Pokémon Gold/Silver - Review

"Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon."

By: Anna Marie "Paws" Whitehead

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 2
   Originality 3
   Plot 3
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

50 - 200 hours


Title Logo

   Pokémon: A phenomenon that has gripped nearly the entire world through different media: a card game, a TV show, different sorts of paraphernalia, and of course what started it all, video games. A new chapter in the pokémon story is the duet of games, Gold and Silver, which introduce a few new things, but mostly brings back the old ones.

   Okay, so you want to be a pokémon master? Fine, but be warned, it's a long time coming, and you'll be doing a lot of fighting before you finally crawl to the top of the heap. If you've played the original Blue, Red, or Yellow, this will merely be refresher for you, but brushing up never hurt anyone. As well as being faithful companions, pokémon are also your main weapon in the game. Pokémon fight each other, whether they be wild or owned by other trainers. Each successful 'kill' (Pokémon faint, really) gives a number of experience depending on the level and type of pokémon. When a pokémon accrues enough EXP, just like anything else, it levels up, gaining stats bonuses and occasionally attacks.

   The strategy comes in which mix of moves you want your battlers to learn. Pokémon can learn a maximum of 4 moves. In addition to learning them on their own by level, moves can also be learned through 'TMs' (Technical Machines, one time use items), or 'HMs' (Hidden Machines, special reuseable items with attacks that can be used outside battles to remove assorted obstacles, like a dark cave or a waterfall). HM moves can't be deleted without outside help. To make things seem much more complicated, each pokémon has one or two types, and there are 13 types: the original 11 and two new additions, steel and dark. Steel is meant to bolster bug and fighting, and dark is meant to release the choke hold psychic had on the original Blue/Red/Yellow games.

   Menus are very easy to navigate. Considering this is a game aimed a generally young audience, that's not a big surprise. During the battle, You have four choices of fight (pick a move amongst the four listed), pkmn, (choose a different pokémon to battle), item (delve into your four-pocket backpack for items), or run (which isn't always successful). A major change in menus from the previous version is the item menu(s).

In the original Red/Blue/Yellow, all items were in one menu, making what items to hold and organizing them a real pain in the rear. Now, your pack is divided into four sections: Items (generic stuff like healing items, etc), Balls (you use balls to capture wild pokémon), Key (special one time and event items such as keys and your bike), and TMs (where your TMs and HMs can be kept). Also a new addition is several different ways to view the pokédex, the unit that keeps track of how close to "Gotta catch 'em all!" you are. It can be listed in numerical order, or by evolution, or alphabetically. With the new game comes the addition of 100 new pokémon, and you'll need the extra ones to beat the challenges ahead.

   I'll be the first to admit, the Game Boy doesn't exactly churn out orchestra quality music. However, I really feel more could be done here. I doubt I heard a single new sound throughout the entire game. Unfortunately, the originals weren't good and could have done with some improvement. Generally volume is only helpful if you're listening for the level up beep or special trainer music.

   If you're looking for originality, stop right there, turn around, and go away, because you'll find very little here. Everything is basically the same from the original game (heck, you even move into the original world eventually). The only things new are special 'hold' items (which power up your pokémon or lets them heal themselves of status ailments), the two new types (and naturally the 100 new pokémon), a spattering of new moves and of course 8 new badges. However, everything new stems directly from something old, so how new can it be?

   Also not new and improved is the plot. Okay, yes, it is supposed to be aimed at kids and that means more simplicity than the average older RPGamer would prefer,

Fire, one of the few types that beats steel.  
but the storyline sums up to collect pokémon, beat up other trainers, and rule the world with your badge collection. An additional few side quests would have been nice.

   Thankfully, localization is never something to spit at in a pokémon game, considering they have to rename just about every creature to something we can really connect to. That's why we have Ekans (if you can't figure it out, grab a mirror) and Feraligator (Feral + Alligator + combining of syllables), and it makes the game easier to get into. One of the game's better points.

   Would you want to play this game again? From the beginning, doubtful, but even after you defeat the Elite Four, you can continue playing to your heart's content. The insatiable thirst to acquire every last pokémon or have a certain party at godly levels will keep you going. I'll freely admit, I've clocked about 130 hours into this game, and I don't think I'll stop any time soon.

   Though a hand held game, the visuals are pretty well done, but unfortunately it's just nothing to write home about. Though there's a lot of improvement over the pokémon's looks over the previous games, the moves are still a little off. When Houndoom uses Flamethrower, it is emitted from his chest instead of from his mouth like you would expect it to. Thankfully this oddity seems to be cleared up in future games in the series.

   The difficulty of the game won't exactly have you in tears. While it probably will be necessary to level up before a couple gyms (and especially the Elite Four), you'll never throw the game across the room in frustration unless you've been confused one too many times.

Travel in comfort on the new subway system.  

   I did mention I'd put in an awful lot of hours earlier. Though you could probably beat the game in about 50 hours, it will take you a minimum of 100 to complete the pokédex, which can either be quite appealing or a good reason to sell the game for used scrap plastic.

   Overall, though a bit immature, pokémon is still fun to play. It's not the best game, but there has always been slim pickings on handheld systems. Save it for those extra-long plane/car rides and you'll have nothing to worry about.

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