Pokémon Red vs Blue: Which Version should you get?

My love for Pokémon started with Pikachu after I discovered the anime series at the tender age of 9 years old. This led me to the discovery of the game series, but by that time three generations of Pokémon had already been released. Still, I was sure I wanted to start playing the game from the very beginning. What I struggled with though was choosing between Pokémon Red and Blue, the very first-gen in the game series.

It has been years since then, but I know many people still struggle with this choice, especially if you’re a newbie to the franchise. So, I came up with this article to walk you through the key differences between the two versions. Hopefully, at the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide which of the two you should get first. So, let’s get into it.

Pokémon Red vs Blue – How They Compare

First here is a summary of the differences between Pokémon Red vs Blue:




Pokémon Exclusives

  • Arbok
  • Arcanine
  • Ekans
  • Electabuzz
  • Gloom
  • Growlithe
  • Mankey
  • Oddish
  • Primeape
  • Scyther
  • Vileplume
  • Bellsprout
  • Magmar
  • Meowth
  • Ninetales
  • Persian
  • Pinsir
  • Sandshrew
  • Sandslash
  • Victreebell
  • Vulpix
  • Weepinbell

Gym Leader’s Pokémon

  • Brock: doesn’t use Ground-type Pokémon, Sandshrew.
  • Misty: doesn’t use a Psychic-type Pokémon, Psyduck.
  • Lt. Surge: doesn’t use a Grass-type Pokémon, Exeggcute.
  • Erika: uses Victreebel.
  • Sabrina: doesn’t use a Poison-type Pokémon, Venomoth.
  • Koga: uses Weezing and two Bug-type Pokémon.
  • Blaine: uses Growlithe.
  • Brock: uses a Ground-type Pokémon, Sandshrew.
  • Misty: uses a Psychic-type Pokémon, Psyduck.
  • Lt. Surge: uses a Grass-type Pokémon, Exeggcute.
  • Erika: uses Vileplume.
  • Sabrina: uses a Poison-type Pokémon, Venomoth.
  • Koga: uses Muk and two Psychic-type Pokémon.
  • Blaine: uses Arcanine.

Rocket Corner Prizes

  • Nindorina
  • Scyther
  • Water stone
  • Firestone
  • Thunder stone
  • Nindorino
  • Pinsir
  • Ice Beam TM

Opening Battle

Gengar vs Nindorina

Gengar vs Jigglypuff

Color Palette

Light red/salmon pink

Light blue

What are the differences between Pokémon Red and Blue?

Pokémon Red vs Blue
Pokémon Red Version. Image source: Nintendo

Now, for a detailed comparison. The following are the defining differences between Pokémon Red vs Blue:

Pokémon Exclusives

Like with all versions in the Pokémon game series, the biggest difference is always the pocket monsters you can catch. Each version has a list of exclusive Pokémon you can only find in that specific version. Deciding which version has a better list of exclusives is all a matter of preference since both blue and red have some great Pokémon with amazing stats.

I would, however, say that Pokémon Red had a better selection of exclusives. Not only does it have exclusives with great stats but they also look cooler than some of the Blue exclusives in my opinion. Take Arcanine for example, the stats total up to about 455, and I found it was an all-rounded Pokémon when it came to battle.

Another great choice in the Red version was Scyther, who not only looks cool but can be pretty dangerous when it comes to battle. While its counterpart Pinsir in the blue version is more resilient in battle, Scyther had a better attack and speed stats, hence could do more damage in battle.

Overall, in my humble opinion, I’d say that Red had a better list of exclusives compared to Blue. But like I said it’s all a matter of preference and you can always trade if you aren’t happy with the exclusives you have.

Gym Leaders

While the gym leaders you’ll face in Red are the same as the ones you’ll face in blue, there is a slight difference in the Pokémon they use. This may not be a significant difference from the exclusives, but it may affect the experience of battling them in either version.

Some of the gym leaders in Red used fewer Pokémon than in Blue. For example, in Red, the first gym leader, Brock, uses Onix and Geodude, two rock-type Pokémon. In Blue, however, he has an additional ground-type Pokémon.

Other gym leaders used different Pokémon in red as compared to blue. For example, the sixth gym leader, Koga uses two bug-type Pokémon, along with Koffing and Weezing in the red version. But in the blue version, he uses Muk instead of Weezing and two psychic-type Pokémon instead of the bug-type.

