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Early Installment Weirdness / Pokémon Red and Blue

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Being the very first installment in the Pokémon franchise, the game's features are a lot different than what later generations would establish and turn into series staples.

  • There's only one Special stat, covering the job that both Special Attack and Special Defense have in later games.
  • The Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors has a number of oddities. Due to a bug, Psychic-types are immune to Ghost attacksnote  which are played up by NPCs and the anime as their primary weakness. Intentionally, Ice does neutral damage to Fire-types instead of being resisted, and Bug and Poison are both super effective against each other. Dragon-types are already programmed to be super-effective against themselves, but they might as well not be since the only damage-dealing Dragon-type move is a Fixed Damage Attack. The Psychic-type is overpowered because (in addition to an immunity to Ghost-type moves and a scarcity of damage-dealing Ghost- and Bug-type moves) neither the Dark-type nor the Steel-type exist yet.
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  • Struggle is treated as a Normal-type move, so Ghosts are immune to it.
  • Moves with a 100% hit/crit chance will still fail 1/256 (0.4%) of the time; in the Japanese version, this even applies to Swift, which is also susceptible to accuracy-modifying moves like Sand-Attack.
  • Critical Hit ratios are calculated based on a Mon's Speed stat instead of having a universal rate, while being much higher in general (in future games the universal critical hit rate is 6.25% or a 1/16 chance, while in Gen 1 the fastest pokemon, Electrode, has a 27.45% chance or a slightly over 1/4 chance), and will ignore stat boosts the user may have. Also, moves with the effect of a higher crit chance will increase the crit rate massively by eightfold instead of just doubling the rate like in later Gens, and in effect any pokemon with a base Speed of 64 or faster (which considering that even slow pokemon like Flareon reaches that mark, means the vast majority of fully-evolved pokemon) will essentially always get a crit with such moves (there is still a 1/256 glitch that can make the crit not hit, but it still might as well be guaranteed).
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  • Certain Badges upon being obtained will grant a permanent 12.5% boost to a corresponding stat to your pokemon in battle (the Boulder Badge increases Attack, the Thunder Badge increases Defense, the Soul Badge increases Speed, and the Volcano Badge increases Special), so throughout the game your pokemon will have a significant edge on all the opposing trainers, and by the end of the game all your pokemon's non-HP stats will have a 12.5% boost in battle. This, combined with trainer pokemon not having EVs, means the drastic level jump at the end from Giovanni to the Elite Four isn't actually anywhere as severe as it looks, as at these end game levels you can have the same pokemon ten or so levels lower and still have better stats than the opponent's equivalent. The mechanic of Badges granting a permanent stat boost would be kept in Gens 2 and 3 (albeit slightly nerfed in the latter to a 10% boost), but then ditched completely in all games after Gen 3.
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  • Multi-hit moves like Pin Missile use one check for crits instead of doing each hit separately. This means if the first one crits, every hit will.
  • Paralysis and Burn cut speed and attack respectively, as intended and carried on into all future games, but the stat change is stacked into the normal stat modifier instead of being its own thing. Because of this, Rest does not remove the stat drop when it cures the status.
  • Sleep lasts several turns longer, you cannot attack the turn you wake up, and it's possible to wake up on the turn it is inflicted.
  • Due to how infliction for status effects work, damaging moves that inflict the Paralysis, Burn, and Freeze status effect cannot inflict their status on pokemon of the same type as the move. So Normal-types, Ghost-types, and Electric-types cannot be paralyzed by Body Slam, Lick, and damaging Electric moves respectively. This does not apply to pure status moves, so Thunder Wave can still paralyze Electric-types. This additionally does not apply to the Poison status, so Twineedle, a Bug move that can inflict the Poison status, can still poison Bug pokemon, while it cannot bypass a Poison-type's poison immunity to poison them. Starting in Gen 2 this mechanic would be removed with the Paralysis status, then in Gen 3 the Fire-types and Ice-types would become immune to the Burn and Freeze status respectively and in Gen 6 the Electric-type would become immune to Paralysis.
