This first post brought to you by the Original Super Glue, and by all the crap I had to use to get it off my hands. Eh, I'll explain later.
HeartGold is in my (thankfully glue-free) hands as of September 28th and I'm ready to get started, so... let's get started!
As with my previous blog, the bulk of the updates will be in lj-cuts so I do not smother you under massive Walls of Text OMG. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with a much quicker and more consistent update schedule as I technically don't have anything else to do for a week; with any luck I'll be able to make decent progress before the school schedule from Hell eats me alive come October 5th.
Read on, then, and let the public humiliation commence!
After kicking back and enjoying the pretty new intro video, complete with ringing bells and full-color 3D flying Ho-Oh, the game starts up and I'm able to view the usual introduction or explanation of controls before speaking to the professor. Nothing much to note here other than the appearance of an "A Button" on the touch screen during the controls explanation—apparently, in their attempt to actually use the touch screen for interacting with the game instead of just as a cute afterthought *coughPokétchcough*, the designers have made it possible to advance text and whatnot with this button in addition to the actual button on the console. Interesting.
Anyway, I choose the "start game" option at length and am presented with a dark screen. It seems that they kept the "What time is it... oh, dear, I overslept!" part of Oak's opening speech, even though you don't actually need to manually set the time now that the DS handles all of that for you. Professor Oak finally gets his lazy tuchas out of bed, shows me a Marill—the Marill's jumping animation loops, huh, I don't think any of the other intromon have ever done that—and then I choose my player gender by tapping it on the bottom screen. No snazzy running animation like Platinum's, aww. I choose the male player and, because I'm just that amazingly creative, name him "Gold", in English characters so that a) I understand it and b) it stands out from the rest of the Japanese text (so at least I'll know when people are talking about me behind my back). Oak uses his magical shrink ray on me, reduces me to overworld sprite form, and I'm free to get going.
The room is pretty boring and bog-standard, the same television-with-game-console (a Wii instead of the originals' SNES), computer on the desk, etc.. I check the computer for the heck of it—maybe there's a free potion in there as there was in RBYFRLG—and see what looks like a very fancy mail/email interface, with big buttons representing any mail I might have. And, as a matter of fact, I do have mail: just a simple letter, but I suppose it's nice that people are writing to me. I can't read a lick of what it says, of course, so I'll just pretend that it's a lengthy string of compliments detailing how handsome, brilliant and generally awesome I am. Judging by the little Marill picture in the corner I feel pretty confident in saying that it's from Kotone ("Soul"), the female player character. Perhaps some well-wishing for my upcoming journey? Eh, I like the long list extolling my many virtues better, so I'll stick with that. Yeah.
...a potion, or anything else that is nowhere near as laughably stupid as the totally unnecessary mail feature they insist on including (what was the point in generations two and three? You had to be right next to the person you were giving it to anyway... what on earth could you possibly say with the game's limited and silly vocabulary that you couldn't just say to the person sitting two feet away from you?) would have been even better, but I will take imaginary lavish praise and ego stroking if I must.
The touch screen/game menu is currently empty save for the "A Button" thing I mentioned earlier, and pressing X or Start or whatever does absolutely nothing—I can't even bring up the menu to save or check my ID. With nothing else to do I head downstairs, where I am stopped by my mother and handed the rest of my menu. I don't know why Mom had my menu—was I a bad boy and she took away my saving privileges for a week?—but when I'm done talking to her little buttons for my bag, my ID, saving the game and the options menu pop into being on the touch screen. She doesn't give me the Pokégear yet, so I guess I get that later.
I play with the wonky new touch screen menu for a while before heading out to see Professor Elm. When you press X or tap one of the buttons all movement on the top screen freezes and a gray bar with an arrow appears across the bottom, indicating that I'm currently interacting with the touch screen. I check my trainer card first. The pretty new gym leader portraits are in two rows across the top screen, which I suppose means no more musical compositions on the badges like in DPPt. Just the other day I was checking the number of BP I'd earned in Platinum, and somehow that degenerated into me playing the opening bars of Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" (the Free Willy song) and several songs from Disney musicals for a good twenty minutes. You know you're tired and should probably put the DS down and back away slowly when you start playing Disney on your badges, and in the long run the removal of this devilish little distraction is probably for the best, but I'll miss my Free Willy song. Ah, well.
With the badges on the top screen the trainer card itself has moved to the bottom. Tapping it causes it to flip over to the back and display your Wi-Fi record or whatever that is; you also have the option to sign the back of your trainer card right there, so if you enjoyed putting your John Hancock on your card for all to see at least you don't have to go talk to some special person to do it. I scrawl a cheery "Gold!" on the line and then move on to exploring my bag.
