Pokémon Fire Red Vs. Red: Which is the better option?

For any Pokémon fan who started playing Pokémon at a young age, the first-generation games in the series always hold a special place. It’s no different for me. While Pokémon Red was not the first game I played, it was among the classics that cemented my love for the game. So, when its remake, Fire Red was released a few years later, I remember how excited I was to get it.

The excitement wasn’t just because I was able to relive my nostalgic memories. Fire Red came with the promise of some significant changes to the game, and I couldn’t wait to see them. The hope was that these updates would elevate the experience of the game. So, did Fire Red manage that?

I was recently sucked into this debate, where we discussed which of the two versions was better, the original or the remake? This prompted me to come up with this article, to analyze both games based on my experience playing them. So, if you were thinking of going back to the classics Pokémon games, and couldn’t decide between Red or Fire Red, then this article has the answers you need.

Pokémon Fire Red vs. Red – How They Compare.

Let’s start with a quick summary of the comparison we will be looking at in detail later in the article:


Pokémon Red

Pokémon Fire Red

Graphics and Visuals

  • Small and simple pixelated graphics.
  • Black and white palette with low vibrance.
  • Minimal animations.
  • More complex and improved graphics.
  • A wider color palette with more vibrance.
  • Improved animations

Game Mechanics

  • Limited Post game content
  • No hidden abilities for Pokémon
  • Not compatible with later generations
  • Had no gender differences in characters or Pokémon
  • Expanded Post game content with new locations.
  • Introduced Hidden Abilities for certain Pokémon
  • Compatible with later generations
  • Introduced Gender differences.

Available Pokémon

  • Only Gen 1 Pokémon available
  • Not as many legendary Pokémon to catch
  • Gen 1 and 2 Pokémon available
  • More legendary Pokémon to catch.

What are the differences between Pokémon Fire Red and Red?

Pokémon Fire Red Vs. Red
Pokemon Fire Red. Image source: Pinterest

Fire Red is a remake of the original Pokémon Red, so the core of the game and the main plot are the same. Because of that, many people will tell you that both games are relatively the same. But in my experience, the two versions have some distinctions worth noting, as I’ve listed below:

Graphics and Visuals

This is one of the obvious differences between the two games and also inevitable considering they were designed for different Game Boys. Pokémon Red was designed for the original Game Boy whose hardware had certain limitations.

For starters due to the limitations of the system Pokémon Red used pixilated graphics and the characters, environment, and Pokémon sprites were small and simple with minimal animations. Additionally, the original Game Boy was limited to a black-and-white color palette so the game wasn’t as vibrant compared to the remake.

On the other hand, Pokémon Fire Red was designed for the Game Boy Advanced, which had much better hardware, which in turn improved the overall graphics and visuals of the remake. Fire Red for example made use of the new Game Boy’s color capabilities to give the game more vibrance using a wider range of colors. The game also featured more animation such as including movements during attacks and expressions on the characters. I felt that these changes made the game more immersive, and overall, visually clearer and more appealing.

While Fire Red’s graphics isn’t much compared to the advancements made in the most recent generations, it is still a significant step up from the original. But to be fair Red was the first ever Pokémon game, and Fire Red only built on the enhancements of the Gen 2 and 3 games, not to mention they were designed for different Game Boys. Also, I’ve always felt that from Gen three going onward, the sprites haven’t changed much, making the original Pokémon sprites stand out more.

Still, it’s clear that in this case, Pokémon Fire Red offers better visuals and graphics, so if that is something significant for you, then this would be the better choice of the two.

Game Mechanics

Pokémon Fire Red Vs. Red
Pokémon Red Version. Image source: Nintendo

Before, I delve into the differences, it’s worth noting that the general core mechanics of the game did not change much from Red to Fire Red. But I still felt that even those slight changes made a significant difference between the two versions.

One significant improvement I noted was the introduction of new abilities and hidden abilities for certain Pokémon that were not present in the original. In Fire Red, Charizard for example has the Blaze ability and can learn Flying Type moves like Wing Attack, which wasn’t possible in Pokémon Red. I felt that these changes added strategic depth and more balance to the battling experience in Fire Red compared to Pokémon Red.

Another improvement in the mechanics that I enjoyed, was that Fire Red had a better Post Game Experience compared to Red, thanks to the introduction of Sevii Islands. The seven islands meant new areas to explore, more trainers to battle and more Pokémon to encounter including from Gen 2.

