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Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 5 – Pokemon HeartGold

Pokemon HeartGold - Entei UnleashedIt’s been a couple of months since my last ambition update, and as you might intuit, I’m beginning to run out of steam. With my last check-in, I was just beginning to play HeartGold. It’s a game that I originally bought day one, and even wrote about it here way back in 2010, and again in 2012. I don’t recall actually beating it 100% back then, so I did experience more of the game this time around. I managed to explore all of Johto and Kanto and catch every legendary Pokémon available to me, all in about 60 hours.

It was easily the most refined game in the series at its release, and I still feel that way. I definitely preferred it to Platinum. The Pokéwalker was a fun addition too. I could transfer a Pokémon to the pedometer to level it up and collect items. It was a nice diversion at work, but I eventually grew bored of it. While I was going after the last legendary Pokémon, it was definitely getting to be a grind; especially because of the FUCKING ROAMING POKÉMON. I struggled catching Entei, the next to last one for me. Using Retail, my Gengar, I would use Mean Look to prevent Entei from running away. However, it had Roar which made me flee and after dozens of Ultra Balls, I finally caught it.

According to the release calendar of the series, I should fire up Black or White next. Lacking either, my next option would be to play White 2, and the 3DS “game” Dream Radar. That being said, I purchased Pokémon Y last week, wanting to redeem the Shiny Mega Gengar that GameStop was giving away. While there, I also preordered Omega Ruby. I’ve been playing other games for a while now, hoping to diversify my playtime somewhat. So… I don’t know which game I’ll jump into next, but any option will be an entirely new experience. Well, besides the formulaic structure.

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Pokemon: A Grand Ambition

Rawr!
Rawr!

I’m a Pokemaniac. There, I said it. Now that it’s on the internet, I’ll never be able to reclaim those feelings and keep them caged again. Ever since Pokemon X and Y released, I’ve been surrounded by people who playing the game. This has created a certain fervor that one might describe as a zeitgeist. Well instead of joining in on the excitement directly, I’ve decided to do so in a roundabout way.

What I’ve done, is reinvigorated a plan to play through the earliest games in the series that will allow me to transfer Pokemon to the most recent releases. Therefore, my starting point is the Ruby and Sapphire era, consisting of mostly Game Boy Advance and GameCube games. The Pokemon from this generation can be transferred upwards to the DS games and then from the DS games to the 3DS games. Instead of starting with Ruby or Sapphire (or most likely Emerald because I never played it), I’ve begun with LeafGreen. Even though it and FireRed were released after Ruby and Sapphire, it makes more chronological sense to me as they are remakes of the original releases.

Being the Pokemaniac that I am, or was prior to Black and White, I’ve already played through LeafGreen. And honestly, I’m not replaying it for pure face value enjoyment. It’s a solid game but being an enhanced remake of the original games, it’s a little lacking. No, my enjoyment has stemmed from the long view I’ve got.

I’m naming my avatars differently so they’re not all simply John. I’m also nicknaming all the Pokemon I can along the way – something I’ve usually refrained from doing. I’m thinking that once (if?) this is all said and done, I’ll be able to look back at the fleet of Pokemon I’ve acquired and remember which game one of them came from and what I was doing/thinking at that time. At the very least, I’ll have a diverse cast of Pokemon that will get tons of experience from being traded!

Even though this is a process that appears like a deep dive into the Pokemon rabbit hole, it’s not as hardcore as you might think. For the most part, I’m avoiding caring too much about the multitude of stats tied to individual Pokemon. I could spend time searching for the optimal combination of traits in a specific Pokemon. Then, I could decide in which game I want to level a specific Pokemon to learn desired moves. Yet further, I could try and figure out what the hell EV training is. Instead, I’m leaving these extra opportunities for added enjoyment if I ever actually follow through and complete this grand ambition of mine.

User Interface in Pokemon HeartGold

What's the next generation of Pokemon going to be like?

I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon HeartGold in my free time lately. One thing that I like about it is the user interface. Because it’s on the Nintendo DS it can take advantage of the system’s touch screen. Now you think it working fine would be a no-brainer. A menu heavy role-playing game on a system with a touch screen should work well, and HeartGold does. I guess my whole point in bringing this up is because of how little Game Freak utilized the touch screen in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl.

In that generation of Pokemon games the touch screen was used terribly outside of battles. The normal action took place entirely on the top screen while occupied on the bottom screen were twenty or so mostly useless doodads. The bottom screen was a Swiss Army knife of crap. Navigation of menus could sometimes be done through the bottom screen, but the icons were so small and positioned as to be nearly useless. On the other hand, the bottom screen was utilized well in battles.

In battle there were four options. Instead of the prompts being of equal size and therefore of equal importance, the battle option was very prominent. After selecting it, the next choices are what moves to use and these are evenly divided between a Pokemon’s four options; even when using an item or switching to another Pokemon in battle, the user interface is easy to use.

HeartGold makes no improvements of the user interface in battles but menus outside of battles are totally revamped. In HeartGold (and SoulSilver mind you) the menu is readily available on the bottom screen. Thanks to this improved accessibility, and the navigation that’s miles ahead of where it was in Diamond/Pearl, I play the game nearly exclusively with a stylus. I remember thinking to myself when I played Diamond that buttons were much faster thanks to the poor implementation, not so in HeartGold/SoulSilver.

The menu is always a touch away outside of battle.

I grew up on Pokemon games so I have a lot of love for the series, hence this article. Plus, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately and thought I’d write about it. At this point HeartGold is two years old and it’s not even in the most current generation of Pokemon games any more, Pokemon Black/White take that honor. I haven’t played those yet (my thoughts on those two are a whole other article haha) so I wonder what kinds of improvements – if any – were made in those games.