  • Many moves have different power, accuracy, and even typing from later games. Some of the most notable examples include Dig being a 100 power move (instead of the 60 power it would have in Gens 2/3 and 80 power post Gen 3), Blizzard having 90% accuracy (instead of the 70% it would have in all future Gens), and Gust and Karate Chop being Normal type (instead of Flying and Fighting type respectively like in all future Gens).
  • Reflect and Light Screen will remain active as long as the user is on the field and end immediately when they faint or switch out, instead of remaining active when the user switches out and going away after a set number of turns like in later titles. They also double the user's appropriate defensive stat instead of lowering the attacker's offensive stat during the damage calculation.
  • Disable will affect one of the opponent's moves at random, instead of the last one they used, like in all later generations. Because of this, it can work on the very first turn (in later generations it will fail if used before the opponent has had a chance to attack).
  • Instead of copying the last move the opponent used, Mimic instead allows you to copy any move they know by opening a separate menu that allows you to pick one of them. This also has the side effect of instantly allowing you to see what moves the opponent knows.
  • One-Hit Kill attacks will fail if the user is slower than the target, whereas from Generation 2 onwards, such attacks will fail if the user is at a lower Level than the target. The user also does not get an accuracy bonus based off the difference between the user's and target's Level like in later games.
  • Speaking of which, X Accuracies give your Pokémon 100% accuracy, including the aforementioned One-Hit Kill moves. Such an aspect was severely nerfed in future games.
  • Counter has a lot of quirks. It only works from being hit by a Normal or Fighting attack (including opposing Counters, Bide, and Seismic Toss unlike later games), can hit Ghosts, works with damage dealt to the user's Substitute and can be used multiple times off of one hit.
  • Bide ignores accuracy and evasion, can hit foes during the invulnerable period of Dig or Fly, hits Ghost-types, will last either 2 or 3 turns instead of a set 3, and has a couple other complicated quirks involving how damage is stored.
  • Trapping moves like Wrap and Clamp prevent the target from taking any action until they end, but oddly do not prevent switching out. The user also cannot switch moves during the duration similar to Thrash.
  • Substitute has a lot of oddities in this Gen that were fixed in Pokemon Stadium and later Gens.
    • It does not block Paralysis and Sleep infliced from status moves, but does block status from secondary effects of damaging moves like Paralysis from Body Slam. Additionally it blocks the Confusion status from status moves, but does not block it from secondary effects of damaging moves like Psybeam if the Substitute isn't broken by the attack. This was fixed in Stadium.
    • If a pokemon with exactly 1/4 of its HP attempts to make a Substitute, it will succeed and then promptly faint. This was fixed in Stadium, where it will fail as usual when trying to make a Substitute with too low of health.
    • If a pokemon uses Selfdestruct or Explosion on an opponent's Substitute and breaks it, the exploding pokemon will not faint nor take any self-inflicated damage at all (though its sprite will still disappear). Similarly if a pokemon breaks an opponent's Substitute with Hyper Beam they will not have to recharge the next turn. Both of these issues were fixed in Stadium.
    • If a multi-hit move breaks an opponent's Substitute before it ends, breaking the Substitute will instantly end the move and not continue on to damage the opponent.
    • Super Fang and the trapping moves will bypass Substitute and hit the user as usual.
    • Leech Seed will bypass a Substitute and latch onto the opponent as usual, and a pokemon behind a Substitute can be flinched from its Substitute being hit by flinching moves.
    • If a confused pokemon is behind a Substitute and tries hitting itself in confusion, it will instead hit the opponent's Substitute if they too have one up, if the opponent doesn't then the confused pokemon does not hit itself nor its Substitute.
  • Frozen Pokémon will never thaw by themselves.
  • Held items, Abilities, and Natures do not exist yet. IVs also only go up to 15 (but are doubled in their effect), and the HP IV is dependent on those of the other four stats.
  • No Pokémon except for Nidoran have a defined gender.
  • Every stat can be maxed out using the Stat Grinding system. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire onwards restricts it so that only two stats can be maxed out.
  • There are no Circling Birdies to signify when a Pokémon is Confused.
  • There is no visible Experience Meter during battle.
