Video Game Review:
By Steven Pryor
Developer: Game Freak
Platform: 3DS eShop (Originally Released on Game Boy Color)
ESRB Rating: E
My Rating: *****/5
After seventeen years since its initial release on Game Boy Color, “Pokémon Crystal” has been released on the 3DS eShop. Coming off the success of the Virtual Console releases of “Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow” in 2016 and “Pokémon Gold and Silver” in 2017, the game remains one of the strongest entries in the long-running “Pokémon” franchise and the definitive version of the journey in the Johto region.
The game, originally released in the United States in 2001; is the third installment of the games from Generation II, taking place in the same fictional universe as “Pokémon Gold and Silver” while also containing gameplay refinements and new features that would become commonplace in all future installments. Notably, the game introduced animated sprites for the Pokémon as well as the first female player character in the franchise. It also expands the lore of the franchise with new sidequests unique to this installment.
This installment also retains the features that made the previous installments of Generation II so engaging. Much like the original “Gold and Silver,” the core gameplay cemented the franchise’s status of being easy to pick up and play, but tough to truly master. In addition to clashing with an underground faction of Team Rocket and an abrasive redheaded rival, the game also contains an area of challenges known as the “Battle Tower” for trainers to test their skill in. The graphics are colorful and bright, having held up incredibly well since the game’s initial release in 2001. The 3DS release can also allow people to trade and battle wirelessly with other players, as well as transfer their monsters to newer games via the “Pokémon Bank” software application.
Overall, “Pokémon Crystal” remains an experience that became the standard for future installments and is one of the best games the series has to offer. Though much has changed since the game was first released, it retains its appeal to both old and new fans in the same vein as fellow Nintendo series such as “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda” and “Metroid.” It has stood the test of time and is a great way for fans to relive their favorite experiences, as well as perfect for new players to check it out for the first time. The Virtual Console release is highly recommended for newcomers and true believers alike.