Title  : Pokemon Silver/Pokemon Gold (Japanese imports)
Platforms  : Game Boy Color
Publisher  : Nintendo of Japan
ESRB Rating  : n/a (All Ages in Japan)
Game Rating  : 10.0 (Preview)
Review by  : Richard Rae

Okay, so you kids have learned the names of all 151 Pokemon, bought Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, and perhaps even "caught 'em all." And you parents are waiting impatiently for your kids to lose interest, and for the fad to die. 

Well, I'm afraid that parents will have to wait a bit longer, and bored or complacent "Pokemon Masters" out there will soon have a new — and truly better — challenge awaiting them. 

Pokemon "Gold" and "Silver" for Nintendo's Game Boy Color, the blockbuster sequels to the original Pokemon games, were introduced in Japan to great fanfare last November. They aren't yet available in the USA, but Nintendo plans to release English versions here during Fall of 2000. I've been playing both Japanese versions steadily since their release, and here's a preview of what you can expect to see later this year. 

The game scenario takes into account that three years have passed (the original game came out in 1997) and introduces new characters into game as well as some old ones. Professor Oak returns as the authority in Pokemon, but your character (who's not Ash, by the way) will meet Professor Utsugi, one of his colleagues — and go from there, as he or she aspires to become the Orange League champion and a Pokemon Master. 

So what's new? Many things — too many to list here, but here are the highlights: 

     

  • 100 new Pokemon, some of which are new species, some new types (Steel and Evil) and some of which are further evolutions of existing species. The original 151 are available too, making a total of 251 Pokemon in the game! All have new drawings with dynamic attack animation effects, and the gorgeous color artwork is different between the Gold and Silver versions; 
  • A 24-hour, 7 day-a-week clock. While some Pokemon can be caught all the time, certain Pokemon only can be found and caught in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some only at night. Certain game events occur regularly on particular days, and some in-game contests occur on a weekly basis; 
  • Tons of new Pokemon and item management tools, including box-to-box moving and rotation, a new multi-pocket rucksack, and automatic descriptions of every item and its purpose; 
  • The "Pokegear" device, which lets you make cell-phone calls to trainers you meet (and they'll call you to challenge you to battles). It also contains a Town Map and Radio (so you can listen to different channels and get information, hear music, or win prizes; 
  • Six new kinds of specialty Poke-balls in addition to the familiar Pokeball, Greatball, Ultraball, and Masterball; 
  • The ability to "shake the trees" and look under rocks for special Pokemon besides those obtained in the open fields, caves, or water; 
  • 8 new Gym Leaders to defeat, and 8 new badges; 
  • The ability to import Pokemon from your prior Red, Blue, etc. games to fill out your Pokedex as well as import "old" Pokemon that aren't available wild in Gold or Silver (and there are quite a few). As before, some Pokemon can only be caught in Gold, and some only in Silver; 
  • Best of all… Pokemon breeding! All Pokemon (except for a few, like the Magnemite and Ditto) come in male and female sexes now, you can leave a pair in a special breeding/day-care center, and come back for them later to see if they've laid an egg! (All Pokemon- even mammalian types- reproduce by egg.) Some hatchlings will be identical with their parents, but there are several new Pokemon that are the progeny of old favorites. A male and female Pikachu, for example, produce the new Pokemon "Pichu" (#172), and two Jigglypuffs make a "Pupurin" (#174). 

 

To top it off, however, once the more challenging Orange League championship is attained, the game presents you with a real surprise- you're only halfway through! The entire "world map" of the OLD Pokemon game is in Gold and Silver, giving you 8 more badges to earn from some old and new Gym Leaders. There are also an entirely new set of inter-related challenges that frequently require you to go back and forth between the "new world" and the "old world" by flying, ship, or even a commuter train. Finally, you'll face the "Greatest Trainer of All"… three guesses who that is! 

Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures Inc. have produced a true rarity: a sequel that not only exceeds the hype, but delivers an amazing total gaming value that one can spend literally months playing without running out of things to do or discover. I've spent over 180 hours with Gold alone without getting tired of it yet! 

Poke-fans, you'll be in Pokemon heaven. Poke-parents, well … at least you've been warned!


This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 17-Apr-00