Pokemon games have broken most video game records in the past decade or so and have made Nintendo’s handheld console sales rocket up and way above the rest. If you glance up the sales charts of Nintendo consoles like Gameboy and Gameboy Advance, you will find most of the top spots occupied by Pokemon games. Even the Nintendo DS series of consoles has got its share of Pokemon games, with the latest addition in the series being Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver versions. These two versions contain both Johto, and Kanto journeys. Do these versions introduce anything new or stick to the good old gameplay style? Read on to find out.
Firstly, for people who have already played the older versions, you will be able to see little or no change as far as gameplay is concerned.
There are minor changes in graphics and the sound of messages and dialogue boxes is still screeching, still a pain to the ear.
As in other Pokemon games, you start from home, then pick a Pokemon to start you journey with and go on a journey battling gym leaders and bad guys. The Pokemon first in your list follows you around as you travel to different cities and towns via different routes.
Battles take place in a turn-based manner, just like the older versions. You pick an attack, the enemy does the same and the attack with the higher precedence gets executed first, then the other one.
There are various other quests in the game like fixing problems at various places, most of which are caused by Team Rocket.
Various abilities and moves such as ‘Fly’, which lets you fly to any town or city you have visited before and ‘Surf’, which lets you travel in water are useful but most of them are also compulsory to implement. A Pokemon can learn only upto four moves and fitting in these abilities may sometimes have you compensate on other crucial attack or defense moves. You can catch many legendary Pokemon in both versions but the locations of most of them are non-obvious. Gym battles are fun and exciting but encounters with wild Pokemon on journeys, especially in water and inside caves may get irritating, with weak wild Pokemon popping up at every other step forward. These too can be, however prevented using suitable items (called Repels). Potions, berries, healing items, and many kinds of Pokeballs can be purchased from Pokemon stores and there are Pokemon Centers at all towns and cities for healing Pokemon and withdrawing/swapping your Pokemon with the ones not in your inventory, due to the six-Pokemon-on-journey limit.
HeartGold and SoulSilver have the same journey and gameplay but differ slightly in Pokemon types. Legendary Pokemon, too are at different levels in these two versions. But the overall experience remains the same – A simple, yet addictive game.
You can trade Pokemon and battle in multiplayer with users around the world using the Wifi connection. The most revolutionary feature of this game is the new PokeWalker. Along with the game cartridge, you get a PokeWalker accessory. Using it, you can walk, or jog around and accumulate points, or Watts and use it to get more Pokemon, buy items or even level up your Pokemon which walks with you.
Graphics was never a strong point of Pokemon games and there are only some minor changes in the same in these versions. But while playing, you somehow never get a feeling of compromise in this field. The game sucks you in so much that you would play it even in black and white.
The Johto journey comes first, and the levels of the enemies’ Pokemon increase at appropriate rates as yours do along the journey( it is not proportional, but fairly smooth nonetheless).
The Kanto journey is shorter than the Johto one but Pokemon levels are higher and battles are more challenging at times.
Newcomers to the series may feel hooked to the game and find it very exciting but the gamers who have played many(or any, for that matter) of the older games may find this too similar for their liking. If you are new to the series, then these versions are undoubtedly your best pick but there is not too much improvement in any category for the earlier followers.
The sound of scrolling of dialogues could have been changed from the screeching sound, but otherwise, the sound effects, although not top notch are satisfactory. Talking to some lesser significant characters may sometimes reveal crucial pieces of information, making some quests easier to complete. Some dialogues may make you chuckle, while some sound plain and boring.
Moves used by Pokemon of different types are super-effective against particular types, like water against fire, so if there are similar level Pokemon battling against each other, the winner is decided by the type of Pokemon in the battle and how well you use the stronger type moves.
If you own a console in DS series and are a die-hard Pokemon fan, this game is a must-buy for you, even if only for the PokeWalker. If you used to watch Pokemon on Television but have not tried a Pokemon game yet, it is strongly recommend you pick up and try this one. But if you feel it is not worth spending some bucks only to get the PokeWalker extra and some other minor improvements, you can safely go ahead and give it a miss.
TechGoo Rating – 8.5 – Recommended