Pokémon Crystal was the third title of the second generation titles by Game Freak originally released in year 2000 (Japan) and 2001 (North America and Europe). Like Pokémon Yellow before it, it largely followed the same structure and content established in its predecessor games, Pokémon Gold and Silver. What are the new features and additions that set Pokémon Crystal apart, and why is it worth playing on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console?
Are you a boy, or a girl?
The classic question from a Professor is practically a meme for the Pokémon fandom. Pokémon Crystal was, however, the first main series Pokémon game to introduce the ability to play as a female. This may seem minor, but given a large chunk of Pokémon’s fanbase is female, and the game setup is all about your adventure, this is pretty significant.
The female protagonist you can choose to play as is called Kris, or Marina in the anime. This is the only game you can play as her in; in Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver she was replaced by Lyra, much to the surprise of many fans.
Pokémon Crystal is the first game with a story that depends much more on a Legendary Pokémon. As there’s no ‘third’ counterpart to Lugia and Ho-Oh akin to, say, Rayquaza, Giratina or Necrozma, we instead see Suicune fulfill that role. Therefore, the story did not focus on either Ho-Oh nor Lugia.
In Ecruteak City you are introduced to a new character called Eusine. His mission in life is to study Suicune; he’s really quite smitten by the beast. Throughout the game you encounter and battle Suicune in the overworld in a bit to impress it, with Eusine not far behind. After defeating eight Gyms you return to Ecruteak and have the chance to capture Suicune.
Like in Pokémon Gold and Silver, you can still capture both Lugia and Ho-Oh. An important thing to note is that both Lugia and Ho-Oh are at level 60, and with no move re-learner character in Pokémon Crystal, they are both stuck without their unique attacks, Aeroblast and Sacred Fire respectively. D’oh! You can also only capture them following beating the Elite Four, rather than being able to catch one beforehand. Ho-Oh furthermore requires catching all the Legendary Beasts beforehand!
The Battle Tower
The Battle Tower, which has been in various forms in all Pokémon games in one form or another (e.g. the Battle Tree) since, was first introduced in Pokémon Crystal. This challenge allowed you to take on teams in consecutive battles to earn stat-boosting prizes. It was a significant addition to the main game content, especially in the Japanese version, which allowed you to battle teams from other players in the country. Players had further reason to raise a team of competitive Pokémon.
As a neat addition, opposing trainers were sometimes members of the game development staff. Examples include “Guitarist” Masuda and “Bug Catcher” Tajiri.
This time-travelling onion-pixie with eyeliner is a Mythical Pokémon and hence usually only obtainable through events. It was more freely available in the original Pokémon Crystal… in the Japanese version. Luckily with the Virtual Console release, everyone will be able to catch one post-game, and transfer it to Pokémon Bank! This is not possible in the Pokémon Gold and Silver versions.
This is the first Celebi that can be caught as a Shiny legitimately as well! Check out the full details on how to get your Celebi (article coming shortly!).
More Shiny Pokémon
The Red Gyarados remains in the game, but Pokémon Crystal adds a chance at another Shiny Pokémon! When you get to the Day Care on Route 34, the old man there will offer to give you a free Pokémon Egg to hatch. There’s a ~14% chance that this particular Egg will contain a Shiny Pokémon!
Even if it’s not Shiny, it’s still a chance to add a neat Pokémon to your team. The hatched Pokémon will be one of the new ‘baby’ Pokémon: Pichu, Tyrogue, Smoochum, Elekid, Magby, Cleffa, or Iggybuff. They all have the attack Dizzy Punch.
Even more Pokémon can be caught compared to Pokémon Gold and Silver! Some are easy enough to find, such as Growlithe being available West of Violet City prior to taking on the first Gym. Others are rarer; for instance, you can encounter Phanpy on Route 46 or Teddiursa in Dark Cave early on unlike the earlier games, but they have a low encounter rate and can flee!
However, some Pokémon are now missing. You cannot catch any from the Mareep, Mankey, Vulpix, Girafarig or Remoraid lines in this game. A pity for fans of those Pokémon!
Lastly, a Dratini with Extreme Speed (or Extremespeed in Crystal) can be earned. A new quiz is added as part of the eighth Gym challenge; if you get all answers correct on the first attempt and return to the Dragon’s Den, you will be gifted with this Dratini. However, make a mistake and you will just receive a regular Dratini without a special move.
Animated Pokémon sprites
These are the first main series games that introduced animated sprites. Some are pretty neat or entertaining to see as well; Pidgey flaps its wings, Rattata wiggles its butt, and so forth. It’s a minor change but notable given Pokémon Crystal being the first in the series to implement the visual upgrade.
Ruins of Alph Expansion
The Ruins of Alph had additional puzzles and hidden rooms added. At the back of each of the four Chambers with slide puzzles a message would be displayed in Unown text (e.g. ‘FLASH’). Using the move Flash would open a secret passage to a couple rooms, with bonus items and further lore about Unown.
You’ll want to keep an Escape Rope in hand, have a Water Stone, and also catch Ho-Oh at some point.
Buena is a new character added to Goldenrod City. She hosts a new Radio show called Buena’s Password. Every night tune in to the in-game radio to hear the day’s password, then pop in to earn a point. Points can then be traded in for prizes, such as stat boosting items, Nuggets and Rare Candy.
Other minor improvements
There’s a bunch of other smaller changes, visually and otherwise. Here’s a sample:
- Location information appears when you enter a new place.
- Kurt can now craft multiple Poké Balls from Apricorns at once.
- Suicune, Entei and Raikou have a new Battle theme. Pokémon Crystal is the first game to give Legendary Pokémon a unique battle theme.
- Trainers that you can call now have additional dialogue that give them more distinct personalities. Some may also call you to give you free items such as the Evolution stones. Be sure to get the numbers of Gina (Route 34), Alan (Route 36), and Dana (Route 38) for Leaf, Fire, and Thunder Stones respectively.
- The Goldenrod Department Store has a rooftop level, which has sales at times.
- The first instance of a Move Tutor is seen; you can have Thunderbolt, Ice Beam or Flamethrower taught to your Pokémon for 4,000 Game Corner Coins on a Wednesday or Saturday in Goldenrod, postgame.
- New trainers can be battled.
Are you planning to buy Pokémon Crystal on the Virtual Console?
Edited by BadSheep, Jake and Soapy.