What's the deal?
Nintendo threw in 100 new monsters and color just to sell a few million more Pokemon carts, right? No, not exactly. Pokemon Gold and Silver completely redefine the Poke-verse laid down by the first games. You still capture and train up to 250 monsters, but now you'll find male/female versions of each Pokemon, too. So your Pikachu might not be exactly the same as a friend's. And, if we can peer into the future for a sec, this concept of your own unique monster will only expand in games beyond Gold and Silver. "In future games, your Pikachu may be brighter yellow, mine may be darker. Yours may be slightly larger than mine," Gail Tilden, Nintendo's vice president of product acquisition and development, told us. "All of that can't yet be implemented, but they have gone to the step of identifying each monster's sex. That's the goal of Pokemon, that you live in a real environment."
Nintendo's banking on the new games to "catch" the real-life attention of gamers 24/7. Gold and Silver's new features include an internal clock, so certain monsters will only be capture-able during specific hours of the day, and a cellular phone with which players can send and receive messages and challenges from other trainers. While some analysts claim Pokemon's 15 minutes of fame are nearly over, Nintendo hopes that Gold and Silver's release will renew interest in the series (just as the original game begins to drop off of the sales charts). Will it work?
So why is it a must-get game?
Disregard the hype behind the Pokemon franchise and all of the licensed products it has spawned. Gold and Silver are really good RPGs, and a lot more polished than the original Pokemon games were. Even if you've never touched Pokemon, Gold and Silver is a must-play.
Download Pokemon Gold-Silver
Color? Yes, but there's a lot more new in Pokemon Gold and Silver. This is the true sequel to the original Pocket Monsters game which debuted in Japan five years ago. Note: Names and places used in this preview are from the Japanese version of the game and will likely change when it is released in the U.S. You begin your journey in Wakaba Town, where you say goodbye to your mother and grab one of three Pokemon from Dr. Utsugi (see sidebar for the descriptions of the three).
There are a total of 251 Pokemon in the new games--151 from the first, and too new. Some of these are pre-evolved forms of popular monsters like Pikachu, Electabuzz and Clefairy. Get a male and a female of those and take them to a farming couple which breeds Pokemon and you'll get an egg about a half hour later (see sidebar). Eevee can evolve into two additional forms-A psychic Eevee and a dark Eevee. Gold and Silver have two new types of Pokemon--Dark and Steel, in addition to later evolutions of some monsters like Onixand Slowbro. Special versions of different monsters will turn up during the game too, and you'll only have one chance to catch them (for instance, the Gyarados who's terrorizing a lake area is gold-colored, different from normal). There are artwork differences between Gold and Silver--some Pokemon have different poses depending on which version you're playing. Like the previous versions there are monsters only available in one cart or the other.
The Pokegear is possibly the handiest gadget in the game next to the backpack. With the Pokegear you can check the time, look at an overworld map, make and receive cellular phone calls and listen to the radio, among other things. Keeping track of time is important as some monsters only appear during certain times of the day. Radio stations vary from Professor Oak's [Pokemon Channel](/games/pokemon-channel/ (which gives you locations of the monsters in the game), a music channel and the Lucky Channel. The Lucky Channel gives out lucky numbers each day and if yours match the ones at the radio tower you can win prizes (what they are you'll have to find out for yourself). If you exchange phone numbers with other trainers you fought in the game, they'll call you for rematches. Remember in the first game that if you wanted to use Cut or Surf you'd have to go into the Pokemon menu and select it? Now all you have to do is move toward the area where you'd use it and press A.
It automatically chooses the correct move from whichever Pokemon has learned it. You can equip monsters with items, too, like various kinds of fruit (which will heal your Pokemon during battle). When its health is low or its status changes, it will use the item and regain its health automatically.
If you are an owner of the Game Boy Printer, you can print out your Pokemon data. There's also a Pokemon photographer who'll ask you if you want a special picture of one of your monsters (remember Todd from the Pokemon TV show--he's in here, too). You can print out the picture of your Pokemon and stick it anywhere you like.
Trading Pokemon with the previous versions of the game is a bit tough, but you can do it. You need to have only Pokemon from the first game in your active party when you activate the Time Capsule--which is under repair at first until about halfway through the game. The Time Capsule, Vs. Room and Trade Center are located on a new second floor of each Pokemon Center. Nintendo's sequel is every bit as good as the first game and better in many ways. So Pokefanatics have a reason to be excited for fall 2000. It just can't come soon enough.