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Review: Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver

John Funk | 25 Mar 2010 21:00
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Another new addition is the Pokéathalon, a competition that takes the form of several highly-addictive minigames that you can enter for prizes - and you might well find yourself ignoring the rest of your Pokémon journey just to compete over and over again. There's also the Pokéwalker, a device that lets you carry around one of your Pokémon in real life to train it while you're not playing the game.

Pokémon Gold & Silver are some of the most beloved games in the series, notably because there was so much to do. While every game past Red & Blue had quite a few new challenges once you'd beaten the Elite Four and Pokémon League Champion, the amount of content in those games pales in comparison to what there is in those games - and in the remakes. There's another whole region to explore and battle your way through - a region that will look very familiar to people who only played Red & Blue - and it leads up to what is still quite possibly the coolest showdown in the entire series.

The games are retro design at its finest, but some of the old-school design choices may put people off: Would it really be hard to let us walk diagonally for a change, Nintendo? Nor are all of the new features successful. While the overhauled Pokégear cell phone theoretically lets you set up rematches with previously-defeated trainers in a way that wasn't possible before - thanks to memory limitations in the original versions - it also feels annoyingly vestigial. Yes, it's cool to be able to rematch the Gym Leaders, but it starts to get irritating when your mother calls every other hour to tell you that she bought you a new item at the store, or every other trainer you've defeated rings you up to mention that they failed to catch a Spinarak.

But these are just nitpicks, really. HeartGold & SoulSilver combine the old-school flavor of the beloved second-generation games (before the designs started to get pretty weird) and the biggest Pokémon world to date with the evolved and refined gameplay mechanics of the current games in the series. They're the best of both worlds, and the definitive Pokémon title for fans of the series both old and new alike.

Why are you still reading this? Those Pokémon won't catch themselves, you know!

Bottom Line: Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver are the definitive Pokémon games. The gameplay is refined and polished to a mirror shine, and traipsing through the lovingly rendered regions of Johto and Kanto brings with it a fond nostalgia that few other games manage to evoke. The Pokéathalon is a great new addition, the expanded contact list on the Pokégear cell-phone less so. It's Pokémon as you know it, but they could very well be the best Pokémon versions yet.

Recommendation: If you've ever loved Pokémon or ever wanted to give the series a try, HeartGold and SoulSilver are worth picking up.

Score:

- if you've never played the original Gold & Silver, add a star for a perfect five.

John Funk wishes that Youngster Joey would shut up about his goddamn Rattata.

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