North American box art for Pokémon Yellow, depicting the Pokémon Pikachu
Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition,[a] more commonly known as Pokémon Yellow Version, is a 1998 role-playing video game developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy handheld game console. It is an enhanced version of Pokémon Red and Blue, loosely based on the anime, and is part of the first generation of the Pokémon video game series. Along with the release of Pokémon Yellow, a special edition yellow Pokémon-themed Game Boy Color was also released.
Pokémon Yellow is an enhanced version of the Game Boy games Pokémon Red and Blue. Like its predecessors, it is a third-person, overhead perspective and consists of three basic screens: an overworld, in which the player navigates the main character; a battle screen; and a menu interface, in which the player configures their party of Pokémon, items, or gameplay settings. The player uses their Pokémon to battle other Pokémon. When the player encounters a wild Pokémon or is challenged by a trainer, the screen switches to a turn-based battle screen that displays the engaged Pokémon. During battle, the player may select one of up to four moves for their Pokémon to use, use an item, switch their active Pokémon, or attempt to flee. Pokémon have health points (HP); when a Pokémon's HP is reduced to zero, it faints and can no longer battle until it is revived. Once an enemy Pokémon faints, the player's Pokémon involved in the battle receive a certain number of experience points (EXP). After accumulating enough EXP, a Pokémon will level up. A Pokémon's level dictates its physical properties, such as the battle statistics acquired, and the moves learned.
Catching Pokémon is another essential element of the gameplay. During battle with a wild Pokémon, the player may throw a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is successfully caught, it will come under the ownership of the player. Factors in the success rate of capture include the HP of the target Pokémon and the type of Poké Ball used: the lower the target's HP and the stronger the Poké Ball, the higher the success rate of capture. The ultimate goal of the games is to complete the entries in the Pokédex, a comprehensive Pokémon encyclopedia, by capturing, evolving, and trading to obtain all 151 creatures. Pokémon Yellow allows players to trade Pokémon between two cartridges via a Game Link Cable, including the previous games Pokémon Red and Blue. This method of trading must be done to fully complete the Pokédex, since each of the games have version-exclusive Pokémon. The Link Cable also makes it possible to battle another player's Pokémon team.
Pokémon Yellow features several enhancements and changes. Including the below-mentioned inclusion of Pikachu as the only available Pokémon to start with, Pikachu is given both a voice and a personality unique from other Pokémon. It follows the player on the overworld, and can be examined by speaking to it by pressing A when the overworld character is facing Pikachu. While it initially has an indifferent opinion of the player, it can grow to love or hate them based on the player's actions; leveling up will keep Pikachu happy, while fainting frequently will make it unhappy. This enhanced feature would be used again in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver, and Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, the remakes of Pokémon Yellow. There is an area in Pokémon Yellow that features a "Surfing Pikachu" mini-game. In order to play it, players must have a Pikachu who can learn "Surf", a Water-based attack. At the time, players could only accomplish this by winning a contest to get a "Surfing Pikachu". However, if players use their Pikachu from Yellow in Pokémon Stadium and beat a certain mode under the proper circumstances, they are rewarded with the move Surf, which can be used both in battle, out of battle, and in the above-mentioned mini-game. Pokémon Yellow has slightly improved graphics from its predecessors and can print Pokédex entries onto stickers using the Game Boy Printer.
Setting and story
Like Pokémon Red and Blue, Yellow takes place in the Kanto region, which features habitats for 151 Pokémon species. The objectives remain the same as well, though some differences exist along the way. For example, in the beginning, the player is not given an option of choosing one of three starter Pokémon. Instead, a wild Pikachu that Professor Oak catches becomes the player's starter Pokémon, while the rival character takes an Eevee. The plot is loosely based on the Indigo League saga of the anime, and features characters that were not featured in the game or have been enhanced to resemble their designs used in the anime, including Jessie, James, Meowth, Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny. Similar to the anime, Pikachu refuses to evolve. Players are also given the opportunity to obtain the original three starters. As players quest on, they gradually progress catching Pokémon for the Pokédex which they use to defeat the eight Gym Leaders and eventually the Elite Four, all the while battling Team Rocket, a gang devoted to using Pokémon in order to make themselves more powerful. By the time of the encounter with the Elite Four the player has had the opportunity to capture 149 types of Pokémon; in the post-game, after the Elite Four has been defeated, the player may enter Cerulean Cave, where Mewtwo, the final Pokémon in regular gameplay, can be found, battled and captured. The last Pokémon in the Pokédex, Mew, cannot be captured during ordinary gameplay, though exploiting bugs in the game makes this possible.
Pokémon Yellow first began development after the completion of the Japanese-only version of Pokémon Blue, which itself followed the Japanese-only versions of Pokémon Red and Green. It was developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy handheld game console. Its release was made to coincide with the release of Pokémon: The First Movie. The president of Nintendo at the time, Satoru Iwata, commented that people likely felt Yellow to be unnecessary due to the upcoming release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, which were scheduled to be released in the same year. It was released in Japan on September 12, 1998, in Australia on September 3, 1999, in North America on October 19, 1999, and in Europe on June 16, 2000. A Pikachu-themed Game Boy Color bundle was released in North America on October 25, 1999. A collaboration between Volkswagen and Nintendo resulted in the creation of a yellow Volkswagen New Beetle with some its features inspired by Pikachu. This was done as a promotion for Pokémon Yellow. Nintendo World Report listed Pokémon Yellow as one of the notable handheld releases in 1999. Pokémon Yellow was the final Nintendo-published title released for the original Game Boy in North America and Europe.