  • There's an odd open-endedness for a good part of the game, while later titles would make you take on the Gyms and events in a very set order. While you still need to foil Team Rocket plots in order note , you may do so at your own pace and once you beat Misty, you are free to challenge the next four Gyms (Lt. Surge, Erika, Koga, Sabrina) in whatever order you deem fit.
  • You can go catch Zapdos and Articuno as soon as you beat Koga, the fifth Gym Leader, as you can then Surf to their locations where they are just sitting there without any story or prerequisites, and being at level 50, they'll be more than strong enough for the Elite Four at base, so you can stomp the rest of the game with them easily if you can catch them. You can even go trek to Fuchsia to beat Koga and get Surf as soon as you beat Misty and get Cut if you really wanted to trivialize most of the game with Zapdos. In future Gens you generally won't be able to obtain any of the game's legendary pokemon outside of Events until after the seventh or at least sixth gym leader, and with other story requirements attached on top of that. Or in the case of the Gen 2 games, you could technically catch its legendary trio before beating the fourth gym, but they require so much luck to even encounter and then are so absurdly hard to catch when you do find them that no player is realistically going to catch them until late into the game if at all. FRLG actually kept Zapdos' and Articuno's locations without adding any story prerequisites, so you can still get legendaries rather early without any fanfare there.
  • The TM list is weird, ranging from moves as basic as Rage, Bide and Water Gun to the likes of Bubblebeam, Swords Dancenote  and Fissure, and even the exclusive-to-Chansey Softboiled. There's additionally the oddity of Fire Blast being the only Fire TM, with not even Flamethrower being a TM like it would be in all the post Gen 2 games (and since Fire Blast is only gotten from beating Blaine, this leaves Fire types stuck with just the weak Ember for most of the game as Flamethrower is learned so late by them or never at all in the case of the Rapidash line).
  • The TMs you get from beating Gym Leaders are also very weird. Future Gens would have Gym Leader TMs be moves with neat effects, unique status moves, and really solid moves in general. Here you get a nigh-useless move that has nothing to do with the Gym Leader's type (Brock giving Bide), a decent midgame move with a Speed-lowering secondary effect (Misty giving Bubblebeam), a very weak move even by midgame (Erika giving Mega Drain), an RNG set damage move that will often deal crap damage (Sabrina giving Psywave), and even an OHKO move of all things (Giovanni giving Fissure). But then you also got Lt. Surge just handing you Thunderbolt, one of the best moves in the game, before the halfway point of the game, and Blaine giving you just a really strong attack in Fire Blast. Additionally none of the Gym Leaders' TMs are learned naturally by any pokemon (with the exception of Pikachu learning Thunderbolt in Yellow), which really hurts Electric and Fire pokemon as Thunderbolt and Fire Blast are really desired moves for them and you just get one TM per file. Needless to say the Gen 3 remakes really changed up the Gym Leader TMs to stuff more generally useful and interesting (or in the case of Surge something more appropriate for midgame), with only Koga giving Toxic and Blaine giving Fire Blast being kept the same in FRLG.
  • HM moves also have to be done manually, meaning that you have to access your Pokémon from the menu and select whatever HM they learned. From Generation 2 onwards, you'll be asked if you want to use the HM required when in front of either a boulder (Strength), tree (Cut), or body of water (Surf). The sole exception is Fly, which has to be selected manually regardless.
  • It's purely cosmetic in function, but when trying to catch Legendaries or Pokémon in the Safari Zone, expect to see "You missed the POKéMON!" instead of the standard "Oh, the POKéMON broke free!".note 
  • Your team is not automatically healed when entering a Player Versus Player battle, nor are they healed after beating the Elite Four. Neither are they automatically healed when you take them out from the box.
  • Normal NPC Trainers do not have their names given; you're just told what their Trainer class is. All other games, including all remakes (FireRed, LeafGreen, and Let's Go) give the Trainers names.
  • These games remain the only installment in the series in which it is possible to migrate Pokémon back from their sequels, thanks to Gold, Silver, and Crystal versions all being released for the same system. Because of the changes in platforms and system overhauls in between generations, any ability to transfer Pokémon forward to the next generation is a one-way trip.
