"So I can now defeat Red with a female Mario? I'm liking this game already."

Another year, another Pokemon game. Game Freak keeps popping out Pokemon games like an Arceus popping out legendaries, but does that mean the company's latest remake is nothing but another money maker, or was there more, dare I say, heart and soul put into it? Let's find out.

Storyline: 10/10

The story remains faithful to the original Pokemon G/S/C storyline. You pick between a male and female character to set out on a journey to become a Pokemon master while thwarting Team Rocket's plans of world domination, defeating a rival that doesn't seem to get the idea that he will never defeat you, and going up in status as you collect badges. Not only does this game adhere to one's nostalgia, it enhances it by adding tiny tidbits to the story that were really not necessary but added to please fans who played the first games.

Game Play: 10/10

Just when you didn't think it was possible, Pokemon HeartGold has improved upon the mechanics of game play. The menu is now located on the touch screen at the bottom; you would think this would be irritating -- and it is hard to get used to at first -- but when you have had a couple of hours with it, you realize how much easier it is to access menu items. The Pokedex, Bag, and even the PokeGear have all been upgraded with more interactivity and a friendlier interface so that you can get done what you want to get done faster and easier. One of the most important additions is the ability to turn on or off the running shoes with the press of a button. This will save your finger loads of time from no longer having to hold the B button whenever you want to run. Another important feature is the ability to have the Pokemon in your first slot come out and follow you. Nothing is off limits; any Pokemon as small as Skitty and as large as Wailord can follow your character almost anywhere.

Of course, you can move up, down, left, and right to move your character while walking or on your bike. There are a couple of places in this game where you view your field from a 3D perspective, which looks odd, but it works. The puzzles of each Pokemon Gym range from brain-dead easy to easy, but the way they kept them mostly the same while adding small things here and there is refreshing. For the first go-around, the Gym Leaders have the same Pokemon, only with slightly altered levels and movesets. For those who didn't play the original Pokemon G/S/C, it may be a bit harder, but otherwise, it's a piece of cake. Each major character now has a VS screen and animation, and each one comes out on his/her last Pokemon to give some final words, which really adds to the battle experience. When you send out your Pokemon at the start, instead of coming out of a Pokeball, it comes from the bottom-left, which I thought was a nice touch. The apricorns return, allowing you to catch Pokemon in seven HG/SS exclusive Pokeballs. You can even add seals to them like in Pokemon D/P/Pt, making for some great combinations.

Graphics: 10/10

As expected, the graphics remain similar to Pokemon D/P/Pt. However, all Kanto and Johto Pokemon received new sprites, and most of the new sprites are a huge improvement from what they were before. All Pokemon now have overworld sprites for when they hang around with you. Since each individual Pokemon has 8 overworld sprites, that's a grand total of 3,944 sprites -- and that's not including gender and form differences! The towns and routes you travel in look marvelous, and instead of having corners cut due to laziness, the corners were polished with gold. Even meaningless buildings that are empty look great. The 3D graphics for the SS Aqua and the Magnet Train are great, as are their animations for when you travel to-and-fro.

Sound: 10/10

There really are no complaints for the music and sound effects. The remixes are crisp, clear, and a pleasure to listen to. Now, instead of Suicune being the only one of the trio to have its own original theme, both Entei and Raikou also get a modified version. Ho-oh and Lugia both get their own theme as well, and let me tell you, they're rather unique and fun to listen to. When battling Team Rocket, the music makes it feel like you are facing an Admin every time, but despite it being over-the-top, it's great. Personally, I prefer the Kanto Gym Leader remix over the Johto one, but that's just me. Even if you hate all the remixes, later on in the game, you obtain an item that allows you to change back to the old 8-bit themes! Not every piece is available, but some new themes not in the original Pokemon G/S/C are, including the Global Trade Station theme, which was really awesome to hear. Unless you hated the original tunes, there's very little reason to hate the music in this game.

Replayability: 10/10

Without endless amounts of replayability, an RPG can get dull over time. Luckily, this game has so much stuff to do that it will take many months before said time comes. If you get bored of grinding against trainers and wild Pokemon to level up, you can rematch each Gym Leader once per week after you have obtained each one's phone number and called each one up at a certain day and time of the week. The addition of the Pokethlon will have you playing over and over again to get enough points for the prizes you want, not to mention the Safari Zone returns, and even the Battle Frontier reappears. The online play is pretty much the same, but with the new Pokeballs to use and additional moves gained by some Pokemon, the battling scene should remain vibrant, meaning that it will take a long time for you to get bored of online play.

THE BOTTOM LINE: 10/10

Players of the original Pokemon G/S/C need to buy this game as soon as it becomes available in their area. If this is your first time playing Pokemon, you should play some of the classics first so that you can really enjoy what a great job Game Freak has done with this game.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/17/09

Game Release: Pocket Monsters HeartGold (JP, 09/12/09)


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