The history of me and Pokémon goes way back. I bought the Blue Edition when it first came out here in Europe and played it on my Game Boy Pocket. I remember being decidedly unhappy at not having 6 Pokémon from the start and at one point I accidentally deleted my saved game (I was 9 or so…) and had to painstakingly put in all the hours again to become Pokémon Champ. But I have learned to love Pokémon with the very first generation and have continued playing one edition or another (with long and short breaks) until now. My favourite edition up to now is the remake Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver. Let me tell you more about this fantastic game and my connection with it!
Just a very quick introduction for those who are not familiar with Pokémon. Pokémon is a popular game for various Nintendo handheld consoles. You are living in a different world, a world inhabited by Pokémon. These are an ever-growing number of little monsters (Pocket Monsters…) that you encounter around your world. You can catch them and battle with them to become Pokémon Champion. There is also an evil organisation that puts the little Pokémon to bad use, so you as protagonist will have to stop them. This is every Pokémon game ever, but it’s fun every single time! You soon pick your favourites and even though it’s just a game you get attached to your companions very quickly.
Now, I already loved Gold and Silver when they came out. I was happy with my Blue and Yellow edition and wasn’t sure whether I should get the sequel. On the way back from a field trip a boy let me beat the 4th gym leader on his game. And it was sold to me! New Pokémon? I need to catch them all! So the next working day I went into a shop with my mother and got the brand new Gold edition. I just liked Ho-Oh more… Anyway, I loved all the new features (give items to Pokémon, night and day, apricorns or the ability to travel both Kanto and Johto!) and spent many happy hours in the world of Pokémon.
Fast forward 10 years or so. By now I was studying at University, had not played all of the following generations and more importantly I was in Japan for my Year Abroad. And that was when the remakes Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver came out. It was like being a kid again. It was like going back 10 years in time. With loads of improvements, better graphics and a Pokéwalker… I didn’t have a DS at the time, but I got one for this game and I regret nothing! The artwork, the colours, the story – it just made me so happy. Especially as I could see my favourite Pokémon in their shiny new updated version. And there was loads of merchandising available in Japan (even a Pokémon Center in Osaka!).
One of the unique features of HeartGold and SoulSilver is the Pokéwalker of course. It is a little like a Tamagotchi, only much cooler. You can transfer any of your darlings onto the Pokéwalker and then – yes, it’s in the name – walk around with them. It makes you even more attached to your Pokémon team. The bonus: you can train them by walking and you can also catch more Pokémon and find useful items. I have to admit I lost my Pokéwalker (I really don’t know how it happened), but after a while I had to get a new one. It’s just the integral feature of the remakes that sets it apart from other editions.
Another feature I adore is the fact that the first Pokémon in your team will always follow you. So cute! This actually made me not evolve all of my Pokémon, as they are much, much cuter in their base form, like my favourites Pidgey and Cyndaquil. Yes, I beat the Elite Four with a Pidgey. Deal with it! So I guess you can say that the focus of these editions lay on interaction and bonding with your team. That might be why I love it so much!
So I guess what makes this game so special for me is a good portion of nostalgia, paired with a sense for a good RPG game. To be honest, you can pick up any Pokémon game and you won’t be disappointed (I guess), but in my personal opinion HeartGold and SoulSilver have a very unique kind of aesthetic that strikes a chord with me. It is also a very long game due to the fact that you have two regions to explore. I think they are still very popular, looking at the prices of used copies on Amazon or Cex, as they basically cost the same that they did 5 years ago. I hope you get to play Pokémon at some point if you haven’t already or that you find time to do so if you are already a convert. What did you like best about HeartGold and SoulSilver?