Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver review: Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver

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The Good Retains the gameplay that made the franchise a hit Hundreds of hours of gameplay Fun new possibilities in the Pokewalker.

The Bad Looks and sounds very outdated Intimidating to newcomers.

The Bottom Line If it wasn't for the Pokewalker, HeartGold and SoulSilver would just be two more in a long chain of Pokemon titles. As it stands, the pedometer has injected the as-addictive-as-ever gameplay with a new life.

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8.5 Overall

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Since its 1996 inception, Pokemon has both garnered a loyal fan base and changed its core series of games very little. There is good reason for this, as evidenced by the fact that Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, of the franchise's fourth generation, are every bit as compelling as the first-gen Red and Blue titles.

Now, this could be that, after 14 years, Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver are making a return to the second-generation Pokemon region of Johto, and later to first-generation region Kanto. The franchise has got around. It's tried a few different things, been a few different places, and now it's bringing what it has learnt home.

Too high-falutin'? Let's put it this way: Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver bring all the best bits of all the previous handheld Pokemon games together in the original worlds.

These Pokes are made for walkin'

Now, apart from obsessive Pokemon fans, one would think there really isn't a lot of draw left in the series. The Pokedex has expanded from a nice, comfortable number of 150 cute critters in the beginning to an intimidating 493 in the Diamond and Pearl versions. Suddenly "Gotta catch 'em all" seems like a mammoth task, and is not for the faint-hearted. This is where Nintendo got clever: bundled with each game is a "Pokewalker", a Pokeball-shaped device in the style of the Pokemon Pikachu 2, which combined a Tamagotchi-esque digital Pikachu with a pedometer.

The Pokewalker, though, can have any of a player's Pokemon uploaded via wireless interaction with the DS. Once installed, each step the player takes will earn something called Watts, a sort of currency that can be used to search for items and rare Pokemon on the pedometer itself, or transferred back to the DS to unlock new walking routes, which in turn unlocks new Pokemon to be caught on the Pokewalker. (Are you tired of all the Pokes yet?)

As an added bonus, Pokewalkers can talk to each other via their infrared sensors, allowing your Pokemon to play with a friend's Pokemon and exchange gifts. And each Pokemon that gets taken for a walk will gain an effortless level per stroll. It's a neat little feature that actually encourages players to put the console down, interact with friends and maybe get some exercise into the bargain — all the while looking and feeling exactly like a bit of extra fun. Point to Nintendo.

Welcome to the jungle

I have actually read some diehard fans complaining about the continuity of the world, how it doesn't seem to fit geographically with the events of previous years. If you are a diehard fan, it is up to you how you want to take the transformation of the worlds you know and love. If you are going to let something like a hillock being somewhere you don't think it should be spoil your enjoyment of the game, perhaps HeartGold and SoulSilver aren't for you.

If you are not a diehard fan, perhaps you are in for a bit of a learning curve. HeartGold and SoulSilver really presuppose that by now, you know how the gameplay mechanics work, although, to be fair, the actions themselves aren't terribly complicated. What gets complicated is the advanced rock-paper-scissors system that allows the player to gain advantage in battle. There are so many different types of Pokemon that keeping them straight in your head can be a little difficult at times.

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