1. Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal (Generation Two)
Pokêmon has often been marked for its ironically slow evolution from game to game. In the case of the Pokémon Red and Blue‘s sequels this is decidedly untrue. Pokémon Gold and Silver were designed as the final games in the series according to the president of the Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara. This absolutely shows through the follow up to Pokémon Red and Blue, as it’s truly a no-holds-barred, more finessed and explosive experience from beginning to end. Story-wise, it is the direct sequel to the first generation, where the evil force, Team Rocket, is seeking to rebuild, and the protagonist is woven into the story in a much more personal way, resulting in a better-told and perhaps more impacting narrative. The game’s interface and inventory system also sees notable improvement, making the game easier to play than the originals. Pokémon Gold and Silver also introduces the day/night system where real time is reflected in game and in game features are impacted by time of day, such as what Pokémon species are available in a given area. The second generation also introduces items that can be equipped to Pokémon, such as berries, with effects that vary from improving the efficiency of certain types of attacks to healing a Pokémon of a particular status affliction. Generation two also bred Pokémon breeding, which has forever altered competitive play and the way players obtain rare Pokémon. What’s better than Squirtle? Thirty-seven Squirtles, all bred with the move Hydro Pump and the ability to surf. Not only can a Pokémon be bred with moves its parent Pokémon know, but certain moves can only be taught to a Pokémon through breeding.
What solidifies Gold and Silver as the best Pokémon generation, and is completely unique to the second generation, is the ability to travel between regions. After collecting all eight gym badges and tackling the Elite Four in the Johto region, players can travel to Kanto, the original region from Red and Blue. There they can capture all of the original Pokémon, travel every route from the first games, and even challenge the original eight gym leaders. Once the player has collected all sixteen gym badges, they can challenge the Elite Four once more who are bringing their A game the second time around. Toppling the Elite Four demonstrates once more the strength and determination of the protagonist, this time earning him the right to scale Mt. Silver, at the pinnacle of which awaits none other than Red, the protagonist of Red, Blue, and Yellow. The battle against the silent champion is the most climactic moment of the entire Pokémon series, whose high leveled Pokémon look mighty familiar, probably particularly to those who played Pokémon Yellow. It’s undoubtedly one of the hardest fights players will face in Pokémon in general, though generation four’s champion battle against Cynthia is a struggle as well. Cynthia’s battle, however, has nothing on the battle with Red, complete with its epic, unique theme that calls back to the opening video in Pokémon Red and Blue. Its a fitting conclusion to a brilliant game, and would have made an excellent end to the series, as it and the second journey through an extra region is unlike anything else in the franchise.
Strikingly familiar, however, are the Pokémon designs, which blend brilliantly well with the original 151. Gold and Silver feature precisely 100 new Pokémon, including some with one of two new typings, Steel and Dark. From Chikorita to Celebi, Johto’s Pokémon certainly feel like an extension of the original generation, which again makes sense, since these entries were to planned continuation and conclusion of Pokémon. Some new designs highlighted the day/night system, like Noctowl, a fierce flying Pokémon only catchable at night, or Sunflora, the sunflower Pokémon only available during the day. The second generation frequently demonstrate remarkably idiosyncratic designs in the best possible way, like Donphan, a short, elephant-like monster combined with a tire, to result in something completely original. And who could forget Lugia, the response to Mewtwo, similarly colored white with purple accents and a powerful Psychic type. Plus, with the two new types there was better balance in the type effectiveness chart, and some expansion, fine tuning, and rounding out to the moves list as well. Not to mention that all 251 Pokémon were featured in vibrant colors that matched to colorful nature of the game and its enthralling world. Its unique cast of Pokémon, new typings, multiple regions, new features, improved interface, engaging story, well-designed map, astounding soundtrack, and overall improvement on a winning formula helped Pokémon Gold and Silver do the impossible – surpass the hit phenomenon that was the originals. The record-breaking sales of the second generation of Pokémon, surpassing the sales of Red and Blue, spoke volumes to both the world and those at Game Freak. It was far from time to hang up the franchise. Pokémon was just getting started. Consequently, to me, Pokémon Gold and Silver and the second generation of Pokémon will always represent the best era of Pokémon history.
Thanks for reading this celebration of twenty years of Pokémon! Would the list have looked terribly different had I taken nostalgia in to account? More than likely. I’m no gen one purist, but I certainly love Red, Blue, and Yellow! Either way, I love all of Pokémon, and these aren’t fighting words…but they could be! Think your list of Pokémon generations could beat mine in battle? Prove it! Share your favorite generations, moments, Pokémon, and whatever else you want in the comments! Also, check here for a recap of what to look forward to as the celebration of twenty years of Pokémon continues! You can also expect GoombaStomp.com to continue to celebrate right alongside the rest of the Pokémon world!