I Love To Play: Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal

All Pokémon fans have that game which made a huge impact on them. It may not necessarily be their favourite game – instead, it’s one they revisit on a regular basis or one which solidified their love of the franchise. It could be Pokémon Red and Blue, the games which launched the franchise and propelled it to a global audience. It could be the first game on a specific console, such as Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. For new fans it could be Pokémon Sword and Shield, the latest games in the series. For me, it was Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal, released on Game Boy Colour.

After the runaway success of Pokémon Red and Blue, it was only natural to create sequels to capitalise on its popularity. But how would the games build upon the original? How would the games make their own mark?

Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced many firsts to the franchise. They were the first to introduce a time system, affecting how the world looked throughout the day and what events took place. They gave Pokémon genders, allowing compatible creatures to breed (and even create brand new Pokémon). Pokémon could hold items, allowing for an extra layer of strategy in battle. Pokémon Crystal released a while later and added even more content, being the first to allow players to play as a female trainer and adding Pokémon animations to bring the monsters to life.

My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Red, borrowed from a friend when I was 6 years old. I saved pocket money for a long time and eventually purchased Pokémon Gold, one of the first ever video games I owned for myself. I didn’t have to share the game with my brother, and I could play it when I wanted. As with any video game obsessive my age, I played it as often as possible.

I was completely unfamiliar with the games, so experiencing the 100 new Pokémon was an absolute treat. I chose the Water-type Totodile as my starter, eventually evolving it into the ferocious Feraligatr. I fell in love with many of the newcomers, including the adorable baby Togepi and the demon doggo Houndoom. One of my favourite things, however, was seeing old favourites get new evolutions. The angry water-dwelling Seadra gained a regal dragon-based evolution, whilst cute Pokémon like Clefairy and Jigglypuff were given downright adorable baby forms.

A new game meant a new world to explore, and the Johto region was filled with areas not seen in Pokémon Red and Blue. From the beautiful National Park (which hosted a Bug Catching Contest three days a week) to the challenging peaks of Mt. Silver, Johto was a joy to traverse. One of my favourite moments, however, was travelling across the lake in your home of New Bark Town, arriving at a new land. A man greets you and tells you to check your map, and my face lit up as the familiar map of Kanto popped up. The world from Pokémon Red and Blue was possible to explore, doubling the size of the game. It wasn’t until after I beat the Pokémon Champion before I could revisit Kanto properly, but it was a huge (and welcome) surprise.

My favourite thing about Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal is how utterly charming they are. The characters, from the sixteen Gym Leaders to the trainers you find in each route, are filled with personality and joy. The world has many secrets within, from a cave basement visited by the near-extinct Lapras every Friday to a training area occupied by the disgraced Karate King. The 16-bit graphics are every bit as cute and colourful as they were over 20 years ago, and the soundtrack is still as pleasing as ever.

Pokémon Red and Blue may have been the games that started it all, but Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal are the ones that have a special place in my heart. They were the games my friends and I would battle each other on, and the ones I would show off to my family. At one point, I even got my nan's help beating the toughest trainer in the game! I may not consider them the objectively best games in the franchise (that would go to one of the Nintendo DS titles), but they’re easily one of the most enthralling.

If you’re considering getting Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal, you can pick them up on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Alternatively, the games were remade for Nintendo DS as Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. As well as upgrading the graphics and music, the remakes also add new areas, improves the Kanto region (which admittedly was a bit lacking in the original) and introduces a host of new features including letting your Pokémon follow you in the overworld. Either way, an incredible adventure in the Johto region awaits!

I Love To Play is a new series covering the games which had a significant impact on my life, whether it’s one of my favourite games ever or one which taught valuable life lessons. These articles are written with a 1 hour time limit.

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