Pokémon Gold and Silver are the true sequels to Red and Blue, and although it looks like they don't offer anything different, Gold and Silver have plenty of gameplay to keep you coming back for more. They're addictive Game Boy Color games, what more could you want? Aside from the fact that several Pokémon that are in Gold are not in Silver and vice versa, the games are the same.
Pokémon Silver's plot is essentially that of all the others: travel across the world, beginning as an amateur Pokémon trainer, with the goal to one day become a master Pokémon trainer. How does one achieve this, you ask? Well, since the game starts in the new land of Johto, there are eight new badges to collect. To get badges, you travel to different towns across this new land and visit those towns' respective Pokémon gyms. There you are pit against the best of the best, and if you prove your worth by defeating these master trainers, a badge signifying your victory is given to you.
After traveling all over Johto and collecting all eight badges, you'd think the game would be over, right? Well, Pokémon Gold and Silver take you to the old continent from Red/Blue/Yellow, where you must get all eight badges, the final gym leader being a familiar face from some Game Boy game and anime show.
The plot isn't deep or convoluted, nor are there any major plot twists. It's just fun to adventure with the goal of collecting all 250 Pokémon and all 16 badges. It's nothing deep, and it's far from original (basically the same plot as previous Pokémon games) but it's somehow enjoyable. The plot isn't what keeps you playing Pokémon, but it's certainly not detrimental in any way.
The player isn't Ash anymore. Now, after all the moans and groans are let out, let me tell you whom you play as this time: a rugged young man (in the same vein as Ash) named…Silver! Well, that's the default name for Pokémon Silver anyways (and Gold for Pokémon Gold), but you can change that.
There really isn't any character development in this game. Just like in the previous games, you meet up with your "rival" every so often in the game, who seems to treat Pokémon harshly and only sees them as a means of gaining power. That's about the deepest you'll see in this game…but it is a Game Boy game, and Pokémon isn't an RPG dedicated to complex, deep characterization.
Again, this isn't why you play the game, but these characters won't be forgotten - the backwards cap of Silver will always be in the back of the player's mind (who can forget that look?) and the Id-like (Xenogears) look to your rival is nice. But, as for personality, well…there is none. The main character just wants to adventure and collect as many Pokémon as possible to be the best trainer ever. That's enough for this game, as odd as it sounds.
It's amazing how almost everything in Pokémon Gold and Silver is the same as things were in Blue/Red/Yellow, but they manage to be better. The music is basically the same as the previous games', but the quality is a tad better. The battle theme is a remix of the original, as are most of the other themes in the game. You'll even hear familiar themes when you get back to the original continent later in the game. Some new songs are there, and they're not in any way bad. In fact, there's really no "bad" song in the game, just standard Game Boy bleeping and blipping music. It'll get stuck in your head, but it's not groundbreaking material.
The sound effects are also similar to the original, but there are now a few more and they're somewhat clearer (maybe it's just me). This is a good showing for Game Boy Color mono sound.
Pokémon Gold and Silver have the same basic gameplay premise as the originals: capture Pokémon and collect all the badges (there happen to be 16 in Gold and Silver). By challenging other trainers and wandering through dungeons, you can acquire new Pokémon and gain experience.
Thankfully, the game is more rewarding that Blue/Red/Yellow, and it's not just a mindless level-building romp. You don't need to level your Pokémon up fifteen times to beat a certain boss; the game is easier and that's what it needed. Battles are basically the same, but with better graphics, where you pit one of the six Pokémon you can carry against another Pokémon in hopes to beat or capture it with Pokéballs.
There are now male and female Pokémon, so you can not only catch but breed new Pokémon as well. With 250 different Pokémon, you'll be there for some time trying to "catch 'em all"! Gym battles reward you with badges that give you special abilities. It's fun and addictive and will most certainly eat up most of your free time. Sometimes, all you need is a little simplicity…
The graphics in Pokémon Gold and Silver are definitely a step up from the previous games. On a Game Boy Color, the vibrant colors of each area add to the game's atmosphere. Pokémon Gold and Silver don't take full advantage of the Game Boy Color's processing power because Nintendo made the games playable on the older Game Boy as well (good move, more profits). While there are better looking Game Boy Color games, Pokémon Gold and Silver are nice to look at, with colorful locales and detailed Pokémon in battle. The game isn't as pretty on a regular Game Boy, but it's an improvement over the original.
The text in Pokémon is quite funny. I don't know if it's due to the localization, but when trainers come up to you to do battle, they say the dumbest things sometimes. You can look at it both ways and not like that, but I think those dumb lines only made the game more memorable and put a small smile on my face when I played. Since the game isn't really text heavy, not much effort was needed in the localization, but the plot flows smoothly with decent grammar and spelling.
The control in the games is much like the first, with digital pad four-way movement. There really aren't any control issues, since they never impede the gameplay. As I stated earlier, it's nowhere near as frustrating and difficult as its predecessor(s), and that's a good thing.
Overall, Pokémon Gold and Silver are very good games and are well worth the money. The game can last as long as you like, but if you're out just to get all 16 badges, it'll last around 45 hours. That's really good for a Game Boy title, and even after that time, you may want to go back just to relive some of that Pokémon magic. It seems, however, that people either love or hate Pokémon; so if you didn't like the first games or hate the series, don't bother picking this one up.