Review by The Manx

"Not much of a new feature"

You probably have heard of Pokemon; the original game where a kid captures little monsters and trains them to battle other kids' little monsters for fortune and fame. Generally they've come out in pairs, and the difference being the color of the cartridge and the assortment of Pokemon that can be captured in the wilds of the game itself. After a pair is released a third part has generally been released a little bit later with a slight bit of innovation involved. In the case of yellow, it was almost exactly the same as red and blue except the graphics were a little better and you had a Pikachu that would follow you around and react to things like on the TV show. In the case of crystal, the big new feature is that...you can play as a girl. It doesn't change anything; the game was actually altered a little bit from the gold and silver versions to remove characters who made gender-specific references when talking to you. But now all those little girls out there who want to train monsters can do so without feeling weird. That's great, I guess.

The premise of Pokemon Crystal is the same as it always has been: you're a kid asked by a Pokemonologist in your nowhere hometown to run some kind of errand for him, and are given a Pokemon to protect you as you travel to the other city. Upon coming back you meet Professor Oak (the Pokemonologist from the first game) and are given a device to record information on Pokemon you encounter. To fill it out as completely as possible, you decide to venture out into the world to catch and train Pokemon and be the best trainer in the world and blah blah blah.

But why play crystal over gold or silver? That's probably the question on your mind if you're reading this review. And to be perfectly honest it's a really tough one. I mean gee, the graphics in crystal are a little bit better than in gold or silver, and a lot better than in blue, red or yellow. But is that really a reason to buy a game that's only slightly updated from the ones before it? Is being able to finally train Pokemon as a girl worth it?

Same as ever, you wander around from city to city, catching wild Pokemon to expand your group. Some types have advantages over other types of Pokemon, although that by itself doesn't guarantee victory. You battle other trainers to get reward money and you take on the heads of Pokemon gyms in order to get special badges and eventually take on the big shot trainers in the Pokemon League. New from the first trilogy is your Pokemon having affection ratings for you and a place where you can breed Pokemon. You also have a nifty gadget called a Pokegear which is a roadmap, radio, and cell phone all rolled into one. But all of those ideas began in gold and silver so I'll talk about them in detail there if I ever get around to reviewing them. And if you're thinking that this all sounds exactly like gold and silver, give yourself a cookie, because essentially the game is the same except for the features I've mentioned and an assortment of wild Pokemon from both other games.

In the end, while Pokemon Crystal isn't a bad game by any stretch, the slightly nicer graphics and the chance to train Pokemon as a character with pigtails really are not enough to warrant the forty or fifty bucks for a very slight revamp of a game you probably already bought if you play Pokemon at all. Maybe if the boy and girl trainers had different experiences, there'd be a reason to recommend that as a proper big selling point. But as it stands, this is really only worth picking up if you don't have gold or silver or both already.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/04, Updated 07/02/04


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