Additionally, Fire Red was designed to be more compatible with other generations. For example, you could transfer your Hoenn team from Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald to Fire Red. You can also, transfer some of the Pokémon from Fire Red to later generations like Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. They also included gender differences not just in the Pokémon but the characters as well, meaning you had the choice of a female player, which I thought made the game more inclusive in that aspect.

But that’s not to say that there weren’t some letdowns in the game mechanics in Fire Red. For example, I understand the tutorials are a must in each game and come in handy for newcomers who need to learn how to catch Pokémon. But I felt that in Fire Red, they were over the top unlike in most games in the series including Red, which to me was unnecessary. Additionally, I didn’t see the point of making the last gym leader in Fire Red easy. I would think the point was for the challenge to increase as you move from one gym to another.

However, I would still say, all things considered, the updated mechanics in Fire Red gave a much better, more balanced, and extended gameplay experience.

Available Pokémon

Pokémon Fire Red
Pokémon Red. Image source: Pinterest

The Pokémon available in either game is yet another major difference between the original and its remake. To begin with, Fire Red offers more variety when it comes to the type of Pokémon. Unlike in Pokémon Red, the remake introduces Dark and Steel Types to the variety which gives it a better balance. It’s worth noting that this addition was first made in the Gen 2 games but I love that Fire Red choose to include it as well.

Another thing I loved was that in Fire Red Shining Pokémon were available unlike in Red, and there were also more legendary Pokémon to capture. What’s more, I found that the Pokémon in Fire Red learned moves faster than in Red. For example, in Pokémon Red, Charmander learns the Ember move at level 9 while in Fire Red it can learn it at level 7. Similarly, Bulbasaur, in Red can only learn the Vine Whip at level 13, but in Fire Red, it learns the same move at level 10.

There were also some changes made concerning the typing of the Pokémon. For example, in Red, Charizard was weak to Ice Type moves while in Fire Red it became immune. Additionally, while in Pokémon Red, Psychic types were immune to Ghost attacks, in Fire Red they became weak to them. Whether these changes were good or bad, is purely preferential based on your play style and what team you are putting together.

But in terms of number and variety, Pokémon Fire Red had a more updated and wider Pokedex, especially including the availability of Gen 2 Pokémon post-game.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Pokémon Fire Red or Red

Objectively speaking, if I was to pick the better game between Pokémon Red and Fire Red, I would have to pick Fire Red. But this is mainly because, the remake has improved graphics, visuals, mechanics and not to mention more Pokémon to capture and new areas to explore.

But, the core of the game remains the same in both versions so the experience of playing both games is largely similar. Also, given that they are both earlier releases, they both have a sense of nostalgia while playing them. Even so, Red would have more nostalgia, given how significantly different it is from the modern Pokémon games today.

With that said, if you’ve already played the most recent generation, you may prefer Fire Red, as it’s closer to the mechanics you are used to today. It’s also worth trying if you already played Red as a child and would like to see how the remake differs. But for the sake of playing the very first game in Pokémon history and interacting with the original Pokémon Sprites, the original Red version is a great and timeless option even today.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon Red or Fire Red?

This will depend on who you ask. Some players prefer Pokémon Red because of the nostalgia that comes with playing it and also the original sprites which you don’t see in recent generations. Other players prefer Pokémon Fire Red because it was an upgrade to the original with more fun adventures and better graphics.

Is Fire Red different from Red Pokémon?

Not entirely. Fire Red is a remake of the Pokémon Red, so it does have a few updates like added adventures and exclusive Pokémon, as well as better graphics, but the main plot and core of the game remain similar to Pokémon Red.

Is Pokémon Red and Fire Red the same story?

Yes, being that Fire Red is a remake of Pokémon Red, the two follow the same plot and storyline that is set in the same region.

Who came first between Fire Red and Red Pokémon?

Pokémon Red game first followed by Fire Red a few years later. Pokémon Red was first released in Japan on 27th February 1996. It was later released to the rest of the world in 1998 in North America and in 1999 in Australia and Europe. Pokémon Fire Red on the other hand was released in 2004. It was first released in Japan in January, then in North America in September, and in October in Europe, all in the same year.

Leave a Comment