Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver Versions were released for the Gameboy Color in 2000. It was a massive hit, selling around 13 million copies, and kickstarted the franchise. Seventeen years after its release, it became re-released on the 3DS eShop as a Virtual Console game. This set of games is one of my personal favorites in the series. Here’s why.
The story of the game is simplistic, and it expands on the story of its predecessors, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. You play as a young trainer who begins their Pokémon journey in the Johto region.
You choose one of three Pokémon to begin with to go adventuring. As you take the gym challenge, collecting badges from each gym, you encounter Team Rocket, who had disbanded three years prior in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. They’ve come together again, and are trying to get their boss, Giovanni, to return. After foiling all of Team Rocket’s plans, you earn the final gym badge, and become eligible to challenge the Pokémon league. Before that, you have the chance to capture the legendary Ho-Oh in Pokémon Gold, or Lugia in Pokémon Silver. You then challenge the league and become the champion. This ends the main story. The postgame allows the player to travel to the Kanto region, the setting of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow.
The gameplay, in terms of battles, is fairly simple. You and the opponent have a team of up to six Pokémon. Each Pokémon has one or two types, and the moves they use are assigned types.
These types have matchups that are either super effective against them, are resisted by them, don’t affect them at all, or do neutral damage. The battles are run on a turn-based system in which you select a move, and may go first or last in the turn. The only difference between this system and the system used in later games, such as the DS games, is purely visual. Since Gold and Silver had only one screen, the battle menu was off to the side, but starting with the DS games, the menu was placed on the bottom touchscreen.
This set of games also introduced many new mechanics into the series.It added two new types, the Steel and Dark types, which acted as a buffer to the Psychic type. It also added a day and night cycle, which affects encounters and certain Pokémon evolutions, added the ability to breed Pokémon, added genders, and that isn’t even scratching the surface of the mechanics. The game even changed a mechanic from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. In those games, a Pokémon’s stats included a single Special stat. If it was high, then moves categorized as “Special” would deal high damage if the Pokémon knew them, and the same Pokémon would take less damage from an opponent’s Special moves. In Pokémon Gold and Silver, the Special stat was split into Special Attack and Special Defense. One boosted the power of Special moves, and the other, resistance against them.
Since this is a Virtual Console release for the 3DS, a few things have changed from them original.
The only significant change that I could find was the way you battle and trade with other people. In the original version of the games, you had to use a link cable to trade and battle with somebody else.
The Virtual Console uses a local wifi connection instead, since there is nowhere for a link cable to go on the 3DS. They did the same for the re-releases of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow.
I could find very few things that could hinder the gameplay or story. However, there is one very significant problem.
Depending on the Pokémon you start with, the game’s difficulty could change. In a literal sense, nothing really changes, but with the Pokémon gyms and the types that they specialize in, picking one Pokémon to start with could either help or hurt your battles in the gyms. For example, the first two gyms have Pokémon that are good against the Grass type starter Pokémon, Chikorita. This is also the case with the seventh gym, while the fourth, sixth, and eighth gym have Pokémon that resist the majority of the moves that Chikorita learns.
The Fire type starter Pokémon, Cynaquil, has a much easier time with every gym, while the Water type starter, Totodile, is in between the two as far as difficulty goes. Though it does not at all make the game bad.
On the topic of graphics, there is little that I can say. Most of the graphics in the Overworld were taken from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, with a few minor differences here and there, such as trees and environment. It’s what you would expect in top-down adventuring.
In battles, the sprites of the Pokémon from Red, Blue, and Yellow have all been redone to look cleaner, and most of the new Pokémon’s sprites look nice too. The sprites from Red, Blue, and Yellow are a bit awkward compared to the sprites in Gold and Silver. There are even little differences in the sprites from Gold and Silver. Though because of the limitations of the Gameboy Color, each sprite can only have up to two colors, excluding black and white.
For the music in the games, in both versions the music is phenomenal, even without considering what they had to work with. The battle themes are good, the Team Rocket theme especially, but the themes that play in the towns and cities are some of the best in the game. A few themes were reused from the last set of games, but they definitely cleaned up some themes from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, such as the Pokémon Center theme.