Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pokemon Soul Silver is Pure Gold

I’m sure I can speak for my entire generation by saying at one point in time (late 90’s early 2000’s) Pokémon seemed just plain awesome to every single one of us. Of course most of us are trying to forget about the dark days of huddling in front of the tv and wearing our hats backwards while playing our Gameboy colors.

But, the folks from Japan just won’t let us forget. Thus we see the release of Pokémon: Heart Gold and Pokémon: Soul Silver for the Nintendo DS. These two games are remakes of the classics Pokémon: Gold and Silver that were released back in 2000 for the Gameboy color. Now Silver was one of my first and favorite video games, so I almost had some kind of obligation to pick up the remake and see how it was. Is this game still good after ten years or has the desire to “Catch ‘em all” been diminished?

(Important note: Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver are essentially the same game, with a few differences in the available Pokémon. I bought Soul Silver, but my review is applicable to both versions.)

Story: The game takes place in a fictional world filled with odd animal-like beings called “Pokémon”. Pokémon come in all shapes and sizes and are primarily used for a pastime among humans. What is the pastime you ask? Fighting.

Now, I’m not sure why this is even legal, but that is not the point here. You start out as a young kid looking to make his way in the Pokémon world. Since this is an RPG, you get to name the character yourself. Once you get up and running and name the little guy, you go immediately to the Pokémon laboratory where you get to chose from one of three super rare, ultra cool looking Pokémon. Each of them is extremely different so it’s important you choose the one that you like the best.

Once you do that, you get sent on a quest to beat all of the “gym leaders” in the area and become the best Pokémon trainer around town. Gym leaders are basically the champion Pokémon fighter in the area.

Having accomplished this, you are let loose in an expansive world to battle other Pokémon and their trainers while battling an evil organization along the way. The story is essentially the one you write after that.

Of course, there is a linear path to follow if you actually want to finish the game. I suggest you jump on that one. The story isn’t amazing and in depth filled with plot twists and the lot, but it is in fact a Pokémon game. It is just your classic story of boy (or girl) leaves home and goes on an adventure while making friends along the way.

Game Play: The combat traditionally runs on a turn based system. Most of the battles are random encounters unless they have something to do with the plot, then they are forced encounters.

The random encounters are annoying as ever. Sometimes, you can’t take a step without running into something. Once you enter a battle, you have a choice to summon one of the Pokémon that you have captured and trained. From there you and the opposing Pokémon do battle by taking turns choosing attacks until one of you loses all of your health. It sounds simple, and quite frankly it is. But there is more strategy to it than you may think and depending on who’s playing the combat can be very fun and expansive.

When you aren’t fighting other Pokémon you are usually walking around visiting different towns. Each town is different and really has its own feel—especially in this remake version of the game since the colors and graphics have been totally redone. You will meet new people, battle gym leaders, pick up items and run into some odd Pokémon.

For a single player small time game they really make the world feel huge. There are so many places to go and different people to meet that it is really surprising that you are the only real person playing the game. Of course, online modes are available via Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. I haven’t had the opportunity to play yet, but basically what you can do is hook up with a friend to battle and trade Pokémon.

Coming from a guy that played the original, I have to say I’m quite impressed with the changes that they have made to the game and how fun the game play is, even after ten years. Some of the games changes are major and some are very small. For one, you have the ability to sprint early on in the game so you don’t have to walk at a ridiculously slow pace like you had to in the first one. Also one of your Pokémon can follow you around at all times, similar to Pokémon Yellow. There is even a whole other section of the game after you have completed the main quest. There are several other changes and add-ons to the game, but I’ll get to those in our next segment.

Other elements: These are where most of the drastic changes to the game have been made. First off, the graphics have been totally redone and they look great. All of the environments are in 3D and the colors are extremely vibrant. The Pokémon look as awesome as ever and the animations for their attacks are also very neat. The soundtrack has gotten a huge makeover, with the music tracks actually sounding like…well…music tracks. If you can remember, any and all sounds on the GameBoy color were about as 8-bit as you can get. The sounds that didn’t get a makeover this time around were the sounds the Pokémon make. I find this odd, because they sound horrible and I know that the DS has the capabilities to fix this.

Summary: In all, Pokémon Soul Silver is as solid of an RPG as the original was. You will be getting the bang for your buck on this one, especially since you will end up playing through it more than once. It did everything a remake needs to do: add new content, and keep up with the original.

Long time Poke-fan? I’m sure you already own this. Never liked Pokémon? Forget everything you know about it and give this game a try. Former fan like myself? This game is defiantly something that makes the franchise worth giving a second look. Somehow, in a world with Halo, Modern Warfare, God of War and the lot I can still sit down and have hours of fun with a Pokémon video game. Why is this so? Well, you are going to have to find that out yourself. After all is said and done, I give this legend in gaming a 9/10.


  1. I was talking with my friends the other day about these Pokemon games... they're all the same thing. But we keep buying them. Why? It's a guilty pleasure... The Pokemon games have the perfect RPG formula. They keep selling. I don't buy them anymore, but my brother does, and he hates himself for it.

    I stopped buying Pokemon games after Crystal on the GBC. (Amazing game.) But I still play the old games.

  2. This one is just like the older one. Thats the only reason why I bought it.
    But yes, it is guilty pleasure.