I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up with the Pokemon games, partly because of a lack of interest in the new Pokemon and partly because I didn’t want to buy a new console to play them. Before Christmas, however, I obtained a beautiful crystal blue 2DS and immediately bought Sun, Ultra Moon and Alpha Sapphire, all of which I finished in the month or so I had between Fall and Spring semesters. And then I discovered that Pokemon Crystal, my personal favourite version and one wildly heralded as one of if not the best in the entire franchise, was being released on the Nintendo E-Store on January 26th. So I bought it.
After playing the newest installations in the Pokemon series I thought I would have a hard time going back to a game that was released in 2001. Surprisingly I didn’t, and there’s only a couple of the modern features that I really miss; being able to run which goes without saying, and a display in the Poke Mart menu telling me how much of an item I have in my bag. That’s it. The rest of it I can honestly do without. I fell easily back into the rhythm of “classic” Pokemon games, with a new appreciation for its uniqueness.
Crystal was a fantastic improvement both over the original Red, Blue and Yellow and also over its Gold and Silver counterparts. You could be a girl! There was colour! Animated sprites (that look amazing even 17 years on)! And a new twist on the Gen 2 story, with a larger focus on my favourite Pokemon, Suicune, and its pursuit by a man called Eusine (which looks and sounds remarkably like Suicune, doesn’t it?) Despite Crystal seeming old-fashioned in the face of the modern Pokemon games, it was an amazing example of its type at the time, and has held up well despite the years.
The virtual console release comes with a couple of improvements in the connection department; it now works with the wireless on your DS to let you trade and battle with people via invitations and a Time Capsule that lets you transfer Pokemon between Crystal and the original Gen 1 games. It’s a modern way to make it easier to catch ‘em all, which is still needed since there are Pokemon that appear in Gold or Silver but not in Crystal, and of course Pokemon that still need to be traded to evolve.
Pokemon Crystal is as good as I remember it, without the tint of nostalgia. There’s definitely features that I miss having, but even almost 20 years on it still holds up as one of the best Pokemon games to ever be made.
And I still hate Whitney’s Miltank.