Too Little Too Late
By: Grover Wimberly IV
Note: This is a review of the SoulSilver version. The HeartGold version is largely identical in structure save for the appearance of some pokemon and the legendaries that are obtained in each game. In the case of SoulSilver, Lugia is encountered at level 45 where as Ho-Oh is encountered at level 70. HeartGold is reversed.*
*I'm not reviewing the Pokewalker. I am considering it a separate peripheral.
The year 2000, hard to believe it was ten years ago. But if you're like me, the hottest handheld game at the time was Pokemon Gold and Silver versions for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. I have fond memories of 5th grade where we would all bring our Game Boys (and the link cables) to recess and play multiplayer battles on the picnic tables after lunch. It was a simpler time, but it was a fun time. That's for sure. These two games have pretty much accurately brought that feeling back even after the first time of turning my DS on with the game inside. It's that good. But perhaps I should grade it by the guidelines, shouldn't I? I did make them after all. c.c
For fairness sake, I'm going to be showing a lot of footage from the original Gold and Silver and compare them to the gameplay within the new. For people who are on the edge of getting it.
Storyline (20 points) -
The storyline in Heart Gold and Soul Silver takes place chronologically three years after the events of Fire Red and Leaf Green for the GBA. For people who played the older versions, Gold and Silver took place three years after the original Red and Blue. So in essence HeartGold and SoulSilver are the chronological sequels of Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, and LeafGreen.
Not much has changed storywise from the original Gold Silver to HeartGold and SoulSilver other than the enhancement to the storyline from Pokemon Crystal. (Suicune story and what not) and its inclusion into the game.
As in Gold/Silver, the player must traverse the Johto Region, eradicate Team Rocket, investigate the Lake of Rage and claim/fight Red Gyarados, help the kimono girls in Violet City capture the legendary pokemon of the respective version, beat gym leaders and the Elite Four, beat the Kanto Gym Leaders, and then beat Red atop Mt. Silver.
The story is much more indepth than recent versions of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum and I'm very happy that Nintendo and Game Freak went to their roots and re-released this marvel for the DS.
They did clear up some things, however, and I'd like to mention them.
In the case of Team Rocket, they added four central executives to the story. Back in Gold/Silver they were simply called Executives, but they now have their own names, hair colors and personalities.
In the original Gold/Silver, Giovanni was rarely mentioned in the game. Due to a better translation, he is now officially mentioned in the game by various Rockets, but he is not seen unless you obtain a Celebi from an event and go to the Ilex Forest.
Mentions to new regions Hoenn and Sinnoh are referenced and alluded to by various NPCs, and a lot of missing points were patched up.
Here is some gameplay of the storyline:
Gameplay (20 points) -
Needless to say, the gameplay presented in HeartGold/SoulSilver is way improved from its original counterparts.
My only complaint is that the frame rate is slower than its GBA predecessors. It's very noticeable if you use the Pal Park, or if you're trying to complete the GBA versions concurrently. Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/FireRed/LeafGreen run at 60 frames per second where as HeartGold/SoulSilver only run at 40 frames per second. It's nothing huge or game breaking, but it offers noticeably slow gameplay for the game.
They also added 2v2 gameplay from the newer games that were not in the original Gold/Silver.
Here's some comparisons:
Original Falkner in G/S
Music (20 points) -
The music of Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver was done by Junichi Masuda and Go Ichinose. The music team never changes from game to game, and I think that is great because despite different themes being used for different regions, it gives the games a feeling of consistency between them.
My only gripe for the music is that the new legendary pokemon battle themes seem uninspired, but fortunately they do not play that often.
Another comparison between the original and the new.
Oh, I forgot to mention, you have the option to change the music back to the original beeps/bloops of the original if you want. You'll need a special key item though.
Innovation to Genre (20 points) -
This game didn't really innovate anything into the RPG genre. Everyone knows how Pokemon works by now. This didn't add anything too significant that I would consider innovative. This is a remake, after all.
Re-playability (10 points -- 20 if not a sequel) -
It's Pokemon. These series of games are re-playable by default. That's the great thing about them, you'll be playing them long after the main story is beaten. HeartGold/SoulSilver has online battles against friends or random people world wide in the Battle Tower, and also has a Wi-Fi plaza, and you can climb up the battle tower with a friend. You'll be playing for hours and hours, and hours.
Nostalgic Inclusion (10 points -- 0 if not a sequel) -
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver effectively recaptures the Johto and Kanto regions in a beautiful rendition of 2.5D. Every dungeon from the original as well as ones that didn't make it into Gold/Silver from Red/Blue are included as well. This includes places like the Power Plant, Seafoam Islands, and Cerulean (Mewtwo's) Cave.
Final Score: 93/100 A (VERY Highly Recommended)
I highly recommend this game to anyone who owns a Nintendo DS. In short, it's worth every freaking dollar. It's very fun and addictive. I had to force my DS to die just so I could focus on studying for my finals and writing this review. (I'm not lying. I this game. XD)