20 Memories of #Pokemon20 – Day 4: Second is just Gold

In celebration of #Pokemon20, we share the experience of one who enjoyed the second generation game, Pokémon Gold.

The 20th anniversary of Pokémon draws near – it’s now only 15 days away! Continuing our celebration of the 20th anniversary, the “Ask PC” column shares the significant memories of The PokéCommunity‘s Pokémon fans! This time we present this entry from Imperator161 who reflects upon his adventures in the second generation game, Pokémon Gold.

I received Gold as a birthday gift from a friend. At the time, it was brand new and quite difficult to find, and consequently, I was the first of my friends to own it. I had put a couple hundred hours into Red, training my Blastoise to level 100 and exploring all that Kanto had to offer (with the exception of completing my Pokedex), and I was ready for a new, hopefully glitch-free adventure. I fired up my GameBoy Pocket, started the game, and picked Totodile as my starter, cementing my preference for beginning my adventures with water types.

Having the world of Gold, Silver and Crystal change time with us added to the immersion.
Having the world of Gold, Silver and Crystal change time with us added to the immersion.

Soon after, on that fateful Sunday night, I caught a Hoothoot, my first introduction to the day/night system and to the new Pokémon outside of the starters. I’m not sure how much I knew about the game before starting it, but I was surprised to discover that the clock kept time while I was away. I had assumed that it would resume where I left off, so when I came back the next day during daylight hours, I was amazed that the game had shifted from night to day all by itself.

I played through the main quest over the next few months, catching Pokémon, but never really training a team outside of Totodile (who I refused to evolve, because I thought Croconaw and Feraligatr were ugly). I didn’t have major issues with Whitney or any of the other gym leaders, but I got somewhat stuck on the ice puzzles on my way to Blackthorn, which slowed my progress until December or so (I started the game in October). Over New Year’s, a few family friends and I muddled through together, continuing to what I assumed was our eighth and final badge.

And some things just hadn't changed, like Snorlax's ability to get in your way.
And some things just hadn’t changed, like Snorlax’s ability to get in your way.

My Totodile struggled with the Elite Four at first, but eventually overcame the challenge. And then a phone call came, and next thing I knew, I was on my way to Kanto. I was disappointed by how short Kanto was, but I loved the return to my first region, and enjoyed seeing how the various cities had changed over the past three years. It added some degree of progression in the Pokémon world, just like my real life had changed.

At some point between the Elite Four and Mt. Silver, I filled out my team. I added a Quagsire, Pikachu, and Blastoise (imported all the way from a new file on my friend’s Blue version), and started to train my Hoothoot (my designated flyer). My team of five (Totodile, Quagsire, Noctowl, Pikachu, and Blastoise) stuck with me for the rest of my Gold days (with a sixth rotation spot for training).

I expected to struggle with Red, but ultimately found him far easier than I had anticipated. After that, I spent countless hours training my team and completing my Pokédex. At some point along the way, I transformed from a kid who had no real idea what I was doing to a more seasoned Pokémon veteran. Although my team was not exactly balanced, Gold got me started on breeding, learning about egg moves, and thinking more about teams than just about my starter.

He caught all the Pokémon and all he got was this diploma. Thanks, Professor Oak.
He caught all the Pokémon and all he got was this diploma. Thanks, Professor Oak.

I finished up my Pokédex, trained my team to level 100, and made each team member complete certain objectives I laid out (like beating the Elite Four on their own with no items–slamming multiple Onix to death with my Pikachu was more annoying than I expected).

I started playing Sapphire, and then LeafGreen (in addition to Silver, Crystal, and Yellow), before Gold ultimately succumbed in early August of 2006. I enjoyed the newer games, but something was lacking. No one talked about Pokémon at school anymore. There were no more family friends to solve puzzles with over holidays. I had one friend who still played Pokémon, but other than that, Pokémon in the post-Gold era was a lonely endeavor and guilty pleasure rather than a mainstream social hobby.

Fancier graphics. Wifi trading. Online Pokémon communities. More complicated plots. Hundreds of new Pokémon. Natures, physical/special split, new moves, new types, new kinds of battles, and so much more. Sure, Pokémon has changed a lot over the years, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy modern Pokémon games immensely. I do. But despite the thousands of hours clocked on newer games (around 470 and rising on X alone, at the moment), they don’t elicit the strong emotional response that Gold did. I first began Pokémon as a clueless trainer from Pallet, stumbling around Kanto with my Blastoise. But in my “reincarnation” as a kid from New Bark Town, where winds of a new beginning blow, I really spread my wings as a trainer and took flight. It’s been an incredible journey.

RIP Gold, 10/15/00 – 8/4/06

Cover image from
Edited by bobandbill, Dragon and Jake.