Developers: Game Freak | Year: 2009 | List Price: $39.99 | Buy from Amazon
I have been a casual Pokémon fan since I got a GameBoy Advance when I was eight. Now, six years later, I still don’t think I’ve fully outgrown it. I was never really a huge fan, but I did like the games a lot. I borrowed some books and movies from the library, and I got the games starting with Pokémon FireRed (LeafGreen) though always a year or so late (as this overdue review proves). I bought them because I knew you could get 80+ hours of gameplay from it, which some games (that have almost the same price) don’t even come close to giving. The gameplay is always amazing, easy enough for a six-year-old to understand, but with elements (like EV’s and such) that can go pretty deep.
Enough of the wordy background. On to this game. I never played Gold or Silver, so I can’t give the comparisons many people on the internet give, but I love the game. The Pokémon are cool (Johto has the coolest Pokémon, in my opinion), the new touch-screen controls are pretty intuitive (though sometimes annoying if you’ve played a lot of Diamond and Pearl), and there’s a whole lot of storyline and post-story gameplay. Besides Gold or Silver, there is no other game that has sixteen gyms and two full regions! There are cool mini-games to play in the Pokéathlon, and everywhere you go, there is always people to talk to, and get things from. The caves are pretty diabolical at times, they’ll certainly be a huge chunk out of the 80+ hours you’ll spend on this game. On the whole, I think this is the best Pokémon game to date, although I haven’t played Black or White (they don’t sound as good to me compared to the good old days).
After you’ve beaten the Elite Four, there’s still the Kanto region, which has changed quite a bit, and you can also start (or continue) EV training. (On a related but tangential note, I got PokéRus! I’m not the best EV trainer, so I think I’ve wasted all my Pokémon’s EV’s though: maybe PokéRus were a bad thing!) I’m really excited to see how Kanto looks after three years, because FireRed was my first game and it’ll be really nostalgic to walk those paths again (I’ve lost the GBA game).
OK, I think the well-thought-out topics have started to become a long and confusing rant, so I’ll just go! Tell us what you think about the game in the comments!
UPDATE: As I’m starting a new Pokémon review series, I’m posting the following summary:
Design: 8/10 This game is very well made. The combination of old and new ideas provide the perfect mix of nostalgia and new features. The Johto region is also a great region, with a traditional and mythological theme that I really like.
Appearance: 8/10 The graphics are robust and refined, with a bright but primitive 3D overworld. It is a really nice looking world to explore, but this game in no way pushes the capabilities of the DS.
Sound: 9/10 The soundtrack is one of the best Pokémon has to offer. Most of the background tracks are the same as the original Game Boy Color games, but they have been adapted well to the new generation.
Gameplay: 9/10 There isn’t really much to complain about regarding the game mechanics, as they are basically the Pokémon formula we know and love. The only thing that is a bit annoying is the fact that the animations are slower than in previous generations and the health bar is also sluggish.
Replayability: 10/10 Pokémon HeartGold is absolutely immense! 16 gyms, two whole regions, the ability to battle Red, who has extremely strong Pokémon, and the possibility to get many different starters from different regions. This game’s postgame is at least double the length of the starting story, and this may be the most replayable Pokémon game to date.
Overall: 44/50 (B)
List Price: $129.99 | Buy from Amazon