Platform: Game Boy Color | Release Date: 2001 (English)
All new Pokémon games are exciting and Pokémon Crystal was no exception. The series was much younger at the time, but Crystal offered some promising improvements over its predecessors Pokémon Gold & Silver and even had some features that never made it out of Japan!
Why it was great
Female Pokémon Trainers around the world jumped for joy when details about the game were released. They no longer had to put up with the male protagonist of the series and could adventure as the girl Kris in Pokémon Crystal. It was a great touch and the feature became a staple of every Pokémon in the main series since.
Pokémon Crystal also introduced a number of new features which appealed to competitive players. Previously Pokémon were limited to moves that they could learn either by leveling up or through the use of a Technical or Hidden Machine (TM or HM). In Crystal, however, fans could now access Move Tutors which offered new combinations of Pokémon and attacks to use during battles. Many of the “third” games of the main series have also held this idea over and usually introduce brand new strategy combinations at the end of a generation. Crystal also debuted the punishing Battle Tower which offered challenging matches to seasoned veterans.
The game also brought new life to the 251 Pokémon that existed at the time (a far cry from our current 720 monsters). It was the first to use animated sprites, although they only briefly moved when being faced in a battle. A trainer’s own Pokémon retained their static back sprites and it wouldn’t be for a few more years that they got the same animation treatment.
Western gamers didn’t even get all the features Crystal introduced, however. A number of them were scrapped when the game was translated to English, including a Global Trade Station-like feature which let you deposit a Pokémon and request one in exchange! Japanese Crystal players also got the chance to capture Celebi by using the mysterious GS Ball.
Pokémon Crystal was the first Pokémon game I owned (after jealously watching my friends play since Red & Blue) and it remains one of my all time favorite titles from the series. The sprites in particular have excellent animations and hold up to the test of time, unlike Emerald’s ill-fated bouncing and stretching.
The game also introduced many series staples, such as gender, Move Tutors, the Battle Tower, and more, which make it an important game in Pokémon’s history. Also, it has to be said that the cartridge color is also the coolest to be released so far. A great shame that modern Pokémon games don’t have such fanciful colored plastic anymore.