How can you get better...once you've had the best???
Back in the day it was hard to find a kid that didn't know Mickey Mouse, one that didn't know Mario but today it's extremely hard to find one who doesn't know Pikachu or Pokemon and I mean with al the merchandise and marketing campaigns the adds, shirts competitions, trading cards and conventions Pokemon was, is and it will continue to be a World Wide Phenomenon,
It all started back in the 90s with the Release of Pokemon Red and Blue and is hard to deny that those two games were the best of their time only surprassed by Pokemon Gold and Silver who did something thought imposible they took the addictive formula of the first generation games and perfected it, transforming something great into something legendary, so legendary that many consider them as the most enjoyable games in the series.
Gold and Silver brought innovation, something that was lacking during that time, they used the same successful formula that its predecessor used, and still managed to create a superior experience.
It's been a decade since their release and to this day many trainers and gamers have been asking a game just like Gold and Silver and many compare newer and supposedly better pokemon games with those two why? Because they were the most remarkable games during their times, the peak of the pokemon series if you would call it like that, and as you know once you get to the top you can only go down and that is exactly what happened to Pokemon.
The series began it's downfall with Pokemon Ruby and Saphire which were good games but most people were dissapointed, there were so many aspects that could have been better but were left untouched and even though the follow ups Leaf Green and Fire Red tried to bring the games back to it's roots they added little to the series because in depth they were only Red and Blue with new graphics and better colors, the lack of effort was pretty obvious. The developers took notice of this and tried to implement some changes with the DS games Diamond and Pearl and while changes were implemented they took the series far away from what they had been, so far that they felt like an experiment but deeply it was what it was, a Pokemon Game and as such it did pretty well in the sales.
With the announcement of Heart Gold and Soul Silver two long awaited games that were very acclaimed by fans who wanted to get that feeling they had while playing the originals back in their days, Nintendo knew that they were playing with fire because many hold a very special place for Gold and Silver and that is memories, memories of days spent training, battling, losing, winning, days where you were growing up and all you could see was pokemon, days where you and your friends played Stadium 2 to prove who was the best, and many other days that shall remain in the memory of many kids that have grown up to this day. If nintendo messed up they could probably see the end of one of their most popular series, well not the end but a huge decrease in the players worldwide. I must admit I had little faith in the company due to it's recent record I was afraid that they would ruin my good memories of these two great games. They were placed with the difficult challenge of perfecting what is already considered perfect, and you know what? They managed to pull it off.
I bought the game, went to my room, made myself confortable, turned it on, placed my name and then picked my Cyndaquil again because of Nostalgia. From the first moment I started to play the game I realized something I wasn't able to for long years, the developers placed a lot of effort in this game and the best part? You could tell.
It is amazing how beautiful this game is compared to Diamond and Pearl, even though they are made for the same console and the same capabilites it's truly shocking to see the results of a game when you actually put your heart and soul in creating it. Heart Gold and Soul Silver took Diamond and Pearl Graphics and refined them into a more stylish way, they made it look more real, more detailed, more polished, more beautiful. I was sure the Johto region was great but it's true beauty can be seen in this game and the amount of details taken into account when creating it, the smoke, the buildings, the wind, the leaves in Ecruteak City or the Chinese look in Violet City, These games take culture and imagination and combine it into an astonishing enviroment that just demands you to explore it.
As soon as I started I noticed that my pokemon, in this case cyndaquil, followed me just as Pikachu did in Pokemon Yellow but this time we're not limited to only one, we can have any pokemon following us, of course the game still takes logic into account, even though I would have loved to get my Wailord into a Pokemon Center the game sends the pokemon back to it's pokeball automatically just before entering the building why? Because wailord wouldn't fit in a pokemon center, well he would but then we would have no pokemon center you see? It does the same thing with large pokemon such as steelix or groudon. This may be only an aesthetic change but it feels good to see your pokemon walking right beside you like it should be, it's a way to bond more with your pokemons and adds a great feeling to the game and to the adventure, makes you feel like an actual trainer.
One of the things I also noticed is that the battle screen looks the same as it did ruby and saphire, it's something that is not much of a big deal because we are used to see the same static animations from the very first days of the series but still would've been nice to get some update in the battle screen like the actual game did.
The touch screen actually sees some use in this game as now you can navigate through menus using the bottom screen on the ds, you can select items, equip them, change settings and actually battle using only the touch screen, for a more confortable and cleaner experience but if you lost your stylus or you don't like to use the touch screen you can still use the buttons like you have done in the older games still it is something good because back in diamond and pearl the touch screen was only used to control the bag and the poketch and that was it which is kinda poinltess considering you can do the same thing with the buttons so it didn't felt right then, I'm happy to say this is not the case here.
The Pokedex is something that has been changed as well now you can see a full table of pokemons you have met and captured, you can open it up in the touch screen and then check anything you want just by touching a pokemon, the weight and height as well as the location is in one screen making it easier to navigate and it makes the pokedex feel like a real useful device instead of scrolling down until the 450 pokemon then scrolling back up to pokemon no 15 it feels better and demostrates how well the touch screen has been implemented in these games.
