Pokémon Crystal - Retroview

It's OK, I'm a Girl, Right?

By: Angela Anuszewski

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 7
   Plot 5
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 5
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

15 hrs (first ending)

25 hrs (second ending)


Pokemon Crystal

   I admit it. I just turned 26 years old and I play Pokemon games. But I'm a girl. I'm allowed to like things that are horribly cute, right? Pokémon Crystal has plenty of cute for your gaming dollar. Of course, this game is written for a younger audience, with easy to read text and a nagging way of reminding you how late in the evening it is if you play after 8 PM. Still, I enjoy this game a great deal. There have been a few new features added to the game for the Crystal version that make it a slight improvement over Gold and Silver. If you want one of the three, Crystal is the way to go.

   The game's battle system is basically unchanged from any of the previous Pokémon games. Each pokémon has an elemental type, and these elemental types are either strong or weak against other elemental types. By learning these elemental weaknesses and switching pokémon where appropriate, you can make short work of most of the opposition. One other nice thing about it, if you lose in battle, you lose half your money and revive at the last Pokécenter healing station you visited. Any experience your pokémon gained is still intact, so you can generally beat difficult opponents with multiple pokémon by continually fighting them over and over until you win.

   The Gold/Silver/Crystal games have a feature that I think is rather unique. The game occurs in real time. It has you set the day and time when you start a new game. If it is Thursday evening in the real world, it is Thursday evening in the game world as well. Certain events, characters, and pokémon are only available certain times of the week and/or at certain times of the day. This is novel, but sometimes frustrating for someone like me who works full time. "Evening" is from 6 PM until 4 AM, so catching day-time pokémon is a weekend only activity for me. The screen in the "evening" gets really dark, so you need excellent lighting to play.

The insanely tough Battle Tower
The insanely tough Battle Tower  

   The music in this game is generally annoying. I tend to play the game without the sound turned up. The battle sounds are just ok. One interesting feature in the game is that you have a portable radio. (The Radio Tower where these shows are produced is an important plot point.) One of the stations on this portable radio is something called the Pokémon Music channel. On certain days of the week, you can turn the radio to the channel, and based on what song is playing, you can increase or decrease the number of random encounters with wild pokémon. There are other stations on the radio to check out as well, including "talk" and lottery results.

    I think it is one of the more entertaining Game Boy diversions out there. It's easy to play on the go. Graphically, the battles and the little wandering character reminded me somewhat of the old Final Fantasy Legend games. That impression is why I first picked up Pokémon Yellow after playing it on a display at the local toy store. I scared myself when the characters started talking about pikachu, but I decided I was having fun and gave in and bought the game. I don't regret it at all.

    The plot of the game is pretty simple - collect all the badges in Kanto, stop Team Rocket along the way, get to Indigo Plateau and try to become the champion. Collect 'em all along the way if you so desire. Watch the first set of credits roll. (I'll leave out how to get the second set of credits, it'll be more fun for you to figure it out.) There are lots of side things to do, like catch the one-instance only pokémon that roam Kanto, but they aren't essential to finishing the game.

   I saw very few spots where translation from the Japanese was an issue. I think they did a good job.

A rare Pokémon encounter
A rare Pokémon encounter  

   One great thing about the Pokémon games is that you are free to wander and collect pokémon as long as you want after the credits roll. In Crystal, there's even an insanely difficult stadium where you can take on extremely tough trainers. There's not much reason to replay the plot, but wandering around Kanto doing all the little extras and trying to fill out the pokédex will always be there for you.

Visually, this isn't a very exciting game. Many of the newest pokémon look more like tiny little space aliens than Earth flora and fauna. The aforementioned evening darkness can get very annoying quickly.

If you pick the right starting pokémon and use it exclusively, the game is very easy. I chose cyndaquil, the fire pokémon. It might be tougher to get started with a different element type. The trainer battles got very tiring very quickly, and I avoided as many as I could.

An nice new Crystal feature
An nice new Crystal feature  

It took me a little over 14 hours to reach the first ending and 25 hours for the second ending. I tore through the game as fast as possible, without making an effort to catch wild pokémon. If I happened to encounter one I didn't have, I took it, but didn't try to find any in particular. Unlike Blue, Red, or Yellow, where you are required to catch a certain number to advance at points, this game has no sure restrictions.

In conclusion, this isn't an epic masterpiece, but a fun diversion. It is quite entertaining if you are a kid or a grown up girl like me.

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