hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Pokemon HeartGold / SoulSilver

2:00 PM on 03.14.2010 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

The second generation of Pokémon, encompassing the Gold and Silver games, is considered by most fans to be the pinnacle of the franchise. This generation brought more monsters before the designs started to jump the shark, and new ways of deepening the experience before later games became too convoluted and desperately complex. 

There's no way Nintendo wouldn't want to cash in on that. 

So behold, Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver, the final evolutionary stage of these classic games. New graphics, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the all-new Pokewalker converge to make this the ultimate Pokémon experience. But just how ultimate is it? Ultimate enough to warrant your time and cash? To find out, read our Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver review! It's super effective!

Pokemon HeartGold & Pokemon SoulSilver (Nintendo DS) 
Developer: Game Freak Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: March 14, 2010
MSRP: $39.99
Reviewed Version: SoulSilver

If you're familiar with the original Silver and Gold games (or, really, any of the Pokémon titles), then the backbone of the gameplay remains the same. As a budding young Pokémon trainer, your job is to traverse the Johto Region, collecting Gym Badges, defeating Team Rocket and catching 'em all in your bid to become the world's greatest Pokémon master. Nothing you haven't seen before, yet it still feels fresh and full of innocent discovery, in the way that only a Pokémon game can.

Everything that made Silver and Gold so good has been brought over faithfully. Breeding, Apricorn gathering, the night & day mechanic, getting bothered on the phone by some dick who constantly needs to tell you he knocked out a Weedle, and all your favorite Pokémon have made their way to the DSi, as entertaining as they ever were. The only downside is that a number of the convoluted things that helped bog down later Pokémon games appear to be prevalent in these remakes. The Pokémon behave how they do in Pearl and Diamond, meaning that the whole "EV" mess is back to over-complicate the game.

Anybody who wants to get the best out of their Pokémon in HeartGold/SoulSilver will need spreadsheets and encyclopedias, not to mention more spare time than an emotionally healthy person has. It's a shame that things couldn't be as simple as they were in Generation I and II, when hidden stats were much easier to manage, but sadly, those days are never coming back. 

That one issue aside, SoulSilver and HeartGold are still fantastic remakes for the casual player willing to ignore all that EV nonsense, and the hardcore obsessive who will spend weeks and months breeding the ultimate creatures. As well as updating the monsters for the DS generation, HeartGold and SoulSilver are home to a number of other changes that are impressively unobtrusive, yet add a lot of extra value.

First of all, HeartGold and SoulSilver now allow you to let your lead Pokémon out of its Pokéball to follow you around on your adventures, like how Pikachu would behave in Pokémon Yellow. While such an aesthetic change seems minor, it's surprisingly endearing to have one's favorite Ekans at your heel and talk to it to see how much he likes you. It's a small touch, yet somehow makes the game feel that much more adorable. 

Access to new Pokémon, including the starter Pokémon from Red and Blue, has been included, helping to make some long-forgotten monsters more widespread. SoulSilver and HeartGold can also connect to Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, as well as the Game Boy Advance games (if you have a DS or DS Lite). Essentially, HeartGold and SoulSilver give you access to nearly all the Pokémon you can think of, making this perhaps the most complete pair of games in the series. 

HeartGold and SoulSilver also boast Wi-Fi connectivity. You can battle friends locally or go online (with the required friend codes), and you can also access a brand-new area, the Wi-Fi Plaza. At the Plaza, players around the world can anonymously -- and safely -- interact with each other, having quasi-scripted conversations, playing a variety of touch-screen minigames, and powering up a "Tap Toy," which is essentially an instrument that is played in the Plaza by tapping the touch screen. Again, this is totally ancillary and could be easily overlooked, if not entirely undiscovered. However, it's yet another cute little touch that adds that extra layer of charm. 

Of course, the biggest change to the game comes in the form of enhanced graphics and sound, brought up to date with animation and visuals in the same vein as Pearl and Diamond. It looks on par with the DS sequels, which is to say that it retains the same minimalist style of the old-school games while looking more vibrant and slightly more detailed. Not exactly the best looking DS games on the market, but clearly improved from the old Game Boy Color days. As well as improved sound, a few new tracks have been included too, giving your ears a bit more of a treat. 

