(Almost) three weeks ago, Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver were released in North America. For more than two weeks, I have been reliving an addiction from high school… though if I were still IN high school, I would have plowed through both Johto and Kanto by now (but that’s a story for a different time).
When I originally played Pokémon Silver, it was a major step up from the first generation. It had much to do with utilizing the Game Boy Color’s slightly enhanced capabilities — and it certainly drove GBC sales — but the changes reinvented the series with so many things its players take for granted today, like breeding.
For those of you who never played the original, or have yet to pick up this latest installment, here are a few notes to take with you. First and foremost, if you like playing Pokémon games, buy this one.
Days of the week
While Diamond/Pearl brought back the day/night cycle, the other part of the advance is now here. There were many obscure parts of GS that were based on the day of the week. Certain characters would only appear on certain days, including the seven day people waiting to be found tucked away somewhere in the world to reward players with a special item.
And don’t forget to keep your ears out for daily swarms, which leads us to…
The pokégear was another gameplay advancement made in GS. The phone allowed you to stay in touch with key NPCs, who could provide information on their service (Professor Oak, Day Care people), or random trainers who would level-up their team and beg you for a rematch, other trainers who will help you with items and still others who will keep you in the know when a swarm is going down.
The phone, though, had a strict limitation: you could only keep 10 phone numbers in it. In Heart Gold/Soul Silver, you can catch them all. Though, they seem to call you less in the remake. Perhaps I should reach out and touch someone more often.
Making a return from far more limited roles in Pokémon Yellow and in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum‘s Amity Square, Heart Gold/Soul Silver allows you to take any pokémon for a walk, (nearly) anywhere. Whoever is in your team’s lead position follows you around on foot. You can interact with them to judge their happiness, see hidden messages and even find items.
Boy did Game Freak go out of its way to rebuild this.
After meeting certain conditions, you are allowed to reconfigure the order of Johto’s Safari Zone’s areas. By doing so, you can affect which pokémon appear in the areas, and how often. Later, you can further affect this by placing objects within the zones.
Even better, your customized Safari Zone can be traded around with other Heart Gold/Soul Silver games.
Making the bonus pokéballs was one of my favorite new features of GS. In the name of more and better, HG/SS strongly encourages your apricorn picking by eliminating another old limit: Instead of ane ball constructed a day, you can order as many pokéballs as you have of a single type of apricorn. Got eight white apricorns? You’ll get eight fast balls. I’ve been picking like mad every day I have time to in order to maximize my specialty pokéball supply.
I have to admit, I haven’t done this yet. But for those who tire of playing dress-up, why not race your pokémon instead?
Of all the new ideas for the remake, this was the best.
Raise pokémon on the go! Toss one in before you go out the door, perhaps find some other pokémon and items while walking, and bring it all back to your game at the end of the day with extra happiness and enough EXP to go up a level.
It sounds simple, yes. But Tamagotchi’s got nothing on how well this fits into the whole game dynamic, especially for us working stiffs.
While Diamond/Pearl‘s addition of fertilizer remains, there no places in Johto or Kanto to grow berries anymore. Instead, you carry around four berry pots with you to grow berries in.
On the one hand, you don’t have to travel all over the world trying desperately to keep your plants from withering. On the other hand, you can only cultivate four berry bushes at a time.
No big surprise here. Celebi has been notoriously unobtainable through the generations as Nintendo’s rarest handout outside of Japan. Nintendo boldy never provided a way to obtain this the first time GS hit America; Celebi only appeared in the NEXT generation as a Nintendo event that required you to travel to one of a handful of malls in the United States.
It may be the only way to obtain a 4th-generation Celebi is to trade the one you may have driven across two states for back in 2006 (No, I was working the day they went to Massachusetts).
(Man, Jirachi and Mew are disgustingly common in comparison, eh?)
Slots in the game corner
We can’t encourage gambling in the kiddies, now, can we?
Fortunately, the replacement game, Voltorb Flip, is more fun than slots. Once you get into it, if feels like a watered-down version of Sudoku, but you may not uncover enough information to figure out the field without first making a lucky guess or three.
The original hidden base, your room, could be decorated with dolls, furniture and more back in the original GS games. Mysteriously, neither your room nor the hidden bases have made the cut into Heart Gold/Soul Silver.