Game Review

Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Nintendo used "Spare Time Eater"!

(Pokémon history lesson appeared!) A few years after the huge success of Red and Blue, along came Silver and Gold, offering a brand new region and dozens more freaky monsters to catch. Predictably the games were just as successful and even now are fondly remembered by many Pokémon fans – this one included – as their favourite quest to become the ultimate trainer. Here we are, nearly ten years on, revisiting the Johto region on DS, and with the benefit of new technology the games shine brighter than ever. (Pokémon history lesson fled!)

In fact, seeing the region revitalised for modern consoles is a joy in itself, and although it’s not true to say the game maximises the DS’s graphical grunt it still brings the map to life. Each Pokémon now animates on entry into battle, and although the special effects on their moves are nothing to write home about battles are still as enjoyable and engrossing as ever. It’s not a huge leap over previous titles, but the graphics are still above what you’d call functional. Musically, however, functional best describes it: there’s your usual jaunty town tunes and monster cries, but nothing that stands out over standard DS fare.

If you’ve played any of the previous generations of Pokémon, you’ll be immediately familiar with the format: starting out in a leafy village, you discover your destiny is to be a mighty Pokémon trainer and explore the world, capturing monsters left, right and centre whilst accumulating gym badges and generally sweeping all before you. The structure hasn’t changed much over the past ten years for good reason: it’s brilliantly laid-out, with enough freedom to allow you to explore and constantly capture new monsters, but also the right amount of direction to prevent you getting stuck and losing interest.

In fact, that’s arguably the series’ greatest achievement: always keeping you hanging on for the next little event, be it a gym badge, a HM or a new creature to catch. It’s unassailably addictive and when you hit your stride it’s doubtful any DS game will prise it from the slot for weeks.

Silver and Gold veterans will likely be asking about what new features have been added, and the answer both pleases and disappoints. The online battling and trading first introduced in Diamond and Pearl returns, making it moderately easier to catch ‘em all, but the addition of the Pokéathlon adds little to the game. A new touch-screen Pokédex makes things a little easier to navigate, though the rest of the interface still struggles to remove itself from its button-based origins: using the PC boxes is still laborious when it should use drag-and-drop simplicity, and the Pokégear fails to use the DS’s features in the same way as the Pokétch from Diamond and Pearl.

In terms of true series-first features, there’s very little to speak of, although one obvious one comes bundled in the box: the Pokéwalker. Dedicated Pokémasters will see the similarity to a previous Pikachu walker, but this is much more versatile: connecting to the DS cartridge via infra-red (isn’t technology grand?) you can take your Pokémon on walks to generate Watts, which you use to find items and catch Pokémon. It’s a never-ending cycle that keeps you connected to your little monsters even when your DS is out of reach, and although it’s hardly an essential feature it’s a bit of fun and worth trying out, though its long-term appeal isn’t high.

A mixed bag of features then, but the ones you’re likely to use most work well: the Global Trade Station is still an ingenious idea, and the Poképlaza – a gathering place for Pokémon trainers – is a lot of fun, with surveys, toys, minigames and a rudimentary chat function. There are no all-new features you could say are truly essential, but simply bringing Gold and Silver into the DS age will likely be enough for most gamers.

Conclusion

The original Gold and Silver games are fondly remembered by Pokémon fans all over the world, and with good reason: they introduced features that genuinely evolved the games. With breeding and an in-game clock – both since series staples – not to mention many fan-favourite monsters, these remakes were always going to be well received. Although they fail to push the series forward with any true innovations, they excel at retooling now almost obsolete titles into must-haves for fans.

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User Comments (70)

Porky

#5

Porky said:

Were you completely finished with this before the review was posted James? The game is pretty lengthy.

James

#6

James said:

I've currently racked up 17:10 so no, I'm not quite at the end yet. I played the original Silver to completion and absolutely battered Ruby (about 180 hours I recall!) so by my standards, 17:10 is a piddling amount of time for a Pokémon game!

moomoo

#7

moomoo said:

2nd generation was my personal favorite, so I'll get this eventually. It's not like they'll be off store shelves anytime soon.

nintendogamerftw

#8

nintendogamerftw said:

Only 17:10? I've already got 50:07!!! :D
EDIT: You know you can drag and drop Pokemon using the touch screen right? Why would you say the game lacks that?

jackaroo

#9

jackaroo said:

Gold & Silver were the last games I enjoyed in the series. Ruby and Sapphire put me off the series completly and I wont even touch pokemon platinum (it came with my DSi. I had no intention of buying it). But ive decided to buy this since these are remakes of the last games I truly enjoyed. And Gold & Silver are my favourite in the series so im hoping to enjoy these.

nintendogamerftw

#11

nintendogamerftw said:

Are you saying I'm addicted? Well maybe, but my only excuse is this is my first Pokemon game.
Edit: I still smile every time I see your avatar Prosody.

cheapogamer4life

#13

cheapogamer4life said:

Hmm... finished reading the review and im still not sure whats so grand aout catching and training Pokemons in these games. Maybe because its the only type of game that offers this type of gameplay. Whatever the reason Nintendo is good at trying to keep this series fresh...

good review Prosody!

