Pokemon: HeartGold Version Review

-Keith Michael

In the year 1996 Nintendo and Game Freak released a game that would change the handheld market forever, causing a mass craze that has lasted for well over a decade and is still selling like hotcakes to this day. I’m talking about the games Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green. In Japan Pokemon became an immediate hit which made Nintendo want to expand these games into the US and other countries around the world. Now, over 15 years later, Pokemon is still doing fantastic with each new version selling more than the last. I’m going to talk about the remake of the second version called Pokemon HeartGold, originally just called Pokemon Gold. The original version of Gold/Silver and later Crystal had the ability to have up to 251 Pokemon, well since the release of Diamond/Pearl and Platinum there are 493 available Pokemon and Nintendo decided it would be a good idea to make all of those Pokemon available in the remakes. On top of having a huge selection of Pokemon that was not available in the previous versions of Gold and Silver, there are new additions like the Battle Frontier and letting your favorite Pokemon walk behind your player in the style of Pokemon Yellow game. 

PLOT: In the world of Pokemon it is every young child’s dream to become a Pokemon trainer. Most trainers aspire to travel their region in search for a battle with eight Pokemon gym leaders in order to obtain a gym badge. Once the trainers receive their eighth gym badge they will be able to take on Victory Road and then the Elite Four and their champion. In Pokemon HeartGold, you are a young kid that will be starting his very own Pokemon adventure soon. The game starts off with the trainer going downstairs and hearing that the Pokemon professor was looking for him. The trainer heads over to Prof. Elm’s lab and finds out that he has a request for the trainer. First the trainer had the very difficult task of picking his first Pokemon. Should it be the grass Pokemon Chikorita, the water Pokemon Totodile, or the fire Pokemon Cyndaquil? After selecting his Pokemon, Prof. Elm wants the trainer to travel to the nearby town and give a man by the name of Mr. Pokemon a package. The trainer accomplishes the task and after a little scuffle and a stolen Pokemon, the Professor gives the trainer a device called a Pokedex. A Pokedex is an encyclopedia of Pokemon that will only be filled out by the trainer battling and capturing Pokemon. With this outrageously daunting task, on top of trying to become the Pokemon champion, what else could be in store for the trainer? Well, about four years ago, a trainer by the name of Red battled a terrible group of trainers called Team Rocket. Team Rocket’s leader Giovanni, thought of Pokemon as tools, slaves, and only wanted to steal Pokemon and use them for dastardly deeds. Red took on Team Rocket by himself and single-handedly rolled up and tossed all of them aside. Now Team Rockets executives are back trying to call out to their boss Giovanni by going back to their old way. This time it is up the new trainer to put Team Rocket in their place. After a long journey in Johto, the trainer defeats the Champion and gets put into the Hall of Fame, but the journey doesn’t end there. The new champion of Johto finds out that there is a whole new land called Kanto to explore which opens up eight more gym leaders and a new round of battles waiting for him at the Elite Four. 

Gameplay: Pokemon is an RPG that has hundreds of different usable characters and all have varying moves, abilities, weaknesses, and resistances. With so many different choices of Pokemon, HeartGold is a game that has a little fighting monster that will fit anyone. The gameplay in Pokemon has always stayed close to the original formula, using a strength and weakness wheel. The gameplay in HeartGold uses the fourth generation rules which go along with SoulSilver, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Each trainer can carry up to six Pokemon that they catch in the wild aside from the first Pokemon. The main character goes around the world collecting gym badges and battling other trainers in a turn-based style of battle. Each Pokemon essentially starts at level 1 and can be leveled up to 100, all while learning new moves and evolving into new and stronger forms. Not all Pokemon evolve and it is almost impossible to make two Pokemon with the exact same stats, making it very satisfying to have a winning team of Pokemon. The battling is the most fun thing to do in Pokemon because of the knowledge that is need to be successful. You have to know or guess correctly as to what type the Pokemon is that you are battling, have a move that can effectively weaken an opponent, or risk the opponent Pokemon taking out your entire team. Pokemon games have a certain depth of tactics involved. You can’t have all of the same type of Pokemon in your party either, due to the weaknesses that they would all share. I have always been a fan of Pokemon and HeartGold was no different. It is a remake of a story that has already been out for about ten years, but it transitions very well. The main story could easily take you up to seventy hours to finish and longer depending on how obsessed you get with catching and leveling up your Pokemon. In HeartGold, after going through the main story, which is always fun and filled with a sense of accomplishment, there is plenty to do. A whole new land and eight gym badges awaits; adding another twenty hours or so to the game. New things to HeartGold are the Battle Frontier and the Pokeathalon. The Battle Frontier has different sections to take your Pokemon, testing them all in different ways and the Pokeathalon is filled with different mini-games that range from a jumping contest to a Pokemon dash. Both new additions are very fun and offer up a different variety of things to do to change up from usual battling and Pokemon catching of the main section of the game. All-in-all the gameplay in Pokemon is not original when it comes to the turn-based gameplay, but it takes everything else in the game to the next level and will test your memory and knowledge of the different types and abilities.

Graphics/Sound: One of the best things of Pokemon is to see the world and all of its creatures. Pokemon HeartGold uses a pixilated graphics system, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts the eyes to see. All the sprites are full of color and the moves are fully animated. I simply love seeing the Pokemon for the first time and watching how they grow and change forms. There are different environments to explore, from rivers and lakes to mountains and caves. Johto is a wonderful place to explore and each new town is exciting, although most of them are pretty small. They all have civilians and even little Pokemon walking around, making the world seem like it is a pleasant place to be. The only downfall to the graphics is the lack of moving sprites. Nintendo is definitely capable of pulling it off, but yet, they choose to stay in the sill zone. I mainly believe they were doing this to stay close to the original version. The sound in Pokemon HeartGold is just like all of the other games; meaning it is wonderful. After about two hours of playing the game, I found myself humming the music and hearing it when the game was turned off. Pokemon HeartGold is a Nintendo DS game, so it comes to no surprise that there isn’t voice-acting in this game. With 493 Pokemon, there needs to be something more than visuals to set them apart. Unfortunately, the only thing we get are little 8-bit sounds that haven’t really changed since Pokemon Red and Blue. The cries of the Pokemon are really the only bad thing in the sound department, not to say that you won’t find yourself recognizing the little chirps and roars of your favorite Pokemon. All of the battles are accompanied by great battle music, that just like all of the other music in the game, will have you hearing phantom sounds well after the game is off.

Last Thoughts: Each and every main Pokemon game that I play, I find myself addicted and playing until my hands hurt and ignoring all other games until I have completed the main quest. I love the strategy and individual Pokemon that go along with the each version, and HeartGold was no different. The diversity in the Pokemon games is some of the best that you will see in any game and HeartGold keeps it going, adding all the Pokemon from the original and into the Diamond and Pearl games. I am definitely a Pokefan and my love for Pokemon knows no bounds. HeartGold is one of the best in a selection of very good games and I recommend it to anyone that is looking for a long adventure, a nice retreat into the imagination of Nintendo, or just some characters to love. 

Verdict: 95%

Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver Trailer

Are you a Pokemon Fan? Are you a bigger fan of the games or cards? What is your favorite game in the series?