The bag is, predictably at this point, devoid of any items, including the potion I should've gotten instead of Kotone's lousy letter. The interface has changed drastically—instead of a long list of items you can scroll through, there are six spaces for large buttons that will have icons, names and numbers on them when you actually get the items. Almost exactly like the item menu you use in battle in DPPt, basically. Along the top of the touch screen you can tap little icons to change the pocket you're navigating through; when you change pockets, a little 3D model of Gold and his bag on the top screen changes angle and color to highlight the current pocket. I'm not really sure I'm going to like the new bag interface, as the vibe I'm currently getting is that it will be less efficient than the list (even if it is sparklier), but I suppose I won't really know until I reach the point where I have more than six items in a pocket.
I fiddle with the options menu and change a few settings, and then I finally head out the door and into New Bark Town. A Marill runs up to me as soon as I set foot outside; Kotone appears, calls to it and then goes off to do something else before I can thank her for the lovely letter declaring my awesomeness or complain about how a potion would've been a much more thoughtful gift. As I walk around I can hear the grass rustling under my feet, see little gusts of wind in the air and even hear the gentle lapping of the waves when I stand right next to the water by my house; I thought it might get annoying after a while, but so far it's a nice little aesthetic touch. I enter Kotone's house and try to bum the potion off of her there, but all she does is sit there and watch her Marill make itself dizzy by running around in circles. No one in the other houses is terribly interesting, so I go talk to the mysterious red-haired boy lurking outside of Elm's window, get kicked in the nuts repeatedly by said mysterious red-haired boy until it occurs to me that he might just want to be left alone, head up the outdoor staircase attached to the lab—Elm and his family now apparently live upstairs instead of in a separate house—and then enter the lab proper.
Elm talks to me, receives the email from Mr. Pokémon and then allows me to approach the large, imposing doohickey that houses his three poké balls. The balls are displayed on the touch screen in 3D, and you can spin them around by tapping them. I select Totodile's poké ball, press the button in the center and release the little blue gremlin, who appears by my side instantly. I then have a chance to give him a name; the five-character limit won't allow anything fun like "El Lagarto" or "Vicious Death Monster", so I settle for "Njord" (the Norse god of the seas) and return my attention to Professor Elm. I take a moment to look at the Pokémon menu before leaving. Tapping Njord's icon brings up his basic status—name, location received, held item, etc.—on the top screen, with more information on the bottom; I can tap buttons there to change to his stats/moves/ability screen and his ribbons screen. I can't read what it says his nature is, but now I can look at the stats page for a hint. The names of the five non-HP stats may potentially have a colored shadow, either red or blue: red indicates a stat that is raised by a nature, blue indicates a lowered stat and the normal gray shadow means that the stat is unaffected by that nature (so a neutral-natured Pokémon, like a Bashful one, would not have any colored stats). Njord's Attack is red and his Special Defense is blue, which means he is Naughty-natured. Anyway, assignment in hand and Totodile in tow, I make for the door and receive five potions (instead of the single potion in GSC... bah, I suppose this makes up for Kotone's thoughtlessness) from Elm's assistant. Kotone and her Marill speak to me briefly when I step back outside. A lady near the exit won't let me leave until I go visit Mom again, and so I get the Pokégear and corresponding bouncy button after talking to her. Since I am too stupid to know how to use a telephone my mother kindly reads the instructions to me, and then I can head on over to Route 29.
Elm runs out and gives me his phone number before I get too far, and so I figure this would be a decent time to stop and check out my new ‘gear and Hey-Let's-Bother-Gold-With-Inane-Drivel-ophone. The time and date are displayed on the top screen and the Phone Card menu on the bottom; a list of names, currently only Mom and Prof. Elm, can be tapped and whatnot. The first option I see upon tapping a name apparently calls the person. The second brings up a list of other options, none of which mean anything to me at all and so I have no idea what they do. Messing with them appears to swap Mom and Elm's positions on the list, though, so I assume that they are sorting options. I suppose that'll come in handy later, as the HGSS phone can apparently hold a lot more than the ten or so phone numbers the GSC phone could store. I don't think there's an option to delete numbers from memory, either, which probably means that there's a space for every single person that can possibly annoy me with news about being molested by Weedle in their shorts or whatever. Oh, joy.