James

#14

James said:

Yep, I know you can drag and drop but the PC system in general needs a bigger overhaul than it gets here. Having to select Move Pokemon, Party Pokemon, Switch and then drag and drop is daft - you should have the boxes displayed on the left (switchable using L and R) and your party displayed down the right. Drag, drop, switch - all done that way.

I probably didn't explain clearly enough but I was saying the interface should be so streamlined by now, but it just isn't.

@Cheapogamer That's something no review can ever explain. There's something inhumanly compelling about it! You really have to experience it to get it, I think.

PhillaLoup

#15

PhillaLoup said:

I'm so buying this!!! Both editions at once ... I have about 90 to 100 playtime hours on platinum! :D

ZarroTsu

#17

ZarroTsu said:

@JimLad: I pray that was sarcastic in some way; Gen2 LITTERALLY had everything Gen1 had. Gen3+ is understandable, but Gen2? Laughable, as the first sequel to a game is never prematurely speculated. Gen3, however, introduced a much smaller world than before, and Gen4 proceeded in doing the same. Gen2 probably remains the best Pokemon game to date, but we'll have to wait and see if Gen5 pulls any new tricks.

Blue_Cat

#18

Blue_Cat said:

I don't feel like checking right now, but I'm in the 30-35 hour range. Personally I feel like this game deserves a 10/10- The minor flaws and quibbles do nothing to detract from the overall experience.

But I agree with you that the PC does need to be re-done. The way it is now is certainly an improvement, but it's not quite 'there' yet.

EDIT: Whoa! I'm actually 44 hours in. I didn't expect that :P

RaylaxStaff

#19

Raylax said:

I can't wait for this to hit the UK. Excellent review, Prosody.

Bah, my copy isn't due to arrive until the 1st of April. Stupid Amazon.

rafaelluik

#23

rafaelluik said:

It is just me that doesn't likes the new boxes system*, Pokémon's info sreens and the Pokédex (with exeption of the new male/female comparison screeen)?

Edit: I saw the * comment and read the review entirely. I'm not the only one! Phew!

Shmavey

#24

Shmavey said:

@rafaelluik I don't really like them that much either, but maybe I just need to get used to it because i've been playing Platinum for 180 hours.

Kid_A

#26

Kid_A said:

It's always difficult for me to push myself to buy the latest Pokemon title, because three months later Nintendo announces another one. It's like Madden or FIFA. Plus, I really think Nintendo needs to do just a little bit more to innovate the series. Slide-show battles are boring to watch, which is inexcusable considering how much the player needs to battle in the game. That being said, HeartGold/SoulSilver still looks like a lot of fun.

Rensch

#27

Rensch said:

Gold, Silver and Crystal were the best in the series. These two games are the best Pokémon games made even better so I can honestly say HeartGold and SoulSilver are now the greatest Pokémon games ever. I also really like how they retain those little additions from Crystal.

miketh2005

#28

miketh2005 said:

this is a remake? booo! pokemon never did have good stories, but they can't expect to get away with using the same story for a new game, can they? (yes they can! (idiots))

Objection

#29

Objection said:

Good review; I think it had an accurate description of the appeal while mentioning how what was added really isn't gigantic. I did like how they changed most of the puzles, though. I'm about 13 hours in on my own copy, although I'd be a lot farther in if I wasn't trying to polish off a few other games...()

Arthur

#33

Arthur said:

lol I am a pokemon addict, I have already played 56 hours of Soul Silver and I have played 685 hours of Platinum, no joke

Arthur

#35

Arthur said:

@quickfingers i have already passed Mt. Silver defeated Red and even gotten myself a lvl. 1 Giratina with its orb that the name of I cannot spell oh and i have ALL fire type starter pokemon

ueI

#37

ueI said:

I think gen 4 fixed all the problems of gen 3, but it was missing the creative spark of gen 2.

TrevorTheChan

#39

TrevorTheChan said:

Last version I owned/played is the Blue Version for the Gameboy. I may have to pick one of these up.

motang

#40

motang said:

I need to pick this one up, it been getting really good reviews all over! Can't wait to get paid. :D

BL_Donth

#41

BL_Donth said:

Nintendo used "Spare Time Eater"...
...and it's super effective.
Awesome review James. I already have 30+ hours on my HeartGold but I'd like to get a copy of SoulSilver in the near future so I can experiment a bit.

Render

#43

Render said:

the only generation i never played, now on DS! I guess its time to get buying it!

