it’s been years since i’ve played a proper pokemon game, but it certainly hasn’t been for lack of trying. i had started in on a copy of pokemon crystal a while back and got more than a third of the way through, but then the battery died. and then i started on a playthrough of pokemon silver and didn’t get too far before the battery died in that game as well. finally i ended up having to take matters into my own hands and i replaced a dead battery in a copy of pokemon gold [i don’t know when i’m going to get around to posting details about how to change a game boy (or SNES) battery, but there are guides online and if anyone has any questions feel free to email me].
anyway, it was annoying to have to start from scratch and replay so much of the game again, but once i got over that fact i enjoyed the game. this installment introduced several new elements, including 100 new pokemon, the in-game cellphone, the rare appearance of shiny pokemon, the unown (that i wasted time on since it was only after numerous level ups that i realized they don’t learn any moves grrr), and berries and other hold items, not to mention full-color graphics. the new in-game clock is nice in that in adds more realism since certain events only happen on certain days and certain pokemon can only be caught during the day or at night, but as with the animal crossing games the clock gets to be somewhat annoying since during the week i only get to play at night after work and only getting to see the night aspect of the game gets old. i also didn’t find out about how to do breeding until really late in the game, so i didn’t get to explore that feature very much.
the main thing that somewhat bothers me about the games, though, and that bothers me about many RPGs in general, is that the amount of potential depth in the gameplay in building up a great moveset through breeding or using TMs is lost when the game’s level of difficulty just isn’t high enough to require them. against human opponents more-strategic planning would certainly be more necessary, but i beat the main part of the game with little effort and have no interest in maxing out a team of pokemon to level 100. another problem with this game is that despite its new gameplay elements it really just felt like a retread of the story and settings of the first game. the pokemon series is somewhat known for its tiny enhancements through each iteration, even smaller than most other nintendo series, but from what i’ve played so far of gold‘s immediate follow-up, ruby and sapphire seem to have a little more uniqueness, even beyond the improved graphics.
aside from the lack of major innovations, this was an enjoyable if fairly mindless game. the main draws of the series, namely the “gotta catch ’em all” mechanic and the great character designs, continue to be engaging, although i’m not sure how much longer my interest will be sustained. and i still think it’s ingenious that the series makes level grinding enjoyable by giving you a purpose, i.e. to catch rare pokemon. one of these days i’ll have to sit down with one of the games and really try to catch them all. hahaha.
shiny pokemon gold links:
– sprites above from serebii.net’s great RBY/GSC pokedex
– thorough walkthrough at psypokes.com
– bulbapedia has tons of info, including a list of pokémon by catch rate
– interesting chart comparing pokemon sales in japan
– a history of pokemon feature at IGN
– with the release of pokémon heartgold and soulsilver there’s been a lot of looking back at the originals. nintendo put out some video retrospectives via the nintendo channel. not sure how scripted they are, but they’re fairly believable. here’s a link to the first one.
– and here’s a link to the iwata asks feature for pokemon HG and SS