While Pokémon remains one of the biggest gaming franchises today, even the most recent games seem to be incomparable to the universally-beloved classic games in the franchise. Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and even Crystal are still held on a pedestal by many gamers today, including those who have long left the series.
That’s not to say that the love for these games isn’t deserved. Game Freak did an excellent job with each one of them. However, we can’t make the case that they’re perfect. After all, regardless of how popular the newer games were, there’s no denying that Game Freak ironed out a lot of their own shortcomings as the series grew. As Pokémon matured, so did the gameplay.
Plenty of people still hold onto the classic games that captivated them as children, but many who played them back in the day were unaware of the mistakes that were in them. Revisiting those games years later reveals that the franchise was still fairly new, with Game Freak making a lot of hiccups to try and find the vision for the future of the series. Nowadays, many of the mechanics introduced in the older releases have been removed.
The classic Pokémon games on the Game Boy are still excellent titles, and some of the best on the system. However, there are still 25 mistakes that they made that some people tend to gloss over. We’re taking a second look at these older games to find the little areas where Game Freak fell a bit short.
HMs are an outdated mechanic. Introduced in the first games, they were a set of moves that a Pokémon could learn that would affect the environment. The problem with them is that it forced players to take up move slots on their Pokémon just to get from point A to point B. What made matters worse was that many of the moves weren’t good in the first place, meaning that it was a waste of a slot. Thankfully, this mechanic has been removed in the games.
24 Unbalanced Pokémon
Pokémon Red and Blue had 151 Pokémon for players to find. It was disappointing, then, that most of them weren’t useful in combat. This led to many going with the same set of Pokémon because there were some clearly better than others. Some Pokémon had way better move pools, stats, and type matchups that it made every other choice weak by comparison. Ever see someone try to take on the Indigo League sporting a Seadra or Kingler? Yeah, we haven’t either.
23 OP Dragon Pokémon
Dragon types were broken in Red and Blue. Only three Dragon-type Pokémon existed in the game: Dratini, Dragonair, and Dragonite. Dragonite had extremely good stats, and its only weaknesses were to Dragon and Ice-type moves. With so few Pokémon that could properly counter it, Dragonite became one of the best in the first generation. It became so bad as the series went on that Game Freak had to introduce an entirely new type, Fairy, specifically to nerf Dragon-types in Gen VI.
22 The Gengar Dilemma
Much like Dragon-types, there were only three Ghost-type Pokémon in Gen I: the last evolution of which being Gengar. Ghost-types were inserted to counter Psychic-types, unfortunately, Gengar was a self-defeating Pokémon. While it was strong against Psychic-type Pokémon, it was also weak to them because it had Poison a second typing. This meant that the very same Pokémon it was meant to counter could make short work of it with a well-timed Psybeam or speed stat. Alakazam was a popular choice back then.
Missingno is short for “missing number.” This Pokémon isn’t really a Pokémon, but a glitch in the early games. It wasn’t uncommon for players to encounter these weird entities. They could be captured and used for cloning items, though they could also break one’s save file in the process. This glitch was rectified in later releases, but it was prominent enough that it gained a lot of attention. However, Missingno has since been absent from the series, which is probably for the better.
20 Incompetent AI
One of the complaints about the Pokémon franchise is that it’s too easy. Unfortunately, that has been prevalent since the very first days. There are constant points where trainers will try to use moves that are ineffective on certain Pokémon, like using Electric moves on Ground-type Pokémon. It makes a lot of the battles easy. Even if you have a Pokémon that is at a disadvantage, it’s not often that an opponent capitalizes on it. AI was improved later in the series, though.
19 Zubat Swarms
One of the most tedious locations in any Pokémon game is a cave. Caves are essentially like walking through a perpetual patch of tall grass until you leave. Players are constantly in danger of encountering the same type of Pokémon repeatedly. Most of the time, Red and Blue throw a Zubat out. Sometimes it’ll be a Geodude, but most players will be sick of seeing the same type of useless creature. It’s almost necessary to bring a bag of repels when traveling through a cave.
