Pokémon Gold and Silver
|Publisher(s)||The Pokémon Company|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Pokémon Gold Version and Silver Version (ポケットモンスター 金・銀 Poketto Monsutā Kin Gin?, "Pocket Monsters: Gold & Silver") are the second installments of the Pokémon series of role-playing video games, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Color. They were released in Japan in 1999, Australia and North America in 2000, and Europe in 2001. Pokémon Crystal, a special edition, was released roughly a year later in each region. In 2009, Nintendo remade Gold and Silver for the Nintendo DS as Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
The games introduce 100 new species of Pokémon, and follow the progress of the central character, whose name the player may choose, in his quest to master Pokémon battling. Both games are independent of each other but feature largely the same plot and, while both can be played separately, it is necessary to trade between them and their backward compatible predecessors in order to fully complete the games' Pokédexes. The Johto Saga of the Pokémon anime is based on the new region introduced in the games.
Pokémon Gold and Silver were critically acclaimed upon release and they are considered by many to be the best games in the entire series, as well as some of the fifth generation console gaming's most significant titles. They continued the enormous success of their predecessors as Pokémon began to form into a multi-billion dollar franchise. The games almost matched the sales of Pokémon Red and Blue and went on to jointly sell millions of copies worldwide. By 2010, the recorded sales of Gold and Silver were at 23 million units.
Like Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow, Pokémon Gold and Silver are played from a top-down perspective, or third-person, with players directly navigating the protagonist around the fictional universe, interacting with objects and people. As the player explores this world he or she will encounter different terrains, such as grassy fields, forests, caves, and seas in which different Pokémon species reside. As the player randomly encounters one of these creatures, the field switches to a turn-based "battle scene", where the Pokémon will fight.
There are two main goals within the games: following through the main storyline and defeating the Elite Four and Lance to become the new Champion, and completing the Pokédex by capturing, evolving, and trading to obtain all 251 creatures. A major aspect of this is developing and raising the player's Pokémon by battling other Pokémon, which can be found in the wild or owned by other Trainers. This system of accumulating experience points (EXP) and leveling up, characteristic and integral to all Pokémon video games, controls the physical properties of the Pokémon, such as the battle statistics acquired, and the moves learned.
While Pokémon Gold and Silver retain the basic mechanics of capturing, battling, and evolving introduced in Pokémon Red and Blue, new features were added. A time system was introduced using a real-time internal clock that keeps track of the current time and day of the week. Certain events, including Pokémon appearances, are influenced by this feature. New items were added, with some designed to exploit a new mechanic: Pokémon being able to hold items. A new type of item able to be held was the berry, which comes in varieties and can restore health or cure status effects. Other held items can give boosts to the Pokémon during battle. More specialized Poké Balls were introduced, which make Pokémon catching easier in certain situations. A new item called the Pokégear (ポケギア Pokegia) was introduced, functioning as a watch, map, radio, and phone, allowing the player to call other characters who offer their phone number. Trainers will call for a rematch and others will call about rare Pokémon that can be caught in a certain area.
The games introduce Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, a new type of legendary Pokémon that wander around Johto, changing locations frequently. They can be tracked by the Pokédex once encountered, and will always attempt to flee, but will retain HP loss. In addition there is the possibility of encountering a shiny Pokémon, which have a different coloration than normal Pokémon of their species, and appear very rarely. Two new Pokémon types were added, the Steel-type and the Dark-type. Steel-type Pokémon have very high defense and resistance to other types, while Dark-type Pokémon are immune to Psychic-type moves and are strong against Psychic-type Pokémon, as well as having few weaknesses. In Gold and Silver, new moves were added, but Pokémon knowing these moves are not allowed to be traded to the first generation games. To solve this, a move deleter was introduced, capable of erasing moves known by the Pokémon. Another major change was the splitting of the Special stat into Special Attack and Special Defense, which increased aspects of strategy.
