Anticipation of what you may ask? Well, my fair reader, let me enlighten you.
For those of you that are unaware, Nintendo has remade the second generation Pokemon games. Originally titled Gold/Silver (and rapidly after, Crystal), these two new titles will be called HeartGold and SoulSilver. While I’m not entirely fond of the title choice, I am absolutely stoked for these titles to be released in America.
What day will that be?
MARCH 14th, 2010!
Now, these games have already seen release in Japan. Launched in September, the games sold over two million units in their first six weeks of sales. Reception has been initially positive in Japan. A Japanese gaming magazine known as Famitsu gave the games a combined score of 37/40 based on four individual ten-point reviews. The individual reviews rated the games at 9, 9, 10, and 9. Each reviewer praised the games for retaining the quality that drew them to the original Gold/Silver. This is high praise, considering Gold/Silver were perhaps the most innovative and well-received of the series. The only drawback the reviewers found was that the game offered “no major surprises.” We can only hope America feels the same way. ^.^
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver have captured my interest and excitement for over a year now, since the first speculations and rumors hit the web. After the official announcement that Nintendo would indeed be remaking the original Gold/Silver games, the anticipated waiting began. I have held on with bated breath for updates and new information on these tightly wrapped projects. From everything I’ve seen so far, the wait has been well worth it.
Because there are still three months until the release date of this game (and I’ve already put down the money to preorder my copy of HeartGold), I decided I would whip up a delectable post containing all the relevant information about the upcoming games. It’s partly an excuse for me to drool over all the exciting new features and partly because I don’t think many people are aware of the changes that are going to be taking place for these titles.
At first, we had nothing to see but the logo for the upcoming games. These logos were rough, edgy, and somehow managed to drive me into a frenzy of fandom. For your viewing pleasure, here are the Japanese logos.
Now that we’ve come closer to the release date and GameStops across the country have the “mock boxes” sitting out begging for you to preorder (and constantly reminding me that I have no time machine to get to March 14th faster…), we have images of what the boxes will look like for the American release. Well, these would look like the American release boxes if they were covered in English text.
These two games will retell the story of Jhoto. The player will start in New Bark Town, as he did in the original Gold/Silver games. However, while the story remains very similar, there are a lot of things that will be changing between the games. I have outlined as many of those changes as I am aware of below.
First of all, the characters themselves will be changing. While the original “Gold” remains the male playable character, he has received an updated design. And while Gold’s original female counterpart would have been Kotone, she has been replaced by an all-new female character named Kris.
All of the game’s music has been rearranged to better utilize the DS’s more sophisticated sound systems. (After all, the DS is a far cry away from the Game Boy Color we all grew up with and loved very dearly.) There will be a key obtainable item, however, that will allow the player to switch between the new, updated arrangements of the music and the original chiptune soundtrack. Ambient sound effects will also be much more prominent in these remastered games. Where in the original versions, there was really no sounds but the chiptune soundtrack and Pokemon battle noises, in HeartGold/SoulSilver, players will be treated to the sounds of running water and rustling grasses among other sounds. This should add an entirely new layer of texture and realism to the games.
As is to be expected, the Pokedex has also been updated to accommodate some of the fourth generation evolutions of originally Jhoto Pokemon.
As in the original game, the bad guys will be Team Rocket (perhaps the most sinister of the Pokemon antagonist teams), but we will be seeing four new Rocket Executives. Each Executive has taken the name of a real-world Rocket.
Apricorns will be making a reappearance, much to my utter delight. Each of the original Apricorn’s corresponding Pokeball will also thus be obtainable. All the “Berry Trees” from the original Gold/Silver games have been switched into Apricorn trees, making the process of turning Apricorns into Pokeballs a much more feasible project.
Many of the Jhoto region Gyms have been redesigned. This provides new puzzles and challenges for those individuals who played the original Gold/Silver games. While the Leaders themselves remain unchanged, their teams have also been updated in some cases as well as their surroundings. (This was honestly a very good sales and marketing strategy for Nintendo and I am quite pleased to know that I won’t essentially be playing the exact same game with slightly better graphics and music.)
Defog will be losing it’s status as an HM, stepping down to let Whirlpool take it’s rightful place as the 8th HM.
