Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

Reviewed: 07/10/06

The Last of the Greats

Pokemon Crystal is the exact same as Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver except that the sprite images of the Pokemon in battle are different: they are animated. Of course, slightly cheesy, yet gets the job done. What else, oh yah, there are three legendary dogs on the prowl, and you must catch them. Do you notice Suicune on the front cover of the box? Why is this the last of the Mohicans? As Pokemon games advanced into the Gameboy Advance, they have not changed with the technology. The story is still the same, the battling is still the same, and the graphics are the exact same as they were for Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Yellow, and Pokemon Green despite the added 32-bit processor. How dull is it to play a turned-based RPG that plays the same as Pokemon Blue does even though it is capable of Pokemon Stadium graphics…very dull. And so, if you still want to get a good deal on a pokemon game, then Pokemon Crystal is the last of them – enjoy it.

What is the difference between Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver when it comes to story, music, replayablitity, and graphics? Absolutely nothing. What is the only difference between them in gameplay? The availability of Pokemon. While Pokemon Gold has its own Pokemon distinct to it such as Ho-oh, Pokemon Silver has its own as well: Lugia.

After the release of the original classics – Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Midori (Pocket Monsters Green), and Pokemon Yellow, the appearance of the Nintendo Gameboy Color finally arrived in stores. Many people, including myself, purchased this Gameboy Color for it was the first time where a truly successful portable console became widely available to the public. It is somewhat saddening that the original Pokemon games didn’t launch on the Gameboy Color, but more the classic. As soon as most gamers had completed the epic voyages of the original Pokemon games, many soon wished to get their fingers on an adventure that finally included a colored world.

And behold, Pokemon Gold, Pokemon Silver, and soon to follow in respective to Pokemon Yellow, Pokemon Crystal. The story takes place a few years after Ash Ketchum became Champion, defeating the Elite Four, and now you must embark on your own unique legacy to take on the Elite Four and become a Pokemon Master.

Though these games are not originals, they do hold classical values that make them vastly more worthwhile than the games that proceed into the Gameboy Advance era, for truly these are the final Pokemon games that are the last Mohicans. While technology is limited in the Gameboy Original and the Gameboy Color, this turn-based RPG game successfully utilizes the elements to make one of the truly wonderful games to enjoy on portables whether it is your Gameboy Color or your Nintendo DS.

Yet, Pokemon Crystal does have its negative contributions to the saga. When Pokemon was first acknowledged to the public, people enjoyed watching the Animé shows, reading the Manga, playing the cards, and trading pokemon through the link cable between Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red, and Pokemon Yellow. But the trend starts to slowly progress downhill from here. With the release of Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Stadium 2, Pokemon Gold, Pokemon Silver, and Pokemon Crystal, it became evident that Game Freak, or possibly Nintendo were truly not interested in a minor social event, but a large profiteering opportunity. In order to fully complete everything in the game, it was necessary to know people who had access to those original three (two – discount Pokemon Yellow) Gameboy Pokemon games, as well as those with N64, and finally the opposite version of the game you had for the Gameboy Color. And if you had Pokemon Crystal, then you would need access to seven games (six – discount Pokemon Yellow). Such opportunities are so hard to encounter, and with the other option of obtaining a Mew or Celebi in the American version (without glitching), you would have to travel to the Pokemon Center in New York City. It is truly logically accepted that those (the majority) who did not have access to all the necessary would, instead of spending well over $500, just simply buy a Gameshark for only about $30. But alas, it only gets worse in future games, and that’s why Pokemon has fallen from its classical peak.

Pokemon Crystal follows in the footsteps of the originals with an expanded story. While the battles are the same, the world is slightly different. No longer are there solely 151 pokemon to acquire, but 251 pokemon. And besides these additions, new elemental types have been introduced into the game: dark, steel, etc…The game life has vastly increased from the short-lived Originals with two worlds: Kanto (the world you knew), and Jhoto (the world you start your quest in). So not only will you have to defeat the eight gym leaders of your realm, but you will also have to slide over to the Kanto realm to defeat the other original eight gym leaders. And of course, the pre-fated encounter with the Elite Four. Of course there are many sidequests in the game to accomplish during your quest to be a Pokemon Master, and after you have successfully entered the Hall of Fame.

Now then, enough with the background information on the Pokemon series and onto the review of Pokemon Crystal!


