Despite launching over a decade ago, Nintendo’s Pokémon series is still one of the hottest handheld properties in the industry.
The 2007 Diamond and Pearl editions stand as the fastest-selling instalments in the franchise, and hype is building as hints that a new generation of games are emerging. So it’s clear that the Pokémania of the late ‘90s is still very much alive today.
Cue Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the latest monster-catching releases that are set to ensnare a world of DS gamers once more. While not entirely new entries in the series, the two games stand to best sales of previous releases thanks to the popularity of their source material.
The titles are remastered editions of the hugely popular Pokémon Gold and Silver, originally released for the Game Boy Colour way back in 2001.
The DS versions introduce new generations of gamers to two of the defining entries in the series, and fans can now experience their favourite critter-hunting adventure in a new way.
Based on the timeless appeal of the original games, Nintendo is expecting strong sales from HeartGold and SoulSilver and with scores of unique new additions (see ‘The Pokéwhat?’), the platform holder plans to grow the series audience more than every before.
“We hope these titles, new to Nintendo DS, will not only appeal to existing fans, but will remind lapsed fans of the original versions and encourage new users to experience the thrill of Pokémon for the first time,” says Nintendo marketing assitant Vanisha Kavia.
“We hope to broaden the series’ appeal to a wider audience than previous Pokémon titles that have launched in recent years. The addition of the PokéWalker and a return to the Johto region provide two exciting elements unique to Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver on DS.”
The game takes place in the popular Johto region of the Pokémon world and harks back to a time when there were only 250 of the buggers to catch.
Once again, players explore the local area while battling fellow trainers, gym leaders and wild Pokémon, attempting to capture the latter in order to expand their collection.
The world of Gold and Silver is now presented in the pseudo-3D engine that powered Diamond and Pearl, with the various touch screen enhancements brought by the DS making the game more accessible than ever.
In an endearing touch, players can even select one of their Pokémon to emerge from their ball and follow the trainer around on-screen – a feature not seen since 2000’s Pikachu-themed Pokémon Yellow.
“The beloved Johto region has not been available in a Pokémon game since Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver were launched in 2001,” says Kavia.
“This is also the very first time players can visit this region on their Nintendo DS, which introduces several new enhancements that enrich these timeless adventures.
“Players can now see and interact with their favourite Pokémon outside of battle as they travel once more through the Johto region.”
While avid Pokémon enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting for this release, Nintendo is working hard to spread word of the new releases among the entire fanbase. It has also targeted the long-tail marketing campaign at new consumers that may not have experienced Gold or Silver first time around, or have missed Pokémon games released since.
Kavia says: “Our marketing activity will kick off during the two weeks leading up to the launch of Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver with online and TV support building pre-launch awareness amongst existing fans.
“There will be further TV and online support from launch through to the end of April that will be targeted at lapsed fans and those that have never played Pokémon games before. There is also extensive POS support across both phases of activity to ensure that our retail partners have everything that they need to drive awareness of the launch.”
As an added incentive, both Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver will come bundled with a unique peripheral: the PokéWalker.
This device, which looks like the series’ famous Pokéballs, clips onto the gamer’s belt and works as a pedometer. However, the Pokéwalker does more than count the user’s steps – it also converts that data into in-game experience points.
“The addition of the PokéWalker accessory will allow the player to interact with their Pokémon beyond the realm of the main game itself,” says Nintendo marketing assistant Vanisha Kavia.
“It allows you to transfer any one of your Pokémon from one of the two games to the PokéWalker and thus continuing the adventure in the real world where you can build up the strength of your Pokémon as you walk, discover new items and even connect with your friends and receive gifts.”
It’s a neat touch that Pokémon fans are certain to embrace and adds more value to the two remakes, making the re-release of Gold and Silver that little bit more special.