Release: 1999 (JP)/2001 (EU)
Pokémon, in a similar vein to Banjo Kazooie one of the first franchises I got into, and like a lot of people in my generation, I really got into it. It was indeed a phonomenom. Now, by 2000, we’d already played Pokémon Red & Blue to death, traded every pokémon, caught ’em all, found every glitch and beaten every trainer. What next?
Pokémon Gold and Silver pretty much take the original format and improve it in every concievable way. First of all, the obvious, there are new Pokémon. Lot’s of them. 100 to be precise. Now, of course, the game isn’t simply a rehash of the previous game, you’re shoved into a new region. The region of Johto. Johto is miles bigger than Kanto (the region from R/B) and is infinitely more cooler. You’ve got Goldenrod City, still the biggest city in the franchise, Ecruteak City, which is bustling with history (the first in the series to hint at mythology) and once you’ve defeated the 8 Gyms, you can go back to Kanto from the first game, which is pretty nostalgic and brilliant.
Also introduced in this game is the idea of breeding, in Pokémon R/B, wasn’t it annoying that if you caught an evolved form of a pokémon, you’d have to find the pre-evolution and catch that as well. Well, no more, simply stick it in a day care centre with a similar type Pokémon or Ditto and they’ll make babies (it’s only implied, but it blatently happens)
What also makes this superior to other games in the series is it’s plot is so much better than the other games. I’m not going to lie, I’ve played every major Pokémon series game and the plot’s haven’t been extraordinary (oh noez, Team_____ are trying to take over the world) and althoguh that’s the case here, they actually have drive. Team Rocket are genuienly evil in this game, in Pokémon R/B, they don’t really do much (apart from take over Silph Co) but here they are a force to be reckoned with. First, they hack off Slowpoke tails and sell them for profit, next they use radio waves to force Pokémon into evolving too early and finally they take over a national radio station in order to bring back their former leader. Somehow, they always get beaten by a kid….
But that’s besides the point. The game also proved to be more of a challenge, instead of the obvious types (Fire, water, grass) the gym’s specialize in obscure types, which means you really have to think about your squad (Flying, bug, normal, Ghost, Fighting, Steel, Ice and Dragon) and adapt, then of course, there’s the extra 8 gym leaders from the older games and then a face-off from Red (eg, you from R/B).
Pokémon Gold/Silver still feel to me to be the best in the series, even though later games would add small additions, they just don’t feel as brilliant or as big a leap between the games. Also, after this, new Pokémon, as great as they are (Pachirisu, Blaziken and Piplup <333) They just aren’t as good as the ones introduced here. G/S are Truly exceptional RPG’s and I already have pre-ordered a copy of the DS re-make from Japan, I’m that excited about it.