by Maria M. Rider
From the Nintendo, Creatures Inc. and GAME FREAK comes the long-awaited sequel to the wildly popular Pocket Monsters Green, Blue, Red, and Yellow games. Pocket Monsters Gold, along with a Silver version, have been released expressly for the Gameboy Color on November 21, 1999. The game is the virtually the same as the original game, but with a lot more added features, functions, and improved graphics.
The game introduces about 100 more pokemon in addition the 151 pokemon for even more reason to "catch 'em all!". Pokemon also have two genders (male or female) and best of all is they can breed and have babies! The player plays the main character, a sort of grown-up Satoshi, but this time it's an older boy from Wakaba Town. Wakaba Town is the home to Dr. Utsugii, one of the renowned pokemon experts in the world. The player has a choice of three starter pokemon: Hinoharashii, a fire-type pokemon, Waninoko, a water-type pokemon, and a Chicorita, a grass-type pokemon.
After the player choose a starter pokemon, he can set out into the world of pokemon to lots of new adventures and new pokemon! There are a number of different towns you must visit, and some of them have Pokemon League Gyms in which you must battle a gym leader to win one of eight badges. Along the way, the player must catch different pokemon in order to build a winning, battling team. Unlike the original game, Pocket Monsters Gold utilizes the built in clock of the Gameboy Color and the player must set the time and the day of the week before starting the game. This allows the player to try a new feature of the game catching certain pokemon in the day and certain pokemon at night. That's right, there are diurnal and nocturnal pokemon in this game and it lengthens the game's playability.
The player also has several added functions in his menu such as a versatile backpack. The backpack has more storage room and organizes TMs/HMs, potions, and miscellaneous items in various pockets. Being in tune with the times, the player now has a pokecel phone with which he can call or receive calls from gym leaders that he has won against, Dr. Utsugii, or even his mother. Each call can be important and hopefully the player can read Japanese well to heed each call.
Dr. Okido makes his reappearance to guide the young pokemon master on his way to the pokemon league. With all the obstacles along the way, the player must use his skill and cunning to fight to the top! The much improved color graphics and animations are a vast improvement from the '95 predecessor. The growl attack, for example, emits a sound wave graphic instead of a musical note as it was in the original game. The music is up to par with the norm in Pokemon games and everything being in full color makes it even better.
The definite plus in this game is the ability to breed two of the same pokemon type (i.e. a Charmander Male and a Charmander Female) and inter-breed different pokemon types to make a new pokemon type. This author hasn't gotten that far yet in the game, but apparently the player can make pre-evolutions of pokemon such as Pikachu that is even more cute than the evolved form. There are also a number of puzzles and obstacles the player must figure out before going to the next town and the next gym leader.
Virtually sold out almost everywhere in Japan and even in the U.S. via importing, Pocket Monsters Gold (or Silver) is definitely a game to snag if you enjoy Pokemon. Despite it being totally in Japanese, it's easy enough to follow and enjoy.