Pokemon Gold and Silver are the perfect example of what makes a good sequel. The mantra “A good sequel is one that builds upon and expands the original” is so often said that it has almost transcended opinion into becoming fact. Changing the core mechanics takes away from the main essence of the game. Fail to bring anything new to the table, you will see players just as disappointed. If the aim of a good sequel is to build and expand, no gaming franchise has done it better than the Pokemon series.
Players of the Pokemon series are often nostalgic for the original series despite them having serious flaws. Some of these often felt game breaking. Psychic type was beyond overpowered. If your Pokemon was frozen, it would only thaw out if a fire type move is used. Speed was everything, boosting critical hits and allowing for one hit kills. X Accuracy negated the whole concept of accuracy when used and every move had a 1/256 chance of missing. It was, in simple terms, a mess. Even if a fun mess none the less.
Asides from fixing a lot of bugs, Pokemon Gold and Silver introduced a whole host of new mechanics that would change Pokemon strategy forever. For those of you who don’t remember, all of the following are aspects still available in the Pokemon franchise, which were introduced in Pokemon Gold and Silver. You won’t find these in your precious Gen 1:
- All holdable items for Pokemon.
- Mobile phones.
- All specialized kinds of Pokeball.
- Steel and Dark types.
- Shiny Pokemon.
- New ways to evolve.
- Friendship as a core mechanic for all Pokemon.
And that is of course leaving out the three core mechanics that changed Pokemon forever.
The Internal Clock
Pokemon Gold and Silver introduced the internal clock, which is now a staple of the Pokemon franchise. Aside from tracking your time and changing the color palette of the game, it brought other serious changes. The clock introduced a morning/day/night cycle, which changed the availability of events such as battles and what Pokemon could be captured in certain areas. It also allowed players to grow their own apricorns over time and enabled …
Breeding is such an important part of the franchise that now it’s amazing to think Pokemon started out without it. For competitive play, breeding can improve IVs (a Pokemon’s innate stats), change moves learned, and, in later Gens, change natures. It can also allow casual players to breed rare and adorable baby Pokemon and increase numbers of rare Pokemon by using Ditto. And yet, even the ability to breed a Pokemon with good stats wasn’t the biggest change to strategy. That would be the …
Generation 4 introduced arguably the biggest change in Pokemon strategy: The physical/special split. This meant that whether a move was physical or special was no longer based on its type but was individual to each move. Basically, strong physical attackers like Arcanine became more powerful by stacking STAB (a 1.5X attack bonus) with a strong physical attack.
However, this change would have never been possible without Generations 2’s special split. In Generation 1, Special was simply one value for attack and defense. This overpowered items, such as X Special or Calcium, generalizing strategy.
On top of everything, Pokemon Gold and Silver is pretty much twice the size of the originals. During its creation, developers found a way to compress the data to half the memory capacity it was previously taking up. This meant that late in the cycle they decided to allow players to return to the Kanto region of the first generation immediately after completing their Johto journey. Set several years after the first Generation, it was eye opening to see all the changes that had occurred to the region. They had built on and expanded the original story.
It’s hard to fault Pokemon Gold and Silver. The new features added are generally still core to the series. It improved the original games in almost every aspect. While the graphics and sound aren’t wildly improved, they focused on what counts: gameplay. As such it will always have a special place in my heart.
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