Perhaps not entirely life-altering, the player will now also be able to see how many Jhoto and Kanto badges he or she has earned. In the original versions, there was no way to see the Kanto badges you had earned after completing the Jhoto region.
Some location changes will also be occurring. For the first time in any Pokemon game, the Professor’s lab will have an upstairs level where his family lives as opposed to a separate, smaller building in New Bark Town. The Battle Tower from Pokemon Crystal makes a reappearance, bringing with it the Battle Frontier technology from Pokemon Platinum. Two new routes will be introduced, one leading to a brand new Safari Zone, and the other leading to a location known as the Hidden Tower. Mount Silver is much more vast and the Viridian Forest has not been cut down (as it was in the originals). The Fighting Dojo in Saffron City will now be taking a role similar to that of Sinnoh’s Battleground. Cerulean Cave and the Seafoam Islands will still be reachable in these games, allowing players to have access to the Legendary Birds, though Moltres will now be found in Mount Silver.
There will also be quite a few changes in the overall gameplay from the original Gold/Silver to the new releases of HeartGold/SoulSilver. These gameplay changes are not to be booed or hissed at. I think that each and every one of these changes will only add to the overall experience. While they may take some getting used to for those of us who have been playing since the dawn of the series with Red/Blue/Yellow, they should make the game more intuitive to play as well as more immersing. I’ve outlined a lot of these changes here as well.
Perhaps the biggest change in gameplay is a new peripheral called the Pokewalker. This external pedometer-styled device comes packaged with every game. The Pokewalker is shaped like a Pokeball and can communicate with the DS game cartridge through infrared signals (the same technology used in some other current DS titles, such as Personal Trainer: Walking). A single Pokemon can be carried in the Pokewalker at a time. Walking with the Pokewalker will not only increase the Pokemon’s experience and improve its overall attitude toward its trainer, but also provides the player with Watts, a currency for the Pokewalker that can be used to purchase items and catch wild Pokemon. (Even though this new feature is being bundled with every copy of Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver, Nintendo has announced that it will not carry a heftier pricetag.) The Pokewalker is pictured below.
Similar to what Pikachu did in Pokemon Yellow, all 493 Pokemon have the ability to walk behind the character sprite in-game. While size isn’t necessarily accurate in comparison with the player’s sprite, the player does have the ability to interact with the Pokemon following them by pressing A. The player can then find out how the Pokemon is feeling right there in the moment. When entering battle, the Pokemon following the player will appear from the side of the screen as opposed to from a Pokeball. (Which makes sense, as the Pokemon was obviously not in a Pokeball prior to the start of battle.) To choose what Pokemon a player wants to follow them is as easy as putting said Pokemon in the lead party slot.
The Start menu, Pokemon Storage System, bag, and party interface will all be viewed on the touch screen in HeartGold/SoulSilver, making them faster and easier to use. As well as being able to set a single item for permanent use (such as the Running Shoes or the Bike), a player can now choose two items to set in such a manner, as opposed to just one. Because the Running Shoes are such a popular choice, players now have an option to add in another item they frequently use, such as a Fishing Rod for easy use.
Legendary Pokemon from other regions are available in both games. (For a list, please keep reading below. I’ve included a bulleted list of Pokemon exclusive to each new game.)
Pokemon can now headbutt trees to shake out wild Pokemon again. This ability continues after the Nationaldex is obtained, and the Pokemon that are shaken out can be from the Sinnoh region.
A new sidequest called the Pokethlon makes it’s appearance in these games. It appears to be HeartGold/SoulSilver’s equivalent of the Contest system in previous games. The Pokethlon pits Pokemon in 10 minigame styled competitions against each other.
Berries are very limited in HeartGold/SoulSilver. They are obtainable in exchange for shards from Jugglers in Violet City. However, the variety is very constrained. The other berries can be traded over, however, from previous games. Berries can also be grown remotely using the Pokewalker.
Swarm Pokemon are also making a reappearance. Like in the original Gold/Silver games, you can listen to Professor Oak’s radio station daily and he will you when there is a swarm of Pokemon at a particular location. These Pokemon will appear in vast quantities in a particular location for a very short time after Professor Oak’s announcement.
