Review by matt91486

"You canít go home again..."

OPENING STATEMENT
You cannot go home again. You cannot return to your Game Boy playing roots. You cannot play the masterpieces that once were. Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow, were the pinnacle of the Game Boy mountain for so long. Suddenly, the mountain has grown 40,000 feet, and those exquisite games of old failed to rise with the summit. The summit is now solely occupied by twin games, entitled Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver.

GAMEPLAY--10
The gameplay still presents the intricate complexities from the original Pokemon games. But, you also have new additions to the gameplay that make Pokemon Gold and Silver truly leaps and bounds away from the pack.

Pokemon are still caught using Poke Balls in the tall grass. Except for now there are more specialized varieties of Poke Balls than ever before. You still have the three usual suspects, the most common types of Poke Balls from Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow. Those three types are Poke Balls, Great Balls, and Ultra Balls. You can find one of these types at every store in the Pokemon universe. Now, new dimensions have been added to the art of Poke Balls.

The Master Ball returns! The Master Ball is the ultimate Poke Ball. Chances are very rare that you will get more than one. Conserving your Master Ball for the absolute right moment becomes almost as important as catching Pokemon as the game progresses. The Safari Balls do not make a comeback, but a type of Poke Ball in very close relation to the Safari Ball makes an appearance. That ball is entitled the Park Ball. In the Safari Zone, the only type of Poke Balls that could be used were Safari Balls. That is not quite the case in Pokemon Gold and Silver. The Park Balls are used only in the Bug-Catching Contest in the National Park. You receive twenty balls and twenty minutes in the park, so use them wisely.

The Master Ball and the Park Ball are not the most exciting types of Poke Balls that you can use. There are seven never before seen or even related two types of Poke Balls that will make an appearance. These seven are Lure Balls, Love Balls, Fast Balls, Heavy Balls, Level Balls, Moon Balls, and Friend Ball. These new types of Poke Balls cannot be found in any store. These seven balls are found by bringing colored Apricorns to Kurt, the Poke Ball designer. Each color of Apricorn that you bring him allows you to develop a different kind of Poke Ball. The abilities of these balls are varied and make you think about which ball to use in what situation even more. Love Balls are very effective on Pokemon of the opposite gender from of yours that is currently battling. Friend Balls cause the Pokemon that you capture to begin loving and trusting you right away. Lure Balls are perfect for balls caught on fishing rods. The possibilities are endless. And Game Freak and Nintendo have done an excellent job bringing more strategy into this classic.

Pokemon can also be caught by fishing. This fishing is just done by pressing one button. It is far less involved than Sega Bass Fishing, or even the fishing mini-game in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Once you catch a fish with one of the three possible rods, you need to battle it like a normal Pokemon to catch it.

Now that I have explained catching Pokemon to you, I will touch on battling. Battling is done almost in a rock-paper-sissors style. Pokemon are of different elements. For instance, Squirtle is a Water-Type Pokemon. It's attacks would be quite effective against a Fire-Type Pokemon, such as Charmander. There are seventeen elements in all, two more than there were in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. The two new types added are Dark and Steel. These two new types are significant because they make the Psychic element a little bit more human. In the original Pokemon games, Psychic-Type Pokemon basically were unstoppable. No other type of Pokemon really had an advantage over them, although Ghost-Type Pokemon came the closest. Now that Dark-Type and Steel-Type Pokemon have been added to the fray, complete with advantages over Psychic-Type Pokemon, the game is more balanced, and you will rarely feel like you were defeated cheaply.

You are allowed six Pokemon in your line at one time. Pokemon battle one at a time, so you need to think when you are bringing out your Pokemon. You should always try to keep all of your Pokemon that you use frequently at around the same level, a task far easier said than done. Each Pokemon is allowed four attacks. This gives you an arsenal of twenty-four attacks to use on your opponents. Within these twenty-four attacks, an experienced trainer should easily have attacks of ten of the seventeen types. Keep in mind that a Water-Type Pokemon does not only learn Water-Type attacks. A Water-Type Pokemon can use Ice-Type attacks, Normal-Type attacks, and Dark-Type attacks, off the top of my head. It may learn more from TMs and HMs, which are explained later in this review.

