This is a series of features that focuses on games that we keep playing again and again, either over an unhealthy number of hours or those that keep getting return visits long after they first graced our systems. In this entry Mitch talks about his favourite Pokémon games, which also happen to be the community's favourites too.
With each new generation of Pokémon, the overall number of Pokémon in the National Dex has climbed far beyond the original 151. Obviously, Pokémon has been spread over multiple generations of hardware, and this has further made it more difficult to "catch 'em all". On the Game Boy Advance, Game Freak began a method of alleviating this somewhat with remakes of the first generation games, giving gamers a more streamlined method of collecting the original Pokémon. This was continued on the DS with remakes of the second generation of games, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
As a relatively young gamer, this offered me an opportunity to partake in a generation of games that I'd missed out on. My earliest memories of Pokémon are of the original Gold and Silver, but I didn't actually play any of the games until the third generation and on. Though I admittedly didn't enjoy Pokémon LeafGreen as much as I thought I would, I'd always been curious about the generation two games. So, it came as an extremely pleasant surprise when it was announced that there'd be remakes of them.
Since then, I've played through at least one game from each generation – in their original forms – and the generation two remakes are still the ones that I go back to the most often. The Pokémon series is one that has – despite the subtle changes made to the formula across generations – more or less remained fundamentally stagnant. Some say this is a drawback of their approach, others would say that it's a strength, but the generation two remakes have always stood out to me as the most distilled and satisfying example of the Pokémon formula.
Pokémon has always been about the experience of travelling through a new region and encountering all kinds of new Pokémon along the way. No two playthroughs are quite the same, as diversity of Pokémon species – along with more nuanced differences in terms of moves, natures, EVs, and IVs – allow for completely unique team builds. Each Pokémon game has done this to great effect, but HeartGold and SoulSilver arguably had the best mixture of old and new Pokémon.
In addition to this, it featured a very diverse and broad array of Legendary Pokémon, something that has always been an aspect that I've loved about the Pokémon games. As opposed to most 'normal' Pokémon, most Legendaries have a history or backstory to them that makes them far more than just another thing to catch. Seeing as how there's only one of each, and that you usually have to go through several hoops to find them, it always feels like an accomplishment when you finally manage to bag a Legendary.
The greatest thing that the second generation games had – and something that no other game in the series has replicated – was an expanded post-game, realized through a second journey that goes through the Kanto region from the first generation games. One problem that I've always had with Pokémon games is that they tend to taper off after the initial quest is conquered. Sure, you can always try to finish the Pokédex or you can focus on making the perfect team, but I never really felt very compelled to continue playing a Pokémon game very long after beating the Elite Four.
This was changed when I played through SoulSilver, and it's the primary reason I go back to this one the most frequently. I was unaware that there would be anything significant beyond the Elite Four, and I'll never forget the moment that it's revealed that you get to go through an entirely separate series of gyms in another region. This makes the world feel significantly more expanded and it's something that I was mildly surprised was never done again.
There may be some technical reasons that prevent this from being viable, but there's really something important to be found in having an expanded quest in a Pokémon game. The goal becomes less focused on building one's team and more on utilizing it to the best of one's ability. Moreover, you're both given reason to continue training your Pokémon and given suitable resistance to train them. The second region is, to reference other popular Nintendo franchises, the 'Master Quest' or 'Lost Levels' to the first region, challenging those who have already beaten the game to do it again for an altered campaign.
Pokémon is a series that I always find myself coming back to, even when I feel that I've grown tired of its repetitive formula. While my personal favourite games remain HeartGold and SoulSilver, I eagerly hope that the new entries - Pokemon Sun and Moon - find ways to surprise us. I will certainly be eagerly awaiting what the Pokémon company has in store for us this year.
I always loved Gold and Silver as well. Honestly I hope that the re-release of the original R/B/Y games leads to playable Gold/Silver/Crystal games that work with Pokemon bank too.
Though I must admit I am enjoying my virtual console Pokemon Blue as well. The only thing that could make it better would be to have Blue and Red use the Super Gameboy Palettes but that isn't gonna happen so I'm just enjoying it on gameboy green mode.
The double region was a huge surprise to me too! Really made the game feel massive hopefully Sun and Moon does something like that if it's a new region with Kalos as a second region!
