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DS REVIEW – Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver

Posted May 13th 2010 by Adam Grayson.

Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver Versions

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver start like all other Pokémon games before them. Everyone's favorite Pokémon Professor, Professor Oak, gives a brief explanation of the little Pocket Monsters and the fantastic world they share with us humans. He has been giving this speech for over a decade now, how different can the world of Pokémon be?

For those of you who have undertaken this adventure before, you will not be surprised by how this game plays or by how it's presented – it's pretty much the same as it has been for years. With that said though, there are many improvements to the game all around; improvements that are new even when comparing HeartGold and SoulSilver to the next-to-newest Pokémon game, Pokémon Platinum. I'll go into more detail about these a little later on, but for now, just keep in mind that even if you've played every single Pokémon game up until now, you'll still find amusement in this new pair of games, and for those of you new to Pokémon, welcome! HeartGold and SoulSilver are great games to get you started on one of the most popular franchises out there.

As you may or may not know, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are Nintendo DS remakes of the original Pokémon Gold and Silver Game Boy Color games. HeartGold and SoulSilver are the second set of Pokémon remakes developer Game Freak has worked on, with Game Boy Advance games Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen being the first set. As were FireRed and LeafGreen, HeartGold and SoulSilver are first and foremost remakes of the original games created for a new generation of players as well as a means for veteran players to easily "catch 'em all!" However, rather than being simple ports of the original games to the Nintendo DS, Game Freak has completely redone the pair of games including revamps to AI, graphics, interface, characters, sound/music, and the Pokédex (among other things). Everything good about the past Pokémon games has been utilized in this game, and that makes it one of Pokémon games yet – if not the best.

Once again, the player can choose between a male and a female character.

The story mainly follows the story of the original Gold and Silver games: a young Pokémon trainer (in my case a boy) leaves home to follow his dream of becoming the world's best Pokémon trainer. Shortly after obtaining your very first Pokémon from Professor Elm (this generation's Pokémon Professor) you are introduced to your rival, a red-haired, rebellious young fellow who shares the same dream as you. However, while you are a kind and benevolent trainer, he is a harsh, cruel trainer who regards his Pokémon simply as tools rather than friends. While he plays a much less pivotal role than rivals of previous games, he still challenges you to battles throughout the course of the game.

While going from city to city taking on gym after gym, you find yourself in the middle of a large-scale plan of a notorious group known as Team Rocket. Three years ago (during the time of Red, Blue and Yellow/FireRed and LeafGreen), Team Rocket disbanded thanks to the effort of the famous Pokémon trainer named Red, and their leader went missing. Despite the lack of a leader, the members of Team Rocket are determined to reunite and take over the world by reaching out and letting their leader know they're ready to cause trouble. To accomplish this, Team Rocket wreaks havoc on the region and its inhabitants. You are the only one who can stop Team Rocket and their devious plans (apparently).

After defeating the Elite Four (the four best Pokémon trainers) of the Johto region, the game opens access to the Kanto region (the regions where Blue, Red, and Yellow/FireRed and LeafGreen took place). Once there, players can challenge the eight gym leaders of Kanto as well as catch Kanto-specific Pokémon. These features are retained from the original Gold and Silver versions, however, there are brand new events that players can participate in. These include obtaining starters from the Hoenn region, obtaining Hoenn and Sinnoh legendaries, and exploring new areas (Hoenn and Sinnoh are the regions in which the third and fourth generation games took place).

The Pokéathlon Dome – you won't find this colossal building in any other Pokémon game!

Speaking of new areas, both regions have multiple new locations for players to visit. New areas include the new Safari Zone (now redesigned and located in Johto), Pal Park, Battle Frontier, Sinjoh Ruins, and the Pokéathlon Dome. The Pokéathlon Dome introduces an entirely new aspect of gameplay to the series; think Olympics for Pokémon. Players can enter their Pokémon in a number of different series of minigames that are played with the DS's touch screen. Just as there are stats specific for Pokémon contests in Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, there are stats specific for Pokéathlon games. A new kind of item called Aprijuice can be produced by using the Apriblender item on Apricorns (items previously used solely for making different Pokéballs). Different Aprijuices boost or decrease the Pokéathlon-specific stats of your Pokémon. Personally, I always thought Pokémon contests could get really boring really quickly, so I'm glad they've introduced this new series of minigames which is pretty action-packed and fun to play.

Story points aside, the overall goal of the game is to collect all 150... er... 151... no wait, that's not right either... all 493 (yeah, there's that many now) different Pokémon and complete your Pokédex. What's great about this game is how easy it is to achieve this goal. The game gives players two regions' (Johto and Kanto) worth of Pokémon to catch plus more. There is only a relatively small handful of Pokémon that is not catchable in either game, making HeartGold and SoulSilver the most "complete" Pokémon games to date. In addition to this, the pair can trade between Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum as well as migrate Pokémon from Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, and LeafGreen via the Pal Park. In other words HeartGold and SoulSilver can communicate with seven different Pokémon games (plus each other). That means that every single Pokémon from all four generations is supported in just one game! While Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum also supported all 493 Pokémon, HeartGold and SoulSilver are by far the easiest means of completing the Pokédex. The ability to travel between Johto and Kanto allows access to two regions' worth of Pokémon naturally; the Pokémon of other generations can also be found in the Johto and Kanto regions thanks to in-game means (such as the radio and story-related events). So not only is this just plain good news, but also realize how drastically this cuts down on the usually absurd number of trades between games it takes to complete the Pokédex. To make things even easier, the games retain the GTS system from the newer versions, so players can easily connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi to trade, battle, and communicate with other worldwide trainers over the Internet. Lastly, Nintendo has a number of special online events that have been occurring pretty regularly as of late. Thanks to these players can connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi to get special event-only Pokémon, usually one of the legendaries. Gone are the days of Japan/in-store-only events that only a very select few of us could attend; Nintendo's really embracing this global means of Pokémon dispersion that is good for both Nintendo and the players.

For those of you who are outraged at the obscene number of Pokémon and long for the good ole days of the original 151 Pokémon (yes, I count Mew as one of the originals, thank you very much), you may find some welcome nostalgia during your playthrough. Other than the obvious fact that the games are remakes of the originals, there are two things in particular I'd like to point out. The first of which is that you can play through the entire Kanto region as if you were starting a new game from Red, Blue, or Yellow. Players have the chance to pick one of the original starters (Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle) once they get to Kanto. From there, it is the players' choice as to how they roam the region, whether it be following the tried and true path of the original games or a completely random path that takes you from Pallet Town straight to Cinnabar Island – the choice is up to you. Another feature that many are surprised to learn about is that players can obtain an item that switches the games' music to the chiptune versions from the original Game Boy games. With these two things, players can get all the nostalgia they need!

Continued on page 2 


Tags: HeartGold, monster, pocket, DS, Nintendo, silver, soul, gold, heart, SoulSilver, pokemon

Posted in: Reviews

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User Comments


I remember how obsessed I was with Pokemon when it first came out. So much that I became friends with a small Vietnamese kid who barely spoke English just to play his game. I feel I'd be the type to offer blowjobs if I got hooked on crack... huh. Anyways, good review. I feel the urges coming back...

Thursday, May 20th 2010

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