Review by ND9k
"A strong improvement over the previous two titles."
Pokemon Crystal is the "special edition" game of the second generation that was started with the release of Pokemon Gold & Silver versions in 2000. Like Pokemon Yellow from 1999, Crystal takes the gameplay of G/S and mixes it up a bit while also adding entirely new elements. But whereas Yellow didn't add anything all that significant, Crystal does.
One of the most obvious improvements between Crystal and G/S is that you can now choose to play as either a male or female Pokemon Trainer. While the gameplay is exactly the same, some of the dialogue has minor changes depending on which gender you choose to play as. Little has changed in terms of graphical prowess, although there are some improved sprites in the Johto region, such as trees and rocks. And you will notice that as you move across Johto, the game will now give you a small pop-up letting you know where you are, whether a town or a route. This is nothing major, but convenient, since you don't need to look at the map so often.
Most of Crystal's changes are apparent with the storyline. Whereas G/S focused on the trio of Raikou, Entei and Suicune, Crystal now focuses solely on Suicune. The way the trio is encountered and ultimately captured is different in Crystal. The starting levels of the trio have also changed, as have their move sets. Other changes to the storyline include the new Battle Tower, which is located near Olivine City. A staple in every Pokemon game since Crystal, the Battle Tower allows you to enter three Pokemon in various level-based battles, many of which are very difficult, for prizes and prestige. Fighting as many as seven trainers in a row without using items can prove much more challenging than battling the Elite Four. (The Elite Four, by the way, is pathetic in the second generation.) And do you remember the PokeGear? In Crystal, the PokeGear's radio has changed a bit, with a new radio show located in Goldenrod City that gives out prizes, including a Master Ball. With the potential of earning unlimited Master Balls, going after those legendaries suddenly seems much less nerve-racking.
Crystal also mixes up many of the Pokemon, who can now learn entirely new moves or older moves at earlier levels. Breeding, which was introduced in G/S, allows bred Pokemon to have "egg moves," or special moves that can't be learned in any other way. In Crystal, there are new egg moves, some of which are very powerful. In addition, there are also Move Tutors who can teach many Pokemon either Ice Beam, Thunderbolt or Flamethrower. By utilizing the new moves and tutors, Pokemon that were once deemed "unusable" can now become viable options in Crystal. Keep in mind that Pokemon with new, Crystal exclusive move sets can not be traded to the first generation games, as the new moves did not exist in the past. However, they can easily be traded to the other second generation games.
Beyond the moderate gameplay and major storyline changes, Crystal is identical to G/S. The first half of the game is exactly the same, including the choice of starters and the teams of the Gym Leaders. But seeing as how much has been either changed and improved overall, Crystal still manages to feel like a fresh experience, rather than an improved re-hash of the second generation games. Because of this, I felt the game deserved a 90% rating.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/06/02, Updated 11/27/06
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