Game review: Pokemon "HeartGold" & "SoulSilver"
Updated versions of the classic Pokemon titles "Gold" and "Silver" make it clear why the series has endured for more than a decade in the hearts of mobile gamers.
"HeartGold" and "SoulSilver" are basically repackaged versions of those classic titles with obvious graphics upgrades. The formula isn't changed much - players start a new character and adventure through the Pokemon world on a quest to capture and raise various elemental animals.
What these upgrades do add are some new mini-games involving the pets, as well as the now-standard wireless transfer ability.
Nintendo's also introducing the Pokewalker accessory with these titles. This new pedometer allows players to carry one of their battle pets around in their pocket as they go about their daily life - so as you're walking from place to place in the real world, your pet is gaining experience.
Later, pets can be transferred back to the Nintendo DS handheld with some added benefits. Luckily, there's a limit to how far any of the animals can advance this way, preventing abuse and encouraging players to take more than one pet out for a walk.
"HeartGold" and "SoulSilver" each offer different starting Pokemon. While the monsters featured in these titles are more than 10 years old and staples of the series, the games also offer newer players a chance to add the "original" "Gold" and "Silver" characters to their collections more easily than later titles have.
A big draw for nostalgic gamers who were Pokemon-obsessed years back is the opportunity to share these beloved pocket monsters with the next generation. It's plausible that some of the older fans of the original games are now parents - parents who can now take a trip down memory lane with their own Pokemon-obsessed children.
Fans of multiplayer Pokemon should definitely check out the Pokathelon arena zones, where players can battle their pets against the computer or another player in an ad-hoc Wi-Fi mode. Trading pets and power-leveling them is fairly simple, and the two-screen touch controls of the Nintendo DS/DSi are a great addition as well.
Pokemon "Gold" and "Silver" were milestones in the early years of the Pokemon franchise and, surprisingly, the games stand up well even 10 years later.
Since it's impossible to run Game Boy Color games on Nintendo's DSi platform, these updates are an especially nice treat. And they offer a great opportunity for newer fans to reflect on a bit of the series history.
Pokemon "HeartGold" & "SoulSilver"
System: Nintendo DS/DSi
Rated: E for Everyone
Who Should Buy It?: Obsessive collectors
GameOn! Grade: B