The Games

Whilst there are many Pokémon games out there in Japan, I shall only be reviewing the ones released in the UK (unsurprisingly since that's where I am and I can't get any of the Japanese games yet!)

Up until now that means that I shall be looking at Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow for the Gameboy, and Pokémon Stadium for the N64. I shall also be looking at the various Pokémon ROMs for the PC to see how they measure up to the real thing.

First, Pokémon Red and Blue.

These were the two games originally released in the UK. They are both almost exactly the same, although there are a small number of unique Pokémon that can only be caught on one cart or the other. Both are good fun, though sadly not the same as the Japanese versions where you could actually get Mew in the game instead of having to download him from Nintendo. The end game sequence is reasonable but nothing special, but it does open up Cerulean Cave so you can go and catch MewTwo - the best, and sadly overpowered, Pokémon in the game. I haven't caught all 150 Pokémon on the cart yet so I don't know what happens if you do. DON'T WRITE AND TELL ME IF YOU KNOW. I WANT TO FIND OUT FOR MYSELF!!

Pokémon Yellow

This is a great game, though in no way a sequel to Red and Blue. It is called Pokémon TV in Japan (thanks Spence) and for good reason. Most of the changes are cosmetic, but the game LOOKS much better than the original 2. Your first Pokémon is now Pikachu, and he actually follows you around on the screen. You can look at him and see how he is feeling. (Ash in the cartoon has a female Pikachu apparently. More about Pokémon sexes later.) Also, Team Rocket from the cartoon take the place of the boring guys from Red and Blue. This is a GOOD THING! Finally (although there may be other changes of which I am not aware), all of the Pokédex entries have been redone, including the pictures for each Pokémon, and there are now 3 Pikachu-related stages for two players via link cable. In all, Pokémon Yellow is merely a cosmetically-enhanced version of the original.

Pokémon Stadium

This game (actually the second in the series of Stadium games I believe, the first not having a UK or USA release, and a third being on the way) is really good, though I haven't got far into it yet so there are undoubtedly options that I haven't found yet. There's still a lot of stuff in this right from the start. You can have battles of up to four players (tag-team style) with whichever rules you choose, all in glorious 3D. Apart from that there are 9 (possibly more hidden) mini-games, the option to play the Gameboy version of Red, Blue or Yellow on it using the supplied transfer pack, and various Tournament Stadium options. All this adds up to a very fat game that will take weeks to master.

The Others

Games not released here yet are Pokémon Snap, Pokémon TCG for the Gameboy, Pokémon Green (actually what we know as Blue - the original Pokémon Blue was something in the same vein), Pokémon Gold and Silver and possible others. I know nothing about the first three on this list yet, but you can be sure info will be coming soon. Gold and Silver, however, I can tell you a bit about since I have played ROMs of both, although readers are advised that this is illegal if you do not own copies of the original games. On the other hand, these were not proper versions of the game, because they were badly-translated versions which had been altered by the programmers, so I can't say exactly how close to what the forthcoming English versions of Gold and Silver they are. What I can say is that they play similar to the first 2, but with some differences:-
- The game is in colour
- There are 100 new Pokémon in it<
- New starting Pokémon
- New plot
- New rival
- Backpack feature to carry more items - Pokémon can now be equipped withh items. This is vital to evolve certain Pokémon in trades
- New items
- New Pokémon types (Steel and Darrk)
- Pokémon now all have sexes and ssome of them can be bred so baby Pokémon can be 'made'!
- Some Pokémon from the originals now have evolved forms (Onix and Chansey for example)
- New world to explore
- Much more that I haven't found I suspeect...I'll just have to wait till it actually gets released.

