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It's pretty clear that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were simply made to hold us over until the big launch that was Pokémon Black and White. Yet the re-scripted classic GameBoy color versions of Pokémon Gold and Silver bring many new, exciting features to the franchise, and it wouldn't be fair to say that this is just a remake of a ten year-old adventure.
The game reuses the same 3D platform as Pokémon Pearl, Diamond, and Platinum, bringing the old life of Johto back to life using up pretty much everything the DS has to offer. The platform is fairly solid and with the addition of 3D architecture for things like buildings and mountains, the game looks far more snappy than before.
Beyond some of the graphical enhancements that came with the DS platform, the addition of a few simple, yet most welcome gameplay mechanics really helped refine the Pokémon handheld experience into a much more enjoyable ride. You can finally toggle running from the touch screen interface, meaning you longer have to hold any buttons down and you can now set more than one item to your quick-use list. But perhaps my favorite new feature the game brought was that you could see your lead Pokémon strolling along behind you in the game, just like you could see in Pokémon Yellow.
But perhaps the neatest new perk that came with the game was not even in the game! With every copy of HeartGold and SoulSilver, you will receive a device called the Pokewalker, which acts as a pedometer. The more steps you take in the real world, the more Watts you earn, which is a currency used to search for Pokémon and other items out in the wild via minigames.If you happen to pass other people touting the Pokewalker as well, when you jump back into the game, you will get a little summary of all the things that person has done in HeartGold/SoulSilver.
In terms of gameplay, HeartGold and SoulSilver still sticks with the same, standard Pokémon RPG formula you've come to expect, but love all at the same time. Explore the wild, catch and battle with other Pokémon and their trainers, earn gym badges, and hone your skills with the Elite Four at the end of your adventure.
How you play through the game doesn't matter; you could stick with one Pokemon to do the battling who is a badass in the making, levels above anyone else, or you could put together a more refined group of pokemon who can handle any situation thrown at them. Though that kind of team setup is almost entirely useless for gym battles, once you've gotten to the Elite Four or the Battle Frontier, all your work will have definitely paid off and you'll have a much easier time.
While the combat aspect of Pokémon remains the same, it is still a fun and rewarding RPG experience, which is really all I'd hoped to get from a handheld experience.
The plot is as simple and useless as it is in any other Pokémon game, and if you wanted to, you could easily sift through it having no idea what is happening what so ever and emerge from it just fine. At the beginning of your adventure, you choose from one of three starter Pokémon from a crazy professor, and your journey begins from there. But throughout the game, you will battle against members of Team Rocket, a criminal organization originally from Kanto. They have returned in hopes of reclaiming their former glory, yet their boss Giovanni remains missing.
Because HeartGold and SoulSilver run on the same engine as past Pokémon games, they really don't stray too far from what we got in earlier Pokémon DS games. This version by far far surpasses any other Pokémon games that have come before, but you have to remember it is a remake. You've probably seen this game before, but it is definitely worth trying out for a second run.