Due to the absence of a VS Seeker, the Pokegear has updated it’s former “Cell Phone” feature. The new Cell Phone has a limitless call list. Going back to rebattle trainers now depends on the day and time now, though. This should cause players to plan wisely as well as letting the player interact with these NPCs as though they were more like real individuals by “scheduling” times to battle.
The starter Pokemon from Kanto and Hoeen are obtainable in each game after certain requirements have been met.
Many Pokemon have received updated, improved, and more well-rounded movesets through breeding. Togepi, for instance, now has the ability to learn Extrasensory through breeding. Breeding has also taken a step up in that specific Individual Values (which is basically a measure of how Pokemon grow in their stats as they evolve) can be passed down through Breeding with the use of certain items.
Commemorative photos can be taken at certain points in the game and viewed later from the Pokegear. While these photos have no real effect on the overall game, they do add a sense of immersion. They’re also sort of a kitschy addition that, while not necessary, I’m still sort of excited for.
Like in Pokemon Platinum, HeartGold/SoulSilver will allow players to rebattle Gym Leaders. The Gym Leaders will have widely superior teams than in their first battles. However, getting to these battles will take some persistence and organization. The Gym Leaders will be found in the Fighting Dojo in Saffron City after you have scheduled a rematch with them. (Thankfully, they stay there until you’ve beaten them so you don’t have to reschedule if you lose the first rematch.)
The host of Legendary Pokemon within HeartGold/SoulSilver is absolutely astounding. While it does not encompass all of the Pokemon I would like to have at my disposal, there are more than I have ever seen obtainable in a single game previously. Note that all of these can be obtained through the individual game (some will need the aid of a cooperating friend with the opposing title) without any special items or events that are not already programmed into the game. (Basically, these Pokemon do not need to be obtained through a Nintendo Wireless Event.) Please see below for a list of the Legendary Pokemon awaiting your capture.
HeartGold/SoulSilver is far from a perfect Pokemon game, however. Just like in all the previous games, there are Pokemon that are unobtainable in these games. Period. While the list appears rather long, don’t fret. A number of these Pokemon can be traded over from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum if you’re lucky enough to have a copy of that and a cooperating friend around. The following is the most up-to-date and complete list of unobtainable Pokemon I’ve been able to compile.
Like the past few generations of games, Nintendo will be holding Wi-Fi Events to distribute particular Pokemon that would otherwise be unavailable in the games. A number of these events have already been confirmed in Japan, though the dates have yet to be set for their American counterparts. I can only pray that all of these events will reach America so that I may have a chance of obtaining these Pokemon as well. (You hear that, Nintendo? I want these Pokemon REALLY badly!) Please remember that the dates for these Wi-Fi events are the confirmed Japanese Wi-Fi Event Dates. There have been no confirmed Wi-Fi Event dates for America or Europe as far as I’m aware.
Yellow Forest: This event took place between September 18th and November 10th. The gift provided a new course in the Pokewalker completely filled with Pikachu. However, these Pikachu had a special move!
10th Anniversary Mew: This is the event I’m looking forward to the most. All of my Pokemon-playing life, I have dreamed of obtaining a legitimate Mew from a sanctioned Nintendo event. If I don’t make it to any of the other events, I will make this one. The Mew you obtain will be at lvl 5 and know no special moves, perfect for training up exactly the way you want her.
There are currently other speculated events that have very little information. I have not included information on these events for lack of credible source information.
As if I haven’t overloaded you with information yet, there’s still the matter of choosing between the two versions. They are not the same in their entirety. As with most versions of the Pokemon series, the two different titles differ slightly in the Pokemon that are available in each. Included here are the lists of Pokemon that are exclusive to each title.
First, we’ll cover Pokemon exclusive to SoulSilver.
And these are exclusive to HeartGold
And that is that. Until March 14th, that is about all the information I can pull on these two spine-tingling new games. Be advised, however, that this is far from the last you will hear on Pokemon. After I’ve had a few days to plow through my games, you’ll get some more personal opinions on how all of these changes work. Thanks for sticking with me through this rambling post. I hope it provided you with some good information!