In 2004, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen touched down as the definitive remakes of the 1996 Pokemon release Red and Blue. Developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance, these games arrived with generally favorable reviews from critics especially since it released around the time of the critically panned Ruby and Sapphire. But now in 2023, these games aren’t worth it with more interesting choices if you’re interested in reliving the original region of Pokemon. Here are some reasons why you should avoid these games at all costs.
This isn’t necessarily a problem with these games specifically and with emulation being available on most hardware you can avoid this problem entirely. But for those who enjoy having physical copies of retro games, good luck finding these games for less than an arm and a leg. Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen can go for around 120 dollars at most retailers. You might have better luck on eBay but that opens up a load of other risks that just isn’t worth it. EMULATE these games if you have to play them but if you’re a collector have fun waiting for prices to come down. (They won’t.)
Pokemon fans love the first generation of Pokemon so much that fans of the future generations hate the older fanbase. Game Freak tends to pander to the fans of the older games, one example is by making alternate forms of generation 1 Pokemon in generation 7 games. Fans wish they would show that same level of love for the other Pokemon generations. If you’re coming into the franchise blind, this nostalgia will be lost on you. Generation 1 has a lot of memorable Pokemon but they are bland compared to some of the better designs of future Generations. This remake is the definitive way to experience Generation 1 but there is no real reason to do so if you don’t have nostalgia for Generation 1.
Lack Of Edge
Too much polish could be a bad thing. Specifically, because a good game is defined by its strengths AND its flaws. You could argue the fun about the first-generation games was how janky they are. The original Pokemon games can be broken in a plethora of ways. These remakes just completely sanded off all of the edges that old fans were able to grip onto. These games were only made so it was easier to transfer Gen 1 and 2 Pokemon to Generation 3. If you really want to experience these games you can do so with a better more modern remake.
Pokemon Let’s GO Pikachu and Eevee Are Just Better
If you want to relieve Kanto why wouldn’t you just play the newer remake? Yes, the Pokemon Let’s Go games completely changed and dumbed down the formula for newcomers to Pokemon. Specifically children. What makes these remakes superior is the entirely new way to engage with Generation 1. The game is a much more immersive way to experience Kanto and its art style is more aligned with modern Pokemon. Also, Pokemon Let’s Go actually expanded the games while FireRed and LeafGreen were a little too faithful to the original.
Kanto Is Easily The Worst Region
If any of the regions aged poorly it’s definitely Kanto. Kanto has many problems but it’s biggest problem is the lack of variety in its environments. Every route is simple, grassy, and full of trees and the caves are almost copied and pasted. When compared to the gorgeous regions of Hoenn and Sinnoh Kanto just can’t compete. If you are coming from any other game in the franchise you would quickly notice that the original and Firered/Leafgreen are the worst iterations of Kanto easily.
Horrible Mid/Late Game
These games have horrible level scaling especially in the Sevii Islands. The gym leaders are pretty consistent on levels but the 7th and 8th gym leaders easily outscale you even if you fought EVERY single trainer in the game. You pretty much have to grind in order to complete the game and the experience needed for each level is exponential. If you are coming from games post Generation V this process will feel painstakingly slow.
Other Games To Consider
If it isn’t obvious, I do not recommend Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen unless you’re emulating it and are just super curious. We are living in an amazing year for gaming so there are plenty of alternatives available. Below is a list of games I would recommend.
Other Pokemon Games
- Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! – As I stated a few paragraphs ago, this is a much better way to experience the Kanto region. While Pokemon Firered and Leafgreen are remakes of Pokemon Blue and Red, the Let’s Go games are a remake of Pokemon Yellow and incorporate elements from the popular mobile game Pokemon Go.
- Pokemon Emerald – The best way to experience Hoenn hands down. This beautiful nostalgic game is a fun entry point for those who are interested in classic Pokemon.
- Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver – Probably the best Pokemon remakes available, and another option for those who want to experience Kanto. You also get to experience the Johto region as well.
Other GBA-Era Games
- The Legend Of Zelda: A Link to the Past with Four Swords – While this game is a port of a Super Nintendo game, it’s a port of one of the BEST games of all time. If you’re a Zelda fan and you haven’t given this a try, you’re missing out.
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – Debatably one of the best games in the Castlevania series…period. All new gameplay, additional characters, and amazing visuals. ONE OF THE BEST.
- Wario Ware Twisted – Developed by Intelligent Systems, this 2005 release is a game that all retro gamers should have in their library. The absolute pinnacle of game design and yet a small number of gamers have actually played this one. Try out this underrated gem.
Games like Pokemon
- Temtem – Like the idea of Pokemon but you’re not a big fan of Nintendo? Well, completely made-up person, Temtem is perfect for those who just want monster-taming mechanics as well as an MMO format.
- Cassette Beasts – A monster-taming game developed by indie developers. A fresh take on the Pokemon formula without being afraid to venture into new territory.
- Shin Megami Tensei V – Like monster-taming but Pokemon is too light-hearted for you? Try out the much darker M-rated effort from acclaimed studio Atlus.
- Octopath Traveler II – Square Enix are the undisputed kings and queens of the JRPG. If you need something to scratch that JRPG itch, this game will easily suffice.
- Baldur’s Gate 3– Another RPG that is taking over the internet. If you are a fan of Dungeons and Dragons or RPGs with a lot of content you cannot go wrong with Baldur’s Gate 3.
- Persona 5 Royal – One of the most critically acclaimed JRPGS from the last decade, Persona 5 Royal is smack dab in the middle of Pokemon and Shin Megami Tensei. If you need something heavy but knows when to ease up, give Persona 5 Royal a try.
Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen aren’t bad games. They are just outdated. Remember the reviews and player’s opinions were generally favorable so if you’re really interested again, they are worth a shot. But if you do give them a try I recommend emulating instead of spending over 100 bucks on a physical cartridge.