With the introduction of Pokémon breeding, Pokémon are assigned to one or two breeding groups. When a male and female Pokémon that share at least one breeding group are left at a Pokémon Daycare, they may produce an egg, which will hatch into a young Pokémon. The young Pokémon will inherit the species of its mother, and moves from its father. However, legendary Pokémon, among certain other species, cannot breed.
Pokémon Gold and Silver are set in the region of Johto, situated to the west of the Kanto region from the previous Red and Blue games, and three years after the conclusion of the previous games. The design of Johto was inspired by Japan's Kansai and Tōkai regions, with many of the region's temples and more traditional Japanese aesthetics finding their way into Johto.
As with the previous games, the player character (only a boy in Gold and Silver, the option to play as a girl player character was added in Crystal) receives his first Pokémon, a choice between Chikorita, Cyndaquil, and Totodile, from the region's local Pokémon scientist Professor Elm and then begins his journey to win the eight Gym Badges of the Johto region and then challenge the Elite Four and Champion to become the region's new Pokémon Master. Opposing them is their mysterious rival, a boy who stole one of the other Pokémon from Professor Elm and regularly challenges the player to test his strengths. The player also encounters the villainous Team Rocket, having reunited to seek out their previous leader Giovanni to return the group to their former glory. After the player defeats Team Rocket once and for all and defeats the Elite Four and Champion of the Pokémon League on Indigo Plateau, the player can then travel to the Kanto region from the previous games and challenge the Gym Leaders there, discovering how much has changed in the three years following the events of Red and Blue. After defeating the Kanto region's Gym Leaders, the player is allowed to enter the treacherous Mt. Silver area, home to very powerful Pokémon, and deep within Mt. Silver's caves is hidden Red, the protagonist of Red and Blue, who the player can challenge for the most difficult battle in the game.
Gold and Silver were first publicly showcased at the 1997 Nintendo SpaceWorld Expo in Japan, becoming the most popular exhibit at the program. Unlike the previous game in the series, Pokémon Yellow, the new titles were announced to be more than a small upgrade to Pokémon Red and Blue. Instead, they would feature a new storyline, a new world, and new species of Pokémon. Gold and Silver were designed for the Game Boy Color, allowing them full color support and more detailed sprites. Other additions that were shown included Pokémon breeding, held items, an in-game gadget known as the PokéGear, a real-time internal clock, and backward compatibility with the previous games in the series.
During an ABC News interview, president of Creatures Inc. Tsunekazu Ishihara gave insight into the brainstorming process for developing new Pokémon species. He explained, "The ideas for each of these monsters came from the imagination of the software developers at Game Freak who get these ideas from their childhood experiences, including from reading Manga, the name for Japanese comic books. Ideas come from scary experiences they had as kids, catching insects, and so forth. So from these experiences in childhood, these ideas for Pokemon came out". In the same vein as the Pokémon Mew of the Red and Blue versions, the exclusive Pokémon Celebi was implemented in the Gold and Silver games but is only accessible after attending a Nintendo promotional event. The first official event offering Celebi was Nintendo Space World 2000 in Japan, in which 100,000 attendees would be awarded the rare Pokémon. In order to be selected, players had to send in a postcard to enter a lottery for one of 100,000 certificates of Celebi, allowing them to enter the event and obtain it.
In an interview with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, Ishihara stated that Gold and Silver started development right after Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan. The original intention was to release the game in 1998, even synchronizing with the supposed end of the anime's first season. Development issues, worsened by Game Freak being sidetracked with Pokémon Stadium and the localization of the first generation, led the game to be postponed, and the original release slate was taken over by Pokémon Yellow. Programmer Shigeki Morimoto stated that part of why development took three and a half years was due to being a small team of only four programmers, "We were very greedy in terms of all the features we wanted to include in the games". Ishihara declared that Gold and Silver were supposed to be the last in the series – "I didn’t intend to make any more Pokémon titles. I even thought that once we entered the twenty-first century, it would be time for me to do something else entirely" – and most of the licensed merchandising, including the Pokémon Trading Card Game, were to "ensure Gold and Silver were successful".
