Pokemon HeartGold Review

I’ve played every Pokemon game there is to play: Red, Sapphire, Leaf Green, Diamond, Platinum, and the others. There was one, however, that stuck out as my favorite, and it was Gold. I put more hours into that game that any of the other versions combined. When I heard they were re-making my Holy Grail of Pokemon, I ran to it. If it was anywhere near as good as the original, I’d be Poke-crazy all over again.

Time for the straight-jacket.

Pokemon HeartGold is an ambitious remake, making great strides for the Pokemon franchise while maintaining the same classic gameplay we’ve been enjoying for years. I’ve been doing the same “catch, train, fight” adventure game after game, but it never gets old. You get a starter Pokemon, go through the lands of Johto and Kanto (the world from Red/Blue/Yellow), and collect and fight Pokemon to earn Badges, save the world from Team Rocket, and become the supreme Pokemon champion. Like I said, the gameplay is virtually unchanged, but it’s all the additions to the game that make it shine.

First and foremost, the new interface is excellent. Instead of having to hit X for the pause menu, it’s all conveniently located on the bottom screen. You can access your current party, see how far along you are with your Pokedex, and save, all with the stylus. As much as I enjoyed the Poketch in previous games, I love that I essentially don’t have to pause the game anymore. The graphical update is great as well. Seeing everything with Platinum-quality graphics, especially watching Ho-oh descend from the sky, is quite majestic indeed. There are a few new locations, including the Pokeathlon Dome, where players will engage in stylus-based minigames for in-game items, and the Shinto Ruins, a location north of the Ruins of Alph that allows the player to catch one of the three legendary creatures from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. I would have liked a bit more expansion of the world, but what they added is still fun.

The best addition to the game, though, is the connectivity of the PokeWalker, the little pedometer device that comes bundled with each game. This is Tamagotchi 2.0. Any Pokemon that is in the storage box can be transferred into the device, and it will gain experience and become happier with you as a trainer as you walk around in real life. Furthermore, within the device is the ability to find items and Pokemon that can be transferred back into the main game. There are times where I find myself playing with the PokeWalker more than the game itself, as I am so fascinated with what’s going on in it. This device allows you to be playing your game anywhere you go, since taking it with you means you’re trying to power up a Pokemon you caught in-game. The device was a brilliant inclusion, as it adds a whole other layer of gameplay to a storied franchise.

I only have a pair of issues with HeartGold: first, the gameplay, while great, is more of the same. It’s still an annoying grind-fest at times, just trying to get your Pokemon powered up enough so that you can get the next Badge. Also, isn’t technology good enough that we can hear the Pokemon cries as they are in the cartoon, instead of the NES-quality sound effects that have been used since Red and Blue? It’s very noticeable which Pokemon are from the first batch (like Pidgey’s sorry “kwooh”) and which are the newest (Giratina’s crazy roar). Hopefully in the recently announced 5th generation, we’ll get Pikachu actually saying, “Pika! Pika!” Both of these are minor, though, and should not sway anyone from playing this great iteration.

Simply put, Pokemon HeartGold is awesome. It’s a classic game re-born for the modern era. It’s not without its flaws, but all in all it is truly worth a try from gamers of any age.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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