Alex Lamoureux pilots a new youth-oriented feature on CityCaucus.com
Last fall we introduced our wildly popular Where 2 Be for Free Guide during the Olympics. It was a new feature that had mass appeal beyond the thousands of you who regularly read CityCaucus.com each day. We then began our popular ChowDown Vancouver series featuring Michelle's restaurant reviews. A few weeks ago we added Kerri Brkich and her CityFun reports to our lineup. She's been covering the urban scene in Vancouver. We're now pleased to add a new dimension to our weekend blog with the introduction of Alex Lamoureux and his gaming reviews.
Alex is a young fellow who has a passion for both video games and writing. We thought his occasional posts might interest to parents who read this blog and want to know what to buy their kid for that special day. Or, it may well be of interest to that gamer in your household who wants to read about their purchase before dropping down that credit card and taking it home. Regardless, we hope you enjoy Alex's work.
To someone who grew up playing Pokemon Gold and Silver, the latest Pokémon games provide a great dose of nostalgia. To someone relatively new to the series, HeartGold and SoulSilver are easily the best Pokémon games available.
If you’re familiar with the Pokémon series, you may skip this paragraph. At the beginning of the game, Professor Oak explains the nature of the game, after which you choose from one of 3 Pokémon to begin your journey. The purpose of the game is to reach the status of Pokémon Master, by defeating the previous Master in a Pokémon duel and catching all 493 Pokémon. To “catch ‘em all” requires trading between various versions of the game, and a lengthy time commitment. Reaching the “end” of the game is much easier, though you can expect it to take upwards of 20 hours on your first try.
A major selling point for the original Pokémon Gold and Silver versions was their length. Indeed, HeartGold and SoulSilver contain significantly more content than Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the other Pokémon games for the DS. In addition to having 2 whole regions to explore, you can take a break from normal gameplay to participate in a Pokéathlon or the Battle Frontier.
The longer length of the game also introduces a pacing problem. Compared to any other Pokémon game, HeartGold and SoulSilver advance slowly. It is most noticeable at the start of the game, as every town has someone to stop you and explain the new features. Later on, expect to spend more time training your Pokémon, as the difficulty has been raised compared to the original games. Despite this issue, the game is never boring, with new and varied features apart from the usual quest.
The newest features are undoubtedly the Pokéathlon (left) and PokéWalker (right). The Pokéathlon involves a series of quasi-Olympic challenges for your team, and it makes a fun diversion from the main game. The Pokéwalker can store a single Pokémon, and it counts your steps as you walk around. Each step trains the contained Pokémon and makes it happier. The Pokéwalker is an interesting portable addition to the game, though the DS itself is portable enough to bring the game with you anyway. These new features are hardly major selling points, but they are worthwhile additions, and neither is forced upon the player at any time.
Despite being remakes, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are worth buying. There are other Pokémon games available for the DS, but these two games are superior. The two regions contain well-designed characters and areas, as well as remakes of the excellent music from Gold and Silver. If you’ve decided that you don’t like Pokémon, these games won’t change your mind. For anyone else, whether a long-time fan or newcomer to the series, these games would be the best choice. The two versions have some different Pokémon but are equally good, so buy whichever seems to be less popular among your peers.
- Great depth and length of gameplay
- New Pokéathlon brings variety to gameplay
- Excellent music
- Smooth interface
- Gameplay has been refined significantly
- Playable for very short or very long stretches
- Graphics seem dated, especially during battles
- Slower pacing than other Pokémon games
- No new Pokémon or moves have been added
Alex Lamoureux, 17, is a student at Queen Elizabeth High School in Calgary. His interests include video games, reading, fencing, and baseball - he is an umpire for Foothills Little League. He programs games on his TI-83 graphing calculator, and holds a high-score world record for Rampage: World Tour.