Token_Girl

#44

Token_Girl said:

@TrevortheChan

I hadn't played since R/B/Y either, and now I'm addicted to platinum (actually just got to it not too long ago, which is fine, since SS is taking it's sweet time to ship). Totally try it out.

Nightsky071

#47

Nightsky071 said:

@ Jimlad

I totally agree with you. The second generation of pokemon was enough after that nintendo was just pushing their luck and it so happen that,"Just like sonic fans do". Pokemon fans kept buying the damn games allowing them to make more of these dang creatures! Now theres over 500 pokemon. Man! I dont feel like collecting 500 just to train only a few, even when you do collect them all you get nothing for it but a stupid certificate that says! You got all the pokemon WOOOOO! Also dont like the way they did the Global Trade Station... We're trying to catch them all dang it so why do we have to have seen all the stupid creatures first in order to trade for them. That sorta defeats the point of the trade station.
As for the Wi-fi plaza, its not very fun for me at all. you can't chat with players nor exchange friend codes which I think it should have been used for.

I want them to stop with this madness! but so long as the fans of this series keep buying the games. The horror will never stop. Its the same with pokemon Stadium. Pokemon staduim 1 and 2 were awesome, but then Nintendo screwed the newer versions over. Taking everything that made Pokemon stadium fun out making them suck.

Anyway. I really like this remake! (Although I can't clone pokemon nomore)... I think this is the best pokemon game i've played since Red, blue, yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal. All the rest suck. I really hope theres no 5th generation because its getting old.

Bassman_Q

#48

Bassman_Q said:

So far with 8 hours into HeartGold, I think I'm liking it better than Pearl. I played through half of my friend's Silver, and its interesting to see and hear the differences between the old ones and the remakes.

The PokeWalker is just genius, and its uber awesome that you can trade pokemon from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum onto these ones (I currently have a Starly from Pearl on my Pokewalker). The pokemn animations have all been slightly redone since the 4th gen games, and they look even better. I also love how you can pretty much play the game without using any buttons (though you still have to use the D-pad). Its so much easier to navigate menus and control your character in this game, as mostly everything is done with a simple tap!

retro_player_22

#49

retro_player_22 said:

Awesome. Man how I wish for there to be a main Pokemon game where you can travel to all the regions: Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh.

Big_A2

#50

Big_A2 said:

Is it just me, or do some of the trainer's Pokemon have lower levels than the original games...?

A-SWE

#51

A-SWE said:

meh, i dont know.... think I'll just play my original Silver instead

CanisWolfred

#52

CanisWolfred said:

The tried and true formula as always, but the nostalgia will be enough to bring me back long enough to see it through to the end.

Simon_Deku

#56

Simon_Deku said:

HeartGold was in my opinion better than SoulSilver. You should get HeartGold nintendopower33. Platinum was better than this though.

theswweet

#58

theswweet said:

i may be late... but check out these stats!

James
350:46
badges : 8
Pokemon : 386

...that was my pokemon saphire!

andsta

#59

andsta said:

9/10 ? 9/10 ? 9/10 !!!
obviously 10/10 if there could be more than more it is the best !!!

nintendog

#60

nintendog said:

I got soul silver with the lugia figure and it was my very first pokemon game.now i love pokemon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TKOWL

#61

TKOWL said:

I've played it for 25 Hours, and I haven't even gotten all the 8 Gym Badges yet. Seriously, this game is MASSIVE.

Rusty203

#63

Rusty203 said:

@Dragoon, you don't know the half of it. After you complete the main story, you can also challenge the Kanto and Hoenn Pokémon leagues. :-D

Rusty203

#64

Rusty203 said:

Nice review. And I totally agree with it, too. Platinum was my first Pokémon game, and I think it's pretty cool, but I recently got SoulSilver, and looking back on it now, I do not recommend Platinum for first-time Pokémon players. :-( 4th gen was probably my least favorite. But now with the arrival of Black and White, it looks cool, but I might get rubbed the wrong way considering all the new (and in some cases extremely weird) Pokémon, places, everything. It might just make me quit Pokémon alltogether, but hopefully that won't be the case. Does anyone else think that Nintendo is running out of ideas for new Pokémon? Anyway, HeartGold/SoulSilver is definately the best Pokémon game on the market so far.

Rusty203

#67

Rusty203 said:

Whoops. I meant to say you can challenge the kanto gyms (not sure about champion, maybe that would be Red??? He reminds me of Ash...) anyway, yeah. Kanto gyms. I got mixed up, considering you can get kanto starters, hoenn starters... etc.

MrArcade

#68

MrArcade said:

This is my favourite pokemon game so far. I just hope Black/White 2 lets you explore a previous region like sinnoh.

ShinyGold

#69

ShinyGold said:

Ok Im Going to Do a Walkthrough Everyone This Is The Title :Lets play pokemon heartgold&soulsilver part1

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