A worthy successor

I've been with the Pokemon franchise since its inception here in the US. The anime began airing before the game was released, as I recall, and back then it was something new and exciting and fun. There were so many unique monsters with unique powers, and at that time the entire series was a mystery to me. I recall naming Weepinbell "Plantipod" for a while because I had missed the actual name. Then Red and Blue were released into stores, and the trip to get my own version was almost a wild frenzy. I managed to get one of the last few remaining Blue versions from Toys 'R Us on release night, and delightfully spent the rest of the night building a team consisting of Bulbasaur, Rattata, Pidgey, and Caterpie.

Zip ahead several years. The craze has died down a little. The intense unbalance of the original game, plus the extremely exploitable Missingno bug, has brought the game's quality down. Yellow had been released to cash in on the Pikachu craze, and I got it simply because it was something new. Even if the game was getting a bit dull, I still loved it. As new info on Gold and Silver slowly leaked out, I began spending many an agonizing night looking at information on them. Then, before I knew it, Gold and Silver had hit store shelves and an entire new adventure was waiting. Like Blue before it, I obtained my version the very night of its release, and it too was among the last of the copies on the shelf. And, like Blue, I picked the less popular of the two versions: Gold.

Hum, that was lengthy, wasn't it? Enough history-of-my-life lesson, and more review. I was not disappointed in the least by this game. If anything, this game made me feel disappointed in the originals! The Day and Night feature added a feel to the game's journey that was incredible, making it feel more real. Male and Female Pokemon just seemed like something that should've been there from the start. And the PokeGear's multifunctionality made me wonder how I'd ever played without something like it.

With 100 monsters added to the game, everything was revived for me. It was exciting again to explore, find, and capture new Pokemon I had never seen. The excitement doubled as I explored these new Pokemon's abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and moves. Breeding allowed me to obtain more of my Starters, something I had long dreamed of, as well as create movesets that were impossible any other way. The game was more balanced due to the introduction of two new types: Dark and Steel, both having an advantage over the insanely overpowered Psychic type. Unfortunately, the types were underutilized in the game and Psychic still dominated, but not by as enormous a lead. Although I've never been one to go into serious competitions, this game made me seriously consider building a powerful team for a competition of sorts. Too bad there were never any tournaments here...

The quest as usual is easy for any experienced gamer, but I think it's notable as being possibly the easiest of the main Pokemon games released yet. The Elite Four's levels are extraordinarily low compared to the RBY and RSE equivalents, and the Gym Leaders aren't much better. Team Rocket's back, of course, and they quite sadly are among the easiest foes in the game. Your new rival, though, steals his first Pokemon and is overall a darker foe than Gary could've hoped to have been, even if he is also rather easy to defeat. The adventure is much longer, reaching after the conquest of the Elite Four into the Kanto region of old. There, you face some of the old gym leaders [such as Lt. Surge, Blaine, and Brock], but other gyms have new leaders, such as Viridian. Eventually, you wind up facing the main character of the previous game -- known simply as Red or Blue, depending on your version -- with the highest level AI team in a Pokemon game up to that point. Overall, the quest is the usual stuff laced with nostalgia of the original and a little new ideas sprinkled here and there, which wasn't bad at all then.

The graphics are simple, though more detailed and cleaner than the originals. Pokemon lack their own unique sprites out of battle, which can make telling Pokemon apart on a team roster very difficult if they aren't left simply with their species name. The sound is nothing more or less than you'd expect from the GBC, being mostly bloops, bleeps, and blargs, even for the Pokemon. Noises are all mostly unique, though some resemble each other a little too much, but overall they get the job of differentiating the Pokemon done. The music is more complex that RBY's, with many nice remixes in the Kanto region, including battle themes. This game's sound would probably deserve a 7 if it were not for the awesome, top-notch Team Rocket theme, something that the Team Magma/Aqua theme in RSE did not match at all.

Pokemon GS is a game that was fun then, and is fun now. Though it has been succeeded by Ruby and Sapphire, many still consider Gold and Silver to be the Golden Age of Pokemon gaming. Considering the quality of these games, it's not hard at all to see why.