Note! This review was written for a previous version of this file!
For someone who never had a chance to get familiar with TIs in high school, I found installation of Topaze to be a little confusing. So for the benefit of other beginners I'd like to say: use TIconnect to transfer files. TIconnect lets you select whether to send things to RAM or archive, so that way you can make sure you send the files where the Topaze readme tells you to. You'll also need to get MirageOS and send that to archive as well in order to run the POKEMON program. The readme also mentions zStart, which I installed, but I don't know if it's needed with MirageOS or not. You have to launch the game through MirageOS, so use the APPS button on your calc and select MirageOS. From there it shows you a directory; you can use either the 2ND or ENTER buttons to open it and then open POKEMON. (I don't mean to play favorites with one program over another, I just found this combination to be straightforward enough for a newbie like me to use.)
And now to discuss the program itself.
Topaze combines all the charm of the original Gen I Pokemon games with some of the nice interface updates from Gen II. Notably, you are able to select your character's gender under Options. In battle, the experience bar is shown under your Pokemon's HP and fills up each time you knock out an opponent. The battle screen also includes a Pokeball under the opponents HP bar to indicate if you have captured that Pokemon before. Like the readme states, you can also run around by using the ALPHA(B) button. Having opponents choose random Pokemon is also a neat switch-up. There are some odd quirks with the way cave ladders work, and some unfinished elements which are visible but non-functional. The only thing that really bothers me is the "ARN" label on the Gyms, but I presume this is a non-text tile which probably means something similar to "Gym" in French.
The sprites are very good, considering the limitation of the black/white pallet. A few of them look a bit odd (Pidgey reminds me more of Spearow for some reason) but it's not too distracting. It should be noted that there are no back sprites in order to save space. The main fault here lies with the elemental balance (or lack of?). Notably, a Gyarados is capable of defeating a Pikachu (with full HP) that is at a higher level than Gyarados. At this point, Pokemon are not yet able to evolve. Although 3rd stage Pokemon exist in the game I have yet to see that they can be encountered in the wild, and thus captured.
The interface is functional on the whole. I particularly appreciate the to-the-point dialogues when healing Pokemon at the Pokemon Center and using the storage box. The actual Pokemon games tend to be a little heavy on dialogue considering the character just gives yes or no answers. Topaze cuts out the need to repeatedly mash the 2ND(A) button whenever you talk to someone. The battle menu is somewhat awkward, as you use the numbers 1-4 to select an action but then use the arrow keys to pick which attack or Pokemon to use. I also notice that in the Pokemon menu the arrow buttons sometimes seem too responsive, making it difficult to move down just 1 space, while you may have to press the 2ND(a) or ALPHA(B) buttons 3 or 4 times before the game reacts. Lastly, it is apparently impossible to exit the game without saving (you use the ON button to return to MirageOS and then press MODE to get to the main calculator screen). While this eliminates the need for intermittent saving, it also means no backtracking in case you accidentally run through a trainer's line of sight and aren't prepared to face multiple random Pokemon. It would be nice if CLEAR+ON reloaded the game from the last save.
Wow. I had hoped I wouldn't go that long. Well, my apologies to the mods for being so wordy.