  • The wild battle theme of this game and its remake are the only one to be constantly frantic instead of being at least partly joyous. Even the later incarnations of the song, whether the anime incarnation, the Super Smash Bros. incarnation or even later games in the series, all rearrange the song in such a way so that it has parts that give out vibes of it being joyous.
  • References to Real Life locations, which seem weird due to the Earth Drift that the series underwent in later installments.
    • Lt. Surge's official backstory describes him as being a former officer and pilot in the American army, one of the few times a Real Life location is directly referenced in the series. Later games would imply that America doesn't exist, with Pokémon Black and White introducing the Unova region as New York City's Fantasy Counterpart Culture and Pokémon Sun and Moon introducing the Alola region as Hawaii's Fantasy Counterpart Culture. An NPC even Lampshades this in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, wondering if Lt. Surge is actually from Unova. The reference to the United States is kept in all of Lt. Surge's later appearances until Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, which are remakes of Yellow; his title in those two games is changed from Lightning American to Lightning Lieutenant.
    • A few other NPCs as well as some Pokédex entries also make reference to real life places. Raichu's 'dex entry mentions an Indian elephant, Mew is said to have been found in Guyana, South America, and a Silph Co. employee complains that he's being reassigned to the Tiksi branch, calling it "Russian no-man's land", and Arcanine's Pokédex entry in Yellow says it's legendary in China. References to real life locations are present in FireRed and LeafGreen, but were removed in Let's Go (for example, Arcanine's Pokédex entry says it's legendary in the East instead of specifically mentioning China).
  • These games internally handle whether or not a Pokémon successfully gets captured significantly different than later games in the series, the most obvious being that it's possible for the player to miss the Pokémon (changed to the Pokéball not shaking at all from Pokémon Gold and Silver onwards). Probably the most bizarre is that Great Balls (the mid-tier ball in all future games) have special handling that doesn't apply to any other ball, and sometimes makes them a more effective option than the top-tier Ultra Balls.
  • These are the only games to have only one item pouch, and to not feature the ability to assign key items to buttons.
  • Numerous trainers are depicted as carrying whips (Cooltrainers, Tamers, Rocket Grunts, Cue Balls, Sabrina); both the remakes and all future games removed them (except for the Tamers, who still have whips in the remakes).
  • Fixed Damage Attacks can hit mons that would normally be immune to their type. While ignoring Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors was mostly kept, it's only in this generation that they bypass full immunities. This is also the only generation that introduced any of these attacks at all; they're kept in due to the Grandfather Clause (no move has ever been fully removed from Pokémon until Pokémon Sword and Shield in Gen 8), but you almost get the feeling they're Old Shame.
  • The covers don't show the game's resident legendary, but one of the possible starter's final evolution. In fact, the legendary Pokémon are completely disconnected from the plot (even in the remakes), and there's no legendary duo akin to those in later games (though Mewtwo can unofficially be considered this gen's main legendary; having more backstory than the birds and being banned from battle facilities like other mascot legendaries).
  • From Gen 2 onward, each "uber legendary" would have a signature move or ability that only it could have (for example Ho-oh and Lugia got the exclusive move Sacred Fire and Aeroblast respectively, the Hoenn trio Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza got the then-exclusive abilities Drought, Drizzle, and Air Lock respectively, and so on), but Mewtwo had no such exclusive moves, it was just a ridiculously strong pokemon. It wouldn't be until Gen 5 that Mewtwo would be given a signature move (with Mewtwo exclusively gaining Psystrike in Gen 5).
  • In Red and Blue, when the Bike is in use, the music is always playing on the overworld, even when moving to a new area. Yellow changed this so this music doesn't play on Route 23 or in Victory Road, but its usage is otherwise the same in that game.
  • Unlike future installments, the league Champion is not established as the leader of the Elite Four. It's also the only generation where the league Champion is The Rival.
  • Pokémon given by NPCs (such as Lapras) will be automatically sent to the PC if your party is full. Later games require having an empty slot in your party before you can receive them, save for Pokémon Sun and Moon (which are quite inconsistent in this regard).