Gold, Silver & Crystal were amazing at the time and long stood as my favourite Pokémon games. What made them special was that you could return to the Kanto region of the first three games, where some things were changed and three years had passed. Some of the old features were missing, though, like the Safari Zone, Cerulean and Seafoam Caves or Viridian Forest. HeartGold and SoulSilver remedy this by putting these areas back in, while also adding all the little additions from Crystal and most of the new features added in the third and fourth generations. It's not just a game that has stood the test of time, but also works really well as a remake. It's, simply put, the best Pokémon game made even better.
These are the best games, it's a shame ORAS didn't live up to their originals in the way this one did. Pokemon died at gen 6 for me, but it was time I moved on and grew up anyway. At 17 my tastes really have taken a drastic change, unfortunately this console generation of Nintendo hasn't satisfied.
In my opinion the best Pokémon games to date.
I've never played the Gold and Silver games so this was an interesting read. Just looked them up on GameStop and saw they go for $50 used O_O
Guess I wont ever play Gold or Silver
@DoctorOverbuild this is my expectation, Sun and Moon acting as a third game and a new generation at the same time.
The best pokemon games in the franchise and i played a game in each generation. But i would love it if we could go back to the old regions in the next generations as i did miss that they never gave that option in the other generations after these games.
HeartGold is easily my favorite Pokemon game. It fires on all cylinders.
@Frank90 Just like how Gen 2 did to Gen 1!
This is arguably the best games out there, remade off the original games in their majestic glory. I still love these games.
I hope Sun and Moon can look to this and grab many of the successful elements from it
@BertoFlyingFox Yeah due to the incredible popularity of these games and all the new players that came with gen 5/6 The fact these games aren't produced anymore means they're very hard to find at a reasonable price as everyone wants them! Luckily I still have my release day copies haha
@DoctorOverbuild Yeah! And it was of the main reasons to make gen 2 one of the best! You just beat the game, what can you do now? Beat a new game inside the same cartridge. But not just two games in 1, the feel to see Kanto changed was really great.
Now, to you watch would be better, as a second region, Kalos, Hoen or Kanto?
i still have my copy of Heartgold and play it now and then. Definitely my favorite generation
@Frank90 Hoenn if they add the battlefrontier which they teased badly! Kanto would be nice for the 20th anniversary but it's been done already. Kalos as we've not really seen it and it's the first Pokemon game where the region is only explored once if it doesn't happen which I can't believe as there's so much untapped potential! And if it's using the same engine or a similar one it shouldn't be too hard to do! I'll be shocked if we don't see Kalos it's the 20th anniversary it's gotta be huge!
Meh, I prefer the originals, particularly in terms of music and artwork.
While I had some fun with Silver when I was younger, I could never get into these remakes. The overworld just felt so... empty and without charm.
The fact that you can explore the original region in the postgame definitely adds to the fun factor, though.
I'm really happy that Heartgold and Soulsilver were the most voted for games. Beyond the brilliant post-game, I think it's the most polished of all of the games. The ability to have any Pokémon follow you just made the game just feel so much better, as if it's a proper adventure with you and your 'Mons, and they aren't just subservient slaves. Calling people on the Pokégear was a nice touch. And the things that made the game all the more convenient, like auto-run running shoes, berry pots, having the maps on the Pokégear. On top of that, there's that warm, sunny feeling, that could makes me feel nostalgic for the game.
Heartgold is also my favorite and happens to be the first one I have played though admittedly the only other one I have played is X, but I do plan on picking up Alpha Sapphire eventually. All of this Pokemon related news has me itching to go back and play Heartgold again.
Interested to know how many people of my generation (I'm a millenial-by-the-skin-of-my-teeth, being born in 1981, and so nearly 35) are Pokémon people. I have always loved gaming, so when I saw the kids at the daycare where I had an afterschool job playing...no, obsessing...over this relatively new Game Boy game I was intrigued and asked a lot of questions. I remember being invited to play one battle, which I did, but the next time I personally picked up and played any form of Pokémon game was fifteen years later when the X and Y demo released on the 3DS. Needless to say it didn't woo me. Even at the tender age of 18, when our N64 rarely cooled down and collectothons were my theezy, my interest in Pokemon turned out to be primarily anthropological. This is not to say I don't respect it. The blend of collecting, exploring, and roll playing seems like it should be right up my alley, and I've revisited back-catalogue games from the '90's like Super Metroid and the Finals Fantasy VII-IX (Sonic caused a brief lapse from Nintendo in the early 90's, and as I said, for me gaming's name was N64, not Playstation, in the mid to late part of that decade) becoming a massive fan in retrospect. Still, somehow along with Fire Emblem, to Pokémon I remain a sideline semi-fan. Anyone in my age range want to tell me what exactly, and how much I've missed?
