I'm snowed in and bored, so I might as well do this review. It's a little overdue, but it's actually really damn hard to review Pokemon games. I'll go into that later. Anyway, review. <div align="center"><img src="http://www.softsailor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/pokemon-heart-gold-and-pokemon-soul-silver.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div> Okay, for starters, let me say this about Pokemon: It's a love it or hate it thing. If at the moment you're finding Pokemon unenjoyable, it's unenjoyable. You're not wrong at all, it's just that you're on the other side of the fence. There's pretty much no one in between. You either are still in love with the battle formula and mechanics or are sick of them. That's the way it works. So, if you're someone who isn't fond of Pokemon, I suggest that you ignore my review. This isn't a right or wrong thing, it's a huge opinion thing. And that's exactly why it's hard to review. When I review, I try to show both sides of the fence by being "on the fence", per say, but in this situation it's impossible. I'm on the side of the fence that likes Pokemon (not die hard loving, but liking), so I kinda have to show that side. You get what I mean? Pokemon Gold and Silver are, in my opinion, the best Pokemon games ever. This was at a time before the formula was consider dead for most people and it used it to the best. The games are simply the pinnacle of handheld gaming. It took what Red and Blue did right (which was mostly everything), and made it so much better. 100 new Pokemon, another continent to explore (as well as the old one, something that Pokemon games haven't done since), 16 gym leaders (including the old 8), and tons of push to keep you hooked. It's the reason I owned a GBC and I play those games to death. Now, 10 years later (Gold and Silver were released in 1999 in Japan), GameFreak has finally returned to do good on their new set of remakes (which started in FireRed and LeafGreen). And they've done very well. Pokemon is pretty much nonexistent with a deep storyline or character development. There's practically none. You're a random boy (or nowadays, or girl) who decides one day to become a Pokemon master. You get a Pokemon, get more Pokemon, beat up trainers, beat up gym leaders, beat up an evil organization, and beat up the Elite 4 and champion. That's it for every game. There's no depth to your character, no touching story of companionship and love, no plot twists, nothing. Yet again, that's the way it's always been and frankly I don't care. The game is entirely driven on gameplay mechanics, and that's how its always worked. I'm not complaining since if you look at the medium you're given, any attempt at a deep storyline would fail and just be subject to more criticism than a nonexistent one. So, the main thing to grade for Presentation is the accuracy of the remake, and it's pretty well done. The fields are very similar in design, but with differences. The gym and trainer rosters are pretty much identical, but revamped with the new set of moves and better levels (which really helps add some challenge to gym leaders who were incredibly underpowered and set with a lame set of moves in the original games). And, like a remake, it incorporates new features that also work well. Better level designs, more side things to do, 4th gen gameplay mechanics, all of which fit snugly with the game. As far as remakes go, it's very well done. The gameplay is Pokemon. Unless you've been living under a rock in the gaming world, you know how Pokemon is played. 6 Pokemon per team, 4 moves each, turn based battles. It pretty much takes the turn-based formula of other games and simplifies it to great success. No more standard attacks and magical attacks, you now have 4 moves, all of which have a "PP" as to how many times they can be used before your Pokemon is healed. Random battles only take place in areas where you KNOW there will be random battles (aka tall grass, caves, water). Then of course there's the huge emphasis on collecting Pokemon and such. The formula itself is nearly a dead copy of what it was over 10 years ago, with some minor mechanics changed (such as physical vs. special attacks). This is where the whole fence I mentioned before comes up. If you never liked Pokemon's formula or got sick of it, then this isn't going to change your mind. If you're not sick of it and still like the formula, this is just gonna fuel your need for Pokemon. As far as the core mechanics go, they're incredibly solid and have made Pokemon the success it is today. There's a huge emphasis on customization, since you've got hundreds of Pokemon to choose from, each with a huge selection of moves and each with their own pros and cons. There's no one set of Pokemon that is the dead set that every trainer uses. Sure, there are "meta" Pokemon that are common place, but pretty much each team is unique. It's a mechanic that adds a feeling of ownership and pride that not many games can match, and it's what has made Pokemon so successful. As for this game specifically, there's a lot of great features. The