Video game review number two hundred and thirty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Pokemon Heart Gold".
Tonight, my nephews were visiting and both of them wanted to play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 online together. Since this is a single player game (no split-screen support when playing online), they had to use two of my gaming screens. We switched off for awhile (they'd rotate me into a Deathmatch or something before I'd hop out and let them play together again)...but for the most part, they did most of the gaming that night.
I thought it might be a good time to play another game on the PS3 or the Wii, but my wife was using the other big TV in the house...and that left me with limited screen options. One of my nephews offered to let me play his Pokemon game on the DS, and I realized...I've never in my life played one. What a fantastic time to find out what all the fuss is about.
Over an hour later...I still have absolutely no idea. What follows is a summary of one of the more confusing games I've played, and I still don't feel like I understand it at all.
First of, I was warned not to save my game. This particular Pokemon game offers only one save per cartridge, and my nephew had over 14 hours of progress into his save. He told me I could play his save, or start a new game (I opted for the latter), but whatever I did...I should not save my progress. I may not be much of a Pokemon expert, but I know my way around video games in general. At random points in the game, I'd ask him:
"If I take this thing from this guy, is it going to auto-save the game?" and he'd say:
"As long as you don't save it, you're ok".
My adventure started in a little town, not unlike the world of Zelda (or maybe 3D Dot Heroes). Top down role playing view, lots of text. I'm not a fan of this type of game, but when I asked my nephew what his favorite Pokemon game of all time was...he replied that this was it. He's been playing most of his life, so I had to continue on.
I got my first Pokemon (it was a "Totodile"), and started exploring the world. I got some missions telling me to visit another town, and fought lots of other Pokemon along the way. Whenever I'd run into one, I'd ask the nephew: "It's an owl, what do I use on him?" and he'd tell me the best weapon.
The combat is all turn-based and the gameplay is very slow. Lots of text. I wasn't able to collect any of the Pokemon I was fighting (even though as I understand it, that is the point of the game) because I had no "pokeballs" (pronounced "Poke-E-Balls") in my inventroy.
"Where do I get more Pokeballs?" I asked my nephew.
"From some guy". He said.
They kept playing Call of Duty, racking up killstreak rewards, calling in airstrikes, sniping campers and planting bombs. Meanwhile, I sat on the couch....walking around a 16-bit forest, looking for "some guy" who might give me some Pokeballs.
I won every fight against every Pokemon I met thanks to the advice of my nephews (and the hospital I found that could heal my Totodile between battles)...but I was never able to collect any of my fallen enemies or do anything that seemed even remotely awesome. The one point where I was kind of excited was when my nephews thought that maybe I could trade them the Pokemon I had created (he was an "elite" or an "ultra" or something) for one of their less-awesome ones...and then they could take it home with them.
I really liked the idea of my little creature living on for ages to come (even if I couldn't save the game), until they discovered that I needed to save my game before I could trade with them. Ah well.
There was one cool aspect of this game I did not get to take advantage of, and that's the "walker". Apparently, each copy of this game comes with a Pokemon walker, which is a little pedometer you carry around with you in real life to exercise your Pokemon. My nephews had been wearing these things all week long, including on a backpacking trip they took with my dad. Presumably, their Pokemon are rather buff these days. It's probably for the best that I didn't get to play with the walker, as I sit behind a desk most of the time. My Pokemon would probably be flabby and out of shape.
Overall Score? 4/10. The only thing I liked about this game was the "insider" tricks I got from my nephews on how to win battles. Through Christmases and birthdays...I've been able to share my hobby with these guys over the years, and now they're giving me gaming advice. That's pretty cool. As far as the rest of the game goes....maybe I needed to play for a few more hours, but I still have absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. :-)
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