I've always loved Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. While not the first Pokemon game that I played (White), I probably had as much fun or maybe not fun that Pokemon X. And it probably made me love it more when I found a shiny rattata.
And the game corner
Going back to Gen 4 from Gen 5 or 6 makes you realise just how.... sloooowww... Gen 4 really was. There's like a two second gap between the attack animation and the monster being hit, and then the HP bar drains sooo slowly. It's werid 'cause Gen 4 was really the only one with this problem - Gen 3 was fast as heck.
Out of all the Pokemon games, soul Silver was tops. That Pokemon walker. I had to catch them all literally. I kept playing this one. the article was spot on.
@BertoFlyingFox Hmm I beg to differ, I suggest you do! HG and SS were awesome, but for me nothing beats the originals (particularly Crystal). Have a read of this if you're interested and haven't already: https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/11/feature_why_were_still_playing_pokemon_gold_silver_crystal
I played Fire Red/Leaf Green but I missed Gold and Silver when they came out.
I'm going to start Pokemon Yellow today, and continue on through HeartGold, Omega Ruby, Platinum, White and Y versions Feel like it's time to return to the most important game franchise of my childhood, and maybe it's delusion from staying up to watch the 24 hour Pokemon stream (which is still going), but I'm super excited.
@Mainsaile there is a huge factor in all pokemon games that is the battles you do in the game story, some are very iconic and memorable for example if you battle a strong gym leader you cant defeat or some big battle facility like (Battle Frontier), the deçision of what pokemon you choose its very important if you want to progress in the game, (the starter pokemon being one of them), and then its comes to a lot of exploring, catching mons in different areas, leveling up your mons, learning special moves to your mons, mega evolutions there is a lot of features and challenges you can participate with your pokemon like contests and so on they all had a very big difficulty and that is why people can become very addicted to the pokémon games, while it still can be a little childish sometimes its a game everyone can play and have lots of fun, but there is this thing called pokémon competitive battling that long time hardcore pokémon fans still play which involves lots of complex strategys to many to type here but i can tell you that to be good in pokemon competitve it takes years and i have been involved in pokemon since the first games come out im 21, and with every new pokemon game it comes more new features, new pokemon and so on that add more depth into the games and it can be hype to everyone that is a fan.
The Nintendo DS have a big library of games, i can say that pokémon HGSS is still probably on the top 10 best DS games , mainly because of the huge content it was , it got very good reviews , things like the pokemon following you , and the the lots of challenges it introduces makes thoses game have a lot of replay value.
Unrelated note. When can I start using Pokemon bank with the VC release of Yellow? The game doesn't show up when I launch Bank
Screw this game. The Pokemon variety is pretty low, most Johto Pokemon are forgettable, the regions have this fascination with no wild Pokemon over Lv30 until the end of the game, even though some areas you can't go to. The difficulty jumps up and down all the damn time and my personal favourite derp of game design here: fly.
You can fly into Johto from the Pokemon League entrance or Mt Silver but not the route between them. If you want to fly into Johto you have to go further away.
@adam9431 The direct said it would work with Pokemon Sun and Moon, I don't it'll work with the others as the press release for Sun and Moon said they're the next generation of Pokemon games so you'll have to wait for them sadly seems like it'll be a gen 7 exclusive feature.
Why the sudden focus on Pokemon these days?
Why do I still play HG SS? Because they are the best ones. O how I with they'd bring back the pokemon following you.
Best Pokemon ever!
@H_Hunter Yeah it's like @ikki5 said it's the Pokémon 20th anniversary so you'll have to deal with this for a year especially with the release of Pokemon GO whih anyone with a phone can get and now with sun and Moon the hype for Pokémon will explode haha
Loving the 2nd gen love
That said, the balance/level curve in 2nd gen was pretty bad. Johto was WAY too easy for anyone who actually fought every trainer, used proper type match ups, and...well... simply used their starter instead of sidelining them. The starters crushed the competition most of the time. Then, the Elite Four were way harder than everything up to that point. Everything afterwards in Kanto was piss easy by comparison to the E4, followed up by a ridiculous difficulty spike against Red.
