Obligatory HeartGold and SoulSilver entry
by, 30th March 2010 at 01:09 PM (358 Views)
I've been playing HeartGold since Saturday and made pretty quick progress at it - already beaten all 16 gyms. As I am approaching the end of the main game, I think it's a good point to review my thoughts on the game. There are some spoilers in here, but I hesitate to label them as such since a lot of it is common knowledge, especially due to the nature of the games.
Basically, HeartGold feels more like a Crystal remake than a Gold remake, but that's fine - Crystal introduced a lot of features that were welcome to the game and as such, comparisons will be with Crystal rather than GS. Some of the features that returned from Crystal included the extended Ruins of Alph, the reworked Dragon User Trial (or whatever it is that Clair sends you on) and Suicune no longer being a roaming Pokémon. This worked well, as it would have been frankly baffling if they reworked Johto and left out some of the changes Crystal made. This was a non-issue in FRLG, as Yellow and JP Blue didn't add that much to the games. On the other hand, it makes me wonder why they bothered replacing Kris with/reworking Kris into Lyra. That's a rather trival matter, however.
I also feel that HGSS succeeded in many places where Crystal failed. Kanto isn't as barren as it once was, with Cerulean Cave, Viridian Forest and Seafoam Islands all making return appearances. The plot hole of why Cerulean Cave returned despite caving in was even filled in - the cave still collapsed, but was reopened before the player gets there. The reappearances of Viridian Forest and the Seafoam Island caverns seem to be retcons, indicating to me that they were intended for a full-blown appearance in GSC but left out for whatever reason. However, I digress.
Another point where HGSS beats Crystal hands down is in background music. Now this should be a given, we're talking DS vs. GameBoy here. However, HGSS adds a remix of the PokéMart theme (introduced in Ruby/Sapphire), different arrangements of the Ecruteak/Cianwood music, restores the Cerulean/Fuchsia music, restores the Cinnabar Island music with a very fitting arrangement and introduces themes for Ho-oh and Lugia. There were a few letdown tracks though, but on the whole the new theme arrangements are absolutely brilliant.
The third improvement that HGSS have over Crystal is difficulty level. The majority of the Gym Leaders, as well as the Elite Four/Lance, have either the same levels or higher than they had before. The fact that movepools and abilities introduced since Gen 3 have been included has also made this game more enjoyable, meaning that the strategies needed to defeat the gym leaders before won't neccesarily work. Although I got my 16 badges in much less time in HG than I did in Gold (which can be attributed by not only the aforementioned reforms but also my increased skill level), the boss fights this time actually felt difficult, especially since the bosses actually posed a proper threat this time.
The storyline was improved since Crystal, although it was still the typical Pokémon story formula. I liked that the Rocket Executives not only had their own identities now but also their own distinct personalities helped matters, with each of the four fitting the "Five Bad Band" trope (despite there only being four of them) - Archer = Big Bad, Petrel = Evil Genius, Proton = Brute, Ariana = Dragon/Dark Chick. Altogether, HGSS is a definite improvement on Crystal (which in turn was an improvement on GS).
Post-game, there is more to do, as well. If you play the way I do (get the story out of the way to create a psuedo-sandbox in which to do various subplots), it is definitely one of the strongest Pokémon games there is. The Pokéathlon is a marked improvement over DPPt's Super Contest (which IMO weren't as good as RSE's contests), DPPt's Battle Frontier returns, there's 16 Gym Leaders to rematch with, there's the Legendary Pokémon to track down... There's just far more to do.
My only real problem with HG is that it's a remake, but it makes a brilliant surrogate for Generation 5. Between this and Platinum, I think I'll have plenty to tide myself over until Gen 5.
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