Given the differences, I found it was harder to beat most of the gym leaders in the blue version compared to the red version, given their choice of Pokémon.

Therefore, I would say, Red was the better version when it came to the gym leaders. But if you are looking for a challenge, then Blue would be a good choice. At the end of it, it’s a matter of your play style.

Rocket Game Corner Prizes

Pokémon Red, Blue
Pokémon Blue Version. Image source: Nintendo

The game corner is a great place to play games and gain some exclusives as prizes. While the core mechanics of the game corner is the same in both versions there are some slight but key differences to take note of when making your choice. To start with, the selection of Pokémon that players can purchase with coins slightly differ. In Red players, can get Nindorina and Scyther, in Blue the options are, Nindorino instead of Nindorina, and Pinsir instead of Scyther.

Additionally, the high-end rewards also differ in cost when comparing the two versions. For example, in blue, Prygon costs 6500 coins while in red it costs 9999 coins. Similarly, in blue Dratini costs 2500 coins while in red it costs 2800 coins. Overall, I thought the high-end rewards in the blue version were lower than that of the red version, but this was because of the difference in base levels. The lower costs were for lower levels while the higher costs were for higher levels.

But the biggest difference for me, for me was the type of TMs and items you could exchange coins for in the game. While blue offered an Ice Beam TM which is not available in the red version, in red you can purchase items like the Firestone, Water stone, and Thunderstone.

Overall, I would say the red version had better prizes in its game corner, purely because I preferred the options available as compared to the blue version.

Opening Battle

When you launch Pokémon Red and Blue, you’ll notice a slight difference in the opening battle between the two versions. In the red version, the battle is between Gengar and Nindorina, however, in the blue version Gengar fights against Jigglypuff.

While the choice between the two boils down to personal preference, I thought the battle between Gengar and Nindorina was more iconic. This is simply because Nindorina was a better match to fight against Gengar as opposed to Jigglypuff.

Therefore, I would say that Pokémon Red had a better opening battle compared to the blue version. Although, what matters is which two Pokémon you’d prefer to see battling when you launch the game.

Color Palettes

Pokémon Red vs Blue
Pokémon Blue Version. Image source: Nintendo

The color difference is also a main variation when it comes to Pokémon versions. Of course, this doesn’t significantly affect your experience playing the game, it’s just a matter of what you find more appealing. If color is a key determinant for you, then it may affect whether or not you enjoy the version you pick based on how the graphics of the game look.

While Pokémon Red and Blue was originally black and white, it introduced a color palette in 1998. The red version comes with an overall light red/mostly salmon pink palette. The blue version on the other hand has a light blue palette as seen in the undertones throughout the game. These colors may change slightly depending on whether you are playing the Advanced or colored Game Boy versions.

Overall, the better color palette will depend on your personal preference, so I would say that both versions tie in this category. Although, I personally, preferred the blue version’s color palette.

Final Verdict: So, Which one should you get? – Pokémon Red or Blue

All things considered, the Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red versions have more similarities than differences. Still, I feel like the Red version is a better choice to start with. Aside from the color palette, which I’m not a fan of, I think it offers better exclusives and is the best choice for a beginner who just discovered the Pokémon game series. The gym leaders, in my opinion, are slightly easier to beat in the red version.

But that’s not to say that Blue is any less spectacular. It also offers amazing exclusive choices like Magmar and Victreebel; not to mention the Ice Beam TM that’s only available in its rocket game corner. At the end of the day, you should choose the best version for you based on your preference and playstyle when it comes to battling.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon red or blue?

Pokémon Red is the most popular version amongst Pokémon fans in different forums including Reddit.

Is Pokémon Red more successful than Pokémon Blue?

In terms of sales, no. Pokémon Blue interestingly enough was more successful, having sold 5.02 million copies in the US, compared to the 4.83 million sold copies of the red version.

Which was released first Pokémon Red or Blue?

Both Pokémon Red and Blue were released in the US at the same time on September 28, 1998. However, in Japan, the red version was released first on February 27, 1996, followed by the blue version which was released later on October 15, 1996.

How many hours does it take to finish Pokémon Red and Blue?

It should take you an average of 26 hours to complete Pokémon Red and Blue. However, if you wish to fully explore all aspects of the game, that could take about 102 hours.

Can you replace Pokémon blue with red?

It is possible to get the Pokémon from different versions by trading with players who have the opposite version.

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