Pokémon Yellow Vs. Red: Which version should you get?

Although I played Pokémon Red first, I knew I had to get Pokémon Yellow because Pikachu was the main reason, I started playing the video games in the first place. But as a child, I never really took into consideration which game was better, I simply picked one version for the fun of it (or both if my parents were being nice😇).

As I’ve grown older, however, I have realized that there was and still is more to the games. From the graphics and game mechanics to the storyline and types of available Pokémon. These factors can help determine which game is worth more than the other. So, I understand why some players may struggle to choose between two versions, especially between versions like Red and Yellow since one is a remake of the other.

If you’re planning on getting either one and can’t make up your mind, this article is for you😁. To help you out, I decided to use my first-hand experience of playing both games to help you decide which of the two is better. I will compare different aspects of both games in detail and give a final verdict of which one takes the crown👑 and why. Therefore, ensure you read until the end.

Pokémon Yellow vs. Red – How They Compare.

Let’s start with a quick summary of the comparisons we will be discussing later in the game as demonstrated in the table below:


Pokémon Red

Pokémon Yellow

Pokémon Starter

  • Choose either Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur.
  • Evee’s evolution is dependent on the stone used to evolve it.
  • Only get Pikachu as the starter.
  • Evee’s evolution depends on the outcome of the two battles against your rival.

Story Elements

  • The plot is similar to most mainline games in the series.
  • Jessie and James don’t have central roles as members of Team Rocket.
  • The plot is similar to the Pokémon anime series.
  • Jessie and James have central roles as members of Team Rocket.

Available Pokémon

  • Ekans/Arbok
  • Elekid/Electabuzz
  • Koffing/Weezing
  • Raichu
  • Bellsprout/Weepinbell/Victreebell
  • Sandshrew/Sandslash
  • Vulpix/Ninetales
  • Pinsir

Game Features

  • Black and White sprites
  • Pikachu can’t display emotions
  • Charizard can’t learn Fly
  • No Pikachu’s Beach minigame
  • Pikachu can’t travel out of the Poke Ball
  • Colored sprites
  • Pikachu can display emotions
  • Charizard can learn Fly
  • Has Pikachu’s Beach minigame
  • Gym leaders have higher levels
  • Pikachu can travel out of the Poke ball.

What are the differences between Pokémon Yellow and Red?

Pokémon Yellow Vs. Red- Which version should you get?
Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition. Image source: Pokemon

As you may know Pokémon Red was part of the first ever Pokémon generation to be released in the game series. Yellow came after, as an enhanced version of both Pokémon Red and Blue. Being that Yellow was based on the originals, I expected there to be many similarities with a few tweaks here and there. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the game was a whole new experience compared to Red.

There turned out to be various differences that set the two versions apart. The following are the differences I found were worth noting:

Pokémon Starters

This is one of the biggest differences I noted between the two games. In Red, I had three options of Pokémon Starters to choose from Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle. All three options are great and will depend on which Pokémon you prefer. I picked Charmander on my first play because I’m a fan of Fire🔥 Pokémon. But if you’re not able to decide, you can always replay the game and choose a different starter each time.

In Yellow, however, you don’t get these options. Your only starter is Pikachu. This was one of the main reasons I got Pokémon Yellow, because I’m a big fan🤩 of Pikachu, ever since I watched the first episode of the Pokémon series. So, I didn’t mind the lack of options, plus an electric Pokémon is a great choice too compared to the fire, water, and grass/poison types.

Pokémon Yellow Vs. Red

Via Thing Link

But don’t worry, you’ll still get a chance to encounter Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur at different points of the game and have the chance to capture them😌. I loved that Pokémon Yellow made it easier to have all three of them on my team, so I didn’t have to choose one over the others.

While we are on the topic of starters, here is another interesting difference. Your rival’s starter in Yellow will be an Evee. Now here is where things get interesting. As you know, an Evee can be evolved into three different Pokémon depending on the stone you use.

Unlike in Red, in Yellow, you will have two battles with your rival and the outcome of both battles will determine the evolution of the Evee in that game. For example, I won both battles, so my rival’s Evee evolved into a Jolteon. But if I had lost one of the battles, it would have evolved into a Flareon or a Vaporeon if I had lost both battles.

Overall, however, while Red offered options in terms of starters, I preferred the starter in Yellow. Additionally, Yellow made it easier for me to have Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Pikachu on my team, without having to choose.

Story Elements

Pokémon Yellow 
Pokémon Yellow Version. Image source: Pokemon

Another big difference I experienced playing both games is a change in various story elements. But first it’s worth noting that the core parts of the story remained the same in both games, such as the main goal of the protagonist and what had to be done to achieve the goal.

Pokémon Yellow was however tweaked so the storyline could match the Pokémon anime series. For example, in the game, my Pikachu couldn’t be evolved just like in the anime. There were also some added characters in the game that weren’t in Red. Jessie, James, and Meowth played a significant role in Yellow as members of Team Rocket🚀. I encountered them in several parts of the game in Yellow, while in Red they seemed to be absent.