  • There's a "badge check" route before the Elite Four that has never in any following game (minus FireRed and LeafGreen, which are remakes). In later games, the "badge check" usually happens right before taking on the Elite Four or going to Victory Road.
  • Speaking of the Elite Four, they all have the regular trainer battle theme when you fight them. The only exception is Lance, who has the gym battle theme. Barring Generation II and the remakes note , all future generations have their own unique Elite Four battle themes.
  • The Silph Scope is required in order to see and identify the ghost Pokémon in Pokémon Tower so you can progress with the plot. Without it, Marowak's ghost effectively blocks you from reaching the final room, as your Pokemon will be too scared to attack it note . This concept was immediately dropped in the next generation.
  • Most of the Pokémon have very sparse level-up movesets compared to later generations, making TMs a neccessity for most pokemon to have remotely decent movesets (while good TMs are also sparse and very few can be obtained more than once). Many also lacked moves that by all logic they should learn (Lickitung the "Licking Pokemon" for instance does not learn Lick), and some don't even learn any STAB moves naturally (such as the Rhydon line, leading to Giovanni and champion Blue using Rhydons with just weak Normal attacking moves in what are supposed to be climatic endgame battles).
  • When you trade a Pokémon, the background music still plays, when later generations has the evolution theme play in its place.
  • Speaking of trading, you can trade Pokémon that know HM moves. With the exception of generation II, all other games make it a requirement that Pokémon cannot know any HM moves in order to be traded.
  • If an NPC Trainer switches Pokémon, the experience distribution can become flaky. For example, you send out Pokémon A while your opponent sends out Pokémon X. You immediately switch to Pokémon B, while your opponent switches to Pokémon Y. Pokémon B defeats Pokémon Y. The NPC trainer then sends Pokémon X back out. Pokémon B defeats Pokémon X. In all future games, Pokémon A will still get a share of experience after the defeat of Pokémon X. Here, however, Pokémon B will get 100% of the experience. As very few NPC trainers are programmed for switching and those few that can will do it randomly for no rhyme or reason at that, you will probably never run into this, but it is weird nonetheless.
  • Some key items can only be obtained by registering a certain number of Pokémon as caught in the Pokédex and then speaking to one of Professor Oak's aides, who are scattered around Kanto: the HM for Flash requires 10 Pokémon, the Itemfinder requires 30, and the Exp. All requires 50. Starting with Generation II, HMs and key items are generally received either automatically during the main story or simply by talking to an NPC, and later generations began to make them all obtainable through unmissable NPC and other plot events. The only games to bring back the "must own a certain amount of Pokémon to receive item" mechanic were the remakes and the Let's Go games, the latter of which placed much greater emphasis on catching lots of Pokémon anyway.
  • The region the games take place in is only called "the Pokémon World", and has no specific name otherwise. Gold and Silver would retroactively name it "Kanto" after the real Japanese region it's based on.
  • The notion that "Red" and "Blue" are the canonical names for the player character and his rival was not established until Gold and Silver. Early official materials, such as Nintendo's official strategy guide, tend to use the names "Ash" and "Gary", like the anime.
  • In Gen 1, unlike in all future generations, it is possible for offensive moves to do zero damage. Whenever this occurs, the game will display it as a miss, regardless of whether the move actually hit or not. This can be most easily demonstrated by catching a Weedle and attempting to use Poison Sting against Brock's Pokemon; unless you've done some serious grinding, it will miss every time, despite being a 100% accurate move. In subsequent games, even the weakest moves are rounded up to 1 HP of damage.
  • Almost every trainer's Pokemon lineup is of uniform level, e.g., if one of a trainer's Pokemon is Lv. 20, they will all be Lv. 20. The only trainers with Pokemon of varying level are Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, your rival, and Giovanni. In all future generations, any trainer's lineup may have level variance.
  • Trainers generally have more Pokemon than those of later generations. Three Pokemon is the most common number, and four and even five-Pokemon lineups are pretty widespread. Single-Pokemon trainers are much rarer than in later games (where they're practically standard.)


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