Certain mods do a fairly good job of correcting this, whether it be the HG/SS mods Sacred Gold/Storm Silver or Perfect Heart/Perfect Soul, or even Kaizo Crystal for those who are really seeking a challenge. The modded HG/SS versions also have all nearly 500 Pokemon up to 4th gen, so no trading is required. For those looking for something different from the traditional formula, the Prism version, a mod of Crystal, and Dark Energy, a mod of Silver, both have a completely different campaign.
@WillTheLion That's why I'm waiting to get a cartridge to play on my Super Game Boy instead of using the 3DS virtual console.
HGSS is definitely one of my favorites (although I don't think it's the best one, that honor goes to Platinum). Johto was the first region I played through, so I have a lot of nostalgia for the region. And although there are still flaws to the game such as the imbalanced Johto Dex and the pacing, they managed to improve on the games in a lot of ways, especially post game content (in my eyes, Kanto isn't post game, it's part two of the adventure. So HGSS gave it a proper post game and replay value). Pokemon following was also a great feature that really enhanced the connection between you and your Pokemon, more so than even Amie does now.
@Bolt_Strike Platinum is my favourite too I hope when the day comes when they remake 4th gen they remake platinum imagine a distortion world with the 3ds! Although by the time they remake 4th gen it'll be way past the 3ds! Still I'm disappointed it didn't get on the list maybe if they paired the games together it would've got on the list? We're getting to the point where the gen 4 games are getting a bit pricey boxed Platinum is starting to go over about £30 which is pricey for a game that came out in 2009
@Expa0 But that's why the GB Sounds device was such a small but import inclusion. It even had fantastic chiptune versions of areas that weren't in the original. This, along with many other touches (the inclusion of the originally missing Kanto elements, the trailing Pokemon, the beautifully realised Pokewalker [I can't think of a gimmick that has felt more right], etc.) is why I think it's such a fantastic, well-realised game.
To me, it felt like so much more than a rehash designed to work people's nostalgia glands. It felt like the the developers had got back together and decided to simply continue development on the game they started all those years ago. Like they got to add in all the bits they couldn't due to time or hardware constraints. None of the new additions felt 'new', as in 'tacked on' (which felt a little the case with the Sevii Islands [though I still really liked them!]). It just felt like the game had grown to fill its rather splendid boots.
I also think HGSS is the best Pokemon has ever looked, though there's little point arguing over that. After HGSS the games got sort of uncomfortably faux-3D, and then actual 3D, neither of which I was a fan of. I like the GB visuals a lot too, but I don't think I'd want to play many new releases like that. I feel like I could play things that looked as lush (but relatively simple) as HGSS forever.
Sun and Moon should take inspiration from HG/SS. Without a doubt the best Pokemon games to date.
@DoctorOverbuild yah, they seem to have stopped making these multi-region games or games where you can fight previous games' champions etc.. I would really like to see this return!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you get the GB tune thingy at like the later part of Kanto or something? My point being that you barely have time to use that on a regular playthrough.
These are both excellent, excellent games, and are my favorite Pokemon remakes to date. The visual overhaul of both Johto and Kanto was beautiful, Pokemon could finally(!) follow you around if you wished, and the menu system was very intuitive for me.
The only negative that I can think of is that they dumped Crystal's design for Lyra's.
@Calllack When Black and White 2 had the area where you could battle older gym leaders and champions it was amazing! I was shocked when it didn't appear in X and Y and I thought ORAS would've been good as they've already remixed a set of gym leaders and champion themes I would've thought it could be ideal to do it then but no dice Still I'm hyping this game when they 'bring it all together' they could add that back in and hopefully go to Kalos! Then that'd be game to remember!
@Expa0 Yeah you don't get it until you've pretty much done with the game sadly so you don't really use it that much
I didn't think I would ever outgrow pokémon, but I feel like it is beginning to happen. I super thrilled for the VC releases of the original 3 games, but any new original release, just doesn't entice me anymore. I haven't had fun with an original release since Pearl. I don't know whether it is because of the amount of pokemon now or what. It just seems daunting and at the same time, like they are running out of ideas. I wish they would just make a cutoff soon and have no more new pokemon.
Keep making games of course, but just with the what; 700 they have now.
