Pokémon HeartGold (ポケットモンスター ハートゴールド, Poketto Monsutā Hātogōrudo, “Pocket Monsters HeartGold”) and Pokémon SoulSilver (ポケットモンスター ソウルシルバー, Poketto Monsutā Sōrushirubā, “Pocket Monsters SoulSilver”) are enhanced remakes of the 1999 video games Pokémon Gold and Silver. The new titles are members of the Pokémon series of role-playing games, and were developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. The game was released 12 September 2009 in Japan, and 4 February 2010 in South Korea, and is scheduled for a 14 March 2010 release in North America, 25 March 2010 in Australia, and 26 March 2010 in Europe.
HeartGold and SoulSilver were commercially successful in Japan, selling over 2 million units within the first six weeks of their release. Initial reception to the game has been positive.
HeartGold and SoulSilver allows a Pokémon that the player owns to follow him or her in-game on the overworld. The player may talk to the Pokémon, and occasionally it may pick up certain items. A new minigame called the Pokéathlon (called Pokéthlon in Japan) has also been introduced. The game utilizes the Nintendo DS touchscreen and allows Pokémon to compete in events such as hurdling.
The games are bundled with a peripheral called the Pokéwalker, a pedometer that resembles a Poké Ball which can connect to the Nintendo DS game card via infrared signals (in a fashion similar to another Nintendo DS game Personal Trainer: Walking) and can “hold” a Pokémon. Walking with a Pokéwalker holding a Pokémon increases both its experience and closeness, as well as the player’s “watts,” an in-game currency that can be used to catch wild Pokémon and shop for items. Despite the device being included with every game, Nintendo announced that the games would carry standard pricing (around ¥4,800 in Japan). The Pokéwalker can only hold one Pokémon at anytime, and the Pokémon can only be sent to the game it was taken from.
HeartGold and SoulSilver can access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and are also fully compatible with Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. After completing a special Wi-Fi mission download on Pokémon Ranger: Path of Light, the player can send a Deoxys to HeartGold and SoulSilver.
PLOT AND SETTING
HeartGold and SoulSilver take place in the Johto region as in Pokémon Gold and Silver. In the second half of the main storyline, players can also go to the Kanto region.
DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, AND RELEASE
An initial rumor started in early May 2009 that Nintendo was planning a remake of Pokémon Gold and Silver after the Japanese television show Pokémon Sunday ended by announcing a “world-exclusive first announcement” that would be made on its next show. Kris Pigna of 1UP.com speculated that this alluded to a possible remake of Gold and Silver for the Nintendo DS, due to gold and silver disco balls hanging in the background. Pigna further reasoned that this would be consistent with the previously released titles Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen which were enhanced remakes of the original Pokémon Red and Blue. Several days later, Nintendo officially confirmed the fact that Gold and Silver were being remade as HeartGold and SoulSilver and released their official logos. They also announced that the games would contain numerous updates, although declined to reveal any specifics. It was released for the Nintendo DS on 12 September 2009 in Japan to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the original Gold and Silver release. Junichi Masuda stated on his blog that “we, Game Freak have spent long and firm time developing above two titles [sic]”, and that “”Pokémon Gold & Silver” will be back with far more excitement.”
At the 2009 Pokémon World Championships, Nintendo stated that HeartGold and SoulSilver would be released in North America between the months of January and March, Europe sometime around May and June, and Australia in April. J.C. Smith, a spokesperson for the company, gave the announcement at the start of the event; saying, “Announcing these much-anticipated game launches at The Pokémon World Championships allows us to give the news directly to the legions of fans who represent the true heart and soul of Pokémon.” The official Pokémon website in English was updated with information about the new titles, telling readers that the games would feature revamped audiovisual effects, interaction with the DS touch screen, and more “surprises”. From February 27 to March 13, 2010, video game retailer GameStop hosted a promotion in which players of Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum could use the games’ “Mystery Gift” feature to download a free Jirachi to their game. Trading this Jirachi to HeartGold or SoulSilver unlocks the exclusive “Night Sky’s Edge” route on the Pokéwalker. A “Pikachu colored Pichu” can be downloaded using WI-fi as well from March 5th until March 25th the unlocks a “Spiky-eared Pichu”. It could also have been downloaded from Janurary 30th to Feburary 14th at Gamestop.
Nintendo DS Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver Music Super Complete (ニンテンドーDS ポケモン ハートゴールド&ソウルシルバー ミュージック・スーパーコンプリート) is a three-disc soundtrack featuring music scored by Junichi Masuda. The album was released in Japan on October 28, 2009.
In response to the news confirming the development of HeartGold and SoulSilver, fans posted their reactions and commentary on the Internet. In particular, IGN editor Jack DeVries reasoned that the primary reason for the updated games was to be compatible with Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, allowing players to collect old Pokémon species that were previously unobtainable in the new games. He also expressed skepticism that the new titles could match the quality of the originals; stating, “For me, Gold/Silver were amazing because they introduced so many new features that have since become standards for the series. It was the first, and only, time the Pokémon games have made such a significant expansion. These days we’re lucky if we get a new feature that invisibly changes the strategic elements of the game.” He reminisced over the qualities that made Gold and Silver truly unique, including the full color support, internal clock, Pokémon breeding, and PokéGear. Several months later, after DeVries had played through some of the game, he wrote, “so far I like what I see, even if it all feels very familiar and formulaic at this point.”
In Japan, the games sold 1,480,980 units within the first two days of release, topping the Japanese sales chart that week. Within two weeks, the games had sold a combined total of over two million units. As of December 18, 2009, the games have sold over 3,228,000 copies.
Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu awarded the games an aggregate score of 37 out of 40 based on four individual reviews, of which the ratings were 9, 10, 9, and 9. The reviewers praised the games for retaining much of the quality that drew them to the original Gold and Silver. The only drawback mentioned was that the games brought “no major surprises”. The games were given a score of 94% by Official Nintendo Magazine.
Initial response to the game from English media outlets has been overwhelmingly positive. GameObserver awarded the game a score of 100%, the first ever perfect score awarded to any game by the site, and called it “the greatest handheld game ever created.”