Review by WolfUrameshi
"You're missing nothing. Move along. Move along."
Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver have released on theaters-err, Gamestops and Wal-Marts with a long trail of rabid nerds wanting to "relive" and "remember" their glory days of Gold and Silver. Gold and Silver are hailed to be the best Pokémon games ever released- yes, even Diamond and Pearl. Adding 100 new Pokémon (if you don't count Celebi), Pokémon breeding, daytime and nighttime concepts, phone calls and more, you'd think Pokémon would become more recognizably advanced with each generation, right? Wrong. Ever since Ruby and Sapphire, the games seemed to hit a retrograde turn. Each new entry became less and less fun to play and more of a chore. Little incentive was given for leveling up (and Nintendo did not make grinding any easier or more enjoyable- this even applies to Diamond/Pearl and Heart Gold/Soul Silver), ridiculous things like Coordinator mini-games and dressing your Pokémon and even more Pokémon than you'd care to count (450?!), it would soon become obvious that Pokémon would eventually become just another RPG that only "hardcore Pokémon fans" would enjoy... until now. Diamond and Pearl introduced an all-new music style that's a drastic improvement over previous games, excellent visuals and enjoyable characters like Cynthia. The games became an apex for the Nintendo DS console. Now it's Heart Gold's and Soul Silver's turns. Do they live up to the hype? The answer: not really, no. To be more accurate, it depends on the gamer.
The graphics are totally unchanged. They are absolutely the same style as in Diamond and Pearl, just with a couple of sprite edits and stuff here and there. You're not really missing much here. For the record though, they show some slight improvements over Diamond and Pearl, like in the menus, but otherwise remain unchanged. At the very least, I can still say that Lugia and Ho-Oh in the title screen look amazing... for a DS game, of course.
The one aspect I appreciated best in the game. The music remixes, in the grand majority, are just awesome. The music and instrument choice (synthesized or no) for each track is great and it's really what sets the mood for most of the game. The Battle themes, especially the Gym Leader battle tune, are what blew me away. They are just well done. I congratulate Nintendo on featuring Junichi Masuda as the composer/arranger- he should be the definitive Pokémon music guy. Alas, not all is well. I am frankly appalled at the use of the usual 8-bit cries of the Pokémon. Nintendo, there's this thing. It's called technology. PLEASE use it. It's not very hard to record voice actors doing the Pokémon cries for each action there is, right? It's not so hard to record voice acting for key characters either, isn't it? Surely there's a codec that can compress them well enough without sacrificing quality. WHY has Pokémon NOT grown in this regard? What's the point of The Pokémon Company then other than the stupid animé?
The part that disappointed me most. The gameplay here is... nonexistent. It's Diamond and Pearl all over again. Even the effects for the attacks are the same! On the upside, battles are more strategic and require more planning and tactics- especially on a certain battle at the true end of the game. But otherwise, expect nothing new. Oh, and EV training? Technicalities? Sorry, but no. Just no.
Same as any Pokémon game: Kid meets prof. Prof gives collectible creature. Creature loves kid. Kid meets rival. Rival declares his undying hatred on kid. Kid captures things all over the world and defeats wimp Gym leaders. Kid battles evil syndicate bent on world domination and wins. Kid arrives at league and defeats champion in a generic way. Kid travels abroad for new creatures you put in your pocket and stuff. Rinse and repeat. As you can see, it follows the same formula. No variety or change whatsoever.
Content and replay value: 8/10
Pokémon is there for the game really, so there's no point in talking about this one. Let me show you my Pokeymanz! But it's rating, however, is because of the one thing that truly besieged me the most: the stupid Pokéwalker accessory. Let me ask you a question. Do you remember a certain item called Pokémon Pikachu? Yes, that tiny little accessory that also worked like a pedometer, that also had watt units, that also had minigames and could also transfer data via infrared methods to the game cartridge? Yes, I thought you did. Guess what? It's the exact same thing. THE. SAME. THING. Just with icing. Nintendo, we're not that stupid.
By my standards this is an extremely lenient review. The graphics show little improvement, the minigames are dull, the replay value aside from multiplayer is extremely low and the sound effects need a huge overhaul. But the music and the PvP gameplay are its saving graces in the end: the two most important things to Pokémon games in general. The game deserves recognition for being a retread of Gold and Silver, I agree. But how can I truly celebrate it when I have no reason or incentive to go through the trouble of spending 9,999 hours grinding 6 Pokémon to level 100 and be happy with my team, only to take them into a PvP battle and return crying because my team sucked and the last 9,999 hours of grinding were a colossal waste of time? Thanks for reading.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/29/10
Game Release: Pokemon SoulSilver Version (US, 03/14/10)
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