Review by keyos27

"Beyond our expectations"

It has been 10 years since Pokemon Gold/Silver version got released. There have been so many discussions about whether this game would be out as DS version or not. And we were right. As many Pokemon fans have claimed that G/S is one of the best titles of all series, it is now reborn again with blend new features and new names, Heart gold and Soul silver. Let's find out what they added to make this game even better than 10 years ago.

The story is pretty much the same as Gold/Silver. Not completely the same, but in terms of dialogues, events, and a plot, they did not even tweak or edit it. To summarize the story, the journey begins with a boy/girl (depends on what you choose) whose goal is to collect gym badges in his home region Johto to challenge the champion in the Pokemon league and they also confront an evil organization, Team rocket who tries to abuse Pokemon to take over the world. They also kept the other region Kanto where you can explore to collect another 8 gym badges after you defeat the champion. The battle frontier and tower from Platinum are also in Johto. In addition, you will encounter many new events consisting Pokemon that you couldn't get in Gold/Silver by unlocking certain areas with special Pokemon. As I don't want to spoil the story, I will stop here.

First off, let me start this part by saying Gamefreak did a splendid job on adding new features and game mechanics. There are so many things that got introduced that I don't even know where to start. The most important part of gameplay is a control. An interface for menu, Pokedex, and PC boxes are now very convenient to use and they are now located on bottom touch screen. You no longer have to scroll down like crazy to search for an item. 6 items are displayed vertically in each page so it is much easier to see. For Pokedex, the new interface looks like a calendar which allows you to see up to 20 Pokemon at once. For PC boxes, when you want to move your Pokemon back and forth between PC and your party, you can simply point Pokemon and move them with your stylus on touch screen. Another one is now you can have 2 items registered on touch screen. Or you can have one of the items registered by pressing Y button and leave the other one on touch screen. For this reason, you no longer have to go to menu and search for Super rod to fish it. Fishing can be done by tapping the rod mark on touch screen. How easy is that! The new menu also includes auto run which enables the character to run automatically without pressing B button. This will make so many players happy as they don't have to hold down B button anymore as it only makes their thumbs sweat. The Last thing I want to mention is planting berries. Like previous versions, you don't get to see places where you can plant berries. Instead, you carry an item called berry planter in to plant berries. It allows you to plant up to 4 berries. So good thing is that you don't have to travel around to plant berries, but a bad thing would be a number of berries you can plant is limited and it will take longer time to get good quantities.

Now let's talk about in-game improvements and new features. Remember back in Yellow version,having Pikachu following you? And thinking and wishing if other Pokemon could do the same thing? Now the dream came true, you can have an interaction with 493 Pokemon that follow you around wherever you go depends on how big they are. Some Pokemon are too big to be fit in the buildings, so they will go back to Poke-ball. They appear as a shiny color if they are shiny too. It definitely gives more depths and fun to gameplay. They also pick up items on specific areas while you walk around towns, caves, and buildings. You can check how they feel by talking to them. You can take pictures with Pokemon and gym leaders by asking photographers too. New Poke-balls got introduced in this game. You can get them by exchanging Apricorns which can be found on small trees. You can also use Apricorns to make a special juice to boost your stats for Pokethlon.

Pokethlon is an alternative new mini-game in this game. This game is the most addicting game I have ever played in my life. What makes so good about this game is that every Pokemon has a dynamic style of performances. It is so exciting and thrilling to see them pushing, running, jumping, and throwing each other to compete and survive in the game. For example, Dugtrio does not have legs so when others jump over a hurdle, Dugtrio digs into the ground in front of hurdle and comes out and continue its run. As you play, you will be obsessed with aiming the highest score possible. You will love it.

There is a small device that comes with this game. It is called Poke-walker which is simply the smartest thing that Nintendo/Gamefreak invented. It allows you to transfer one Pokemon to Poke-walker and as you walk/run, your Pokemon will gain experiences as well as being able to get a chance to obtain Pokemon, items, and wats. A term called "wat" which indicates the amount of energy you can use to activate Poke radar to get Pokemon/items. More you walk, more wats you are going to gain. Basically, you have to walk 20 steps to get 1 wat. There are many kind of courses you can choose from, and you will encounter different Pokemon/items depends on which course you choose. It is somewhat a tiresome thing to do, but it motivates you to walk which is a good exercise.

Last but not least, a new evolution to the breeding factor. As many of you know, breeding for Pokemon with high Individual values takes a lot effort and time. Gamefreak must have understood our situation. Now, you can pass one of the individual values to babies by making parents hold one of power items. For example, if you breed male Pikachu that has 31 IV in speed holding Power ankle which trains in speed and female Pokemon, their child will have 31 IV in speed. It is quiet sad that they included this feature now when they could have done before. Anyway, this will certainly makes breeding much easier than before. Overall, I really like the whole upgrades and changes. To talk about some major flaws, the difficulty level is so low. Even gym leaders, bosses, and mostly rival's Pokemon are too weak compared to experiences that I gain from a huge number of trainers during the adventure. Also every time I fly between two regions, I have to drop off at Indigo Plateau, and from there I have to fly again to go to towns. You will realize how painful is it do that.

Enhanced graphics are the plus factor in this game. I honestly did not expect much about graphics improvement, since it has been 3D since Diamond/Pearl version. What they did to make everything looks better and clean was that they added many details to not only environment, but also Pokemon and moves. Like lake, river, waterfall, there are some actual waving and flowing going on and they do not look as flat as before. Nature such as rocks, mountains, and trees looks amazingly beautiful with various colors and textures. So as buildings, each town has its own unique texture on their surroundings. As you can interact with all Pokemon, their appearances are so vivid that you will be able to see small things like tilting tails, ears, and hips. Their motion is very well animated, and an animation for some moves got changed as well. Also when Pokemon in your first slot use HM moves, you get to see small actions such as pushing rocks as strength or diving into water as surf.

This game has the best music ever. 8 bit music in game boy is back with remixed version. It never gets bored hearing them.
It sounds crisp, jumpy, and soft. Not only that you can hear the original 8 bit music by playing an item called GB player. It allows you to hear the old classic gold/silver music even when you are in a whole new place that did not exist in gold/silver version with in 8 bit. Also from radio, you can hear background music from previous versions. Imagine yourself walking through grass in Johto listening to Hoenn theme song. Also sound effects have got some details too. You can hear a sound of the character's foot steps and river, waterfall, and sea waving.

Like others have said tons of time, is there a game that has as much replayability as Pokemon? Especially this one with many new features and a blend new mini game like Pokethlon, and the fact that you can travel two different regions will keep players so busy that they will forget what they have to do in a day. Well maybe I am exaggerating, but I can guarantee that Pokethlon will never get old. It will be more fun with friends competing against you via wireless.

Final Recommendation
This game is the by far the best remake game I have ever played. They kept previous generation Pokemon and balanced with new stuff that we have wanted such as online play, an interaction with Pokemon, and new events. In short, it brings back many old memories as well as keeping freshness. Even if you skipped Gold/Silver, you would still enjoy this game. By playing this game, I started to see a bright future ahead for Pokemon game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/23/10

Game Release: Pokemon HeartGold Version (US, 03/14/10)

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