Gameplay: 6/10
Though the controlling aspect of this game is purely and ingeniously simple, controls are only a piece of the pie that makes up the gameplay score. If you have not been paying attention, this game is obviously a Role-Playing Game (RPG), and to be more specific a turn-based RPG. Basically, in the beginning of the game, you choose your pokemon and learn how to use this turn-based battle system in an early pokemon battle. The commands for battle are essentially basic: Fight, Pokemon, Item, and Run. If you wish to use a move on a Pokemon, you select the Fight command and choose from one of the four (or less if you are starting new) to use on the pokemon you plan to conquer. Some moves are offensive, inflicting damage or lowering the pokemon’s stats, and some of these moves are defensive, increasing your power. Selecting Pokemon allows you to choose another pokemon (if possible) if your pokemon is about to faint or for other reasons. Item allows you to restore health to your pokemon due to an ailment such as burn, sleep, etc…or low HP or from a fainted state (if you possess revives). Finally, the Run command. Run allows a person to flee from a wild pokemon encounter, but it doesn’t work during a trainer/gym leader/Elite Four/Champion battle. Now as the turn-based battling system is really easy to learn, so is movement, and actions. If you wish to walk forward, then simple press up on the d-pad. If it is necessary that you access your Menu, simply press start and a numerous amount of selections appears in front of you. Don’t like to walk at doggedly slow rate? Then simply hop on your bike (when you get it). Now besides controls, there is also the user interacting with the environment, which is also superbly well programmed into this game. If a user wants to catch pokemon, then go to the Pokémart, purchase a pokéball, or an ultraball (if you are wealthy), roll around in the grassy patches, and hopefully encounter the pokemon you wish to capture. If your pokemon are in need of immediate assistants, and you are too impoverished (though rare) to purchase medical supplies, or just wish to be frugal and so some money, then head over to the Pokemon Center, open 24, 7, 365 (366) where Nurse Joy will happily cure your pokemon absolutely free – tax money does make a difference. In every town that you stroll through, you will find a vast amount of people who will facilitate you in order for you to better understand the world of pokemon and progress throughout a decently sized journey. A slight amount of thought has to go into every pokemon battle and when you are creating the ultimate party for you want to balance your party as much as possibly. For the grass pokemon that you possess, you may want to acquire a fire-type pokemon, and in countering to that a water-type pokemon – an example of a very destructive trio. Then for the other three, a suggestion could be ghost-type, physic-type, and dark-type pokemon. Of course, when you finally receive HM 02, it is an added advantage that you have a flying-type pokemon in your party, and when the time comes to fight a trainer or your friend, you can redeposit it, and withdraw that pokemon that makes your team indestructible. Gameplay intelligence does matter, and not blind sheer power. I had never played Pokemon Stadium 2, and when was testing it out in the store for the first time, a slightly younger kid challenged me to a pokemon battle. Though he claimed he had this game at his house, played it for months, was an ultimate pokemon fighter, I was just a beginner – a n00b – at this style of fighting. Though he lacked the essence of being that ‘so-called’ master. While he focused mainly on offensive moves, I mixed offense with defense, and was able to pull through and win the fight thanks to some background in the Originals (we came down to each of our last Pokemon and my Zapdos was able to pull through). And to this day, though I have only fought in probably less than 20 person-person battles, I remain undefeated. Now what’s this have to due with Pokemon Crystal gameplay? A tremendous amount. Without smarts, though you may win against Artificial Intelligence programming (AI), you will never succeed in the intuitive skills of multiplayer battling. All games require some critical thinking – some more than others – and it is always important to have a clear mind when playing and not a clouded one from playing 10 hours staying up until three o’clock in the morning.

Now then, there are some major faults that slice four points off the seemingly perfect gameplay that is truly not within the main frame of the game. As explained before, the creators of Pokemon, coupled with the Gaming Giant Nintendo, have totally evaporated all possibilities of legendary classics. The requirement to use all preceding games as well as Nintendo 64 games Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Stadium 2 as well as a trip to New York City or maybe a lucky encounter with the Pokemon Van in order to fully and legitimately complete this game to 100% has totally revolted true gamers who have experienced games outside the childish realm. Of course, while it is not necessary to complete all sidequests, it is sad to say that a game cannot be fully completed without a lavish amount of money or an abundance of Pokemon fanatics in one neighborhood. Such consequences truly demoralize a game, and Pokemon games have notoriously been the target of the cheating devices to size an unbelievable amount of unnecessary time and money.