18 Team Rocket Repetition
Team Rocket is the antagonist of Red and Blue. They didn’t have that much of an interesting plan other than terrorizing the Kanto Region while trying to take over the world. However, they were used again in Gold and Silver in an even less-exciting way. Team Rocket’s goal was to try and re-establish themselves in the Johto Region. Not only are they dealt with rather quickly, but they have almost no purpose to be in the narrative, just like Team Rocket in the anime.
17 Gold And Silver’s Story
Gold and Silver are superior to Red and Blue in almost every way except the story department. With Team Rocket organizing attacks and a ghost in Lavender Town, there were some interesting moments in Red and Blue. Gold and Silver didn’t have many interesting moments like that, especially ones that were connected to an overall story. Ho-Oh and Lugia were nice additions but tacked on. Perhaps the most exciting part about those games was the climactic battle with Red at the top of Mount Silver.
16 Condensed Kanto Region
It was impressive that Game Freak managed to fit an explorable Kanto Region onto the Gold and Silver cartridges. Unfortunately, that came with some limitations along the way. Some of the routes weren’t complete, and several features were absent, like the Safari Zone and the tower in Lavender Town. It’s far from the best version of the Kanto Region. Furthermore, the gym leaders are extremely easy to defeat, and there aren’t many new Pokémon worth capturing there. It’s just for the nostalgia.
15 Unobtainable Pokémon
One of the most frustrating aspects of Red and Blue and Gold and Silver in the west was that players couldn’t catch all Pokémon. Mew was a Pokémon that wasn’t even properly attainable without glitching the game. Celebi was also only available to those in Japan who had an obscure peripheral that never took off like Game Freak wanted it to. Those in the west had to deal with the fact that they’d never catch these mythical Pokémon, so Game Freak changed the rules later down the road.
14 Link Cable
Pokémon was a popular franchise, so it was common to see friends with different versions of the game, talking about their Pokémon and battling. However, if they wanted to battle or trade together, that required a separate purchase of a link cable. While revolutionary for its time, having to carry something around as cumbersome as a link cable was often more trouble than it was worth. Furthermore, it was extremely easy to lose the cable, forcing friends back to square one.
13 Odd Sprites
When Red and Green came out in Japan, there was some odd sprite work in those games. Pokémon like Wigglytuff, Hitmonlee, and Mew are downright gross, looking ugly and formless. Even Koffing had a detail that was inaccurate to its design. When the games were ported to North America, some of the sprites were fixed. However, there was still some awkward sprite work to be found, especially when seeing the back of the Pokémon. It was mostly fixed in Pokémon Yellow, though.
12 Tons Of Glitches
Pokémon Red and Blue are notorious for the number of glitches they had. Not only was there an entire Pokémon created as the result of a glitch (if you count Missingno as a Pokémon), there were several other exploits found in the game. Players discovered that they could even beat the game in a matter of minutes with the right glitch knowledge. Certain towns could disappear and load improperly, and battles could be tricked to spawn all sorts of different Pokémon. In fact, that was the only way to get Mew.
11 Crazy Rumors
When Mew’s existence was first teased in Red and Blue, there were all sorts of theories about how to catch it. Some theorized that the Pokémon was underneath a pickup truck. Those proved to be false. Then, there was a picture leaked of Marill. Many stated that it was “Pikablu,” a Pokémon that could only be captured if players got to a certain patch of grass outside the game map. That proved false as well, considering that Marill was a Pokémon not introduced until Gold and Silver released.
10 Critical Hit With Speed
Critical hits can be irritating for trainers, being a random chance at dealing double damage. While the mechanic has been balanced in later games, it was downright busted in the early days. Critical hits used to be directly related to the speed stat of a Pokémon, meaning that faster Pokémon had a greater chance of occasionally doing double damage. This unfairly stacked the odds of critical hits, which prompted Game Freak to rethink how that mechanic should work in battles.
