NOSTALGIA TOP TEN: POKEMON GOLD AND SILVER NINTENDO GAMEBOY COLOUR (1999/2000) [STRAIGHT OUTTA KANTO]
Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!
I hope you all enjoyed the magnificent bank holiday spring-turning-to-summer sunshine of the past few days. I, a hardened gamer, have personally been avoiding natural daylight within my Fortress of Doom and Comfort (aka my mom’s house) and replaying the eVersion of Pokemon Crystal on my Nintendo 2DS.
It’s been a glorious replaying.
As Gen 2 is my all time favourite Gen and Johto my number one favourite region, I thought it was only fitting that I say a few words on the matter. So my fellow PokeNerds, let’s rev up the time machine and take a nostalgic trip back in time to the late 90s/early 00s – It’s Nostalgia Top Ten TIME!!!
Eggs & Baby ‘mon:
While I personally feel that the whole Pokemon population has gotten out of control and that Satoshi Tajiri should kill off at least three, PS. I am not a crack pot, *a The Simpson‘s reference, for the un-illuminated…!* I did always feel that the baby Pokemon of Gen II and the Stage 2 evolutions of Gen IV were always the best, most effective and balanced additions to the Pokemon family.
The whole Pokemon Day Care and Egg finding has always been a murky area morality wise and has lent itself beautifully to some utterly filthy and hilarious memes, but back in the day (a more innocent and care free day) it was a fun new gimmick for the game. More than a gimmick, actually, it was a novel way to not only add to your Pokedex but also reinforced the nurturing element of Pokemon that helped make it the super-success it is today.
You walk around caring for this fragile little egg, you take care of it, you battle every wild Pokemon you see no matter how annoying or weak they are, you cycle like your little digital legs depend on it – because they do! Well, at least your little eggy ward depends on it.
And then when the moment you’ve been waiting for happens, this little egg hatches at last, what hatches out of it!? A ridiculously cute baby Pichu, or Magby or Togepi or anything else you’ve decided to forcibly breed in the backyard of that shady old couple’s house…!
Night and Day:
Personally speaking I find it easier to invest emotionally in a game that mimics real world conditions, even something as simple as having a day/night and a day of the week function. It was challenging and entertaining as well to have certain events only occur on certain days and also to have certain Pokemon only occur at certain times. After coming straight from the terrifying permanent daylight world of Red and Blue, this was a refreshing addition.
I know it was a harsh sacrifice, having our internal batteries drain and our games ultimately die and then we all have to hold little tiny Nintendo funerals for them just so we could have this clock function and be more invested in the game but I don’t regret a thing. (Except the loss of my games…!)
Johto is my favourite region, closely followed by Sinnoh and Hoenn. By the time the Gold and Silver games were in production technology has advanced for Nintendo just that little bit farther down the road. We had colour now, (Witchcraft! Witchcraft!) and the ability to make Nintendo games look more realistic than they were for Red and Blue.
This more up-to-date technology helped bring Johto to life. To me Johto always had a more Japanese feel than the other games felt primarily in towns like Azalea, Ecruteak and Blackthorn. As well as this there were ice caves and mountains, the Whirl Islands, a national park – with beautiful piano accompaniment that got a stunning revamp in the HG/SS reboots – Ruins of Alph, a lighthouse, a wee Miltank farm, forests, more nooks and crannies for exploring than in its predecessor – as well as having a state of the art Magnet Train system (based off Japan’s bullet train) and a ship you could actually travel on, unlike S.S Anne (come back, sob, come back, don’t sail without me!) The Sprout, Tin and Burnt Towers were also exceptionally atmospheric. There was a Lake of Rage and a Dragon’s Den – how cool is that!? MT. SILVER!!! It’s also linked to Kanto!!! Enough said.
While there are arguments for and against all the other games, Johto will always have a special place in my heart. The #1 place .
