Pokemon Crystal Review

For those who are new to Pokémon or have yet to upgrade from the Red/Blue/Yellow series, Pokémon: Crystal Version offers a great deal of value for the investment involved.

For players upgrading from the original Red/Blue/Yellow series, Pokémon Crystal contains a few notable enhancements to its item and tools systems. Foremost of these, Pokémon in your party can now carry items into battle. Berries, plucked from trees, automatically cure illness or status ailments, while special store-bought seeds can either augment or dampen a Pokémon's intrinsic talents. There are even items, such as rare stones and flower-print mail, that can evolve a Pokémon when it's traded to a friend via link cable. To carry the items you collect, you will have an in-game backpack that contains four different pockets with enough space to hold 20 items in each, and it has a separate HM/TM pocket that has room for an unlimited number of HM and TM skills. A PokéGear device attached to your pack gives you access to a variety of useful tools, including a comprehensive world map, a radio for entertainment purposes, and a cellular phone for keeping in touch with the game's many characters.

If you already own Pokémon Gold or Pokémon Silver, much of the information covered in this review is old news. In fact, the differences the Crystal version exhibits over its Gold and Silver counterparts are so subtle that you may never notice many of them. Of the most significant, the addition of a female character gives you the opportunity to choose an onscreen persona that is uniquely feminine. Within the game itself, there are numerous picayune visual embellishments to observe, the most obvious of which are new, brief prefight battle taunts. They're not spectacular by any means, but watching a Machoke flex its muscles or a Cubone juggle its bone before going into battle is somewhat delightful.

In terms of gameplay modifications, besides changing where and when Pokémon tend to appear, Nintendo has made a few useful adjustments to the game's radio and cell phone items. Now, when you add a trainer's cell number to your phone book, they may call and offer free items or advice in addition to his incessant pleas for a rematch. Similarly, Buena's Password Show is a new radio broadcast that can net you all sorts of spiffy big-budget prizes--provided you tune in daily and don't mind hightailing it to Goldenrod City every once in a while. Other improvements include a more pronounced Suicune (#245) subplot, a new rooftop bargain shop in Goldenrod City, the addition of a Poké Seer fortune-teller, and a much, much, much easier method of acquiring the 251st Pokémon, Celebi.

Like Gold and Silver before it, Pokémon Crystal also boasts a number of gimmicks that enhance and broaden the game's overall variety. A built-in time clock keeps track of the date and time, which allows the sun to rise and set in real time within the game. Certain Pokémon come out only at night or on specific days of the week. Similarly, a number of key events within the game also occur only on particular days or at specified times.

A revamped Pokédex lets you sort Pokémon by either type or number and includes a handy search-by-type feature. If you have a Game Boy Printer, you can also use the Pokédex to print pictures of the Pokémon you've encountered. In addition to battling friends one-on-one across a link cable, with the Game Boy Color's infrared port you can transfer mystery gifts between another Gold/Silver/Crystal version of the game or with Nintendo's Pokémon Pikachu 2 GS pocket virtual pet. Although designed for the Game Boy Color, the game works just fine when played on a Game Boy Advance--albeit without infrared capabilities, since Nintendo's latest system lacks the required infrared hardware.

It's not a brand-new game by any means, but for those who are new to Pokémon or have yet to upgrade from the Red/Blue/Yellow series, Pokémon: Crystal Version offers a great deal of value for the investment involved. As for those who already own the Gold or Silver versions of the game, unless you absolutely need to snag Celebi, there is no reason why you should even consider buying Pokémon Crystal.

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