Pokémon HeartGold and I will always have a special bond. It was the first Pokémon game I ever played, and to be entirely honest, I went in with no idea what to expect or what on earth I was doing.

Everything I learned about type strengths and weaknesses was through a painstaking, entirely scientific process of trial-and-error (but mostly error).

I went on to play Pokémon games obsessively, learning all the strengths and weaknesses as they evolved with the different game versions. Fairy threw me for a loop, and mega evolutions were something different altogether, but I learned them.

There was always something I thought was missing, though.

 

My favourite feature from HeartGold

I remember getting excited about Moon because I had heard it was going to be the first game since HeartGold and SoulSilver that let trainers walk around with Pokémon à la Ash’s Pikachu. I had absolutely loved that feature; in fact, it’s what made me fall in love with Dragonite. My little Blake had followed me loyally everywhere, dancing happily and generally being a derp.

The trouble is that while Moon was technically coded to have that feature, for whatever reason, it hadn’t followed through.

So, I decided after I’d finished it that I would take a trip down memory lane and replay my first game.

 

Rediscovering HeartGold

It had been years since I’d played HeartGold, which is plenty of time for someone who has a terrible memory anyway to forget the finer details.

Of course, by this I mean the graphics (because that’s definitely not the biggest part of the game or anything). I don’t think I had really thought about how far the graphics have come in those games; it was like looking back on a kid you haven’t seen in a few years who’s gone from waist height to towering over you. Goodness, it was a throwback.

That initial shock dissipated pretty quickly when my Cyndaquil started trailing me like the happy little derp he was. Life was good.

Then, it was time to set out on my journey. In the newer games, you can run whenever you want—but in this one, you have a long, slow journey of walking from the first town and through the tour of the second town before you can get your gosh-darn running shoes.

But I got them, and then it was time to hit the road running.

 

Changing things up

There isn’t a whole lot of variation in which Pokémon you get for the first little stretch of the game, up until you get to Goldenrod City. I had a few staples on my list: the Togepi you get from the professor, a Mareep, and a Wooper.

The one thing I did do differently was to get ahead by getting my dear Dragonite well before the end of the game. See, I hadn’t known about Dragonite until the last town the first time around, but late-game HeartGold had taught me the true power of a high-level dragon-type Pokémon. And although you can’t catch them until you get to the last gym in the Johto region, there is another option: gambling your time away with Mr. Game’s Voltorb Flip.

Let me just say, I love this guy about as much as I like Kadala. Which is not a whole lot. But he will trade you a Dratini for 10,000 coins, if you can avoid rage-throwing your DS that long.

I am a very stubborn person, so I got my Dratini before I took on Whitney’s gym. That was lucky, because the Dratini I got was female, which meant it would be immune to Whitney’s rotten old Miltank.

Now, my little team of Thor the Flaaffy, Tony the Quilava, Pepper the Togepi, Wanda the Wooper, and Gamora the Dratini are fresh out of their win against the Miltank and on their way to glory, but we’ll need another teammate before that.

Maybe Steve the Lapras?

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