There's also a new settings option in the Pokégear, although the only thing it lets you change is the ‘gear's "skin". Six choices are available: a blue skin with a stylized "S" logo (apparently Silph Co. has a logo now); an identical sexist pink style with Silph logo; a red one with gold stars, a big poké ball and a Silph logo; a green and white one with Silph logo; one that has a "traditional Japanese" style, if you will; and a metallic-looking grayish one with screws, jagged red text and a Team Rocket "R". Huh. When I first heard about the Pokégear skins and the TR theme I thought that might be something you get during your various run-ins with the Rockets, but no, apparently Silph Co. is just up and offering that option to any trainer who wants a ‘gear. I find the TR skin completely innocuous and not suspicious in the slightest, and when I consult Njord about it he simply jumps up and down and smiles his approval, but for now I decide to stick with the red and gold one.
The second I put a foot into the tall grass, which is much thicker and more lush-looking than the usual detatched ferny sort of grass tiles in previous games, I am assaulted by an explosion of musical chaos. Er, I mean, a Pokémon. But seriously, the Johto battle theme revamp is so flashy and wild and over-the-top I was momentarily convinced that the bird attacking my face was a Ho-Oh, not a Hoothoot. I've heard a lot of people say that they've listened to the BGMs and find them awesome, but believe me, you've got to hear it in the context of the game for the busyness of it all to really hit you. Don't get me wrong, I think it sounds excellent; it's just so much compared to the music in any of the other games and it's going to take some getting used to. Really... if that's the music for a regular old level 2 wild Pokémon, I'm a little scared of what the music for things like legendaries or Champion battles is going to sound like. Please don't use your music to blow my brain out through my ears before I can catch you, Ho-Oh. Please?
Anyway, I point my finger at the little owl with as much flourish as possible and Njord leaps into battle from behind me. No, really, that's what happened; there's no need for a *throw ball* *Pokémon pops out* animation now that the first member of your party stays outside of its ball, so it's been replaced with *dramatic fingerpoint*
Objection! *Pokémon runs in*. Even with the battle theme on steroids blaring into his ears Njord is able to dispatch the Hoothoot in short order, and so at this point I stop to check and see if he has a berry. Unfortunately, the Professor wasn't feeling as generous this time around and so my Totodile did not come with a complementary snack attached. Bah.
Njord and I root around Route 29 and the attached Route 46 for a while but find little of interest other than a potion and an apricorn tree where the berry tree was in GSC. Without a case I can't take the apricorn, though, so I leave it be and head into Cherrygrove. There I meet an elderly gentleman who wants to show me a good time, and, trusting soul that I am, I follow him without question. He's a quick old coot and keeps running ahead of me as he points out the Pokémon Center, the Pokémart with its new giant rotating sign, Route 30, the sea (complete with sand crunching audibly underfoot) and his house (run away, Gold, run away!), but I manage to keep up and am awarded a pair of Running Shoes for my troubles. A little button depicting a pair of shoes appears on the touch screen, and I if I press it then I run instead of walk by default; if I turn it off I continue to walk unless I hold down the B Button. I decide to leave it on for now; it takes a little time for me to adjust, since I normally take my finger off of the B Button when I go to enter a door or interact with something and can't do that now so I overshoot things, but overall it's pretty convenient.
I pop into the Pokémon Center to get Njord cleaned up and watch as he hops onto the counter to be healed. It's cute when he does it, but I bet Nurse Joy just loves it when people let their Gyarados or Tyranitar jump up there like that. Njord doesn't reappear after he's been healed, but if I take a step I can see his poké ball hit the ground and release him with a ring of sparkles. We talk to a few people, check out the center's new upper level (which is on the same map as the main floor as opposed to going up the stairs and entering a different "room"), and then continue on our way to Mr. Pokémon's house. The child molester stops me and gives me a Map Card as well; the map function is pretty cool, with the top screen providing details on the location you've highlighted and the bottom screen offering a zoom function and a little "memo folder" that lets you assign up to four little icons and words from the game's vocabulary to any location you like.
The man in the first house I encounter on Route 30 gives me an apricorn case, and so now I can pick the apricorn in the tree just outside. I give it a good shake and it disgorges the fruit at its top, conveniently spitting it right into my little case. Outside of Mr. Pokémon's house I can see another tree, this one with purple apricorns instead of light green, so it seems you can tell which kind it is at a glance.
Mr. Pokémon gives me the Mystery Egg and Prof. Oak examines Njord and gives me a Pokédex and his phone number; I can call him if I want him to evaluate my Pokémon-catching progress, a feature you'd normally need a computer to use. I play with the ‘dex a bit before leaving. It's got a cover that you can actually slide open and shut with the stylus, and the nice, clean new grid layout; just putting the cursor on the Pokémon displays its entry on the top screen, and the buttons at the bottom allow you to do things like check the locations, see height/weight comparisons, hear the cry, etc.. I haven't seen enough to really justify any use of the search function, but it looks like it has a few more options than the usual searches do. I can't tell if it's possible to do the alphabetical/Kanto/Johto sorting, though—it may be, but I don't know which option it is. I do know that when you confirm your search criteria, the little poké ball on the top screen opens and reveals a Slowpoke that grins and waves its arms around. Aww.
