Why Gold and Silver Are Still the Greatest Pokémon Games

Pokemon Gold and Silver Featured Image

In commemoration of Nintendo releasing Pokémon Gold and Silver versions on the 3DS virtual console, we’re getting nostalgic. Sun and Moon were terrific. Black and White introduced an entirely new set of Pokémon to discover. Even Ruby and Sapphire had secret bases – what’s not to love? But Gold and Silver have yet to be topped.

When Pokémon Red and Blue came to America in 1998, the West was set on fire. We all immediately fell in love with Squirtle, Charmander, and (sometimes) Bulbasaur. Going through eight progressively challenging gym leaders was exciting, and facing the Elite Four even more so. Tracking down the legendaries was fun and mysterious. There was such a great base to build off of. And that’s exactly what Game Freak did.

Gold and Silver did everything Red and Blue did, but much better… and then some.

Pokemon gold and silver box art
Don’t they just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Gold and Silver Delivered

Two new types were added to the elemental lineup from Red and Blue: Dark types, and Steel types. This helped balance out some of the more overpowered types from the originals. Dark now took down Psychic and Ghost types with ease, and Steel could dominate Ice and Rock types.

There was a brand new day/night cycle – something relatively novel for a game released at the beginning of the millennium. Different Pokémon would appear at night, making exploring twice as interesting as long as you invested the time. Some Pokémon even evolved depending on the time of day.

Red and Blue had regular poké balls, great balls, ultra balls, and the master ball. Gold and Silver introduced several new tools to catch Pokémon. There was the fast ball, which helped catch Pokémon that tended to flee as soon as they encountered the trainer. There was also the love ball, which made it easier to catch wild Pokémon that had the opposite gender of whatever creature you had on the field. Speaking of which – not only Nidoran had genders now!

With these genders, Pokémon breeding became a possibility. Like Red and Blue, Gold and Silver had a daycare you could leave your buddies at and let them level up for a price. But now you could leave two monsters, and if they were opposite genders and compatible, they could have a baby. A BABY. This blew open the doors for different stat configurations, move sets, and evolutionary possibilities.

We could literally go on and on about new features *cough* held items, berries, PokéGear, trainer rematches, shiny Pokémon, special attack and defense, new moves, the move deleter *cough*. But we’ll spare you the paragraphs upon paragraphs of pontification.

(Oh yeah, and full-color graphics on the GameBoy Color. Can’t forget that.)

Fresh Faces

Pokemon Gold and Silver Starters Image
Move over: we’ve got some new kids in town.

The original 151 Pokémon were great – classic, simple, and unforgettable. But the new 100 found in the Johto region were immediately lovable. In addition to Totodile, Cyndaquil, and Chikorita, there were fan-favorite newcomers like Togepi, Marill, Donphan, and Houndoom. Tyranitar, Lugia, and Ho-Oh. Miltank.

Some Pokémon from the first games got great new evolutions, like Onyx evolving into Steelix or Scyther into Scizor. Eevee got two new evolutions depending on whether you leveled it up during the daytime or nighttime – Espeon and Umbreon, respectively. And then there was Hitmontop, but we try to forget about him.

But Game Freak didn’t leave the originals in the dust. Though many were split between the different versions, the majority of the 151 from the Kanto region made their return in Gold and Silver. But we weren’t ready for the biggest instance of fanservice of all time.

Double the Size

So you’ve beaten all eight gyms and crushed the Elite Four. Time to call it a day, right?

WRONG.

After beating the main game, the player gets to return to Kanto and beat the original eight gym leaders (with a couple of fun exceptions) and the Kanto Elite Four. Each gym leader has stronger Pokémon than in the original, and some even have evolved forms of their classic lineup. Way more of the original 151 are available to catch in this region, and there are even extra entertaining little things to discover here than in the first go around.

Kanto Gym Leaders Gold and Silver
It just feels so right.

But then there’s Trainer Red, aka, your character from Red and Blue, aka, pretty much Ash Ketchum. He’s the most powerful trainer in the game and incredibly difficult to take down, as he has a Blastoise, Charizard, and Venusaur – as well as a few other heavy hitters. You can find him at Mt. Silver after beating all 16 gym leaders and eight Elite Four members. Even though his status as “most powerful trainer in the game” has been topped in more recent titles, beating him is a badge of honor among Pokémon fans across the world.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Like we said, Pokémon Gold and Silver are out on the 3DS virtual console right now. Unless you’re knee deep in Samus Returns or are one of the two people on Earth who hasn’t picked up a 3DS in the last six and a half years, you have no excuse.

Do you agree with our completely factual statement that these are the best Pokémon games? Are you distressed that we didn’t even mention Kingdra? Then make yourself heard in the comments! And for all your gaming news, reviews, and more – keep an eye on The Game Fanatics.