Poke’mon HeartGold/SoulSilver Review

Poke’mon HeartGold and SoulSilver (Only available for Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of players: 1-2
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date:  March 14th, 2010

Parent Talk: Poke’mon is the go-to, kid-friendly role-playing game.  You always see children ask their parents to buy the latest for them.  Some might find the content objectionable (catching and battling animals), but it’s a vocal minority.  There’s no violence or bad language, and the series’ happy-natured setting makes it easier for parents to accept.  The main character is even contacted often by his/her mother!  Parents or older siblings can even play along, given the healthy emphasis on trading the collected Poke’mon.  Kids may also discover just how deep the experience is, and the strategy necessary. Poke’mon is additionally known for attracting casual players and dedicated tournament goers. The Poke’Walker device may even be an incentive for your kids to play outside.  Also understand that there’s little distinction between the HeartGold and SoulSilver versions.  The core games are identical, with the difference being in what exclusive creatures are available.  In order to collect ’em all, trading is a must.

SoulSilver and HeartGold are remakes of the classic second generation Poke’mon Silver and Gold, largely considered the cream of the crop by fans.  They introduced many to the franchise, and several features such as the real-time clock, an item hold and more came about.  Gold and Silver solidified the original formula and improved it.  HG and SS reuse all the content, but apply the presentation of the recent DS games to offer an enticing new package.  The experience is no different.  You visit towns, encounter new Poke’mon to catch/trade, and battle trainers.  Despite this rehash, the content is taken from what is considered the best of Poke’mon, updates the visuals, and adds even more new features.

Prime among the attractions is the Poke’Walker.  The handy contraption isn’t just a pedometer, but can increase a Poke’mon’s experience and happiness, find items, catch Poke’mon, and exchange gifts with other trainers.  Several “courses” become available with more steps, and each provides different monsters to capture.  You also accumulate “watts”, used to play the catching mini-game or find items.  There’s also a competition called the Poke’athalon, which sports a variety of touch-based events.  It’s a fun diversion.  Another notable mini-game is Voltorb Flip, a combination of Minesweeper and Sudoku.  There’s a lot to see and do in the game!

The Great:

A classic experience.  This is Poke’mon in its purest form, covering the Johto and Kanto regions.  The gameplay is accessible and fun, and should bring back seasoned Poke’maniacs.  The battle system is simple, but only the dedicated will master it (EV training, infecting your monsters with Pokerus, finding shiny Poke’mon, etc).  It’s amazing that Game Freak created a world that’s so ordinary, but can really hook you in.

The Good:

+Trading and fighting locally and online.  The system from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum returns, and the convenience is wonderful.

+The depth.  There are so many things to do and see.  The adventure can easily span 100+ hours for anyone willing to scour everything.  There are tons of reasons to backtrack and explore.

+The presentation. While HG and SS aren’t the most impressive games on the DS hardware, it’s an aesthetically-pleasing package, just like the previous DS releases.  The sprites are colorful and the semi-3D effects are cool.  Some areas sport interesting backgrounds and added touches, like reflections in pools of water.  The interface is also more touch-friendly.  All actions, except character movement, is accessible by the stylus.  The menus are clean and organized.

The Bad:

– Familiar much?  If you’ve tired of Poke’mon, these re-releases probably won’t change that.  Despite gameplay refinements, the structure is largely the same.  The emphasis on grinding and the simple turn-based combat may also turn off those wanting more complexity.  Many complain that the games are just one repackage after another, and that’s true to a degree.

The Ugly:

The attack animations and Poke’mon cries.  The cries sound stuck in the Game Boy era.  Sure it’s easy to recognize, but why improve the music and not the effects?  The attack animations are also conservative, with the Poke’mon just shuddering rather than lunging forward.  However, I can understand that the huge creature roster would make instituting unique animations across the board a heavy load — so it’s a necessary evil.

The Lowdown:

HG and SS are an absolute must for Poke’mon lovers.  Tempted to return?  Want a fresh start?  This is an excellent option.  There are problems, especially the dejá vú that could turn anyone wanting a change in direction away.  Still, if you did or didn’t miss originals, there’s still so much to enjoy here.


2 thoughts on “Poke’mon HeartGold/SoulSilver Review”

  1. Nintendo needs to change the game engine for the series to a modern look and feel. This is still the same 8-bit game from years ago, just with a fresh paint job.

  2. Even though I own both games, I’ve never given them a proper chance. I have 2 hours invested into Soul Silver and Heart Gold is still sealed. Heard alot of good things about these remakes however. Big rumor going on right now that they’re gonna remake Generation III.

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