The games were announced for release in Japan in November 1999 and at the same time a U.S. release date was estimated for September 2000. Nintendo announced the release of the Pocket Pikachu Color, a full-color portable digital pet similar to the one released the year before. The unit was made compatible with Gold and Silver, allowing the transfer of in-game currency known as "watt points". Pocket Pikachu Color was slated for release in Japan on November 21, 1999, the same day as the release of Gold and Silver. In addition, an officially-licensed Pikachu-themed Game Link Cable developed by Kemco was set for release in Japan on November 18, 1999. The product functions like a normal Game Link Cable and consists of a yellow cable with a figure of Pikachu on one end, and a Poké Ball on the other.
Anticipating high sales, Nintendo set its first production shipment for the games in Japan at three million, predicting that eventually more than eight million copies would be sold in the country alone. However, they were soon forced to cut the first shipment number in half following an earthquake in Taiwan, which Nintendo claimed had damaged their cartridge manufacturing facilities. Regardless, speculation arose that Nintendo was instead using the event as an excuse to limit shipment and keep the demand high.
As a precursor to the North American release, Gold and Silver were displayed for audiences to interact with at the 2000 American International Toy Fair in New York City. To further promote the games, Nintendo modified five Chrysler PT Cruisers to resemble the new Pokémon Lugia and had them driven around the U.S.A. The vehicles had fins and tails attached to them and were painted with logos and images of the Pokémon franchise. In addition, they were equipped with a television set hooked up to game consoles which allowed spectators to play Pokémon Puzzle League, Hey You, Pikachu!, and Pokémon Gold and Silver. The television series Pokémon GS, based on the games, was announced to be a part of the fall lineup on Kids' WB. The show would feature the same protagonist Ash Ketchum in a new region with different Pokémon species from the games. The Americanized names of the 100 new Pokémon were kept confidential by Nintendo, with the company releasing names periodically. The domain names 'pokemongold.com' and 'pokemonsilver.com' were registered for this very purpose, and such names released included Chikorita, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Togepi, Hoothoot, and Marill.
In May 2000 Nintendo announced the official North American release date of Gold and Silver to be on October 16 of that year. Nintendo started accepting pre-orders for the games in August, and announced that consumers who pre-ordered one of the games would receive a free CD-ROM with a Pokémon-themed web browser developed by MediaBrowser which featured floating Pokémon species and links to Pokémon sites. The application was available for download on the official Pokémon website. The games broke record sales as approximately 600,000 copies of them were pre-ordered in just two months, compared to Pokémon Yellow's number of 150,000. As the release date neared, retailers such as Electronics Boutique reported receiving shipments of games earlier than October 16, and opted to sell them immediately; first giving them to pre-orderers and then selling the leftover copies. The games were obtainable as early as October 11.
Pokémon Gold and Silver continued the enormous success of its predecessors, beginning the formation of Pokémon into a multi-billion dollar franchise. As of April 2000 roughly 6.5 million copies of the games had been sold in Japan. Silver proved to be the slightly more popular version, edging out Gold by approximately 100,000 copies. By the first week of their release in the U.S.A. the games had eclipsed Pokémon Yellow's previous record sales of a little over 600,000 copies; selling a combined total of 1.4 million copies to become the fastest selling games ever. The commercial success was expected, as Peter Main, the executive vice president of sales and marketing, stated "There's no question about it; kids love to play Pokemon. [sic] So far in 2000 the best-selling game in America for any home console is Pokemon Stadium for Nintendo 64, and the best-selling game for any handheld video game system is Pokemon [sic] Yellow for Game Boy Color, but Pokemon [sic] Gold and Silver will eclipse even those impressive sales totals. We project sales of 10 million units total of these two games in less than six months time". By 2010, the recorded sales of Gold and Silver were at 23 million units sold.