Pokemon's statistics are almost as important as its stats. The Pokemon's statistics determine everything that makes the attacks effective, excluding the element. The Attack rating determines how powerful the attack will be, beyond the element's effectiveness. The Defense rating determines how well that particular Pokemon can stand up to attacks from other Pokemon. The Speed rating determines who attacks first in a battle. If your Pokemon has the higher Speed rating, it will attack first, and vice versa. The Special Attack and Special Defense ratings are the same as the Attack and Defense ratings, except they determine those things for Special Attacks. These statistics can be raised temporarily, or permanently, They can be temporarily raised through abilities. The abilities that your Pokemon learns are not limited to damage causing attacks. They also raise and lower statistics of your Pokemon, and your opponent's Pokemon. For example, the ability 'Leer' causes your opponents Defense rating to fall. The consequences of these abilities only last during that match. If you are fighting a trainer, those effects last until all of the Pokemon of a trainer are defeated. You can also raise Pokemon statistics permanently, through items. These items, such as Carbos and Calcium, can be found in dropped Poke Balls throughout the Pokemon World, as well as purchased in the Pokemon Department Stores. You can also buy items, an example is X Special, that raise statistics for just one battle. These items are far more common.

There are other things you can do in battle besides using abilities. You can also use an item, by opening your pack. These items can do many different things. They can raise your statistics by using X Attack, X Speed, or an item of the like. You can heal your HP with a Potion or a Hyper Potion. You can heal a status affect by using an item such as an Antidote, which cures poison, or an Awakening that awakens your Pokemon from an ability-enduced sleep. These items help make your game easier, and they make you think of a strategy to use in the battle.

You can also switch between any of your six Pokemon, by selecting the option entitled 'PKMN.' This way, if the Pokemon you face has an advantage against the Pokemon you automatically send out, you can switch before the damage becomes unbearable.

There also are two more key additions to the Pokemon universe that I really feel need mentioning. The first is the addition of Fruit-Bearing Trees. These trees are found throughout the map. You can find two types of items on these trees. First of all, you can find Berries. There is basically some type of Berry for whatever could possibly ail you. There is even a Berry that cures confusion! Since confusion is not considered a status affect, because confusion does not carry over to the next battle, there never has been a cure for confusion, until now. Berries can also cure HP. The other item that you can find on a Fruit-Bearing Tree is an Apricorn. As I said before, Apricorns are brought to Kurt to make Poke Balls. Depending on the color, you will get one of seven choices.

The most important new addition is one I have not yet mentioned. That is the capability to equip items to your Pokemon. Then, these items can be used, by the Pokemon, without wasting a turn in battle. You can equip one item to a Pokemon. Pokemon, occasionally, are found in the wild with items equipped. These are nearly always very rare items that are extremely useful. Also, whenever you trade a Pokemon into your game, it comes equipped with an item.

There is one interesting gameplay aspect that I have not mentioned yet. This aspect is surely the most important of all. Evolutions. There are 251 Pokemon. Many of these Pokemon can evolve into more powerful forms, or they are already more Powerful forms of a Pokemon. Pokemon can evolve in many ways. In Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, there were three ways a Pokemon could evolve. In Pokemon Gold and Silver, a Pokemon can evolve in five ways. Please keep in mind that each Pokemon can evolve in only one way, but out of the 251 Pokemon, at least one of the Pokemon can evolve in each of these ways. The original three ways are not all that odd. The main way is through raising your Pokemon to a specific level. That way is still the main way in Pokemon Gold and Silver. The second most common way was using elemental stones. There were once only five elemental stones, now there are six. Only certain Pokemon can evolve using these stones. They are gained in much more complex methods than in the original Pokemon games. The last original method is through trade. A Pokemon evolved when it was traded to another player through the Game Link Cable. You can always trade Pokemon that do not evolve as well. The two new methods are more interesting. The first is still through trade. But, a Pokemon must have a certain item equipped to them to cause them evolve. An example is that an Onix with a Metal Coat equipped will cause the Onix to evolve into Steelix. The last, and by far the most odd, method is the happiness factor. In Goldenrod City, there is a woman who rates a Pokemon's happiness. Some Pokemon evolve when they are happy with you, and she rates their happiness.

GRAPHICS--9
If you have played Pokemon Blue, Red, or Yellow, these graphics are so much better I cannot even begin to describe it. The improvements are many. First of all, the colors are breathtaking. Watch the opening FMV. In that FMV you will see the most vibrant, vivid color of any Game Boy Color game to date, and probably until the next set of Pokemon games comes out.