@Expa0 You're correct in both counts. I was going to make a point about the device giving you a reason to go back to all the places you'd visited and rediscover them in their 8-bit glory, but it seemed slightly peripheral amongst the main points.
Anyway, that's one argument in favour of its late game inclusion. It might seem pretty limp, and you DO have a good point: you can't play through the main story with the chiptune soundtrack, as you could in the originals. Personally, I really like the updated soundtrack in itself, and also as another thing to discover when playing through the games for the first time. The GB Sounds device was the icing on the cake for me, and a fantastic late game reward.
But this is largely personal, and doesn't address your argument. You CAN only play through the main game with the chiptune soundtrack in the originals, and this represents and potential advantage (depending on your preferences) of the originals over the remakes.
Yellow was the first pokemon game I ever played and I've been hooked since. But I got gold straight after and it literally blew my mind. Not only was it an awesome new reigon (johto is still possibly my favorite) but then going to Kanto and seeing that 3 years after the events of yellow was just amazing. Particularly as life wasn't so riddled with spoilers as it is now. It was a completely new experience and I do really need to get heart gold lol. I just can't believe how expensive it still is!
@WillTheLion I wish they would just add the option for all Gameboy virtual console games to be played with a choice of Colour schemes just like you can when you put a GB game into the GBC or GBA.
Is it really that hard Nintendo? I'm sure other emulators must have the function too.
@Manjushri Not quite sure if video games will be the same when I'm 31. Not that modern gaming has taken a fall in quality, the opposite in fact, but games are just going to be harder to make and ideas might become sparse. Movies don't need new ideas because they can pull off the same cliche story over and over again and use milked superhero franchises to earn millions of dollars.
I should have chimed in earlier, but I had a friend over at my place and I couldn't. What more needs to be said, though?
HeartGold and SoulSilver set things right once again after the embargo established by Ruby and Sapphire, giving players back their right to catch a Lugia or a Ho-Oh without the need of a ticket for Navel Rock, or an entire side game for that matter (as enjoyable as Gale Of Darkness was).
Maybe it's just my nostalgia talking, but Johto and Kanto alone in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl's engine would have sufficed for Game Freak to call it a day; but said studio, instead, went the extra mile and breathed new life into the timeless conjoined regions. To say their experiment was successful would be an understatement: the lack of direct compatibility (as Gen IV-to-Gen V travel is a one-way deal) is the only thing that keeps the new Johto and Kanto from giving the following generations a run for their money.
@Mr_Diabolical I'm 27 and I can tell you from experience that without Nintendo, gaming just wouldn't have been the same. They always do something different, which I appreciate considering that other consoles love flooding the market with FPSs
I would like to get HeartGold someday, but not at the prices they are going for. Maybe someday on the NX eshop?
@Kalmaro Nintendo still occasionally makes a great game, but I don't think it's because they're different. Nothing wrong with FPS's either, there are some great games that are FPSs like Bioshock and COD4, they just happen to be popular. But yeah, shame to the half-assed ones that put little to no effort into making the game work.
I would love for the double region thing to return in Sun and Moon, but guys, we were just in Kalos and Hoenn. C'mon now.
Give us Sinnoh instead! I would love to see an updated Sinnoh.
Well, crap. I clearly should have gotten SoulSilver when it was new. Cheapest ones I'm finding now are like, $50. Oh, well. I can always just get X or Moon to satisfy.
Conveniently enough, I am planning on booting up Pokemon Soulsilver and start over for the second time in just a few short days. Something about that particular Pokemon game is just better than the modern ones. It is head and shoulders above Pokemon X and Y, at least to me it is.
@Genesaur Platinum's around £80 on some websites, lol!
Yeah, honestly, HeartGold and SoulSilver very well might be the best Pokemon games to date. Perfect example of a remake done right.
@Dpullam I think it's because X and Y ends so suddenly. At least for me, I felt it had one of the weakest endgames of the whole series.
I miss HeartGold. That'd have to be my favorite Pokemon game. Had to sell it to get money for buying Christmas presents.
@MitchVogel I completely agree. The ending left alot to be desired, so I ended up quitting the game shortly after I finished the campaign. (And earned Mega MewTwo.)
dude heartgold and soulsilver was sweet. haven't really played the sinnoh games, but they're on my "to play" list.
Because its an epic game!
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