Review by ZaleIsBackAgain

Reviewed: 10/04/04 | Updated: 10/18/04

The ambition is where its at.

What more can you say about a new edition in the Pokemon series? It has a lot of new Pokemon with a new and minor gameplay mechanic. Though there was always something special about the games, and that special little spark has been shared with the latest Pokemon game for the Gameboy Colour, Pokemon Crystal. Was it the Pokemon? Was it the ambitious adventure to be the greatest Pokemon master of all time? Perhaps it's both of them, though there must be a specific reason why Pokemon Crystal, out of all the Pokemon games is the most enjoyable.

For those that did not follow the Pokemon trend back in the Pokemon era, Pokemon are fictional monsters that share similar qualities of the monsters of todays world, like Pikachu resembles a mouse while Squirtle resembles a turtle. These Pokemon possess supernatural powers of a certain element. Their element is chosen according to their habitat, like Squirtle is a water Pokemon, so all of his supernatural abilities mostly relate to water type moves. Human beings capture Pokemon for sport; competing against each other to be the best Pokemon trainer. According to the TV show, Pokemon and Pokemon trainers share a special bond with each other, which I suppose is special?

For those that did follow the Pokemon trend have surely played either Pokemon Red, Blue or Yellow. Many changes have been taken into consideration between then, like a new experience bar meter, letting you quickly check how much experience a Pokemon is required to advance to the next level. A berry system that lets you equip certain items to Pokemon, like anti poison berries, anti paralyzed berries, potion berries, etc, colour, a new adventure which includes the adventure of the original Pokemon games as well as a fresh one, and last but not least, new Pokemon and Pokeballs! New content to make Pokemon ever greater!

Most of these changes are only minor, making Crystal feel more like an expansion pack rather than a whole new experience. Though most of these minor changes were pet peeves for gamers playing the original, meaning a whole new experience that has been enlightened. The game still retains it's classic and unique RPG gameplay experience that made it so great, such as the method of catching a Pokemon, four limited moves per Pokemon, carrying six Pokemon at a time and fighting with only one Pokemon during each battle. While this formula sounds way too basic to be good, it's the Pokemon that matter. Each Pokemon are limited to a pair of moves they eventually learn when they reach higher levels, meaning you'll have to strategize which moves to get rid of to be replaced with other ones, and what Pokemon to bring with you.

Though, It wasn't the actual battles that made the originals so good, it was its Pokemon. Nothing was more rewarding than catching a legendary or rare Pokemon you really liked. And with the new capabilities of the Gameboy Color, the Pokemon finally have colour! Pokemon collecting is now even more rewarding than it ever was. New animations for the attacks were added, instead of ten moves sharing the same animation. For example, in Red and Blue, surf and hydro pump shared the same attack animation. In Crystal, with the amount of memory the cartridge of a Gameboy Color game can hold, things has changed. Surf shows a huge wave hitting your opponent, and hydro pump has a surge of water rising from the ground, hitting the opponent harshly.

Unlike in other RPG's, when Pokemon reach higher levels, not only do they learn better and stronger moves, but they also evolve into different Pokemon! For example, a Cyndaquil evolves into a Quilava, who evolves into a Typhlosion (Yes I know, Typhlosion must be the most coolest Pokemon name ever!). What separates them besides their broader looks is their stats. Even if two of those Pokemon were at the same level, Typhlosion would be must more superior. And even if you reach a certain level where your suppose to learn a specific move, if you don't evolve, you wouldn't learn that certain move. This also works the other way around, you learn moves earlier if you don't evolve.

When you enter the Pokemon gym of the area, which, are gyms that your required to defeat in order to enter the championships, you'll be greeted with puzzles! Some of the puzzles are very confusing, like the most used puzzle concept here is the sliding ice. When you enter the ice, it automatically brings you to the next non icey area. The game developers did a great job of making you think. Others have you figuring out which boulder to move in which area, etc.

The adventure is quite long for those looking for a game to eat their time away, since as stated before, the Kanto region, which is where the originals took place are available to play. Of course, the battles were redefined to match up to your level. The Kanto region would only take you around ten hours to defeat, since you are supposedly strong by the time you've reached the area, which is why when you take into consideration the length of both the areas, they're more short and easy than they could of been. The only reason why it's long because there's two adventures to play, but it's disappointing to see the length of the original adventure to be this short and easy.

Most of the time when your battling against the Gym leader of the area, you'll be over the level of their Pokemon, even if you didn't train excessively, making the battles easy and short. And their Pokemon are kind of weak. By this, I mean their low HP and low defence. Even if their Pokemon are at high levels, they can be easily defeated. Also, unlike in the originals, rare and legendary Pokemon are more attainable here. Legendary and rare Pokemon are what their name implies, making them much more stronger than the norm. You'll be breezing through battles throughout most of the game, since the only time you're brought challenge is when your against the Elite Pokemon trainers of the Championships, and against a mysterious trainer near the end of the game.

As said before, the battles isn't where your suppose to be truly satisfied; it's collecting the Pokemon. And with a world full of over 300 Pokemon, for those that are mind set to complete the game 100%, collecting over 300 Pokemon will be a great challenge to look forward too. Other than that, the only other place you'll be satisfied here are the puzzles and the elite Pokemon trainers of the championships. Sadly, Pokemon Crystal would of been a much more enjoyable game if challenge was added, since the developers did overload the game with legendary and rare Pokemon, and toning down the other battles. Nonetheless, Pokemon Crystal is still a worthy game of the Pokemon name, and definitely the most enjoyable out of them all.

So what did Crystal do to separate itself from other games in the series? With the lack of the experience bar that tells you when your Pokemon will level up, it was very painful to constantly switch between the menu's. Also, with the new addition of 100 or so Pokemon, it was even more rewarding to raise, and with the new capabilities of the Gameboy Colour hardware, Pokemon are more distinguished among each other, which adds to the satisfaction of becoming a Pokemon master. The ambition is what won millions of players around the globe, and Crystal defines this term.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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