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Game Review: Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions
Many people have suggested that the Pokemon series has been going in a downward spiral in the past 6 or so years, after the release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire for GBA. However, many casual and hardcore gamers alike consider Pokemon Gold and Silver [GBC] to be the best games in the franchise. Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions are the Nintendo DS remakes of the classic Game Boy Colour games; but do they do them justice?
Being a remake, it is excusable to have a similar plot to the original. The plot is typical. You, a new Pokemon trainer, begin your journey across the Johto Region. You capture and befriend monsters called Pokemon along the way, in which you battle other trainers with. Each Pokemon has their own type with benefits and limitations. For example, Totodile is a Water-type crocodile Pokemon, which can easily deal with Fire-type Pokemon such as Cyndaquil but are defeated by Grass-types such as Chikorita.
On this journey, you attempt to collect all 8 badges in the Johto Region, aiming to tackle the Elite 4 at the end – the 4 strongest trainers in the region – and become the Champion. On the way you will make friends and rivals and thwart the plots of the evil Team Rocket. Simple, no?
Although appearing quite simple, the Pokemon games are actually quite complex as you delve into them, with numerous strategies able to be employed in the battles and different natures and abilities which affect your Pokemon’s power.
Despite this, the tried and true formula for the franchise is, well, tried and true. It definitely works, but is a bit…boring. More of the same.
However, HeartGold and SoulSilver stand out from the crowd. Whilst Diamond and Pearl [NDS, 2007] seemed like experiments for the relatively new Nintendo DS, HeartGold and SoulSilver utilise the DS’s capabilities to the maximum with a novel touch screen menu and graphics which, although not spectacular, are a big improvement over the past graphics.
The music in this game is absolutely stunning. Each different song is a remix of the original, appealing to both new players and those who wish to reminisce. The game also comes packaged with a little device known as the PokeWalker. You transfer Pokemon onto it and walk around, with the PokeWalker counting your steps like a pedometer. The more you walk, the more chance you have of encountering a rare Pokemon. It’s a nice extra, but nothing special.
Also featuring in this game is a series of mini-games known as the Pokeathlon, which use the touch screen. You pit a team of three Pokemon against other teams in a series of mini-games such as races, catching a disc or breaking blocks. They use the overworld sprites – did I mention that the first Pokemon in your party can follow you? This is a very nice addition and emphasises on the game’s theme of friendship and love.
All in all, this is definitely a return to form for the Pokemon series. I’d even go as far as saying this is the best Pokemon game since Gold and Silver themselves.