So exactly one week ago, I bought the new Pokemon game that everyone and their mom has by now. Well, if you have a DS, that is. In any case, the hotly anticipated Pokemon Soul Silver and Heart Gold have finally hit the United States just as they did back on the Game Boy Color just about a decade ago.
Wait, Game Boy Color? That's right. If you were wondering why the names sounded so familiar, these games are none other then remakes for fan favorites Pokemon Gold and Silver, which hit purple handhelds all over ten years ago.
Ten years ago. Can you believe it? It feels just like yesterday that I was cruising through downtown Chinatown with Pokemon Silver in hand, burning Bellsprouts with my new fiery Cyndaquil.
Hey, now that I think about it, Pokemon Silver came out on a Sunday, too. Bless coincidences on your deity of choice.
Pokemon Gold and Silver are often touted as the pinnacle of the series, and regarded by many cynical fans as when the series hit its peak. I have a dissenting opinion on the matter, as I find Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, released for the Game Boy Advance back in 2003, to be the best. Ironically, those are everyone's least favorite. I'm willing to cede objectively, however, as there's really not much to find at fault with Silver. 250 Pokemon? Check. Two regions, one of which is a retread through Red and Blue's nostalgic Kanto? Check. Sixteen gyms? Check. Really goofy Japanese-inspired looking Pokemon? I'm not a big fan of most of them (The Cyndaquil/Mareep families and Lugia are an exception), but why not?
It's no wonder longtime fans were incredibly excited for news of this remake. I find it hard to get excited for games these days, as I don't find myself scavenging for every new piece of information as I used to. Nowadays, I prefer games to hit me by surprise. And I'm finding myself very surprised by Soul Silver, which is amazing considering how disappointed I've been with the series following Ruby.
The absolute core of the game, in which you battle and raise with your Pokemon, is obviously still present. Let me just say this right now. If this is your first foray into the series since forever, and you've encountered your first wild Pokemon, you're going to get the urge. The desire. If you thought had enough of raising these monsters, you're wrong. That unstoppable addiction going to come back, and you'll love every moment of it. After I've completed the main storyline, I'm immediately going to retaliate by raising that giant army of Pokemon I'll have captured over the game.
...you know, I might as well just get get out what I'm enjoying the most at this point. I am absolutely blown away by...well, how much hasn't changed. It's a remake, yes, but I'd say it is more properly a facelift. Other then mentioning/adding new features where appropriate (Pokemon natures/Wi-fi connection/etc.), it's still the same game. All of the NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) still spout their simplistic babble, the events of the main quest run exactly as they did back then, the Miltank in the third Gym still really pisses you off...I'm being completely serious here, it feels so surreal, and it is hands down the biggest nostalgic sweet spot for me. For those wondering whether or not it's worth it to going back to catching 'em all over again, this is exactly where'd I point and say, "There's still a place for you here."
Of course, the game gets right up to date with all the new-fangled features in which Pokemon has evolved over the years. A perfect example of this is Wi-Fi connection, in which you can go online and battle/trade with your friends. I actually haven't gotten around to it yet since my team is abysmal at the moment, but I sense fun times around the corner, complete with trash talking voice chat.
What I'm crazy about now, though, is a particularly minor feature. You remember how Pokemon Yellow's big thing was having Pikachu follow you around? You can do that here, but this time you have the ultimate choice of having any one of those awesome critters be your outside buddy. Yeah, I know, they don't do much, but when you talk to them and the game says they're hugging you or something, it just makes you feel fuzzy. It's just adorable.
So far, my party consists of Quilava, the Fire-type evolution of the above Cyndaquil, and Ampharos, a bipedal Electric-type sheep. I've also been enlisting the temporary help of Pidegotto and jumpy Furret, but they probably won't be around much longer, so I'm left unsure as to what to do with my main party. Lugia is a must, and I'm thinking I'm about to induct a Slowpoke, which I have named Nancy in honor of my Mom's phone gabbing friend, into the family. I've beaten the fifth gym and am taking a break from the main quest in order to build my party.
So yeah, this game is awesome.
You can expect a full review in about a month's time. Until then, I'll be updating frequently with not only reports of my progress, but about my repaired NES!