Friday, May 8, 2009

Did we need Heart Gold and Soul Silver? Really?

So despite my best efforts at misinformation, Yahoo Japan and Nintendo decided to announce that yes, they are remaking Pokemon Gold and Silver for a release in the fall in Japan, with the inevitable NA release probably next spring.

I used to have a running tally in my signature on the GameFAQs boards that added two weeks every time someone asked for a remake, and I tried to convince myself (and people on The Twitter, Joystiq et al) that Nintendo was more interested in trolling the obsessive fans and would end up releasing something more appealing to their expanded audience. Like Hey You Pikachu DS or Pokemon Channel 2.

But they went ahead and did it anyway. And as someone who played the second generation games more than would be healthy, I'm not sure if I'm happy about it.

Let's look at what great innovations the second generation brought:

- Events based on time of day and the day of the week
- The split of the Special stat into Special Attack/Defense
- Dark and Steel types
- Two regions in one game
- The coolest Pokemon
- Running legendaries

All of these things are either gigantic pains in the ass or were refined to be much better in the newer games. Having the clock worked out well until it killed the game's internal battery.

The Special stat, although pretty meaningful in the long run (it made Mewtwo only slightly broken instead of being a proto-Arceus) was upstaged by the split of moves in gen 4. There were barely any Dark and Steel types, and those were sacked away until the endgame anyway (Tyranitar, Houndoom, and Skarmory was a version exclusive).

Running legendaries were old the minute Raikou took off - they're supposed to be rare, but it shouldn't take me five hours or cloned Master Balls to get these things. And not only is it questionable - and unlikely - that they'll use the Crystal storyline so Suicune's going to be running around, but if the trend of making the GBA games unneeded (largely because of the DSi) continues the Latis will probably be running around in the post game too.

The coolest Pokemon? Purely debatable, and I spent most of the time on my original playthrough using Alakazam, Golem, Machamp, Lapras and Fearow to rape the game in half and stuff it through a mailbox (@igndotcom). Notice anything? Not a single GSC Pokemon. There were maybe ten usable families debuting in GSC plus a couple of trade evolutions, and they've spent two generations evolving everything else to make it usable. Feraligatr's good now because of the physical/special change giving him Waterfall and Ice Fang/Punch to play with, but Typhlosion's a one-note gimmick and Meganium is outclassed by everything, for one thing.

And finally, the concept of two regions in one game has done nothing but set an unnecessary expectation that sets off a torrent of bitching all over the internets and offline. If they had held off on doing it for one generation, it could have been done so well - and you would still have the prior games if you wanted to go to Kanto. As a result, the developers ran headfirst into the limitations of a dual GB/GBC game and the end result was two inferior continents. The description of the 2nd gem games as a half-assed Johto paired with a 16th-of-an-assed Kanto might be unfair to the developers, but the complete lack of branching (Johto) and a point (Kanto) is pretty clear.

Hell, there's more post-game content in Platinum, which has a whole 2.5 cities, 6 routes and the Cheating CPU Frontier. That little island has more content than Kanto, which can literally be beat start to finish in an hour and a half. (30 minutes if you Dodrio Mode it through Pokemon Stadium 2).

So the question becomes, am I going to buy the remakes? After all, when Diamond and Pearl came out, I pre-ordered both of them, one version each at two different places. I think I've figured out my plan of attack, though - especially as if I do end up getting them I'll probably end up FAQing them out of force of habit.

If there's a significant amount of content added - enough that both regions are anywhere near Sinnoh-sized - then I'll end up pre-ordering one (Gold, because I got Silver in 2000 and want something different) and hoping Best Buy re-runs the deal they did in Canada for Platinum where you get the player's guide for free. Because let's face it, 624 page guides are cool. Otherwise... we'll throw a Garchomp at the bridge when we get there.

Still, I can't help but wonder what the 5th generation would have if they took all the effort around remaking games and focus it on making a good 5th generation. Or maybe they'll bring in a Flare Blitz tutor Flareon can't use and not evolve Farfetch'd again.

It's not going to stop me from speculating about the remakes here either.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah well. In Platinum I am playing through with a Growlith, piplup, Shynx, Turtwig, scyther, carvanau(?) all but growlith and scyther holding everstones, god I am bored. Going to do whole game like that.


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