It’s a Whole New World…: Pokémon Gold and Silver Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - October 24, 2017
It’s a Whole New World…: Pokémon Gold and Silver Review

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced that they would be bringing the first two games in Pokémon’s second generation, Pokémon Gold and Silver, would be coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Originally released on the Game Boy in 1999, Gold and Silver expanded on Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow with a new region, 100 new Pokémon, and a host of other enhancements. With Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the final 3DS Pokémon titles on the horizon, was now the ideal time to release these classic titles?

Much like it’s predecessors, Pokémon Gold and Silver follows the adventure of a young boy who has just received his first Pokémon from the Johto region’s resident Pokémon Professor, Elm. After being tasked with meeting Professor Elm’s acquaintance, Mr. Pokémon. The player meets Professor Oak who, after noticing your ability as a trainer, offers you a Pokédex. From here, you journey through the region of Johto to collect gym badges and ultimately become a Pokémon Master.

This is the basic plot is the core of the Pokémon franchise and something that we’ve played more than half a dozen times at this point, but given the age of the game’s hardware, it’s not surprising that the story would be more simplistic than modern Pokémon games. This shines through even more in the Team Rocket subplot, which feels more like filler to extend the game rather than an attempt to craft an interesting story. Going back, it’s a little sad just how weak the plot was in these early Pokémon games. There isn’t anything to tie the narrative together and nothing to keep you going except the idea of earning more badges and finding new Pokémon.

Being an early entry in the franchise, it shouldn’t be surprising that Pokémon Gold and Silver offers an experience that boils the Pokémon formula down to its purest form. Without additions like natures and abilities, battles are much more simplistic, thanks to there being less variance in each Pokémon’s stats. The absence of abilities also means that things like Levitate don’t exist yet, so don’t be surprised when your Koffing falls victim to a ground type attack. Here’s it’s all about the simple Rock, Paper, Scissors style that popularized Pokémon in the late nineties.

The absence of later mechanics rears its head outside of battle as well, with the most noticeable omission being the ability to dash. This can cause the adventuring portion of the game to feel slow in spots, and even surfing or riding a bike doesn’t feel quite as fast as it does in the later entries. All of these negatives can come together to make an experience that’s less than enjoyable for those who aren’t familiar with the earlier entries in the Pokémon series.

Of course, if you can get past this and deal with the game and its limitations, Pokémon Gold is an enjoyable experience. It’s one of the easier entries in the franchise and it requires a lot less grinding than other games in the series, so it’s a decent jumping on point for new players who may not be familiar with the franchise as a whole. Being a game from the original Game Boy, it shouldn’t be surprising that Pokémon Gold and Silver isn’t all that much to look at. The over world sprites are basic and it shares some assets with its predecessors, but given thanks to compatibility with the Game Boy color, this release does offer a limited color palette that helps it stand out from Red, Blue, and Yellow. However, the real standout here are the Pokémon themselves. Each Pokémon is vibrant and the style had come a long way from the original games to show what these Pokémon are supposed to look like. Additionally, this would be the only time in the franchise’s history that each game, Gold and Silver, has it’s own set of Pokémon sprites, making these two games the most different from it’s matching version in the series.

The game’s compositions also standout and give Gold and Silver a much more varied sound than the original Pokémon titles. Every track in this game sounds fantastic and fits the game well. Since the tracks were all done in stereo, they also sound great on the 3DS. The music is a far cry from what it is today, but it still has the same Pokémon feel and it’s much of it has been stuck in my head from days, even after finishing my playthrough of the title.

Pokémon Gold and Silver aren’t going to wow anyone with their presentation or gameplay. These games are nearly twenty years old and while they have aged very well, they aren’t going to be for everyone. The early Pokémon games were slower paced titles and didn’t offer much in the way of a real narrative, and Pokémon Gold and Silver don’t deviate from that. These are the kids of games that are a great nostalgia trip if you grew up with them or that can offer a nice jumping on point for a young child or someone less experienced to learn the Pokémon franchise.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed my time with Pokémon Gold and Silver. They may be slow, but they’re classics and there’s a reason for that. Game Freak really pushed the limits of the Game Boy with just how much they were able to squeeze into Pokémon Gold and Silver, and that effort really shines through if you’re willing to deal with the game’s dated design. Whether you’re a first time player looking for a good entry point or a seasoned Pokémon Master biding your time until the release of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, you could do a lot worse that Pokémon Gold and Silver.

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He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.

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