most gym leaders of any game, lots of "side quests" (since they're not really quests, just things you can do to get better items/Pokemon), two continents, and nearly 500 Pokemon. HeartGold and SoulSilver are just another great re-incarnation of Pokemon. I do have to admit that the mechanics are getting a little old and in need of some sprucing up, but it's still well done. So, fans of Pokemon will love this, haters will hate it. Graphics and audio wise, Pokemon has never really been a stunner, since it's very cookie cutter in both categories. The engine is the same as Platinum, so it has the pseudo-3D effects in it. They're not like "OMG THIS IS AMAZING LOOKING", but it finally adds some small graphical edge to Pokemon, and the game itself looks prettier than a lot of DS titles. Personally, Platinum had a better use of the 3-D engine, since it had parts specifically built to show it off, but for taking a 2-D game and adding 3-D effects, they did well. It's still incredibly sprite based, using 2-D Pokemon sprites both in and out of battle, as well 2-D sprites for most other things (trainers, environment, etc). I do think that the sprites are still nice looking and of high quality. The sound itself has nearly 500 different Pokemon cries, as well as some memorable chiptunes. No large orchestras here, but it does do a nice job of revamping some Gold and Silver tunes. Nothing memorable, especially compared to some of the stuff on Platinum's soundtrack (namely the Palkia/Diagla battle on the Spear Pillar, which is quite good), but still fitting. Sound quality is smooth and not grainy and sounds quite good with headphones. Some sound effects, however, are little more than high quality versions of the sounds in Red and Blue, and maybe some changes would be nice. No eye sore or ear bleeder, but nothing that will make you go batshit crazy with ecstasy either. Overall, HeartGold/SoulSilver is another great Pokemon game, but still is a Pokemon game. If you like Pokemon still, this will be another great game to add to the collection. If you're not too fond of Pokemon, you'll have the same feeling of melancholy and "Boo this is old" as before. It's not a game changer, but it's another great piece of handheld gaming and another great reincarnation of the biggest name in handheld gaming and one of the biggest franchises of all time. <b>Presentation</b>: Absolutely no story of any quality, but it's never expected. The remake itself is quite accurate to the original Gold and Silver while also incorporating the new battle mechanics and adding some new features that fit like a glove. Menus are nicely mapped to the touchscreen and can be navigated with either the stylus or the D-Pad/face buttons. Nicely laid out. Also, since it uses Platinum's engine, it doesn't suffer the lag that Diamond/Pearl had. <b>8.5/10</b> <b>Graphics</b>: Pokemon has always been rather simple looking. Sprites, mostly 2-D effects, etc. They do have the 3-D effects that Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum featured, and they do look nice, but they aren't used to great avail, although there's not a whole lot that can happen when remaking a 2-D game into a slightly 3-D world. Sprites are nice and clean looking. Nothing impressive, though. <b>8.5/10</b> <b>Audio</b>: Some nice revamps of the Gold and Silver chiptunes, but they're still just chiptunes. No huge orchestral soundtrack of anything. Some sound effects are just slightly revamped from those that appeared in the original Red and Blue games. Still, the sound quality is great and it's definitely not displeasing. Some tunes do trigger a nostalgia trip, which does show some nice accuracy. <b>8/10</b> <b>Gameplay</b>: If you like Pokemon, you'll be overjoyed with this. If you don't like it, you won't be moved by this. It does the Pokemon mechanics very well (as every Pokemon RPG has since) and still features that classic formula. Lots of collection, lots of customization, lots of moves, and lots of Pokemon. It's a formula that's over 10 years old and has hardly changed, but the formula is still as solid as ever. A great reincarnation of Pokemon, but still a reincarnation of Pokemon. <b>9/10</b> <b>Lasting Appeal</b>: One of the longest RPGs you'll play. Outside of having 16 gym leaders, tons of trainer battles, and the Elite 4 to deal with, there's so much else to do. Nearly 500 Pokemon to collect, lots of side quests, and online battling. Just training your Pokemon to be fit to player to player competition will take a lot of your time. It can easily keep you busy for months and months, and it's great to revisit to battle a friend. A huge slew of online features from Pokemon trading to mini-games, as well as even voice chat for battling friends. I would really enjoy being able to do random battling online, though (or did I miss something?). <b>10/10</b> Overall: <b>9/10</b> Again, if you're not a Pokemon game fan, you won't agree with this score. The review more applies to people who still like Pokemon games. <b>Don't flame</b>. And yes, the gameplay section is a little lame, but it's hard to describe it really.