Pokémon: Crystal Version is the most up-to-date of Nintendo’s Pokémon games, but it isn’t exactly the sequel that fans have been anticipating. Similar to Pokémon Yellow and its Red/Blue brethren, Crystal is merely an update to the Gold and Silver versions that preceded it.
As such, those already knee-deep in the Gold/Silver series won’t find much of interest in Pokémon Crystal. However, if you have not already upgraded from the older Red/Blue/Yellow series, or you happen to be a total Pokémon neophyte, now is an excellent time to take the plunge.
Just like Gold and Silver before it, Pokémon Crystal offers 251 different Pocket Monsters to collect, trade, and battle. As a trainer en route to the Pokémon League, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and acquire a majority of these lovable animals–usually by searching in tall grass, hunting at night, or by breeding at the day care. Rare Pokémon–creatures so strong that you get only one shot to battle and capture them–can often be found hiding within ancient ruins or grazing in particular areas at various times throughout the week.
Although Pokémon Crystal theoretically includes the entire menagerie of Pokémon contained within both the Gold and Silver versions of the game, choices you make along the way can (and will) eliminate your chances of capturing specific monsters. Similarly, some Pokémon, such as Squirtle, Mewtwo, Charmander, and Bulbasaur, are exclusive to the older Red/Blue/Yellow series and are impossible to acquire via solitary means. For these reasons, if you intend to complete Prof. Oak’s Pokédex, trading between friends remains an essential aspect of the Pokémon phenomenon.
When you consider different male and female variations, or the time spent trying to hatch rare eggs at the day care, it could take months just to complete even half the Pokédex. Thankfully, Pokémon Crystal offers a somewhat compelling role-playing adventure in addition to its core collecting mechanics.
Starting out as New Bark Town’s latest rookie trainer, you and a single Pokémon (Cyndaqil, Totodile, or Chikorita) will embark on a quest to challenge the Elite Four at the Pokémon League. Before you can realize this destiny though, you’ll need gym badges–lots of them. In all, you’ll need to earn the badges of 16 different gym leaders throughout the continents of Johto and Kanto–a journey that will eventually take you to 18 different towns and through countless ancient landmarks. In addition to the helpful residents you’ll meet during your travels, there are also approximately 500 other rookie trainers waiting to challenge you as you journey from town to town.
Suffice it to say, battle is also an important aspect of Pokémon. The game uses a turn-based battle system where the Pokémon in your care do all of the actual fighting. For each turn, you may perform a single attack or use a single item. Pokémon can memorize only four different attacks at any given time, however, so if they run out of PP for a particular move or are nearly unconscious, you can always swap them with another Pokémon in your pack. Although you’re allowed to bring only six Pokémon into battle, PCs located at every Pokémon Center let you store approximately 250 additional Pokémon for later use. Pokémon will learn new attacks as they grow and evolve, but you can also acquire additional skills, in the form of TM and HM items, after hallmark battles or from special shops scattered throughout Johto and Kanto.
In addition to the 15 original Pokémon types (normal, fire, water, grass, bug, ground, electric, flying, fighting, ice, dragon, psychic, ghost, poison, rock), two new types were introduced to the mix by the Gold and Silver series: steel and dark. Pokémon Crystal contributes nothing new in this respect, but the strategic pairing of strengths, weaknesses, or stalemates based upon these innate proclivities remains a clever and enjoyable aspect of gameplay.
Rom Name: Pokemon Crystal (U)
Genre(s): Role-Playing Game