Reviews from critics were mostly strong, with many saying that the extended length of gameplay and the new features were valued additions that kept the sequels as interesting as the original games. Craig Harris of IGN gave the games a "masterful" 10 out of 10 rating, stating that: "As awesome as the original Pokémon edition was, Pokémon Gold and Silver blow it away in gameplay elements, features, and goodies. There are so many little additions to the design it's impossible to list them all". There was particular praise given to the innovative internal clock feature, with Frank Povo of GameSpot, noting: "The first major addition to Pokémon GS is the presence of a time element... Although it may sound like a gimmick, the addition of a clock adds quite a bit of variety to the game". Povo went on to give the games a "great" 8.8 rating. Nintendo Power listed the Gold and Silver versions of it combined as the sixth best Game Boy/Game Boy Color video game, praising it for its new Pokémon, features, and full-color graphics.
Overall, Gold and Silver were stated to be solid gaming additions that would please a large audience. "After playing the game dozens of hours, I really can't think of a bad point to make about Pokémon Gold and Silver. Nintendo and Game Freak have tweaked the original and built a sequel that's long, challenging and tremendous fun to play. There's a reason why Pokémon is so popular, and Pokémon Gold and Silver is going to help the series move further into the 21st century", said Harris.
Sequels and remakes
Pokémon Crystal Version (ポケットモンスター クリスタルバージョン Poketto Monsutā Kurisutaru Bājon, "Pocket Monsters: Crystal Version"), for the Game Boy Color, is the seventh game in the Pokémon video game series in Japan, and the sixth in North America and Europe. The game is an updated version of the previous two versions, Pokémon Gold and Silver, and was released in Japan on December 14, 2000. It was released in North America on July 29, 2001 and in Europe on November 2, 2001. Unlike its predecessors, it was developed specifically for the Game Boy Color, and is thus not compatible with the original Game Boy, its variants, and the Super Game Boy.
The plot and gameplay of Pokémon Crystal is largely the same as in Gold and Silver, although it holds new features. It is the first game to allow players to choose the sex of their character, while previously the character was always male. Pokémon have animated sprites; for example, when a Cyndaquil enters battle, the flames on its back flicker. This feature was absent in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, but has appeared in all subsequent games. In addition, a couple of subplots were added, one involving the legendary Pokémon Suicune, featured on the front cover of the game, and the other involving the Unown. The game's biggest addition was the Battle Tower, a new building which allows players to participate in Pokémon Stadium-like fights. The Japanese edition of the game was exclusively bundled with the Mobile Adapter GB (モバイルアダプタGB Mobairu Adaputa Jī Bī), a device that allowed for connecting with other players via mobile phone.
Pokémon Crystal was received very well by critics, obtaining an aggregate score of 80% on Game Rankings, although many commented that there were just not enough new additions and features to significantly set it apart from Pokémon Gold and Silver. Craig Harris of IGN gave the game an "outstanding" 9 out of 10 stating, "The final (hopefully) Game Boy Color edition is definitely the version to get if you aren't already one of the upteenth [sic] billion owners of the previous games, with Crystal's slight updates to the design and graphics. But there's not much in this edition that makes it a "must buy" for folks who already own a copy or two of the previous editions". In Japan, Famitsu magazine scored the game a 34 out of 40.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Pokémon HeartGold Version and SoulSilver Version (ポケットモンスター ハートゴールド・ソウルシルバー Poketto Monsutā Hātogōrudo Sōrushirubā, "Pocket Monsters: HeartGold & SoulSilver) are enhanced remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver. The games are part of the Pokémon series of role-playing video games, and were developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. First released in Japan on September 12, 2009, the games were later released to North America, Australia, and Europe during March 2010.
Game director Shigeki Morimoto aimed to respect the feelings of those who played the previous games, while also ensuring that it felt like a new game to those that were introduced to the series in more recent years. Reception to the games was highly positive, the two being amongst the highest rated DS games of all time on Metacritic. Commercially, the two are among the best-selling Nintendo DS games of all time, with combined sales of 10 million units as of July 29, 2010.
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