Reception and legacy
Pokémon Yellow has been well received by critics, holding an aggregate score of 85% from GameRankings based on 16 reviews, making it the fifth highest-rated Game Boy game of all time. Nintendo Power gave it an 8 out of 10, while Game Informer gave it a 6.5 out of 10. Electric Playground gave it a 7.5 out of 10. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune recommended Yellow as a good game for children. In a panel of 10 children, nine of the children gave it a "very good" or "excellent" score in the fun category, but only five recommended its purchase. RPGFan called it "so revoltingly addictive that any player of it has no choice but to 'catch 'em all'". They also called Yellow "insulting" in how limited the additions from Red and Blue were. IGN's Craig Harris praised the game's mechanics, commenting that Yellow was the best game of the three to start with. He gave it a perfect score.
GameSpot's Cameron Davis called it a "stopgap" to appease players until the release of Gold and Silver, commenting that "the new challenges are enough to fill the hole - but only just". GameDaily's Chris Buffa listed it as one of the best Pokémon games, commenting that while it was a rehash, there was enough that was new to warrant playing. Allgame's Brad Cook commented that for those who didn't play Red and Blue, Yellow was good; but otherwise, he advised that they wait until Gold and Silver. The Daily Telegraph's Steve Boxer commented that while it had good gameplay mechanics, it was held back by the lack of features. He described Nintendo's actions as avaricious, commenting that Yellow "marks the point where Pokémon ceases to become a game and becomes a marketing exercise/obsession-satisfier".
Before its release, Nintendo anticipated that it would make them $75 million in the 1999 holiday season. The Pokémon Yellow Game Boy Color bundle was predicted to be the second most popular toy of the holiday season. Nintendo executive George Harrison predicted that Yellow's sales would exceed 3 million in sales, and would also surpass Donkey Kong 64 in the process, another title anticipated to sell well by Nintendo. In North America the game received roughly 150,000 pre-orders. The bundle debuted at #2 in video game sales and claimed the #1 spot a week later. For the month of December, Yellow was surpassed by both Donkey Kong 64 and Gran Turismo 2. A survey conducted by CNET found that none of the stores it contacted had Yellow in stock. The standard cartridge sold over 600,000 units in its first week and more than one million copies by the next week, becoming the fastest selling handheld game of all time when it was released. Pokémon: The First Movie, a film released around the same time as Yellow, was expected to give it a sales boost. A Nintendo spokesman attributed the high demand for the Game Boy Color during the Christmas season of 1999 to Yellow.
Gwenn Friss of the Cape Cod Times called it one of the hottest items of the 1999 Christmas season, comparing it to popular Christmas toys from previous years such as Furby and Tickle me Elmo. Thomas Content of USA Today reiterated the comparison, commenting that it was "poised to stomp" them. He added that it, along with Red and Blue, were responsible for the boost of Game Boy sales from 3.5 million in 1998 to 8 million in 1999. Yellow was the third best-selling video game in North America in 1999, with the other four spots occupied by other Pokémon titles. The demand for Yellow resulted in Target to issue an apology for not being able to meet the "unprecedented demand". A spokesperson for FuncoLand attributed a drop in sales to shortages of both the Game Boy Color and Pokémon Yellow. Yellow is the fastest selling Pokémon title in the United Kingdom. Wii Fit for the Wii's command of the number one spot on the United Kingdom's top list of best-selling games was equal to Yellow's. The Idaho Statesman called it the "hottest new title for the Game Boy Color".
During the November 12, 2015 Nintendo Direct presentation, it was announced that Pokémon Yellow, alongside Red and Blue, would be released for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console service on February 27, 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise. In addition to retaining their original graphical and musical formats, all three games feature local wireless functionality to enable trading and battling with other players due to the 3DS' usage of wireless communication. The game would also be bundled with a special yellow version of the Nintendo 2DS in Japan. While the international versions of the game would be a Game Boy Color title, the Japanese version was only released in its black and white Game Boy format since it was originally released in Japan about a month before the Game Boy Color in that region. The Game Boy Printer features do not work on the 3DS Virtual Console version of Pokémon Yellow. The Virtual Console version is compatible with Pokémon Bank, allowing players to transfer their captured creatures to Pokémon Sun and Moon.
On May 30, 2018, it was announced during a media presentation that Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! would release for Nintendo Switch in November 2018, with the games being remakes of Pokémon Yellow. Both games take place in the Kanto region and include only the original 151 Pokémon from the first generation Pokémon titles. Returning is the ability for Pokémon to accompany the protagonist in the overworld, a feature last seen in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver on the Nintendo DS. However, whereas only one Pokémon could be chosen to follow the protagonist in HeartGold and SoulSilver, they will additionally be accompanied by the starter Pikachu or Eevee in Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, respectively.
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