This article serves as a short introduction to a new project that I am undertaking to create a novelization of a new play-through of Pokémon Red with strategy guide characteristics.


Screen capture of the original title screen for Pokemon Red. We see Red holding a Pokeball next to Charmander under the Pokemon logo.
The iconic title screen for Pokémon Red.

I previously reviewed a 1999 Pokémon Red and Blue strategy guide by Jason R. Rich titled Pokémon: Pathways to Adventure (see my Pathways to Adventure review). I had originally read this guide as a kid back in 1999. While I read many Pokémon strategy guides and articles about the games in magazines, Pathways to Adventure stood out because it is a strategy guide written as an adventure novel. That is, Mr. Rich chronicled his play-through as an adventure story while sprinkling in tips for readers.

I very much liked the idea of Pokémon: Pathways to Adventure, and I think it unintentionally raises some interesting ideas for bringing games and books together. With that being said, I explained in my review and retrospective that the guide had many technical short-comings. For example, while generation 1 Pokémon games are by no means difficult, Mr. Rich did not present an efficient way to play through the game. He taught his Pokémon odd moves and skipped over mentioning some points that would have been helpful to the intended audience. Finally, the pacing was strange – the early chapters are relatively detailed whereas the guide then proceeds to rush through the rest of the game.

Introducing My Project

I decided to create my own version of Pathways to Adventure. I had planned to first write a version using a modified version of one of the generation 1 Pokémon games, but I decided that it would be most appropriate to first write my own version of Mr. Rich’s guide. Thus, I set forth the ground rules for my Pathway to Adventure:

  • I will play an unmodified Pokémon Red game.
  • Like Mr. Rich, I will start with Charmander and I will use Charmander and its evolutions throughout my run.
  • I will not use any glitches or exploits.
  • To make things a little bit more challenging (as far as Pokémon can be challenging), I will play on set mode (meaning I do not get a free Pokémon swap after knocking out an opposing Pokémon), and I will not use any items in battle.
  • Mr. Rich ended his story after becoming the Pokémon League Champion. I will go one step further and end my story after catching Mewtwo in Cerulean Cave.

The purpose of this project is to produce a fun, natural Pokémon play-through and turn it into a story. However, in order to make it a bit more interesting, I will play with four special restrictions.

  • I will not use any items during Pokémon battles. I can use items outside of battle.
  • Although I can catch and use any Pokémon, I cannot use a Pokémon higher than a Gym Leader’s highest-level Pokémon in gym battles. For example, the first Gym Leader, Brock, has a level 12 Geodude and a level 14 Onyx. This means that I cannot use a Pokémon over level 14 in the gym battle.
  • For the Elite Four at the end of the game, I will not be allowed to begin my Elite Four Challenge with a Pokémon in excess of the highest level Pokémon of the first Elite Four member, Lorelei. Lorelei has a level 56 Lapras, so that will set my cap for starting the Elite Four. I will maintain my cap rule for subsequent Elite Four battles and the Champion, so the cap will go up to 58, 60, 62, and 65 for the final four battles.
  • I cannot save and reset during my Elite Four challenge. I must beat all four members consecutively.

Note that while I am following Mr. Rich in choosing Charmander as my starting Pokémon (fun fact: I never started with Charmander before), that is the only point on which I am following him. Beyond starting with Charmander and always having it in my party, I will chart my own course unencumbered by the choices Mr. Rich made on his Pathways run.

I have a ROM that I extracted from an original, legitimate Pokémon Red cartridge, and I will play through the game on my computer using the Gambatte emulator Retro Arch core. I am opting to play on my computer because this makes it easy for me to take notes and screenshots during my run.

Structure of My Project

I will serialize my guide on The New Leaf Journal. It will be published in many short chapters. Chapters will cover slices of the game. I have not decided exactly how I will break up the chapters but, to use an example, one chapter may cover all of the events in Pewter City – where the first of eight Pokémon Gyms is located. Another chapter may cover my trek through Mt. Moon, which comes shortly after obtaining the first gym badge in Pewter City. I will decide on how to break up the story as I work on it.

I decided to play through the game before writing my serialized story. I plan to begin working on chapters from notes as I am playing, but because I want to present a coherent adventure and strategy guide – I will go back and smooth everything over after completing my run.

Objectives For My Project

I will publish my Pathway to Adventure in serialized form. My play-through will be broken into chapters that I will publish here on The New Leaf Journal. The chapters will be accompanied by in-game screenshots. My goals will be three-fold:

  • Write a fun story that brings my Pokémon adventure to life and captures the timeless charm of the original games.
  • Include helpful tips, strategies, and information in order to make my play-through an acceptable strategy guide and address some of the shortcomings of the original Pokémon: Pathways to Adventure.
  • Make some interesting game mechanics intelligible while still telling a fun story.
  • My special rules to prevent usage of items in battle and to prevent over-leveling are designed to promote a clean and efficient play-through that may provide useful tips for people looking to get the most out of Pokémon generation one.

Although I am using a few special self-imposed the restrictions, I will otherwise play through the game normally, as someone playing the game for the first time may be inclined to play it with the addition of a few special rules. I will make an effort to catch new Pokémon that I encounter, and I will battle trainers as I come across them as I ponder how to play in a way that will support a good narrative. This is not a challenge run.

With respect to tips, I will use footnotes to explain some technical points about Pokémon generation 1 that are informative but would not fit the body of my in-game novel.

Finally, we cannot call this Pathways to Adventure because of copyright and all. I need a new name. Because I plan to make this into a series and because I admire the English version of the opening town’s slogan, the greater project will be called Pokémon: Prismatic Adventures. Our first adventure will be called – in honor of Mr. Rich’s play-through, Charmer Inspired (Mr. Rich named his starting Charmander “Charmer”).


I think Pokémon: Prismatic Adventures: Charmer Inspired will be a fun project, and I hope you look forward to it and follow along. If you played the generation 1 Pokémon games in the past, it should be nostalgic and maybe even inspire you to rekindle the magic. If you never played the generation 1 Pokémon games, you can follow my story to learn about what may well be the most culturally significant video games of all time. If you are still playing the generation 1 games, you may enjoy my take on a play-through and find some interesting technical notes about the games as you read. As I noted above, I have some other play-through ideas that I can work through after completing this initial, simple project inspired by Mr. Rich’s grand journey.