Pokémon games now tend to follow rather familiar formulas. We follow a child coming of age on a journey that sends them around a country, making friends, proving their proficiency through challenges, and managing to prove themselves to everyone by vanquishing a criminal organization that somehow flummoxed adults. But when it comes to Pokémon Gold and Silver, we experienced the influence a new entry could have on the series for the first time. While Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue created a foundation, Gold and Silver were this mold that shaped it into something more. It added more depth and strategy to the series through rebalancing, stat adjustments, and breeding, giving people more control over their characters and giving people a chance to be a little more competitive.
One of the biggest changes in this installment has to do with stats. In the original Pokémon games, we only needed to worry about health, attack, defense, speed, and special. That last one is the one that gave people pause. After all, anyone familiar with RPGs knows that many games tend to group magical attack and defense stats into separate categories. Special is essentially that for Pokémon, with attack and defense referring to physical attacks. This was troublesome, since a character who had a high special stat was strong in both areas. It was Pokémon Gold and Silver that took the first steps to righting that wrong by assigning each character Special Attack and Special Defense values. It also introduced Pokerus, the virus affecting stats of actively infected Pokémon. It marked the beginning of a greater focus on the capabilities of characters and builds.
It also brought in Game Freak’s first attempt at balancing the Pokémon series. As anyone who played Red, Blue, or Green knows, Psychic types were incredibly broken. It took double damage from bug types, and that was it. It was even immune to ghost-type moves. Not to mention, it was super effective against both fighting and poison types. Ghost types were a little troublesome too, since only other ghost-type moves were super effective against them and there weren’t any types where it wasn’t very effective against them. Gold and Silver rectified this, both by adding two new types and adjusting these older ones. Dark and steel changed things up. Dark types were super effective against both ghost and psychic types and took no damage from psychic type characters, at the expensive of not being very effective against dark, fighting, and steel and being weak to bug and fighting types. Meanwhile, the new steel type was only effective against ice and rock, did half damage to electric, fire, steel, and water, took no damage from poison, took half damage from bug, dark, dragon, flying, ghost, grass, ice, normal, psychic, rock, and steel, and took double damage from fighting, fire, and ground. Psychic types were suddenly susceptible to ghost type moves, losing that former immunity. After this shake up, type effectiveness remained the same until Pokémon X and Y brought in fairy types and adjusted the steel type’s defenses.
Pokémon Gold and Silver were the first to add breeding to the formula. All of these characters suddenly had genders! We had means of giving more limited TM moves to multiple creatures via breeding. There were egg moves that could be taught by fathers to the babies. Not to mention, it meant having a better moveset on a weaker creature. For the first time, we had even more control and options over our party and their skills. Stat inheritance worked differently here, being based on gender and whether or not one parent was a Ditto, but it was a first step into a process that would eventually become so involved, people would be attempting to pass down Natures or specific IVs.
Of course, there are also the details that have come about because of the Virtual Console versions of Pokémon Gold and Silver. It allows a level of connectivity not present in the original. While the Game Boy Printer option is absent, you can easily connect to the first generation Pokémon Virtual Console games. The Pokémon Bank does not support Gold or Silver yet, but will, giving us an opportunity to access these older characters. The in-battle HUD always appears too. In previous games, it would sometimes disappear during attacks. This means you always know how healthy your characters are and, while this can be an issue for some attack animations, does keep you constantly informed.
The Pokémon formula is always being refined. There are always going to be adjustments to characters to make them more well-rounded and new features brought in. But when it came to Pokémon Gold and Silver, we saw the introduction of so many elements that made the games stronger and better. We saw Special split into Special Attack and Special Defense. We saw issues with the ghost and psychic types addressed and rectified through tweaks and the introduction of two new classes, dark and steel. Breeding was brought in, paving the way for the creation of our perfect party members. And now, with the Virtual Console release, we’re eventually going to have more access to more characters. It is amazing how much Gold and Silver did for the series, and we are now in a good place to appreciate that.
Pokémon Gold and Silver are now available in the Nintendo 3DS eShop.