I head outside and get the phone call from Elm, so I rush back to deal with whatever crisis the jittery little man can't fix himself. I run into the red-haired kid on the way there, and he challenges me to a battle (complete with his own VS. graphic, even) with the Chikorita he stole from Elm. Said Chikorita uses Growl almost exclusively and Njord is level 9 at this point, so it doesn't take too long to get rid of the stupid little thing; the kid then walks away, but then returns a second later and says something else. No idea what, really, so I pay him no mind and head to New Bark Town.
A police officer interrogates me when I get back to Elm's lab, and Kotone and her Marill burst in to add something to the conversation. When I'm asked to tell the officer the thief's name I enter "Kamon"—I'd've prefered Silver, but that's six letters long and won't fit—and then everyone leaves, I show Elm the mystery egg, I go home to start my account with the First National Bank of Mom and then prepare to hit Violet City and challenge Falkner. Kotone and Marill meet me out on Route 29 and take me to the edge of the grass, where they proceed to do some bizarre dance that involves hopping in place and playing leapfrog. Apparently this strange ritual must be performed before setting out if one wishes to capture Pokémon, because shortly after they finish a Rattata (clearly offended by their poor interpretive dance skills, if you ask me) jumps out and tries to maul Kotone. Whatever the Rattata's opinion might be, the gods are pleased with Kotone's offering and they lock the little rat in the poké ball she throws at it. The Rattata's insolent criticism thus cut short, she and Marill leave me with five poké balls and wishes of good luck as I attempt to dance the mystical dance of Pokémon catching for the first time; Njord and I manage to stuff our own Rattata (a female named Kiley, whom I will be keeping with me for a while) into a ball without prancing about and ululating or whatever else she did, however, so we'll probably just try our luck without it.
I catch a few more Pokémon, all without dancing, as I head for the city, making brief pit stops at Cherrygrove's Pokémart to buy more balls (the shop menu also uses the large-button interface in lieu of the old lists) and the Pokémon Center (to shove everything that isn't Njord or Kiley into the PC, which is really cool and even has drag-and-drop withdrawing, depositing and rearranging abilities). I sneak into Dark Cave near the top of Route 31 for just a second, hoping to spot a Dunsparce; I don't find any, unfortunately, but I do see the first of the transition images that they've brought back from FRLG. Pretty nice. I also collect phone numbers from a youngster and a bug catcher; the youngster (Joey, I think his English name is) manages to call me while I'm in the cave. I guess Silph is using a 3G network if I can get reception in a place called "Dark Cave". Interestingly, I don't answer the phone automatically as I did when Elm called—instead the little icon on the touch screen starts jumping and Joey's name appears in a bubble next to it. I have to actually tap the icon to take the call, and I have the option to go click something else on the menu instead; when I do that, the phone stops ringing. So apparently you can more or less screen calls now. Cool.
It's quite late—maybe one in the morning or so?—when I enter Violet City (Kotone is in the gatehouse connecting it to Route 31 and gives me the VS. Recorder). This is partially because a small piece inexplicably broke off of my DS, and when I tried to put it back on the tube of super glue squirted and got toxic uber-adhesive all over my fingers. I spent the better part of forty-five minutes scrubbing at my hands with nail polish remover and an emery board. But! Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night, nor faulty tubes of super glue, nor pieces randomly falling off of my DS, will stay me from playing HeartGold. Even if the piece falls off again the next morning and now I can't find it after all of that hell it put me through. Ahem. Anyway, so it's dark in Violet City. Yeah. The lantern-lamppost things actually have flickering halos around them, which is pretty cool. I wander around town for a little while, grab the Rock Smash HM from a man near the currently immovable Sudowoodo, talk to that Earl guy who runs the Violet Trainer's School—did you know that if you stand directly in front of him when you talk to him and he starts twirling, it looks like his head is spinning around on his shoulders? I feel like maybe I should've called an exorcist—and check out Route 32 even though I know I can't go there until I beat Falkner. To my surprise there's a patch of grass that I can reach, and it has, among other things, Mareep in it. Funny, given Falkner's rant about Electric-types I figured they'd keep it the way it was before, with the Route 32 grass and its electric sheep out of reach until you'd already beaten him, but I'm not complaining—I grab a little female named Lambo (am I dazzling you with my originality yet?) and then head to Sprout Tower to get in some training before the gym.
