Review by Ice Water

"Pokemon Advanced....before the Gameboy Advance!"

Back in 1999, Nintendo released a little gem onto the world known as Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. To most people, it was the same friggin' game all over again but to others who actually bought the thing, it was a vast improvement over the original. Despite the fact that in Yellow the entire beginning was changed, the rest of the game was changed as well for the better. Skip ahead to the year 2001. Most people remember this year for other events, such as that one thing that cause American Flags to appear out of nowhere, and possibly the creation of the Gamecube, but I remember it for another reason: It was the year the best Pokemon game ever came out. Pokemon Crystal taps into the potential that Yellow tapped into as well, but backed out at the last second due to the water being too cold. Crystal jumps in head first and friggin' bathes in this potential.

Story
For the first time EVER in a Pokemon game, you now have the choice to be either a boy or a girl! Rejoice women everywhere, because now you won't have to name a character after yourself that looks like a guy! Despite this small addition, Crystal's storyline is the exact same as Gold and Silver. You are a kid living in New Bark Town in the region of Johto. One day, your neighbor who happens to be a Pokemon Researcher by the name of Elm, calls you up to go do his bidding. Seeing how the journey to pick up something his friend wanted to give him is such a long way from home, Elm offers you one of three Pokemon: The grass type Chikorita, the water type Totodile, and the fire type Cyndaquil. After you make your choice, you head out to Elm's buddy's place to find out what he wants.

The story hasn't changed since last year, but it still remains better than Red, Blue, and Yellows story of a kid running away from home to become a Pokemon Trainer. At least in Crystal you get swept up into the whole Pokemon world as you run your errand.

So why is Crystal worth buying if I have Gold/Silver already?
Crystal brings to the game so much more stuff it isn't funny. If you have ever played Gold or Silver, then you will know that despite it being a fun game, it just seemed to be missing something. Crystal couldn't decide what the two games were missing so it instead added in so much more stuff that it answered the question.

There are two new features that were added to the original storyline that changes the story altogether! With the addition of the new Suicune storyline, you now have the chance to catch that legendary Pokemon without the hassle of tracking it down on the world map! And with the introduction of the Unown features, you now get an idea of where all that 'visual Braille' stuff came from in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. Both really don't affect the original storyline much at all, but are fun to do since both give up some great rewards.

Added to the original Pokegear is a new radio show! This new show allows you to tune in once a day to find a keyword that you must take to the Radio Tower. Answer the question correctly and you will receive points that you can spend on nice items that will help you out greatly in your game! This show is WAY MORE interactive than the previous radio shows that were introduced in Gold and Silver, which are still there by the way, and the rewards are just as great!

As well as your radio getting an upgrade, your phone is upgraded as well! Remember back in Gold and Silver where calling people was completely useless since they all said exactly the same thing? NOT ANYMORE!! In Crystal, the people who's phone numbers you obtain will actually TELL YOU what they will do to help you out, be it calling you up for a rematch, letting you know if rare Pokemon will appear, or even give you an item once in a while! And you can even call them up to be reminded of what they will do for you if you forget! This new feature makes the phone look completely useless in Gold and Silver, seeing how everyone in those two games would say the exact same thing and you would never know what they would do to help. Great improvement on Nintendo's part here!

Another feature that was SERIOUSLY needed is the 'you are here' sign! What I mean by this is that when you went into a new area in ANY Pokemon game before this one, you would have no clue that you moved to a new area unless the music changed. In Crystal, whenever you change area's IT WILL LET YOU KNOW! So now when you swap from Route 44 to Route 45 or something, the game will let you know the minute you step over that one step that you are now entering the next area! This feature also makes it that much easier to catch Pokemon you heard about on the radio shows!

Last but not least is the introduction to the brand new Battle Tower! If you have ever played Pokemon Stadium, then you will know how this works. Basically, you get to choose three of your Pokemon, all at the same level, and put them to the test in the Battle Tower against trainers with higher AI than before! You can now test out those strategies that you've been dying to use on people who actually take the battle seriously! Don't worry if you lose, seeing how this is purely for fun and not part of the main game. You won't lose any money here, but you won't gain any experience points either. This is purely optional as well, so if you feel up to the challenge, give it a shot!

Graphics
If you thought the graphics of Gold and Silver were good, then you haven't seen Crystal's yet! Although Crystal takes the exact same graphics as the other two games, it takes the best of Gold and Silver's Pokemon designs and actually ANIMATES ALL 250 OF THEM! That's right, EVERY Pokemon has been animated at the start of the battle to show that they are more than just a picture. Sure it wasn't completely necessary, seeing how this feature was removed in all four versions of Pokemon on the Gameboy Advance, but it sure was cool as hell to see your Charizard strike an awesome pose in the status screen! Also added to the game in various places was better graphics! The one key place that comes to mind is the Ice Cave. In Gold and Silver it looks exactly like every other cave in the game, but in Crystal, everything looks so friggin' cool, you'll get the impression that you're freezing your butt off since everything is now covered in ICE! There is a reason why this game is the only Pokemon game to be a Gameboy Color exclusive and THAT is why! You'll have to see the Ice Cave for yourself to see how awesome it truly is.

Gameplay
Using the classic formula from the previous Pokemon games, nothing has changed in Crystal at all. The game is still the exact same as Gold and Silver, despite all of the major changes that were added. You basically go into the world, catch up a team of Pokemon that you would like to use, and then go town to town until you reached the Elite Four. You can eventually breed two Pokemon to create new level 5 Pokemon with traits from both parents, which can add to quite a few possibilities, especially on a new game. But other than that, nothing is different from Gold and Silver. But seeing how this has been the same formula for the last five games and since it is still fun, there is no sense in changing a good thing.

Music and Sound
Again, seeing how Crystal has only changed by a large margin, the music still remains as it was in Gold and Silver, which isn't a bad thing since the music in those games was pretty awesome. There are a couple of new themes in this game though, like the Radio tune for the new Radio show, and the music you get while battling Suicune is also new and worth hearing. The sound effects are exactly the same as well, and there are no new sounds to add onto this game. Not really a bad thing seeing how the sound effects still get the job done, so there really is no problem with this at all.

Replay?
As with Gold and Silver, Crystal's replay is the same as all Pokemon games. With 250 Pokemon for you to capture, tons of new stuff to do, and the knowledge that you can form a team better than your buddy, you will probably be playing Crystal again and again (or at least once every other week/month/year/decade).

And with the price tag of about 20 bucks, seeing how it is still fairly new, Pokemon Crystal is DEFINATLY worth buying, even if it is the only Pokemon game you will ever buy. I was skeptical at first when I first thought about buying this game, since I had Gold and Silver already and didn't think I needed to get another version of the same game, but I was wrong! Crystal is a new experience within itself and deserves being played at least once! Go try it out now!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/09/04


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