Review | Pokémon Heartgold/Soulsilver
Gotta catch one or the other…
Format: DS | Genre: RPG | Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: GameFreak | Release date: 26/03/10 | RRP: £39.99
Picking up his Pokémon to fill his Pokédex, but tiring of words beginning with Poké, Daniel Lipscombe catches all his thoughts on POKEMON HEARTGOLD/SOULSILVER…
There’s a sentimentality to Pokémon games – to the joy of collecting them all and traversing a distant land with constant fantasy companions by your side. It’s a fairytale story at its heart, and fairytales are something you’re never too old for. It’s been said that the Pokémon games are for children, and sure, their cute and colourful graphics go some way to backing that up. But beneath that sugar-coated, saccharine layer is a cruel and unforgiving RPG that takes no prisoners. It’s bliss.
Many will have already played a Pokémon game. In fact, many will have already played this Pokémon game, seeing as it’s a remake of Pokémon Gold/Silver from 2001. So it will be no wonder to anyone that nothing much has changed. You still take control of boy or a girl who wants to be a Pokémon trainer, and you still have to challenge other trainers to level up your companions in order to become the best in the land.
Your journey will take in vast oceans, rocky mountain paths, dense forests and, along the way, those quirky Japanese nuances. The story may be basic – in fact, the game is almost devoid of any real plot whatsoever – but the appeal is collecting the Pokémon and raising them. Starting out in your hometown, you’re called to see Professor Elm, who requests that you take a Pokémon and train it. He sees something special in you, so you choose from one of the starting three creatures and you’re on your way.
You have a rival in the game (whom you name yourself), you have friends that interact with you often and even your character’s mum will call you and chat to you, making sure you’re safe. It’s all very pleasant and brings light relief to videogames – that is, until the battling of your sweet companions begins.
In order to become the best trainer in the land and earn the respect of others, you must duel with random trainers and gym leaders to progress. Each town in the Johto region has a gym filled with combatants and a leader. Once this leader is bested you will take a badge from them that show your prowess and allows you access to new moves and control of Pokémon at a higher level. In each fight your sidekicks will gain experience, opening new moves to use and making them more powerful.
As they grow, so too does your bond with them. You swiftly develop favourites and use them more in battles, and they even walk by your side as you explore. This is the hook for the franchise: as we trainers become more attached, we want to take care of our friends and watch them grow. In fact, at certain levels, some Pokémon will evolve into an entirely new creature; so begins the joy of filling your pokédex with all the many creatures that you catch on your travels.
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