Pokémon is something that most of us have heard of at some point. For the benefit of those who haven't heard of it, it's short for "Pocket Monsters." The premise is to catch a creature in a ball that you can put in your pocket and train it to your heart's desire.
The main objective of the game is to become what people in the Pokémon world call a Pokémon Master. While it doesn't sound overly exciting on paper, Nintendo and GameFreak execute it well. In fact, they've executed it so well, that it's grown from an international trend and become one of the most popular franchises in the world.
In these games, there are 251 Pokémon to choose from to have in your team. Some you have to trade with other games to get, but there's a big choice out there. From electric sheep, dancing plants, burning ponies, quirky ghosts, and dangerous dragons, there's something for everyone in this game.
'Gold' or 'Silver'
Gold and Silver start the second gaming generation of Pokémon, but it is set three years after the games in the first generation: Red, Yellow, and Blue (or Green for Japan). The main playable character whose default name is Gold, but you can have a different name. He's just leaving home and he's ready to pick his starter Pokémon
Gold and Silver is set in Johto, a region adjacent to Kanto which was the setting for the first set of Pokémon games. It follows the same pattern as the last games where you challenge eight gym leaders, then you go to the league where you challenge the Elite Four and face the champion.
But then there's a twist: you get to go back to Kanto and battle the gym leaders you faced in Red, Blue, and Yellow. And the main character, Red, that you play as in the first games is the final boss in this game.
It's pretty clear that they made this game with Pokémon fans in mind and for people who had played the first set of games. At the same time, I think it's still suitable for people who haven't played the first generation of games.
I find the games are quite easy to play and get into, as it's so similar to before. I loved playing this game when I was 10 and over the years my feelings towards this game hasn't changed.
The original RRP was between £25 to £30 when it first came out in the UK. Legit copies of this game rarely fall below this price range unless the internal battery is dead. This makes it quite hard to get at a decent price, but also hard to get one that works.
However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Pokémon Gold and Silver are now available in the Nintendo eShop for the Nintendo 3DS. This made me really happy when I first heard about it and now I also have it on my 3DS. This makes the game far more accessible and a nice cheap alternative for those who haven't had, or no longer have, a Gameboy.
Even though the main plot is heavily recycled, I rather enjoyed the story a lot this time around. We find out that Team Rocket has officially disbanded, but some members were working underground and plan to make their official return. Your rival is a ruthless trainer who eventually learns to love his Pokémon The rival is actually the son of the Team Rocket boss, but this isn't revealed in this game. It doesn't change the gameplay much, but it's a nice quirky fact.
I liked a lot of the mini-events that took place in the game. With the poorly Miltank, the Slowpoke tails for sale, and the bug catching contests, it all adds up and help adds a bit of realism. I also think it's quite cool how certain things happen in certain days at the week.
The graphics are not very exciting compared to the cinematic quality you can expect from modern games nowadays, but there's still something about the 8-bit pixels that I find really charming. The ability to capture so much in only a few colours is what really interests me. It's amazing how they do it.
Though I can easily say that they're a definite improvement from the last generation of games. I'll admit some of those graphics from the last games are hideous, and I'm glad that they learned their lesson in that. The style isn't for everyone, but I'm rather fond of them.
I've seen some reviews that they thought the sound wasn't very good and the quality is quite inferior to others. While this is true to some extent, I do enjoy some of the tunes and jingles in this game. In particular, I find both the surfing and bicycle themes very cheerful and upbeat.
I also like the themes that plays in Ecreteak City and Cianwood City because of how slow and soothing they are. The gym leader and boss battle themes are both quite intense as well.
There's also some remixes of some of the old songs that featured in Red, Blue, and Yellow. Although I don't think they're as good as the originals, they're quite pleasant. I felt that the sounds really tingled my nostalgic.
Red, Blue, and Yellow are great games—no doubt about that—but I've always enjoyed the second generation of games much more than any other. It has mechanics in the game that are so cool and I think were more interesting than the first generation. These values make the Pokémon much more unique and interesting.
First is the gender of the Pokémon. Before this game, the Pokémon had no assigned gender, so nobody knew what Pokémon were male or female. There are also some genderless Pokémon as well. Gender is important for breeding, but for me, genders wasn't that relevant for me unless I wanted to give Pokémon a specific nickname.
Breeding is a very neat mechanic in this game. If two Pokémon are in the same egg group, and different genders, they are able to breed. The baby will always be the same species as the mother, but it will inherit the father's moves. This is a nice way to get Pokémon with some snazzy moves to beat in battle. Breeding is quite slow in this game though, but it's a mechanic that is quite improved upon and also relied on upon future games.
Holding items is a feature I haven't noticed that much, but it's another mechanic that is very important in later games. Holding the right items will give you a great advantage in battles.
Shiny Pokémon are my personal favourite mechanic featured in this game. Shiny Pokémon are a nice novelty. They're basically Pokémon with different colours from their normal colour, but when they come out in battle they sparkle which is a really nice event. They're quite rare in this game, but you get an opportunity to catch one guaranteed shiny in the game with the chance to capture a red Gyarados (who is traditionally blue).
There are two new types: Steel and Dark. When playing this games, it's important to understand the types. Each species of Pokémon has one or two types. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, fire is good for grass, and bug. Ghosts can't be hit with a normal attack. It all helps to make the game more balanced.
In the previous generation, psychic types were really overpowered. It's only true weakness was bug types, but they had very poor moves. The introduction to dark and steel types fixed this.
"Gotta Catch 'Em All"
"Gotta Catch 'Em All" is the main slogan for Pokémon, but it's really hard to do without cheating, trading, or special events. They did introduce an online feature which was amazing and ahead of its time, however, it was only available in Japan, discontinued in 2002, and never got to see the light of day overseas. And if getting 150 in the first generation was hard, just imagine trying to get 251.
I've never really bothered trying to catch them all very much in these games because I don't feel that the ending is very rewarding. There's no real reason to do it other than for the sake of collecting. I prefer to simply use the Pokémon I like.
A lot of the highlights have already been mentioned, but I feel it deserves a special feature in this review. I love how it captures the Japanese culture in this. Ecruteak City captures an atmosphere of Kyoto with the theatre of dancing girls. Goldenrod City paints the city life well and the slot machines are a fun feature as well.
The Bad Points
Many fans, including myself, were shocked and very sad to open their game one day to find out that their save files were gone. The one big cause for this was that the internal battery has died.
There are tutorials on YouTube to fix these, but it's still a big bummer to find all that hard work and hours that you put into your game is now lost forever. Using emulators online would avoid this problem, and people emulate this game very often, but I personally don't like emulation very much. I love the feel of the console and fiddling with the buttons; it makes the experience so much more authentic.
Another thing that I thought was rather disrespectful was the "upgrade" of the Pokémon tower in Lavender Town. In Red, Blue, and Yellow, the Pokémon tower was a cemetery and was filled with graves, dedicated to the Pokémon that had lost their lives. In Gold, Silver, and Crystal that cemetery is now a radio station. Shame on you Lavender Town!
I like the multiplayer options in this game. You can battle and trade with players with the use of a Gameboy cable. While it's very outdated nowadays, it's still quite fun to play with people face to face. I'm sure it still happens in many retro corners.
I could honestly talk for hours about this game. There are so many Pokémon to choose from, giving you so many ways you can play this game. The great thing is that there are so many sites and strategies out there. Bulbapedia is a good place to start, but Serebii is more concise.