That FMV itself is one key difference that puts Pokemon Gold and Silver so far ahead of their predecessors. The opening FMV is a fairly trivial addition, I will admit. But, just having it there makes it feel so un-Game Boy Color like, and almost like it is one of the later games on the Super Nintendo.

The Pokemon are drawn much more clearly and detailed than before. They almost look like two-dimensional versions of Pokemon Stadium's spectacular Pokemon. The Pokemon that you are using no longer look horribly disfigured. They look quite good, but still they do not look as good as your opponent's Pokemon. Why your opponent's Pokemon should always look better than your own is completely lost on me. The Pokemon themselves are brightly colored, and if you look closely, you will tend to notice a coloring trend between Pokemon of the same element. For instance, most Electric-Type Pokemon are yellow.

The attack animations are greatly improved. The animation in Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow could get quite choppy during complex and powerful attacks. In Pokemon Gold and Silver the animation is fluid even with the most graphically demanding attack. For instance, the ability Bubblebeam no longer looks like some bluish squares jumping across the screen. It now is a series of detailed blue bubbles flying in one stream straight at the opponent.

I could have lived without all of those graphical improvements for this one. Luckily, however, I did not have to. That improvement was having less pixelization. That was the biggest graphical problem with Pokemon Blue and Red. Everything was so pixelized, the round things looked squarish, and the square things looked like the lines were zig-zagging across the screen. One look at the hero from last game's hat would show you horribly, pixelized shading. In Pokemon Gold and Silver, you can still see one or two pixels in the hero's hat. But, the shading is so much better you hardly notice those extra pixels.

There are so many shades of green in the maps. It is quite amazing when you think about how small that Game Boy Color is, and how powerful it can be, even though it was based of technology ten years old. The maps are painstakingly detailed. The houses, all look like they are straight out of a late nineties classic anime movie. The water actually has one or two ripples in it. There is more than one type of tall grass. The Fruit-Bearing Trees seem to have little anime-styled eyes, except for the fact that they always look closed. These little details to the map make the game so rich.

MUSIC--8
SOUND--8

The music presents more than a Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow remix. Sure, most of the best tunes from that game return. Excluding the music from your battle with Lance, which was the best music in the original Pokemon, these tunes will bring back memories of times old without having to put yourself at risk by attempting to return to play a far less superior game.

The tunes in the cities are far more varied than in Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow. In the original Pokemon games, nearly all of the cities songs sounded pretty similar, assuming you exclude Lavender Town. Well, in Pokemon Gold and Silver, all of the town's music is that varied. The variance in the music makes the audio even better, because it shows the composer's creativity. Eventually, you may be able to identify a city just by the music playing without looking at your Game Boy Color, a feat that only the most musically-inclined could complete in the original Pokemon.

There is a difference in the music you hear in battle throughout the game. This difference happens about halfway through. And it is not a good change. The first battle music is far superior to the second battle music, but I think the developers felt they needed to change it just to make the game vary some more throughout it.

The sound effects are improved over Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow substantially. The sound effects coupled with the attack animations are now just as fluid as the animation. They no more sound like dragging one's nails across the chalkboard.

The menu sound effects are sort of endearing, and they will become second nature to you as your immersive experience in Pokemon Gold and Silver unfolds. They consist of the various beeps and bleeps that you would expect from such a game. But instead of two or three like I expected, I was greeted with closer to ten menu noises, an incredible feat for a Game Boy Color title.

The sounds for the Poke Ball return. These sounds are comforting when you absolutely have to catch a Pokemon. When you just cannot look at the screen because catching that Pokemon is so critical, just turn up the volume, and cover your eyes. You can listen to the familiar noises if the Poke Ball to notify you of your fate. One improvement in the Poke Ball sounds that I would have like, was a different sound effect for each type of Poke Ball. That would have been a nice addition.

Each Pokemon also comes coupled with it's own personal noise. These noises can be heard in the Pokedex by clicking on the 'Cry' Option. Also, these noises are heard every time a Pokemon goes into battle. If you are really experienced in the Pokemon universe, I suppose you could begin to identify a Pokemon by its cry. But memorizing 251 different cries would be quite difficult.

CONTROL--10
The menus are set up perfectly for easy navigation. These menus help you do everything you can to progress through the game effectively. Every piece of information within the wealth of menus can be found by selecting no more than three items, whether the piece of information you wish to learn is Bulbasaur's current attacks, or what the Bitter Berry does. This quick menu navigation makes for a most enjoyable experience in the menus, something very hard for me to have.