All of this is bolstered by the latest big gimmick, the Pokéwalker. Essentially an interactive pedometer, this will be a familiar toy for anybody who owned the "Pokémon Pikachu" device, which worked in a similar fashion. Able to connect to the SoulSilver/HeartGold cartridge via infrared, the Pokéwalker allows players to transfer a Pokémon from the in-game PC to the pedometer and "go for a stroll" through a number of environments. The player then walks around in the real world, with each step being recorded on the pedometer and converted into "Watts." These Watts can then be spent on minigames to find items or wild Pokémon. If a new Pokémon is discovered, players can fight them within the Pokéwalker using a very stripped-down combat system that consists of Fight, Evade and Capture. Up to three Pokémon or items can be stored on the Walker and then transferred back to the cartridge to use in-game. 

The Pokéwalker is a surprisingly fun little accessory, and while -- like everything else -- it won't have a huge impact on the way you play, it's still worth messing around with, and it provides a cool new way to interact with your favorite monsters. Pokémon can also level up in accordance to how many steps you take in a day, but be warned that EV points won't be collected, so serious trainers will likely want to avoid using it. It's also a hassle transferring Pokémon, having to constantly shuffle monsters  around from your party to your box to the Pokéwalker and back again, saving between each step. It's likely that players will get tired of the gimmick sooner rather than later, but as an extra feature, it's well worth the money. 

Pokémon SoulSilver and HeartGold make a fine addition to the Pokémon franchise and are a must-have for fans of the series. If it's been a few years since you played the originals, this comes highly recommended. Everything you remember is there, plus some great new features that will enhance the experience. While it is, at its core, the same game that you've played many years ago, it still manages to feel new and the updated features bolster the original experience in a manner that never intrudes and only enhances. Put short, this is a lot of fun and something that a huge amount of DS owners should look into. 

If you're a hardcore Pokémon fan and you don't own this, you may very well be asked to turn in your badge. 

Score: 9.0 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)




Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

CaseyCor avatarCaseyCor
Can't sleep cast: Donkey Kong Land Any% [url]http://www.twitch.tv/caseycor[/url]
ooktar avatarooktar
Defeated a sniper in MGS V by dropping supplies on his head. 10/10.
Nat Monney avatarNat Monney
I'm with 3 other guys and we're about to release a mobile game we started almost 3 years ago. What should we do ? [youtube]https://youtu.be/5EGPUBZCGwo[/youtube]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Guys I'm on a train what should I do?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Traded in a bunch of old Star Trek novels and other books at a used bookstore. Made $10 and got Tori Amos' "Strange Little Girls" album along with it. They made me take the William Shatner novels back. Smart clerks.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Can this be Toy Story 4? [youtube]https://youtu.be/XJkZX0rKElY[/youtube]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Also I will be reviewing freedom wars. I didnt make it to the end. I will not be kind to it. There will be blood.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Yeah....been there before.
techsupport avatartechsupport
MGS V review: When using a character other than Big Boss for missions, the intro credits still say, "starring Punished 'Venom' Snake." Sloppy work, Kojima - no wonder Konami dumped you. 0/10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Grim Fandango......some real good sruff here. As soon as I complete it (vita version, of course) will probably see about a write up. Not perfect, but theres some good stuff here. Glad it got brought back from obsolescence hell.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
*sigh* If only Disqus had a "block/ignore user" option :/
VIRGO avatarVIRGO
Must. Use. This. Blog. More. But. School.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Just started playing Hyrule Warriors again. Man is that game fun. A bit mindless at times granted, but fun nonetheless.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I ate vanilla ice cream and didn't put on any chocolate syrup. Now wondering if that was racist whitewashing #thanksjed.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
The cat dragged in some action figures !
[img]http://i.imgur.com/6Cu2Asg.jpg[/img] [img]http://i.imgur.com/qMFDAw3.jpg[/img] [img]http://i.imgur.com/RPUraY8.jpg[/img] [img]http://i.imgur.com/51DLqjh.jpg[/img]
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
There's a Custom Soundtrack folder in MGSV. I can't think of a better thing to put there than the old episodes of podtoid I've been running through lately. I'll be fultoning guys and Holmes will be puttin' on mesh tank tops. Perfect.
Shinta avatarShinta
MGSV Pro Tip: Turn your brightness down to 0. It actually makes the view distance for the guards correct, and doesn't make nighttime the best option for you every single time. When guards shoot flares in the sky, the lighting looks like Dragon's Dogma.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Proof I listened to too much Weird Al growing up: I really do hear "Living in America" as "Living with a Hernia."
Nic Rowen avatarNic Rowen
I've been playing a shit ton of Heroes of the Storm recently. It's my first MOBA and I'm SHOCKED at how much fun I'm having. Anyone else into it? Would love to get some games in with Dtoiders.
Script avatarScript
I would wait for a chance to play the game by myself, but I just have to know. Is David Hayter in MGS V in any way? Please no spoilers.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -