blue this means choosing between Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur.

Charmander is a favourite for a lot of people, because fire starters have high damage and speed (but lower health, so they’re a riskier prospect in some situations). Charmander also has the distinction of finally evolving into a giant dragon called Charizard, who is pretty boss. Bulbasaur, the leaf type, has higher defense against special attacks, but is much slower and has a lower attack score overall. That doesn’t make Bulbasaur a bad choice, by any means: leaf type is highly effective in the first two gym leader fights you have in the game. Squirtle is kind of the best of both worlds, with well balanced scores across the board.

The choice you make doesn’t have to affect the whole game, but it’ll definitely change the earlier portion of it, until you catch a more varied group of pokémon to build your team.

Understand the types

The basic way to determine which pokémon is the best to put up against another is by their type. Every pokémon, and every move they can make, has a type, and this determines which type it works well against, which it doesn’t, and which it’s weak against. Most types are (loosely) based on the elements so you can work out the strengths and weaknesses logically, e.g. fire types are great against leaf types, but terrible versus water.

Build your team right

You get to have a maximum of six pokémon with you as your team, but you can choose them from any of the pokémon you’ve successfully caught and stored in your computer, which sounds weird now we’ve written it down but in the game it really feels like it makes sense. Anyway. When you’re travelling around it’s good to have those six pokémon as a variety of different types so that you’re prepared for any unexpected situations.

However, during the game you also have to face gym leaders, who are really good at training pokémon, but only on specific type. When you know which leader you’re going up against you should build your team with a few pokémon that are strong against that type, and none that are weak to it.

Level your pokémon together

It’s tempting, when you play a pokémon game for the first time, to level a couple of your squad way ahead of the others (especially because the first pokémon you’re given by the vaguely benevolent, but still suspiciously keen for a ten year old child to leave home, Professor Oak, is higher level than anything you’ll catch in the early part of the game).

This works alright for a bit, but eventually you’ll come up against an opponent that takes your high level guys out, and then you won’t have a strong enough team to finish the fight. Keep everyone in your team at a similar level and it’s much easier to get through the game. This does mean you need to invest some time in training them all up, but on the other hand training pokémon is basically the entire game. So. Maybe make peace with that.

Stay stocked up

In the early stages of the game you don’t get that much horribleness thrown at you, presumably to ease you into the experience of forcing sentient animals to fight for your amusement. As you progress you’re going to encounter attacks that put different status effects on your pokémon, including poison, confusion, and paralysis. Given this it’s a good idea to keep a couple of the heals for each of them in your bag, as well as health potions and the ever important pokeballs. It could mean the difference between victory or defeat.

Save often

Pokémon is, believe it or not, a complex game. There are a bunch of different areas to get through, and many of them have something of a maze-like quality to them. They’re also, more often than not, scattered with trainers looking for a fight, or wild pokémon just wandering about, so save a lot. Save before a big fight. Save when you’ve found your way out of the cave system, finally. You never know what might happen that could force you to revert back to a save, and when it does happen you want that save to be close at hand, lest you lose a lot of valuable levelling.

Have a friend

Hopefully we all have at least one, right? Aside from being able to battle your teams against one another, if you’re really serious about the “catch ’em all” thing then you’re going to need to do some trading with a friend, because some pokémon can only be found in Red, and some can only be found in Blue. There are also a few pokémon that only evolve if they’ve been traded, so you need a friend that you can trust to not run off with your freshly traded pokémon.

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Pokemon Red

  • Release Date: April 22, 2022
    • - 27 February 2016 (Nintendo 3DS)
  • Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PC
  • Genre(s): Adventure