I know they’re lame now, but in the early 2000s the Pokegear was the Bees Knees, the Cats Pyjamas, a real hip thang! A map, a radio AND a telephone!? We didn’t know we were born! Talk about modern. The radio only got three channels and the phone could only hold ten numbers, but it was still the height of cool at the time. Again, having communication features such as this added to the real-world feel of the game and furthered a player’s emotional investment in the game.
I don’t think the following games ever managed to make their PokeTech as cool as this, the PokeEtch Apps of Sinnoh and the PokeNav from Unova never really had the same functionality of the PokeGear. Maybe it’s a cultural context thing? When G/S came out with it’s PokeGear that was the height of technology, as the games progressed and so did other software, on mobile phones etc things like the PokeEtch Apps and PokeNave felt redundant and outdated already even in the new games.
Viva La PokeGear!
Another point in favour of the Night/Day function in G/S was the fact that they now had not one, but two Eeveelutions dependent on it. Level up the friendship of your Eevee and play by day and you get Espeon, by night, Umbreon. Espeon and Umbreon are possible two of the most popular fan favourites of the Eeveelutions – if the cosplays at every convention I’ve ever been to can be trusted…! Psychic Espeon (ESP- Extra Sensory Perception) and dark Umbreon (Umbra is a moon term) – two badass Eeveelutions that are easy enough to attain!
Another cosplay convention favourite: the legendary doggo trio of Entei, Suicune and Raikou. As well as graceful Lugia and Ash Ketchum trolling Ho-Oh. The number of legendaries in the later games became a little congested and confused, but at the time these Johto legendaries suited perfectly to their location, had a poignant and believable back-story and were well balanced to the Pokedex.
More in-game and post game content:
There was just more to do! More locations to explore, mini-events that you could only unlock on certain days of the week (Friday was Lapras Day at Union Cave…!) , the bi-weekly bug catching competitions, once you got to Kanto there was the daily challenge at the Battle House in Viridian City, the list goes on! With two regions to explore, a larger Pokedex to fill and clock based events – the game never really ended. These features and post game qualities were greatly expanded on in the HeartGold SoulSilver reboots.
Better Gym Leaders:
Right, if we ignore Whitney and her damn Miltank #Boourns, the gyms in Johto were challenging, but not too challenging, had a nice pace through out the game and were a diverse mix of battle types. They also included the new Steel type in Jasmine’s gym, as a spooky freak the inclusion of Morty’s Ghost type gym was much appreciated! My favourite gym challenge of all time comes from Gold and Silver.
Blackthorn City Gym Leader Clair.
Ah, Dragon Gym Leader Clair, mama of dragons and cousin of Pokemon League Champion Lance.
The dragon gym leader Clair refusing to accept defeat and sending you off on a quest to Dragon’s Den – which has some of the single coolest game music featured in this segment – was unspeakably badass to retrieve a dragon object from the centre of the cave.
This added an extra dimension to the characters, portrayed the gym leaders in a more human light. (Particularly when Whitney cries like a little beetch when you kick her Miltank’s butt!) and encouraged the player to invest emotionally in the game. (I’m a big fan of emotional investment, clearly!)
Kanto three years on:
As a hardcore GenWunner nothing made me happier than going back to my beloved Kanto, nothing! Except. We weren’t just going back to Kansas, Toto, oh no – we were going back three years later! Cinnabar had erupted, Gary was a gym leader Copycat was still copying people and the world was and was not as we had known it.
And it was good.
Nintendo Dude Satoru Iwata (RIP 😦 ) himself had physically invented a whole new method of saving a larger amount data JUST so we could go on the ultimate in-game nostalgia trip. It was amazing to see how the landscape and cities had evolved (see what I did there…!) over the last three years adding a simultaneously familiar but also poignantly alien vibe to the Kanto section of the game.
I think the Kanto return story is one of, if not the, greatest event in a Pokemon ever. Nay, it IS the greatest in-game event ever. Fight me.
Thanks for reading, and until next time: keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!
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