The story is the most key element in an RPG, and though a game may have the best graphics, if it has a weak story, that game sadly depresses a hardcore gamer, because even though the game had potential, it lacked substance. The story starts to lose originality after refusing to incorporate anything besides an additional eight gym leaders, a new region (Jhoto), and 100 pokemon. It is basically the same story to those who have played the Originals: train pokemon, defeat the Elite Four. Ever since the incorporation of a walking around Pikachu in Pokemon Yellow and its similarities to the Television Animé shows, no Pokemon game proceeding ever produced truly original elements that would force already accomplished Pokemon Masters to change their style and tactics. There may be 100 additional pokemon as potential friends as well as some additional types of pokemon, but basically, it’s fight, heal, fight, heal, level up, fight, evolve, and the redundant list continues to progress on. Oh, here’s something new, yet miniscule, in order to evolve Eevee into an Umbreon or it’s lighter side, treat it with love and depending on the time of day, day or night, on Eevee’s next leveling, it will evolve. There are no epic sidequests that make you feel as a contributor to society, but basically a person who fights, and fights, and wins, and wins, and levels up, and levels up. There are no inserted images or cut-scene clips that show the Pokemon World in a new light, but just the dull and trite look-down point of view, and the continuous fights, and innumerable encounters with Pokemon in the grass that has become commonplace to most Pokemon gamers. Of course, if you are new to Pokemon, Pokemon Crystal will surely delight you, and compared to the later Pokemon Sapphire and above, be incomparably better. Now then I would like to point out that at the very end of Pokemon Crystal, after finally beating the Elite Four, you will venture into a cave – just as you did in Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Yellow, and Pokemon Green, and encounter somebody who used to be – a truly ambivalent and original encounter, though small, greatly alleviates a damaged story.

Graphics: 7/10
Yes, the Pokemon are in an animation that lasts one second and then they freeze again, but that’s not a huge step-up…fine, I’ll add one point to it. Pokemon in color allowed for some enhanced gameplay, but with the advancement of only an 8-bit coloring system, Pokemon graphics could truly only perform to a certain limit. The reason Pokemon doesn’t reach a desirable score of eight or nine on the graphics scale for Pokemon Crystal is that it doesn’t even fully utilize the power of a Gameboy color. While a Turn-Based system of strategy is used in this game, it doesn’t mean that a simple copy-and-paste of Pokemon Original graphics with slight coloring needs to be used again. And the graphics look somewhat cheesy for a person used to playing action games (such Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages) where moving graphics out-perform the still-lives of the Pokemon system. Even though Pokemon Crystal introduces a one-second animation in pokemon battles at the start, is that the best the game creators can do after several years of advancing technology after Pokemon Blue and the other originals? And if a person thought the image sprites were painful images, the attacking moves are totally disgusting. Simple animations to signify surf, fly, self-destruct, that have changed little from the Originals besides the simple color-enhancement of a technological handheld. It is so bad sometimes, that a user finds himself (or herself) at peace when his pokemon learns a move that at least appears a bare minimum appealing to the eyes.

Sound: 7/10
Ah, good old Pokemon classical music. After a few months off from playing a Pokemon game, it is always enjoying to hear the music that no other game imitates. The music matches the towns, environments, and settings that you travel throughout. If something criminal is going on, the music breaks out in that traditional Rockets theme song, and if you are fighting a gymleader, the music gets going, and readies you for a showdown. Of course, after a while, the walking around music, and the redundant training battles and wild pokemon encounter battles start to becoming boring and sometimes you may have to turn the volume down – especially beneficial if your batteries are running low. I always find pokemon gym battles and Elite Four battles and even…a final battle…the most interesting music of the entire game to break the monotonous moments.

Replayability: 7/10
Replayability is a big issue with portables, because if you’ve used up all their power, then the Gameboy becomes sometimes as dull as watching a Soap Opera. Well, after spending a terrific amount of hours leveling up your pokemon, beating the Elite Four, and defeating the greatest Pokemon Master in the world, you will be truly tired of this game and wish never to play it again. Of course, after several months of getting tired on other games, this game surely loosens up tense moments of intense multiplayer action over the Internet. The game is awesome way to consume time during a drive, airplane fight, or when there is nothing to do (yet there is always something to do and something to learn all the time). Of course, because it is so long, and the battles throughout the game – trainer and wild pokemon - except for gym battles, legendary pokemon, Elite Four battles, and the final battle, are so annoying and sometimes fruitless that I advise breaking this game up with an action game, Zelda, or a book to read. Try to accomplish everything – well except the parts that require a Gameshark – and try to get the most out of it before defeating the Pokemon Master.

Using my rating system for Gameboy Color RPGs:
25% Gameplay, 30% Story, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 20% Replayability

Overall Game Rating: 6.75

Suggested Action: Borrow this game from a friend or Buy in a store if you can find it for less than $10.

Final Comments: Though it does receive a score of 7 out of 10, it is truly not for someone in the teenage years or higher who have already played classic RPG’s such as Golden Sun, Final Fantasy, and more. If this is your first time ever playing an RPG than it is perfectly fine to test the waters to see if you are an RPG style player, yet if you have played other more mature classics on higher systems, you may be slightly disappointed. The puzzles are simple, and overall the game is a very simple RPG. It is a children’s game, but that’s as high as it goes. Though if you want to play one of the legacies of the Pokemon era, then Pokemon Crystal is the last of them, and you should savor it, for all those that proceed have yet to be better.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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