Pokémon ROMs

Since you are reading this I can assume that you have a PC with Internet connection ('cos I'm smart like that). This means that you may well have noticed the large array of Gameboy emulators on the Net, and possibly have more that one on your computer. The question on your lips must be, are there any Pokémon ROMs out there. Well, yes there are. There are perfect conversions of Red, Blue and Yellow out there, as well as translated versions of Gold and Silver. It is illegal to use any of these unless you actually own copies of the game, but if you wish to take the risk, that is entirely up to you. I take no responsibility for your actions. Since I own Pokémon Red and Yellow, I downloaded ROMs of both and I have to say they play just as well as the Gameboy versions, though the music sound even worse than it does on the handheld. I also tried a Japanese ROM of Pokémon Silver, though I have since got rid of it 'cos i don't speak any Japanese at all and was getting frustrated not knowing what anyone was saying. I also have a (somewhat) translated copy of Pokémon Gold, though don't e-mail me saying you want it unless you can convince me you have a copy of the actual game. I know this may be hypocritical, but I know what I'm doing is bending the law and I wouldn't recommend doing the same. I shall have more details in my Pokédex about the new Pokémon as soon as I have caught them.

That's all for now on the games. Expect updates soon...

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Well, it's out in Britain now having opened on April 14th, and we sent our team of reviewers to go and watch it. So what did they think? Fortunately, unlike some major British newspapers I won't care to mention, we actually got people who know what they're on about. This is an obvious advantage over the hordes of adults who've been reviewing the film, more on which later.

All five are big fans of Japanese animation so they weren't fazed by the apparently "unoriginal" style. What exactly is that supposed to mean anyway? This is the first time in ages a Japanimation film has been released in British cinemas! Another reviewer rated the animation as "wierd"! I must laugh at him!! This man is obviously a fan of Disney or the more traditional Western styles of animation. Pity him fellow Pokémon lovers.

On to the soundtrack. This same guy describes it as "scary"! This is a grown up individual of at least forty years of age!!! Scary? Not once did we see one young child in the cinema audience cringe in fright!! They obviously have more sense!! But hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I can't say what adults find scary (though I can call them big wusses behind their backs!! No offence intended... Well, not much anyway!) I now have access to the movie soundtrack, and I have to admit its got some reasonable songs on it. Top marks to Mandah for having a Jigglypuff sample in her song lullaby. Britney's song is quite dire actually, but Christina Aguilera's song is pretty good. Billy Crawford's rendition of the Pokémon Theme is suitably dramatic, and has a reasonable beat to it (it also has a massive guitar solo in the middle which at least one of my friends likes - You know who you are!!) There is a big downer on the CD in that Aaron Carter is present. His song is as typically whiny as we're used to, and you can just skip it if you want to. "Brother My Brother" is also quite good, though you may remember it wasn't ideally placed in the movie - It's just not dramatic enough for the final fight. Now here's a track listing, with marks out of ten from me.

1. Billy Crawford - Pokémon Theme (8)
2. M2M - Don't Say You Love Me (8)
3. Ashley Ballard with So Plush - It Was You (6)
4. Christina Aguilera - We're A Miracle (8)
5. Britney Spears - Soda Pop (4)
6. *NSYNC - Somewhere Someday (7)
7. B*Witched - Get Happy (5)
8. Emma Bunton p/k/a Baby Spice - (Hey You) Free Up Your Mind (5)
9. 98 Degrees - Fly With Me (6)
10. Mandah - Lullaby (8) (6 without Jigglypuff)
11. Vitamin C - Vacation (8 - it's catchy)
12. Billie - Makin' My Way (Any Way That I Can) (8 - Not bad Miss Piper!)
13. Angela Via - Catch Me If you Can (7)
14. Aaron Carter - (Have Some) Fun With The Funk (3 - "Boppin'!"?)
15. Midnight Sons - If Only Tears Could Bring You Back (9)
16. Blessid Union of Souls - Brother My Brother (9)

A word of warning though, if you bought the CD to see the "exclusive movie footage" advertised, note that you need an Internet connection to watch it (which isn't really gonna bother you if you can read this, but the warning is there none the less. Oh, and you get a free Jigglypuff promo card - BONUS!!!

And finally to the plot. Well, although it isn't quite as humerous as the atypical cartoon episode, it holds its own. I won't spoil it for you but it envolves the 151st Pokémon, Mew, and Mewtwo's inferiority complex at being a clone - nothing more than "Mew's shadow". What results is a slightly less comicical, and a little darker and more philosophical version of the TV show, packed with enough moral talk to leave even Brock lost for words by the end (almost).

