Kimberley Ellis
15 Apr, 2010

Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver Review

DS Review | It's super effective!
The ever popular Pokémon series of titles has long been a staple of Nintendo's portable consoles. But while we have seen a switch from the platform it appears on - from the humble Game Boy to the many incarnations of the title on the Game Boy Advance and DS, the Pokémon franchise hasn't evolved as rapidly as the hardware which it appears on. So the question remains, is it really worth catching them all? Well, with the new Pokéwalker device coupled with the solid gameplay we know and love, we here at PALGN think that this pocket RPG is one of the most engrossing titles to ever hit the Nintendo DS.

For those familiar with the series, Pokémon: Heart Gold/Soul Silver treads on familiar ground as it is essentially a remake of the Pokémon: Gold/Silver games for the portable Game Boy Color system. Like their Game Boy predecessors, Pokémon: Heart Gold/Soul Silver will see Pokémaniacs return to the beloved Johto region that was first introduced to them so long ago.

While the game has seen many refinements in its latest incarnation, unfortunately none of that applies to the story, as again we see the recycled backstory which sees your character summoned to the lab of the local Pokémon professor who lets you pick out a critter to take on your travels in exchange for your help with his research. Once, you've been thrust into the world of Pokémon you'll alternate your time between lending a hand to many of the folk that populate the game world as well as leveling up your cutesy creatures and battling other trainers/Gym Leaders in your quest to be the best Pokémon trainer around. The numerous nooks and crannies of the Johto region house hundreds of different species of Pokémon amongst the tall grass. Of course, to be the best you'll need to track down and catch all the rarest species, training them so they grow and evolve into even more powerful creatures, then use them in turn-based, RPG-style battles to defeat other trainers that you'll encounter on your journey. Surrounding yourself with a cacophony creatures and lovingly training them from low-level scrubs to powerful weapons of mass destruction has always been a staple of the Pokémon series, and if you found the concept addictive and highly enjoyable way back when, it's highly likely that it'll evoke the same feelings from you this time around.

Which one do you choose?

Which one do you choose?
Beyond the enhancements which have been brought over from the previous Pokémon outing on the DS, Heart Gold/Soul Silver adds several additional boosts to the already familiar style of gameplay which seemingly take away many of the little niggles that have plagued the series since its inception. The most pertinent of these changes is the fact that you can now finally toggle running, meaning that you won't lose feeling in your thumb from holding the run button down for hours. This is easily communicated via a quick tap of the stylus on the running shoe icon, in fact the whole menu system has been given an overhaul so that each command is now a simple stylus click away. Some will feel that the new menu system is a lot more cluttered that that of previous titles, as players now contend with an iPhone-esque layout of icons on the touch screen rather than the simple worded menus, but we believe that these menus are now more transparent for gamers to find exactly what they are looking for and the use of the stylus greatly speeds up the whole process of item hunting. Another addition is that you can set more than one item to your quick-use list (although only one is set to a button, requiring you to tap the screen to use your second listed item). Finally, as previously seen in Pokémon Yellow, you will be able to see your lead Pokémon walking along with you in the game. While this feature doesn't inherently add anything to the title, it's nice that you are able to interact a little more closely with one of the animals that you dedicate so much time and effort into.

These minor enhancements and the graphical updates alone would make the purchase of another Pokémon title a bit difficult to swallow, but thanks to the inclusion of the Pokéwalker, the choice just got a little bit easier. Part pedometer, part Tamagotchi; the Pokéwalker allows you to beam one of your creatures from the game into a small Pokéball shaped device which you take take with you on the go. Every step you take generates energy called Watts, a currency which you can use to level up your Pokémon, or use to unlock new routes on your Pokéwalker which will allow you to find items or battle and catch Pokémon in a simpler format. This clever accessory adds a fresh angle to the Pokémon formula which gives you a whole new way to interact with the game world. Just like battling wirelessly on the DS, you are also be able to pit your Pokémon against another player through the Pokéwalker. As with the exploration side of the Pokéwalker, battling too is also a more simplified version of his DS counterpart, but one that we still believe is very well implemented. Overall, the success of the Pokéwalker stems from the fact that players can be greatly rewarded just by going through their daily motions, rather than requiring you to tip countless hours to level up.