Walking around is as it is to be expected. Walking is all done through the Control Pad. Everything is very responsive. My only qualm about the control is minor, but you could probably tell that, the control rated a perfect ten, My qualm is that moving diagonally is impossible. This really does not hurt the game that much, but at times that could make you move a few steps faster. Nothing major here.

The buttons all do exactly what you would expect them to. 'A' accepts commands, while 'B' deselects them. Nintendo did a good job keeping with tried and true control, instead of failing with an innovative experiment like Square Soft did with Final Fantasy VII. Nintendo played it safe and it payed off.

FUN--10
Pokemon Gold and Silver present to you the most fun you will ever have on your Game Boy Color, at least until the sequels come out. But, I have a hunch that Pokemon Gold and Silver's sequels will reside on the Game Boy Advance, so it may be the most fun you will have on your Game Boy Color ever.

Even though Pokemon Gold and Silver are RPGs, there are plenty of fun multiplayer options for you to use. All you need is a Link Cable, two Game Boy Colors, and two Pokemon Gold and Silver Game Paks. Stick the two Game Paks in the two Game Boy Colors, hook up the Link Cable, and you are set to go.

There are three main modes that you can use while linked, along with a minor mode that uses the infrared port. The first of the main modes is the Trade Center. The Trade Center allows you to trade Pokemon with another Pokemon Gold or Pokemon Silver Game Pak. You can trade to get Pokemon you would otherwise be unable to get, or just for the sake of trading. The second of these modes is the Battle Arena. In this mode, you can take your current line-up of six Pokemon, and battle a line-up from another Pokemon Gold or Pokemon Silver Game Pak. The Battle Arena is great fun, and it can get you neighborhood bragging rights. The last of the three main modes is the Time Capsule. The Time Capsule allows you to trade some Pokemon with the Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, and Pokemon Yellow Game Paks. This trading has its restrictions, however. First of all, you cannot trade a Pokemon to one of the three original Pokemon games that was not included in the 151 Pokemon that appeared in those Game Paks. You also cannot trade a Pokemon that has learned an ability that was not found in any of those three Game Paks. The last Multiplayer Mode, the lesser one, is called Mystery Gift. That option is found in the Main Menu, and it allows you to use the infrared port to access rare items you would otherwise be unable to get.

CHALLENGE--MEDIUM
The challenge in Pokemon Gold and Silver rates about average. Some of the puzzles are quite difficult, which basically adds 'Puzzle' to the long list of genres that Pokemon Gold and Silver cover. The mazes can get very frustrating at their difficulty. And, some of the Gym Leaders, and other figureheads you must battle throughout the game, can be very difficult. But, other than those specific times, Pokemon Gold and Silver are not all that difficult. Most of the normal trainers are pretty easy, unless you need to fight six or seven in a series of trainers, which rarely happens throughout the entire game. The most difficult thing about Pokemon Gold and Silver are catching all 251 Pokemon, plus all twenty-six versions of Unown. That feat could take your entire lifetime to complete, although chances are you will finish it much sooner if you are trying to.

REPLAY VALUE--HIGH
Pokemon Gold and Silver will never leave your Game Boy Color's side. You will continue playing these games on a regular basis until you never play video games again. You will do your best to participate in each and every Bug-Catching Contest, if only for the thrill of participating. You will battle your friends, family members, and even just casual acquaintances for fun regularly. You will venture into the Trainer House whenever you can. You will use the Mystery Gift on a daily basis, just trying to get some more PP Up. You will just play Pokemon Gold and Silver, in some capacity, for all eternity.

PROS
*One hundred new Pokemon, along with all of the returning favorites to capture and discover.
*Vibrant, colorful, detailed graphics like they have never been seen on the Game Boy Color before.
*Hundreds of new items, options, and the like to gather and use on your timeless quest.

CONS
*Will consume you, completely, fully, until you beat it completely.
*The music is still far from perfect.
*For experienced gamers, perhaps a tad too easy.

CLOSING STATEMENT
Pokemon Gold and Silver are the kind of epic games that never, ever seem to come along. The last game of this magnitude to be released was Suikoden. That day was five years ago. Play Pokemon Gold and Silver wisely, and for long stretches of time, because it is not likely that another game this good will come for another five years. Most importantly, even if another game that is as good as Pokemon Gold and Silver just so happens to come out, you will still play Pokemon Gold and Silver. That is a guarantee.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/29/00, Updated 07/18/01


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