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Pokemon Silver/Gold/Crystal Review Rewind


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On 02/13/2016 at 08:00 AM by Casey Curran

RECOMMENDATION:

These are the Pokémon games to go with if you want the best possible experience on the Gameboy.

It’s funny that the next game in the Pokémon series chose Gold for one of its version colors because sixteen years later and this is still what I consider to be the gold standard for sequels. In a world where video game sequels are usually expected to improve upon the original, this is actually extraordinarily high praise. Yet despite offering just more of the same, I cannot think of any title which delivered absolutely everything I wanted in a sequel as well as these games.

The premise remains unchanged: You must pick between a Grass, Fire, and Water type Pokémon to join you on a quest to capture every Pokémon and train to become the Pokémon champion while stopping the evil plans of a criminal organization. Along the way you will come across over a hundred new Pokémon to capture in addition.

These new Pokémon are mostly great new additions. While there are a few bad designs or gimmicky Pokémon, even the originals had some bad designs to them. Meanwhile, there are many Pokémon which follow the same ideas, such as your early Bug, Flying, and Normal types. Yet they are good variations, such as offering a ladybug and spider Pokémon instead of a butterfly and bee. There is some familiarity to these, but the new Pokémon still feel distinct and stand out from the original 151, which reflects the game as a whole.

Some of these new Pokémon will have one of the two new types: Steel and Dark. These two types balance the game very well, both of which take the previously overpowered Psychic types down a peg. This is especially true for Dark types, as they are immune to Psychic attacks, inflict super effective damage on Psychics, and even have a move that hurts any Psychic type trying to switch out. Meanwhile, previously underpowered Fire, Bug, and Fighting types get their own advantages over these two new types, giving a more level playing field overall. It is disappointing, however, that only one Dark type is available before beating the game, giving little opportunity to test it out, especially since most of them would be an excellent addition to any team.

These new Pokémon also allow for much more team customization than the past titles. It is possible to play this game a dozen times and have largely different experiences because you captured different Pokémon each time. There will be different weaknesses to compensate for, a varied difficulty curve, and a new sense of progression because of many seemingly small differences which add up to a greater sum than its parts. The game is not afraid to throw high powered wild Pokémon against you either, though it is smart to make catching them no easy task.

Catching them all adds a new spin, however, with the breeding mechanic. By leaving two Pokémon in a day care center at once, the two may leave an egg behind. Some Pokémon are only obtainable through breeding, as only their evolutions are catchable. Breeding also adds a new layer of depth to the game as crossbreeding between certain species allows your baby Pokémon to learn otherwise unobtainable moves. These breeding moves add an extra layer of depth to the competitive side of battling Pokémon, which is much more refined than the last games, yet also more approachable than future titles. If you just want to have fun battling against your friends without worrying too much about the deeper mechanics, these are the games to go with.

The new starters are, like their predecessors, a mixed bag. While the designs are just as charming and well thought out as the last three, there is still a definite lack of balance between your choices. This time, however, the Fire starter Cyndaquil is the clear cut best of the three, giving an early type advantage against the Gym Leaders as well as the best final evolution. Grass type Chikorita does have a niche if you want an okay tank, but its Water brethren Totodile mostly gets good moves for its mediocre special attack while its high attack has few moves it can take advantage of. Since Totodile is by far my favorite of the three, I can’t help but feel disappointed by this.

The new Johto region is fun to explore. While lacking as many towns as the Kanto region, it makes up for this element with a plethora of secret areas to explore. There are quite a few caves which are not mandatory to explore, yet offer a surprising amount of content. Your preference will come down to whether you prefer a meatier main quest or a greater sense of discovery.

A preference which may have factored in if the game did not throw in the entire Kanto region from the last game to explore. You get to challenge eight more Gyms, approach all new conflicts and see how the area has changed in the past three years. I can think of so many other video game sequels which offered less content than the Kanto addition alone would provide. That Game Freak managed to fit so much onto a tiny Game Boy cartridge still blows my mind. The Kanto section even concludes with challenging the main character from the last games, an absolutely perfect way to end the game.

There are a number of tweaks which add up to a world of difference as well. Story items, Pokéballs, and healing items have their own unlimited pouches inside your items, for instance, which creates fewer headaches. It does beg the question as to why normal items do have a limit, but this is a minor grievance. Using items and Pokémon moves to get past over world obstacles now can be done with a simple button press as well, which makes it much more convenient moving around.

Really the only serious flaw I can think of has absolutely nothing to do with the game itself, but by technological limits of the time. Due to the day/night cycle, the battery used to save onto the cartridge gets drained very quickly for what it’s used for. A Game Shark can remedy this to create its own saves, but without one it is possible for all of your data to be randomly erased. Outside there, the only other issue I have is a section which requires a lot of grinding before the Johto region’s final boss.

Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal are not just some of the Gameboy’s best titles; they’re some of the best RPGs I have ever played. When I wanted more Pokémon goodness to replay, these were the games I would turn to. Pokémon may have started twenty years ago, but it was perfected seventeen years ago. So why not award them five stars? Well, Game Freak found a way to improve on near perfection. But that is a review for another day.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.

Side By Side - Version Differences


Like the last games, which version you get will determine which Pokémon you can capture. Crystal, however, offers a few extra goodies such as a Battle Tower to play against other trainers, a new (far less stressful) way to capture the Legendary Pokémon Suicune, animations for each Pokémon when they are introduced in battle and the option to play as a girl. Since Crystal’s excluded Pokémon are also mostly not that good, it is the version I recommend.


 

Comments

delitos

02/18/2016 at 01:26 PM

I would rather give these games a rating of 4.4/5, rather than half a 5 star rating. Although it does keep some of the traditional stuff from the classic trilogy, the two (Silver and Gold) games are rather kind of an "eh" from me, based on the information from your review, 'lack of balance between your choices', 'few bad designs', yeah those stuff from yours. I feel kind of stupid writing this whole comment, but it's kind of true. Maybe my whole comment is wrong, I don't know, but these games are still good, but still have a few downside, as said before. I've never played any Pokemon game except for the Red version, so that's why.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

02/18/2016 at 02:06 PM

Lack of balance between starters isn't that big of an issue because it's not a terrible unbalance, all three are perfectly functional and you can build an excellent team to support them with any choice unlike say Black and White. As for a few bad designs, we're talking about three or four out of over a hundred new Pokemon that's just a nitpick.

vesper27

03/15/2016 at 09:02 PM

How will the Pokemon creators or devs make a different experience?

I was looking at GI and they talked about better starting Pokemon. Sometimes to me they are shitty starting pokemon. A graveler would be nice lol. Very in deep analysis. :)

Check out my page as well . My name is Vesper 27 on here.

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