The pokemon goal and formula is still the same as it was when it first started assuming you have lived under a rock for the past 15 years let me ilustrate you on what's Pokemon. You are a trainer in a pokemon world who just starts his adventure in order to become the best trainer and to catch all the pokemon in existence which was relatively easy in the first game with only 150 but it gets harder now since there are up to this game 493. In this world people play with pokemon others get helped by them but most of the people here use the pokemon to train and battle in competitions such as the pokemon league and prove how good of a trainer they can be. It sounds easy in the surface but it gets more complex as you move on, each pokemon has an affinity to a certain element there are grass types, fire types water types and many other types that make a grand total of 17 if I'm not mistaken you as a trainer need to create a balanced team of 6 pokemon which learn moves through leveling up as they gain experience in battles but the trick is that they only learn 4 move some which can attack others that can support your pokemon and others that can affect the oponent without attacking directly. Each element is stronger against some and weak against others for example Fire Types will destroy Ice Types or Grass Types but have a hard time with Water Types and Rock Types, Dark Types are strong Psychic type who beat Fighting type who beats Dark Types, it's like a very complex weapon triangle game or rock paper scissors that has worked out ever since the days of Red and Blue. Even though creating a balanced team is easy in game it's really difficult to do in online matches were lately is where all the purpose and fun of pokemon resides. You might create a really good team but there is always a trainer who devises a startegy around your team and you have to devise a strategy to beat his team and thus you follow involuntarily perhaps the main goal of the games which is becoming the best trainer.
Pokemon isn't only about battling, as I said earlier you have to catch every single pokemon species in existence which sum a total of nearly 500 most of the pokemon can be found within the game while others will require you to trade and communicate with other player be it local or around the globe which is easier thanks to Nintendo Wifi Connection, you should take in account that there are some pokemon that are legendary and really difficult to get it requires some negotiation skill in order to make a fair trade to get these pokemons.
Like Fire Red and Leaf Green, Heart Gold and Soul Silver as Remakes they have remixed some old themes from their original counterparts most of the new tracks are really good and they add a feeling of nostalgia while still keeping the updated look of the game, you are now able to listen to your footsteps or if you're close to a body of water you can listen the sound of it be it a river or a beach, if you walk through grass you can actually listen to the difference between walking on it and on the street it may be a minor detail but it proves that this time the developers planned everything and remade every single detail. They planned everything so good that they even knew some people might prefer the original themes and tracks of the game so that is why they decided to give a new Key Item after you get all the badges in which you can listen to the original GBC tracks of the game instead of the remixed ones. In my opinion is a very creative idea and I give a thumbs for doing that.
The game offers a device called the Pokewalker which is a pedometer where you can send one of your pokemon to any of the different courses where you can find items, rare pokemons and other stuff. It's like a tamagochi or a digital pet of some sorts, while your pokemon remains here it will gain experience points and happiness points, it is a very fun device to use becaues is one way to keep in touch with your pokemon and to take it everywhere with you it has a small size and you can easily put it in your pocket as you walk.
For the most part Heart Gold and Soul Silver correct what has been wrong with the series in the past and makes us go back to those good old nostalgic days where we didn't need an weird or strange plot to go far away from the series trademark simplicity which has always been what separates it from most RPGs. And while this game offers a good story with at least 60 hours of gameplay by the end of it you'll find out a huge replay value which keeps you coming back to play the games. You still need to catch every pokemon, hone your skills as a trainer, train your pokemons, rematch against gym leaders to get a handful of experience clear the battle facilities, train your pokemon teams to go competitive battling in Wifi, trade with friends and finish sevaral amount of challenges that this game has provided you during the course of the story, unlike other rpgs when you finish the story your adventure is not coming to an end, it's just starting.
The story offers a good amount of gameplay time and after you finish it you still have lot to cover but this game offers a little detour of all the battle, training, catching and trading and that is the Pokeathlon, which consists of a series of minigames in where you can place your pokemon to compete against others in a events like Power, Jump, Speed for example one of the speed events consists in a race where you use the stylus in order to control your pokemon and get it to the finish line pretty much like pokemon dash, it is a good way to take a break from the story and it's a lot better than the pokemon contests which I'm not to fond of and I'm very sure I'm not the only one.
Even though the formula remains the same it's amazing how this game can keep you coming back for more It's something all pokemon games do but it's more noticeable in these ones where there is so much to explore so much to see and just when you think it's all over there is always a new challenge a new something that will keep you occupied for a very very long time, Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver are games that can last you forever and will always have something to keep you addicted.
Lastly, these games are all we've been waiting for, Heart Gold and Soul Silver amend many mistakes of the series during the past decade and add even more to not become "just another remake" it feels just like going to those nostalgic days while still moving forward on what's to come in the near future. It is the perfect balance of depth and enjoyment, it just feels right, it doesn't add an an overwrought plot and doesn't bring unneeded or uninteresting new features or gadgets. It's the prove that when you put heart and soul into something the result is amazing, I was sceptical at first when nintendo announced the remakes because those games meant a lot to me and to many other fans but I'm pleased to see that the wait was worth and that my good memories will remain the same. Heart Gold and Soul Silver are the best looking best planned pokemon games up to date. The best in series...just like that.