The tall grass shakes as you inch closer into it. From somewhere within you swear you see the illuminated flash of a rodents giant teeth. You’re exhausted, almost broke, and your poor Chikorita is hanging on to consciousness by a thread. The PokeMart, your destination, sits a scant hundred feet away, past this swath of overgrown grass.
You take another tentative step, breath held – then slowly exhale in relief as nothing rushes out to beat you to death with wing or sever something important with fang. Another step. Then another. The store is almost within reach when suddenly out of the grass – a yell!
A set of twin children, no older than six, rush at you. As they pull pokeballs from their bag with fire and fury blazing in their eyes, they let out their battlecry: “Clefairy is SOOOO CUTE!”
Welcome to Johto.
Pokemon has been one of my favorite game series since I was very young. I remember buying my copy of Pokemon Red with paper route money and, every day after school, grinding with my Bulbasaur. I would jump the channels on weekends to watch as many episodes of the cartoon as possible, and ALWAYS knew the “Who’s that Pokemon” question. Going back to play Gold on the virtual console is a wonderful way to revisit your childhood.
The game, in my opinion, sits in a precarious place within the series. There are major upgrades in the gameplay over Red and Blue, including new equippable items and moves. The day/night cycle now introduces certain Pokemon during certain times of the day, and there are even certain events that only happen on specific days of the week. All of these things are super cool, and add to the immersion.
However, I’ve played modern games. And while this will probably get me some hate, it is very hard to go back to the simplicity of Gold or Silver after finishing up my gameplay of Pokemon Sun. I said it’s a wonderful way to revisit your childhood, and I stand by that. But the small quality-of-life things introduced in the later games are sorely missing here and can make the basic gameplay feel like a complete slog through a pixelated swamp.
There are probably purists shaking their clenched poke-fists right now, but hear me out on this. These games are not bad, not by any stretch. As of this article I have over 40 hours put into the Virtual Console copy of Gold, and enjoyed nearly thirty of those hours. But with most things from our childhood, if you actually take off those rose tinted glasses you tend to see the cracks formed in your nostalgia.
All of this said, here are some of the bonuses. Because even with the negatives mentioned, if you own a 3ds and want to try an older Pokemon game, Gold or Silver is 100% my recommendation.
- The pixel art is such an upgrade from Red and Blue, and some of the Pokemon look particularly stunning
- Introduction of Shiny Pokemon and new ways to breed, giving you an infinite amount of grinding to do for the perfect poke-pal
- The story is simple, like every Pokemon game. The writing, though, is hilarious and you will find yourself at least chuckling through some of the dialogue
- Spoilers I guess, but after beating the Elite Four you get the chance to revisit the entirety of the map from the first game and play through it again. Gold and Silver keep that card close to their chest, and blew my mind the first time I realized that 30-ish hours in I was only halfway through the game
- As with any Pokemon property, it gives me another excuse to pepper my writing with poke-portmanteaus.
Pokemon Gold or Silver are both available through the virtual console on the 3DS for $9.99. For that price, I highly recommend.
He likes long walks off of short piers (usually tricking some lust-ridden damsel to her watery demise while he surreptitiously activates his ring of water walking), and drinking copious amounts of coffee out of his most favoritest kitty mug (may it rest in peace). When he's not showboating his arcane prowess, he spends an inordinate amount of time cataloging and researching tirelessly for each and every episode of Dueling Ogres. Really. No, he really does. I promise.