Pokemon Silver Version was a classic (and in my opinion the best game in the Pokemon series) for the GameBoy, but Soul Silver takes what made the original game so great and and adds online play, touch controls, and a much needed graphical overhaul.
The gameplay mechanics have basically remained intact from the original game, which is great because we don’t want anything radically different like Mystery Dungeon or Ranger; we want our old school Silver Version with Totodile, Chikorita, and Cyndaquil all looking their best due to a graphical improvement. For the most part we get just that.
The game starts off just as you remember it. You wake up to Professor Oak talking about the world of Pokemon and how you should love and respect your Pokemon. When the generic speech is all said and done you get thrown into the gameplay.
Once you leave your house and step out into Johto for the first you get hit with some awesome visuals that make you flashback to the world you used to know so well. The graphics in Soul Silver look like they outshine even those in Platinum, a little surprising considering it launched less than a year ago. There is one absolutely bad-ass scene in which Lugia is summoned and he bursts through a waterfall; this scene is so awesome it makes you pause with your jaw dropped and shiver with anticipation for the battle that is to come.
The first thing you will notice about Soul Silver is that the bottom screen of your DS is now filled with commands that use to be mapped on the buttons in Pearl/Diamond/Platinum. This makes everything significantly easier to access and utilize your bag, save your game, switch around your team, and check out your trainer card. There is also a run button that you can simply tap once to keep your character dashing down routes without having to hold that pesky b-button the entire time.
All of the items that were exclusive to the original game have returned in Pokemon Soul Silver. Items that were exclusive to the original game such as the Apricorns and the Pokegear make their return in Soul Silver, but the Pokegear makes it apparent very early on why it has been left out. The Pokegear doubles as a cellphone and as such, people call you on it all the time. You exchange numbers with trainers all across Johto and Kanto, but there is something a little off-setting about your 10 year-old character swapping phone numbers with old men. The worst part is that you get stupid phone calls all the time as a result. I don’t care about the condition of Bug Catcher Wade’s Weedle, or how bad he wants me to go and pummel is Pokemon again; Stop calling me. The useless conversations with these trainers really should have been dropped, and sure you can ignore the calls but that can mean you miss a tip that there are tons of hard to find Pokemon on a certain route.
The greatest part about this game is the vast amount of gameplay. Not only can you adventure through Johto, but after collecting the 8 gym badges and defeating the Elite Four, the entire world of Kanto from Pokemon Red/Blue opens up for you to explore. Kanto also has their own gym leaders, so beating the initial story mode in the game really only means you are half way through. There are TONS of legendary Pokemon that appear in this game too, so you are going to be spending a lot of time trying to “catch ’em all”.
One thing that Soul Silver that has been getting crap for in other reviews are the dated roars that the original Pokemon will cry when spotted or sent into battle. I have to disagree with this; it’s not like the Pokemon have hit puberty and their voices are going to change. It’s old-school and I appreciate the fact that they haven’t changed something that really didn’t need to be fixed.
The online play in Soul Silver is another great feature; Online trading is so easy to use that even the very worst of Pokemon Masters will be able to trade their Pokemon for guys they may have never caught before. Battling online is awesome too; All you have to do is connect with a friend and kick some ass either with them or against them.
One huge feature added to Soul Silver is the fact that your Pokemon will follow you as you walk around Johto and Kanto. Any Pokemon can follow you regardless of power or girth. As the Pokemon follow you they can pick up items that can be used to make your Pokemon look fabulous in photographs. The photographs are then saved so that you can look at them when ever you wish to reflect on those golden memories.
As I mentioned up top, the game comes with a Pokewalker and it is is actually one of the coolest parts of Soul Silver. You transfer a Pokemon from your box onto the device, put it in tour pocket and then the Pokewalker turns steps into watts. Watts are like a currency on the Pokewalker and can be exchanged for pokemon capture opportunities and item finding games. Unused watts are transferred on to your game and can unlock new routes to walk your Pokemon on. Walking around work with the device filled every inch of my being with self-pity, but it was so worth it. I not only obtained rare items and leveled my Pokemon, but I caught a Wobbuffet! I would trade self-dignity for a Wobbuffett anyday. The best part about the Pokewalker though, is that I was actually running around my kitchen trying to get watts; I could see a lot of Pokewalker weight-loss success stories from people that just wanted to level their Pokemon.
Not much has changed in the world of Johto, but this doesn’t matter because Pokemon Soul Silver is without a doubt one of the best remakes ever. If you own a DS and don’t pick up this game you are really missing out on the best of what this Nintendo handheld has to offer. The graphics are great, the gameplay is fantastic, and the pokewalker is tons of fun. Sure the phone calls can get a little annoying after awhile, but this minor fault is easily overlooked. The price tag is solid too, it only costs $40 and you certainly get more than what you pay for in this package. It’s never been so much fun to catch ’em all.
Pokemon Soul Silver released for the Nintendo DS on March 14, 2010.