The small pond that was in Violet City in GSC is now a much larger body of water that requires two bridges to cross, and Sprout Tower is on the other side. Before I enter, the camera pans up so that I can see the top of the tower. The transition image has a little Gastly in it that you'd miss if you didn't look closely, and I thought that was cute. Anyway, I make my way to the top, my Pokémon smashing the tar out of several fragile little Bellsprout as they go with the creaking of the moving pillar in the background. It's really no different than GSC's Tower, I guess, although I was amused by the fact that Gold has an actual ladder-climbing animation now. I defeat Sage Li and get the Flash TM without incident and then catch my own Gastly, Faust. I may or may not use Faust as a part of my team, but I do have a job for him. I put him in the PC, save the game and soft-reset it—I'm going to give him a whirl in the Pokéwalker.
Connecting to the Walker is fiddly from time to time, but after a bit of a struggle I finally manage to transfer Faust in. I don't exactly have anywhere to walk at 1:30 AM, but I'll make do with shaking it up for now. When I've earned enough Watts (the Walker's currency—also, be aware that this isn't the same as the number of steps you walk, but you get one Watt for every X steps. I don't know what X is, though) I try the PokéRadar a few times, and I manage to catch a female Nidoran that I transfer in. I'd wanted a male, but eh, if I can't find one I'll just get it ingame. The Nidoran is level 5 and she's registered to me, but when I bring her back in I'm not given the chance to nickname her. I guess that has to wait until I get to the name rater in Goldenrod. Faust also grows a level, but I'm sort of losing interest in him so he can just stay in the Walker until he catches me a Kangaskhan.
I don't feel like dealing with the Ruins of Alph right now and will get to those in the second chapter, so all that's really left to do is battle Falkner. The gym is much larger—taller, specifically, although you wouldn't know it from the outside so I'm slightly confused—than it was in GSC, and you need to take an elevator to reach the trainers. A wooden walkway shaped like a dollar sign ($) leads to the birdkeepers and Falkner, although if you are a pansy or have a deep-seated hatred of experience points and money there's a transparent path that goes around the underlings. Gold is no money-hating pansy, of course, and so I battle and defeat the two gym trainers. All three of my team members are level 11 at this point, so I figure that's as good as it's going to get without grinding and challenge the man himself, who sits on a platform in the back surrounded by huge picture windows through which I see a cloudy night sky. (Are those even windows? Maybe there isn't any glass there at all, I can't really tell.)
Falkner sends out his Pidgey after I have some time to admire his VS thinger and animation. The Pidgey is now level 9 instead of level 7, but this apparently matters very little to Kiley—one good Quick Attack and she crits it into oblivion. Njord comes out next to do battle with Falkner's Pidgeotto, now level 13 and significantly less pathetic. It is so significantly less pathetic, in fact, that Njord struggles and I have to call him back in favor of Lambo. This is when it starts to get really annoying. Pidgeotto uses Roost to get rid of the minimal damage Njord was able to do before I switched him out, which results in Lambo's Thundershock doing trifling damage thanks to the added "loss of Flying-type" effect. And then it uses Roost again. And then it uses Roost again. And then it uses Roost again. And then I cry. I actually have to sit there and run it out of Roosts before Lambo can cause it any real harm, but she eventually pulls through and knocks it out. Falkner hands over the Zephyr Badge and TM 51 (Roost, of course), and with that I'm ready to leave.
Elm calls me when I leave Falkner's gym—damn, I can't ignore his calls D:—and I head to the Pokémon Center to pick up the Togepi egg from his assistant. The assistant isn't there, however. Turns out he's in the Pokémart now, so I've got to head there. There's also a man in a red uniform standing by the counter. He looks like those green-suited guys who give you Mystery Gifts and whatnot in DP, but aside from maybe an item from the PokéWalker I don't think I've downloaded anything. It looks like he gave me a super potion or something, eh.
This has gone on for long enough, so I'll stop here and close with my team thus far:
Gold's Posse (sans egg):
|Njord (M)||Kiley (F)||Lambo (F)|
|L12, Naughty, Torrent||L11, Lax, Run Away||L11, Adamant, Static|
Well, I've got more training to do, some ruins to crawl through and a Bugsy to step on, so I'll see you when I've finished all that!
Huh, this was longer than I thought it'd be. Ah, well, there's a lot to cover at the beginning what with all the fancy new toys. The PokéWalker details, in particular, are probably just going to bog this down, so I won't go into a lot more depth about that other than "oh, I caught a blah in the Walker so I'm going to blah with it"; if anyone is really interested in hearing more about it and what I think of it/do with it, though, I can make another post later specifically dedicated to it.