I Felt Like A Kid Again.
They squeezed out every QOL improvement that the Gameboy could offer.
Game Informer’s Ranking: #2/25
I’ve landed in the classic rut where the theme of every day is “same.” Eating the same foods, taking the same roads, doing the same job, making the same moves. As I settle into my second career, I’m in an existential crisis. Is this what I do for 30 more years, retire, have some moments to explore what I want, and then slowly descend into poor health and the ultimate end?
I never had a struggle for meaning when I was younger. Fulfillment was always a 12-pack of beer with room full of friends away. Everything was done for the sheer enjoyment of the activity. Nothing had to be justified or part of a greater scheme. As I get older, I have found it harder to enjoy activities as just a means to themselves, always wanting to make some wider implications about the ends.
So lately, I have spent time attempting to regain some of that magic. After replaying Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow, I realized I had missed 20+ years of pokémon. I stopped paying attention after it was the uncool thing to do in middle school. I wasn’t interested in all these new pokémon — it felt like the original 150 were the “real” ones and everything else a cheap imitation.
Woah. I was wrong.
Right after getting my starter pokémon (Cyndaquil , a fire hedgehog 🔥🦔), I waded through the tall grass. Here, I stumbled upon a majestic owl called Hoot Hoot. Then, a devil dog that goes by Houndour. An electric sheep named Mareep? Yes, please!
I had forgotten this is what pokémon felt like the first time — you had no idea where anything was! Along with recapturing the spirit of adventure, the game also adds a slew of QOL additions (experience bar, better interface, improved inventory) and advanced mechanics (day/night time, new pokémon types). 20 years after release, I was floored with how freakin’ cool this game is.
I also learned that I don’t understand pokémon types — how the HELL is fighting good against rock? Isn’t that a good way to bust your hand? Why is rock vulnerable to lightning? Is Sudowoodo made out of copper or something?
Night and Day.
It’s not often that you get to experience such a big jump in quality in just one game. Sure, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario have all improved over time, but it was small increments over several releases. Going from R/B/Y to S/G/C was like being thrown into a whole new universe.
First, the animation and color palettes get a full reworking. Every pokémon has an opening animation in full color which makes everything much more alive.
Then, there is such an upgrade when it comes to how things…work. Your inventory is seperated for you by category in different pockets making it easier to manage all your things.
You no longer have to go through a slow series of screens to see when your pokémon is going to level up; they all come up with their own blue experience bar. They added a 24 hour clock with certain events and pokémon only found at certain times of day which makes the game feel like a thriving community.
Nothing, however, will match the awe of realizing not only did this game include the entire new region of Johto but allowed you to jaunt through your old stomping grounds of Kanto.
I legitimately thought I was going to receive an error message. How did technology progress so much where they were able to essentially have two games in just the gap of one generation?
For All Types.
They also fixed how ridiculously overpowered psychic types were with the addition of a better balance of strengths and weaknesses by adding the steel and dark types. This ended up exposing how little I actually knew about pokémon types to an embarrassing degree. Realize, I played this game as a 5th grader, and I haven’t returned since. The information I’m operating off of was a pre-internet age where you figured out things on your own.
I had in my mind that electric was ineffective against rock because Geodude, Onyx and every thing that resembled a boulder did not take damage from lightning. Unbeknownst to me, this was because they are dual type pokémon, and their other type is ground which doesn’t allow for electric damage. Rock only pokémon, like sudowoodo, can get zapped away with lightning.
Not only is electric okay to use against a pure rock character, but rock is wickedly weak against fighting. Have you ever karate chopped a boulder? How does any of this make sense?
I didn’t even know Ice was a type of pokémon that was a carry over from the Gen I, and I would never describe Jynx as “human shaped.”
My New Friends.
What I’ve learned from jumping back into pokémon is that every generation releases another 100 or so creatures. Out of these, maybe 25 to 30 are winners with the rest running from filler to forgotten. One of the worst of the gen II pokemon is pineco, a literal pine cone that is missing two letters.
However, there are plenty of new ones that perfectly thread that pokémon needle with adorable names and looks. The Mareep, Flaffy, Ampharos line was one of my favorite new pokémon displacing the Pikachu, Raichu that was normally my electric-type.
They also flesh out the idea of “Legendary” pokémon really well. While in R/B/Y there were three hidden birds with Mewtwo chilling in a cave, S/G/C tries to weave the legendaries more into the story line. Here we have Raiku, Entei, Suicune resurrected by Ho-Oh and are intricate to the story that plays out in certain towns. The lore makes the chase much more worthwhile.
Music to My Ears.
The game also has some of the best jams:
I have only played two generations, but this is easily the better version out of the two, and it won’t surprise me if I think it one of the best in the entire series.
Other People’s Takes:
- Wow Comix World: “Overall, I really don’t think I could have asked for a better introduction to the in-game Pokemon world, and I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal for me.“
- Quirky Hell: “Pokemon Crystal felt like the pinnacle of technology and game design, finally showing the true glory of a region I had loved since I first read magazine articles preveiwing the games before they came out in North America.”
- Nathan Brenning Writing: “For me, it is still one of the best games ever made, and especially one of the best Pokemon games ever made, and it is something I can really appreciate in the modern day.
Most of the polls I’ve seen online rate the Gold-Silver-Crystal generation (or the remakes in Heart Gold and Soul Silver) as the best in the Pokémon series. I’ve never completed these, but they’re still fun to play!
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OH, yeah, and questions about over-arching meaning and purpose and stuff…welcome to my world. Eep.
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