The dialogue in the game also changed slightly to match the anime, as well as certain encounters. For instance, some Pokémon were encountered at different routes or levels and in different frequencies in Yellow as compared to in Red. I believe this was also done so that Yellow followed the storyline of the anime.

Overall, I would say, Yellow’s story elements improved the experience of the game and was a nice change to the usual plot in most games😊. So, if you were a fan of Pokémon anime growing up and would love to experience a game that closely resembles it, Pokémon Yellow is the best choice for you. But if you want to stick to the classic plot of most of the mainline games then go for Pokémon Red.

Available Pokémon

Usually, Game Freak excludes certain Pokémon in one version and makes them exclusive in the other to encourage trading. But I initially expected that Yellow, being an enhanced version of both Red and Blue, would have an expanded Pokedex. This was me when I realized how wrong I was…

Via Tenor

While Yellow did have the Pokémon that were exclusive in either Red or Blue. Some Pokémon were missing from the game that were available in Red and Blue😢. For example, while I did encounter Ekans and Koffing (along with their respective evolutions) as Team Rocket’s Pokémon, the game didn’t allow me to capture them unlike in Red.

But I can understand that this was to maintain the game’s resemblance to the animated series. Similarly, Raichu wasn’t available in the game, since I couldn’t evolve Pikachu, but if were being honest I wasn’t too disappointed there. What was disappointing was that I wasn’t able to capture Pokémon like Electabuzz🙁. Still, at least I was able to capture Blue version exclusives like Vulpix and Sandshrew along with other Pokémon like Pinsir.

So, overall, even though Yellow had some missing Pokémon, it still had more Pokémon available compared to Red. Thanks to Yellow, I didn’t have to do a lot of trading to get the Pokémon in Blue.

Game Features

Pokémon Yellow Vs. Red
Pokemon Red Version. Image source: Pokemon

Last but not least, the difference most players are interested in😂, is the features. As you know, both Red and Yellow belong to the first generation in the game series. Yellow, however, came later, around the time Game Boy Color was set to replace the original Game Boy. So, while being a Gen I game, it was the first of its generation to be compatible with the Game Boy Color.

I was disappointed, however, that aside from the opening sequence, the colors in the game weren’t as vibrant as I expected😕. Unfortunately, Pokémon Yellow didn’t take full advantage of GBC’s full palette. But, hey it is still a step up from the monochromatic display in Pokémon Red. Additionally, the graphics and sprites in Yellow are also improved compared to those in Red.

In addition, I noted a handful of Pokémon could learn certain moves that they couldn’t in Red. For example, using HM-02 I could teach my Charizard the Fly ability. Also, while the Gym leaders are the same as in Red, they have higher levels in Yellow, and the teams have slightly changed to match the anime. Also, at the Cinnabar Gym, I had to attempt to answer the quiz machines to battle the nearest player. This wasn’t mandatory in Red.

As for Pikachu, aside from not evolving, the game allowed it to follow me throughout, unlike in Red where all Pokémon travel with the player inside their Poke balls. Additionally, the game added a Friendship feature that gave Pikachu more personality. I could tell when it was happy or angry, which was pretty cool. There was also a minigame added, called Pikachu’s Beach at Sea Route 19, where Pikachu could learn Surf🏄.

All things considered, I would say, Yellow had the best game features. Not only did it improve the graphics and visual appeal of the game, but the added features made the game more interesting.

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

Given what I’ve discussed above, I bet it’s clear who the winner is: Yellow💛! Not only does the game improve on the original Red and Blue, but it also offers a whole new experience that is closer to the Pokémon anime I bet we all loved watching as kids. It also has more available Pokémon, aside from the few missing, but you can always trade those easily.

Even so, Pokémon Red is and always will be a classic game in itself☺️. So, if you can playing both would still be worth it. But if you had to choose, I would suggest playing Yellow, since it combines the best parts of both Pokémon Red and Blue.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon Red or Yellow?

Based on different forums like Reddit and Quora, most fans seemed inclined towards Pokémon Yellow. But according to Bulbapedia, Pokémon Red seems to have had a better reception by the media, compared to Yellow. Bulbapedia reports that in GameRankings, Pokémon Red, and Blue received a rating of 89% while Pokémon Yellow’s rating was 85%, which was a slight variation. Therefore, it’s safe to say both games were popular, depending on who you asked.

Who came first between Yellow and Red Pokémon?

Pokémon Red was the first game to be released before Pokémon Yellow. In Japan, Pokémon Red was first released in 1996 while Pokémon Yellow was first released in 1998. To the rest of the world, Pokémon Red was released in 1998 in North America and Australia and 1999 in Europe. On the other hand, Pokémon Yellow was released in 1999 in North America and Australia and 2000 in Europe.

Which one is easier to play Pokémon Red or Yellow?

Depending on who you ask, each game seems to present an equal challenge, it mostly depends on how skilled you are as a player and how many Pokémon games you’ve played so far. It is, however, worth noting that Pokémon Red has more content and therefore will take longer to complete.

Which one should you play first between Pokémon Red and Yellow

Considering Pokémon Red was released first and Pokémon Yellow is an enhanced version based on it, it would make more sense to play Red first followed by Yellow.

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