So, is this really a "cynical attempt to continue plundering the pockets of children and parents alike"? I think some reviewers have forgotten that people don't HAVE to spend their money if they don't want to. Only the people who want to go and see the film will go and see it. If you're not a Pokémon fan then what's the point of going to see the movie. Duh!! And if you were a little disappointed, just wait for the next film, out pretty soon in America I believe, or stick to the TV series, just starting Season 2 on Sky1.



: No Rocket motto on the big screen. Outrage!! In fact Team Rocket were given far too small a role in general, seeming to spend most of it wandering around in the lab looking confused. But, apart from this MAJOR TRAVESTY, not a bad film. It was what we expected; good animation, a lot of shouting, much "Uh?!"-ing, and also an opportunity to see some more unusual pokémon like Wigglytuff and the ever entertaining Vileplume. Rather oddly the entire film had a surprisingly dark tone - it was a bit harsh Mewtwo killing all the scientists at the start even if the head guy was comitting a fashion crime with his hair. The usual wacky humour of the series seemed to have taken a back seat to a lot of moralising, NOT ONCE did Misty make her head swell up, Brock didn't get that red line on his face even though he spent about half the film standing next to Nurse Joy and nobody fell over for NO READILY APPARENT REASON. Saying this though, the short "Pikachu's Vacation" beforehand was more traditional in that it featured some pretty silly Psyduck antics, although the little "interludes" when a pokémon would walk across the screen went on for a little too long and become faintly sinister, especially those Chanseys. Have you ever imagined what Chansey's role in an operating theatre is? I think he wants to cut out your liver with a rusty scalpel. But that could just be me. Also, I have to say that the music for the film was pretty forgettable, I'd have much prefered to hear the original J-pop guitar based rock that they got in Japan, in particular the final song was completely naff and out of place for an epic Pokémon showdown. Still, I quite enjoyed it, and its no where near as sinister or manipulative as ANY Disney animation, despite what the press would have us believe. And I got a Mewtwo promo card! YES I ROCK! One word for ya: "BELLSPROUT!"

: Despite the blatant Star Wars rip-off title I didn't think it was too bad actually. Had some good bits and some bad bits, but they've already been ranted about by the others so I won't bother... One question though, and its back to that title again - just what is he "striking back" from? As far as I know he's only been in one episode... Hmmmm!! Perplexing!

: Why was Electrabuzz a promo card?? Was he IN the film? Hmmm... It was quite a lightweight film, not one to tax the brain too much, but surprisingly sinister in the way Mewtwo deals with the people who clone him... also, Ash seemed to fall off things a lot, for no apparent reason, and some scenes go on a just a little too long, like Mewtwo creating a storm for about ten minutes, and Pikachu attempting to revive a stoned Ash for seemingly an age. And Bellsprout is decidedly sinister in the mini movie. But the high point is Ash doing an athletic flip up from lying, that would fox some luchadors, well only Ultimo Dragon.

: Disappointment!! If you go into the movie expecting a much larger episode of Pokémon, forget it. Although the film wasn't bad, I expected more humour and more highjinks from Team Rocket. AND there was TOO MUCH moral talk, even for Pokémon. Just leave it to Brock to philosophise!

: Well, what can I say? Good film/bad film? Well...I'll give some marks.
Animation: 9/10
Soundtrack: 7/10 (lots of atmosphere, but nothing too catchy apart from perhaps the revamped Title music and that M2M song whose name I can never remember).
Plot: 6/10 (Not as good as it could have been, but certainly not bad for the first attempt. Wait till the 2nd and 3rd films!!)
Adherence to typical Western cartoons style: 1/10 (But so what! Unoriginal indeed!)
Number of times Ash gets knocked flying: Not sure I can rate this one out of ten, more like 20!!
Number of times Pikachu gets slapped in the end fight: Lots!
Satisfaction factor at the end: Difficult one this. If you expected a long cartoon episode: 5; if you expected something different: 8.
Overall Mark: 8 (Some people didn't like it. Some did. What more can I say?!)

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