There are many stats in the Pokémon games that can negatively impact one’s team, but none more so in Red and Blue than being frozen. There was a chance, after getting hit with an Ice-type attack, that a Pokémon would be frozen. However, the only way to thaw out was for them to be hit with a Fire-type attack. Otherwise, they would be stuck in a block of ice, entirely open to whatever attacks their opponent could throw at them. Thankfully, Game Freak added a chance for a Pokémon to thaw itself out.
Before Game Freak made the status effects more manageable and balanced, there were some that were inherently better than others, sometimes guaranteeing a victory. That was the case with the sleep effect. A Pokémon put to sleep had a completely random chance of waking up, rather than the more predictable version found in later games. Furthermore, when a Pokémon would wake up, that would take their entire turn. They still couldn’t attack until their next turn, giving opponents the chance to lull it to sleep again.
7 Lack Of Post-Game Content
This is more of a problem with Red and Blue than Gold and Silver. There simply isn’t much to do after beating the Elite Four. Sure, players can hunt for Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno, but that’s about it. Gold and Silver, at the very least, introduced breeding and shiny Pokémon, which gave players something to do with their massive save files. It just feels like there should be more to do after a trainer becomes the Champion of a region. Otherwise, the adventure feels much too short.
While the HMs, in general, were a questionable addition to the Pokémon series, there is one that stands above the rest: cut. This is usually the first HM that a player receives in the game. The reason it has its own entry is because it’s the most useless of the bunch. It can be used to chop down special trees that don’t often give any special rewards. In many ways, Cut is an optional HM that has been shoehorned into just about every single title in the series.
5 Trainer Calling
Gold and Silver introduced a way for players to re-battle trainers they met throughout their journey. Unfortunately, this system also allowed NPC trainers to call the player at any time. It’s annoying to be hunting for a shiny Pokémon only to have to stop everything because some trainer wants to talk about how “top percentage” their Rattata is. With trainers constantly giving phone calls in the late-game, it can become frustrating quickly. The feature was cleaned up in the remakes, but the original is still a nightmare.
4 New Poké Balls
Pokémon Gold and Silver brought more ways of capturing Pokémon to the table. They introduced new Poké Balls, ones made with apricots, in fact. There was a function where players could create these apricot Poké Balls and use them. However, few people ever used this feature because the apricot Poké Balls weren’t very useful. It was much easier to travel to a Poké Mart and purchase a group of Great or Ultra Balls that would be more than efficient at capturing Pokémon.
3 Friendship Evolution
In Gen II, Game Freak introduced a few new ways of evolving Pokémon: one of them being through friendship. Certain Pokémon wouldn’t evolve unless their “friendship” stat with the trainer was high enough. Unfortunately, the friendship stat was difficult to measure, making it nearly impossible to know when they were getting ready to evolve. This was more challenging when trying to evolve Eevee into Umbreon or Espeon, who required a friendship stat during a certain time of day.
2 Baby Pokémon
While the breeding mechanic remains one of the most-used features in the Pokémon franchise, the introduction of baby Pokémon is still a pointless addition. Critters like Pichu and Igglybuff are cute, but they don’t add much to the table. They’re useless in battle and don’t offer anything new for their evolutions without serious work. Most of them evolve with friendship points too. It’s also confusing that Game Freak decided not to make a baby Pokémon for Kangaskhan: arguably the one Pokémon that needed it.
1 Difficult Pokémon To Catch
Gold and Silver had a few difficult Pokémon to capture, including the likes of Ho-Oh, Lugia, Entei, Raikou, and Suicune. In later games, trainers could inflict a status effect on these Pokémon to increase the chance of capture. The classic Pokémon games, on the other hand, didn’t offer this luxury. Wild Pokémon could be inflicted with a status effect, but it wouldn’t affect the rate of capture. This meant that many Pokémon took minutes to catch, leading some players to the brink of rage quitting.