This little contraption just made exercise even more rewarding.

This little contraption just made exercise even more rewarding.
As good as it is, Pokémon: Heart Gold/Soul Silver is not quite a flawless package. The most major gripe that remains is the emphasis on HM moves which players must find and train one of their creatures to use in order to unlock certain sections of the game. The downside of this is that players are forced to delete a move from their creatures move set in order to teach them a HM move. Essentially this means that players will either need to sacrifice a killer move on a high-level Pokémon or forced to create a couple of slave Pokémon who exist for the sole reason of unlocking new areas. Of course, utilising this method means that two of your six slots will be used on mediocre Pokémon, which could ramp up the challenge for those new to Pokémon games. Quite frankly we are mystified as to how this has managed to plague the series for over a decade. This seques nicely into our other gripe with the game, which is that it's too damn easy. Even with a large number of new trainers to battle as well as updated lineups and move sets for Gym Leaders, experienced players will be able to breeze through most of Johto simply by level grinding a handful of Pokemon and pummeling your opponents into the ground by sheer brute force thanks to your superior leveling skills. Thankfully once you have conquered the Johto region, the game ramps up the difficulty a notch as you are given access to the Kanto region, where you'll have another set of badges to unlock and elite trainers to defeat. If you are yet to own a Pokémon game this is definelty worth picking up as it effectively mashes a remake of Pokémon: Gold/Silver and Pokémon: Blue/Red onto the one cartridge - how's that for value!

It may not deviate much from the path set by the original Pokémon titles, but spend a few hours with this game and you'll find that it has taken the tried and true Pokémon formula and polished it to near perfection. Whether you're an old-school trainer or a newbie to the world of Pokémon, you'll be hard pressed to find a portable role-playing experience as engrossing as that in Pokémon: Heart Gold/Soul Silver.
The Score
Whether you're an old-school trainer or a newbie to the world of Pokémon, you'll be hard pressed to find a portable role-playing experience as engrossing as Pokémon: Heart Gold/Soul Silver.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver Content

Mew available to download on the DS for Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver owners
15 Oct, 2010 You can stop looking under that truck now...
Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver trailer
10 Jul, 2009 New device also shown in trailer.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time Review
10 Jul, 2008 Unsolved monotony.
4 years ago
Was for sure my favourite pokemon game back in the day on gameboy colour, when I was a kid .
4 years ago
I'm loving this game so far.
I think they have done a fantastic job with the overhaul of certain parts.
Although I'm sick of people asking to add my pokegear number. especially when I can't get rid of them.
This is definitely a great addiciton to my pokemon collection, and a fantastic review from Kimberley
4 years ago
Diagonis wrote
Although I'm sick of people asking to add my pokegear number. especially when I can't get rid of them.
Especially when people constantly call you only to say inane crap like 'Hi, I saw a hoothoot today! almost had him too! anyway, bye!'. I don't care about your crappy pokemon, go to hell and stop calling me...
4 years ago
Diagonis wrote
Although I'm sick of people asking to add my pokegear number. especially when I can't get rid of them.
At least this time you can ignore the calls unless they're crucial story-driven clals from prof elm or someone... usually i just ignore it... especially the calls from my mother telling me she's spent my hard earned money on more useless berries.

So, in retrospect this is alot better overhaul than the phone system in gold/silver/crystal and ruby/saphire/emeral
4 years ago
Oh no...
I remember when I got Platinum and happened to be going on a business trip to Darwin... one of the days I was "sick" and Pokemon was the only cure... Next week I'm meant to be heading interstate again and I feel my need to COLLECT 'EM ALL growing...
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