Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Chatterb0x0
Sprite Fight: Pokemon Gen I
A Commentary on the Good, Bad, & WTF of Pokemon Sprite Design
Year of Release: February 27th, 1996 (JAPAN ONLY)
Ah, the Japanese precursor to North American Red & Blue version. No school like the old school, right? Tremble once more, or, likely, for the first time before behemoths such as…
What’ve they done to you charizard!?
From the viewpoint of an english speaking, unbiased canuck, Green’s sprites are comically bad as in, faces only a Japanese mother could love, bad. Assuming you are unfamiliar with a monsters anime counterpart or official illustration, their pixelated facial features and appendages will not convey what the original artist intended.
Below are, in my opinion, contenders for worst sprites of the Pokemon series.
Despite the utter horridness of these sprites a shocking 3% appear cut from a finer cloth. I’d even be so brazen as to claim they are superior to their ‘remastered’ Blue version representations.
Why did they mess with a good thing?
Year of Release: Oct. 15th, 1996 (Japan), Sep. 1st, 1998 (US), Nov. 1st, 1998 (Australia), Oct. 1st, 1999 (Europe)
The original 151 have a special place in my heart. What most of the world recognizes as Red and Blue version are derivitives of Japan-only Pocket Monsters Blue,an update of the original Japanese versions, Pocket Monsters Red & Pocket Monsters Green, in terms of graphics, game engine, and storyline. What I like most about these Pokemon are their ‘feral’ personas. My Dark Knight Rises review exemplifies how certain mediums may use less rather than more to communicate plausibility. What Blue version lacks in sprite detail my imagination will substitute. While I don’t believe this was intentional it does set it apart from the cutesy anime direction the franchise has taken over the years.
Notice the sleeker anatomy and corrected proportions. Narrower eye shape make a huge difference. Still, not every Pokemon would be so lucky.
Both are true to their then-current official artwork which unfortunately retains the googly eyes.
Pocket Monsters Green and International Blue version share back sprites – and it is very apparent. Some Pokemon are not even identifiable from behind.
Pretend you’re me at eight years old. What the hell is this even supposed to be? For years I thought Nintendo misplaced Rattata’s back sprite with a flag on a putting green and that his ears were sand hazards. My Dad is an avid golf fan so maybe that accounts for the inspiration. This is a solid example of less definitely not equaling more.
All-in-all Pocket Monsters Green and Blue back sprites are recognizable if compact.
Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition
Year of Release: Sep. 12th, 1998 (Japan), Oct. 1st, 1999 (US), Sep. 3rd, 1999 (Australia), Jun. 16th, 2000 (Europe)
These designs are gorgeous and fully realize what official artist Ken Sugimori had in mind. All front sprites now reflect official promotional illustrations. I really can’t say it any better than that. Possibly my favorite out of Gen I & II.
While some may prefer the older ‘bulkier’ sprites (I happen to think Charizard’s previous look is more dangerous) there is no denying much was accomplished with very little. Machamp sports a new-doo according to the anime and obvious fourth arm, as opposed to a pulsating untreated growth. Likewise Rhydon is revealed to have an armor plated chest and additional spines.
Game Freak graphical artists did not alter the back sprites. WHY!? This is tolerable but dissapointing. A+++ otherwise.