A bit of backstory. One of my best friends is a great Pokémon fan. Not only did she introduce me to the Pokémon games (I knew about the anime before meeting her), she even gave me Pokémon FireRed as a Christmas gift way back, when we were in high school. 8 or 9 years ago. I don’t even remember what I gave her, but I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere as great as that. Anyway, Pokémon FireRed (which I reviewed, if anyone’s interested) was the first Pokémon game I owned. And for a long time, it was the only one. I have fond memories of it, if only because I played through it three or four times, and on the last time I actually managed to complete the Pokédex, complex feat if there ever was one. Alright, it wasn’t very impressive back then, as there were only 386 Pokémon, and now we’re at a staggering 721. But it was still something! My passion for the Pokémon games never really faded. At some point, my friend found the cartridge for Pokémon HeartGold, in the house of someone who didn’t want it anymore. She already owned that game (to be fair, she owns pretty much ALL of the main series’ games), so she cleaned it up a little (it was in a wastebasket, I think?) and deleted the save file (which clearly belonged to a child with an immature sense of humor, as the file was filled with some... very crappy humor, shall we say). She created a new save file for me, and handed me the cartridge. I was so happy. We would frequently hang out just to trade some Pokémon. Needless to say, she had almost all of the Legendary Pokémon in the games she owned, so she always had spares for me. And you can bet your money that I would have completed this Pokédex! It required a lot of patience, due to certain mechanics that I’ll explain later. But I would have done it! In the meantime, I had even bought Pokémon White, with the intention of trading my Pokémon from HeartGold into it once I had completed the Story Mode!
And then… the disaster. Many months later, I turn on my Nintendo DS, boot up the game, only to find out that the save file had been corrupted. All data? Lost. All the 400+ Pokémon species? Never heard of them again. Farewell my Pokérus-infected Seadra, my trusty team, my plans to build one different team for each Type and kick the Elite Four’s asses 17 times in a row! I was devastated. I had racked up over 300 hours of playtime on that thing. For the record, that’s twelve days and a half nonstop. I had caught that final Pokémon that I could find in the Safari Zone, a Bagon! It only took 110 days for it to appear! I was so close, so fucking close! I cried. A lot. I don’t think I ever recovered. It might explain why I treat harshly games that crash on me. I just think back to Pokémon HeartGold. And how days of hard work can all go to Hell because of a tiny little problem. It worked well for months, I would have never expected something like this to happen!
I’m not gonna lie, this is a tough one. For purely personal reasons. But I must carry through with reviewing Pokémon HeartGold. I must be fair to it. I must not let my bias take over! I must treat this game like I treat every other game, and not let my personal experience get in the way! …But I’m probably not gonna play through Pokémon HeartGold again, just in case it corrupts itself once more. So, you will probably find this review less detailed than usual. That’s probably a good thing, I tend to give too many details, and before you know it, I’m at three, four, five parts. But, more than anything else, this is my test in fairness.
As usual, we open on resident Pokémon Professor. Johto's Prof Elm welcomes the player to "the wonderful world of Pokémon!", and we assign a gender and a name to our character. Alright, so, Male, Nicolas. Because I don’t wanna waste a day thinking up a cool name.
We open in New Bark City, where our character meets up with Prof Elm. Said Prof is very excited about an all-new discovery Mr. Pokémon, a friend of his, has made in Cherrygrove City. He hands the player a Starter; Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile. I remember, when I played through the game, I think I had picked Cyndaquil. So, our character heads to Cherrygrove City and picks up the discovery: Congratulations, it’s an egg! We hurry back to New Bark City, but upon arrival we see a red-haired boy fleeing from Prof Elm’s lab, dropping an ID in the process. This kid stole one of Elm’s Starter Pokémon! And, coincidentally, exactly the Starter Pokémon who’s strong against the one you picked! He battles the player, loses, and runs away. We check the ID… time to name the rival!
It’s Keith. I’m calling him Keith. No questions. I want my rival’s name to be Keith. That is all. And if you wish to know why, well…
|Quoted from the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards review, all the way back in 2014:|
"I'm totally naming my next Pokémon rival Keith. I call dibs on that."
|Sprout Tower, AKA Necessary Yet|
Unimportant Stop During My Journey #1.
Time to head towards the second Gym. Route 36 is blocked by some kind of tree that can’t be cut, so we go down Route 32. Along the way, we see the mysterious Ruins of Alph, home of the Unown… Those weak, lame letter Pokémon who are absolutely useless. But there are 28 of those, so they’re a must-have for every OCD-driven collectors. More sections of the ruins become available as we progress, so very little of it is available for now. Let’s move on! God I hate when I get sidetracked by the game this way…
|"You! Shall not! Pass!"|
"Shut the Hell up, Rocket!"
|Too few of them are worth it.|
So, the Gym Leader in Azalea Town is a guy named Bugsy.. a Bug-type specialist. Wow, I would have never guessed! And he's young too, which makes me wonder if there are any rules for being Gym Leader outside of being "Master of one Type", After Bugsy is defeated, we’re ready to move on to Ilex Forest, but we’re stopped by Dick Dastardly- Oh wait, I meant Keith. Battle ensues. Keith loses, because duh. You can’t win with stolen Pokémon! …Well, a guy named Wes would beg to differ, but nobody cares about him at the moment. This is Pokémon HeartGold, dammit! Nicolas heads into Ilex Forest and helps some guy retrieve his Farfetch’d. For our troubles, we get HM01, Cut, which is required to play lumberjack and make trees fall. But I feel like this isn’t enough action. Cut is a tad weak, it needs to get powered up a little.
Uh… No, that’s too much.
I just remembered! In this game, the Pokémon in the top spot of your party follows you around! I'll go back on that much, much later; once I'm done with retelling the plot, in fact. In Part 4.
|Big cities have big secrets...|
I gotta get a hold of myself! No time crying over spilled milk!
|Her strongest Pokémon is|
a Miltank? Holy cow!
|One, two, three...|
Guess what's not a tree?
Dammit, Nicolas, go back on track!
We finally get to Ecruteak City, home of Ghost-type master Morty. Again, very subtle for a name. It was like a predisposition caused by the name his parents gave him: “Son, your name starts with the French word for ‘Death’, you better start getting good with Ghost Pokémon. Nobody will take you seriously if you start training the Electric type. And don't count on your friend Rick!”
Come to think of it, the names of Gym Leaders in the second generation are even more obvious in their Type symbolism than in any other Generation. Bugsy, Whitney, Morty? Then again, I have only played four Generations, so maybe the Gym Leaders of Hoenn or Sinnoh are even more obvious… Whatever. Time to wipe the floor with the clothes of ghosts! Oh wait, right, Shuppet was only available later…
|I'm not ready to battle three Legendary|
Pokémon at once! What's this, XD: Gale
|I'm just a lowly Trainer! Why doesn't she do|
that herself? ...A Gym is over there?
...FINE! I'll go.
|Suicune is rther strange, compared to its fellow|
|Finally a Trainer sprite|
large enough that I can place
a caption under! Wait, it's over?
But before we go back to Olivine City, take a look at this entrance blocked for the moment; it leads to the Cliff Edge Gate, which grants access to Route 47, and beyond that Route, none other than the all-new, all-ameliorated Safari Zone! But we can’t go there until we heal Jasmine’s Ampharos.
You know what, I’m gonna stop there for today. I’ll continue next Monday!