I was just eleven years old when I saw a commercial in which a young boy stood before a replica of the Parthenon with a shiny Poké Ball in hand, standing ready to domesticate a slew of hitherto unknown and tantalisingly fanciful creatures. Compared to the Red, Blue, and Yellow versions (and Pokémon Stadium), which brought forth the 151 creatures that most of my friends from school at the time would only remember before they pursued other interests, this game promised mechanics that, but for the fact that some Pokémon had to be imported from the other games in order to complete the Pokédex, rendered every previous Pokémon game obsolete: Some Pokémon could only be caught during a certain time of day; some events occurred on specific days; new methods of evolution were introduced; eggs, shiny Pokémon, and breeding were introduced; and the happiness mechanic, used for Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow, was extended to all creatures. This was in 2000, and the commercial in question was heralding Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver.
Before I got my own copy of Pokémon Crystal, I would spend time using my friends’ copies of Gold and Silver. This generation immediately appeared very distinct from the Red and Blue generation: While the latter mirrored present-day Japan — the large, bustling cities and small, insular towns — Gold and Silver made an attempt to integrate facets of Japanese culture, from the fusuma and sh&333;ji that made up the houses in Ecruteak City to Lugia itself, a caricature of Ry&363;jin, the Japanese sea spirit. It was probably supposed to mirror the Ky&333;to-&332;saka region and the Nara peninsula (and Ky&333;to was Japan’s capital until 1868, when the Meiji dynasty moved to T&333;ky&333;), and Pokémon’s Kanto itself was supposed to mirror the real-life Kanto region, but it worked out very well for a sequel series. From then on, I figured that the generations that followed, and that will probably continue to follow, had to start with a whole new region and a Pokémon sort system just to not compromise the integrity of the series before them, since each one was a new idea supported by a criminal syndicate whose degrees of success would increase.
Now, it’s nearly ten years later. Since the release of Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green in 2004, the idea of a Gold/Silver/Crystal remake has floated around the Pokémon fan circuit; between then and now, there have been several ROM hacks, spriting projects, conspiracy theories, and evidence that someone would claim pointed to the creation of a remake of the Gold and Silver versions. Indeed, I would play in my head scenes from a Game Boy Advance remake of them that was based loosely on Ruby and Sapphire. Suffice it to say nearly every fan boy and fan girl had a heart attack when TV Tokyo’s Pokémon Sunday programme floated the news that Gamefreak Inc. Was indeed planning a new game that was a reincarnation of Gold and Silver.
On the surface — perhaps influenced by every attempt I saw by Pokémon fans to make their own games, and the urgency behind Fire Red and Leaf Green to help cover every Pokémon for the Ruby and Sapphire generation — Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver didn’t interest me that much. At most, I expected to buy it just to claim that I know something that goes on during the course of the game, which I dispensed in submissions on SuperCheats.com when I first joined, or to chew the fat with fellow Pokémon fans. From what I’ve seen, I’m ambivalent on the effect that past generations have had on it: Time has already been introduced and is carried over from the Nintendo DS clock; 3D modelling remains limited, but is now applied better in cut scenes such as those of Lugia and Ho-oh; the ‘regional Pokédex sort’ has been reintroduced.
What might keep me going in this game, however, might not just be that a lot of the best features — time, the thrill of a chase, and the telephone — are finally coming back, but that the game finally will serve as vindication for everyone on every Pokémon forum who has dreamt of a remake, and a letdown for those who worked to create their own brand of it. Best of all, it’s refreshing to see an element of where the game comes from back in the games, where a lack of it has hampered the spirit of the game — and possibly to relive childhood. I lament, however, that the same way I see kids who missed out on the first sets of Pokémon cards meander their way through the newer sets at tournaments, young Pokémon players in North America might not have an appreciation for what the games used to be when they pick up a copy of Pokémon HeartGold or Pokémon SoulSilver in the spring of 2010.
Added by: Cross Stinger Sep 18th 2009, ID#12469