Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver are remembered as some of the best games Game Freak had to offer, largely due to the many quality of life improvements it made on the original Pokemon Gold and Silver.
Since the Generation II games were released on the Nintendo eShop some years ago, many fans have been tempted to play the originals. They should not take for granted, however, the improvements added to HeartGold and SoulSilver so that players would not have to endure certain hardships. As with any remake, they had the benefit of knowing what didn’t work with the original, and while Pokemon Gold and Silver are great games, they were limited by the technology of the time. Anyone who wants to play the original Generation II games should definitely keep these changes in mind.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the opinion of the writer.
The differences between Pokemon Gold and Silver and HeartGold and SoulSilver
#1 - The Physical/Special Split
One big difference between Pokemon Gold and Silver and their remakes was the introduction of the physical/special split. Back in Generation II, the type of a move was what determined whether or not a move was physical or special.
This means that some of the strongest Pokemon in HeartGold and SoulSilver weren’t viable in the original games. Gyarados is a prime example. This Pokemon is well known for having a super high Attack stat, but in Generation II, most of Gyarados’ moveset (Waterfall, Bite, Twister, etc.) were special moves. This meant that, in order to use Gyarados’ great attack stat, players would have to use Thrash or Strength.
#2 - New Features
HeartGold and SoulSilver also introduced many new features that eased gameplay. The Pokeathalon served as both a source of fun minigames and a way to earn evolutionary stones early. Some Pokemon get Generation IV evolutions too, such as Mamoswine and Togekiss.
Certain characters also get fleshed out more in the remakes. The Kimono Girls play a part in getting the item necessary for summoning either Ho-oh or Lugia. Team Rocket members also get more names and personalities. At the Goldenrod Radio Tower in Generation IV, Proton, Petrel, Ariana and Archer were the Team Rocket bosses. Who did players play in Generation II? Well, they had to battle Team Rocket Executive, followed by Team Rocket Executive, then Team Rocket Executive before entering the final battle with Team Rocket Executive.
#3 - Different TMs
Another benefit brought with HeartGold and SoulSilver was access to technical machines from Diamond and Pearl. In Gold and Silver, many of the technical machines rewarded for beating Gym Leaders were very lacking. In the remakes, Faulkner gives Roost after being defeated. In the originals, he offered Mud Slap; a 20 base power move.There are other examples of this in Generation IV, like Bugsy giving U-Turn instead of Fury Cutter and Pryce giving Hail instead of Icy Wind.
#4 - Elite Four Rematches
Perhaps the biggest turmoil to overcome for those who play Pokemon Gold and Silver for the first time is the post game. Going through Kanto can be a very fun stroll down memory lane, but most of the trainers there are incredibly underleveled. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, though, players can rematch the Elite Four who have stronger Pokemon.
In the originals, the Elite Four stay at the same level, even after the player gets all Kanto badges. Where this becomes problematic is that an Elite Four rematch is usually the last thing a player can do before facing against Red on Mt. Silver. In fact, players can keep rechallenging the Elite Four until they are sufficiently leveled up for Red's Pokemon. Gold and Silver players do not get this benefit. They are usually forced to face Red with a severely underleveled team.
#5 - Safari Zone
The other big improvement that came with HeartGold and SouldSilver was the Safari Zone. This was really helpful to trainers who wanted to catch certain coveted Pokemon earlier than before, like Larvitar. In Gold and Silver, the only way to catch Larvitar was at Mt. Silver. This area is only accessible at the end of the game when all 18 badges are acquired. This meant that if any player wanted a Tyranitar, they would have to grind up to level 55, and they could only use it in one battle versus Red.