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Video Game of the Week – Pokémon HeartGold / SoulSilver

As video game technology gets smarter, one might expect some of the longer-running titles to lose their appeal and be replaced by new characters, new plots and ever-more dazzling special effects. But in a testament to both the quality of their gameplay and the loyalty of their fan bases, franchises like Nintendo's Mario and Square Enix' Final Fantasy have gone from strength to strength, giving away nothing in popularity and even collecting thousands of new admirers along the way.

Another much-loved franchise has once again proved its staying power with the release earlier this month of Nintendo's Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver games for the DS.

Neither of these games is new, with HeartGold and SoulSilver basically being updates of the Game Boy classics Pokémon Gold and Silver. However, perhaps that's why the games are so appealing – they don't mess with the original winning formula. Instead, the developers have used better graphics and the dexterity of the DS to enhance and embellish rather than reinvent.

The story line – what there is of it – remains the same. There are two worlds to explore – Johto and Kanto. Gameplay consists of finding and capturing Pokémon, and preparing them for various battles along the way. It's a constant challenge to "level them up" and make sure they acquire the necessary skills. The only difference between the games is the cast of characters – both HeartGold and SoulSilver have Pokémon that are exclusive to each game.

One thing that is new with HeartGold and SoulSilver is the Pokéwalker. The Pokéwalker is a special pedometer that allows you to load a Pokémon character and take him with you wherever you go. As you walk around, you earn Watts (the game currency), which can be used to acquire helpful items or unlock different levels once you import your Pokémon back into the game.

While the Pokéwalker adds an interesting but gimmicky twist, HeartGold and SoulSilver happily stand on their own and are easily the best Pokémon games yet. Die-hard Poké-fans will undoubtedly already have their hands on copies of these games but, for other DS owners, they are a great buy and will deliver hours of fascinating fun.

Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver are rated "E" for Everyone. The ESRB descriptors cite mild cartoon violence.

Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo DS and DSi
Genre:            Role-playing
RRP: $39.99 for each game (includes The Pokéwalker)
ESRB Rating: "E" – for Everyone

Comment by marriland, posted 4/4/2010, 9:38 PM:

Yes everyone is waiting for this! I found a few excellent guide/walkthrough videos on youtube. Be sure to check it out if you're new to pokemon: http://www.youtube.com/gametrippy
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