Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 vs. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver: Full Comparison

Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 vs. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver: Full Comparison

The Pokémon franchise has been regularly pumping out games since 1996. The series has been present for the grand majority of video game history. During that time, technology and graphics have continued to improve. The franchise has benefited from many of these upgrades, even making the switch to 3D graphics with 2013’s Pokémon X & Y. It went fully open-world with Pokémon Scarlet & Violet in 2022. But while new games in the series are still coming out at a prodigious rate, Game Freak also regularly takes the time to remake older entries. This gives the games a fresh coat of paint. It also adds new features and allows them to benefit from more modern game design tech. Today we’ll be looking at one such remake, Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver, and seeing how it stacks up to Black 2 and White 2, a rare direct sequel in the franchise.

An Overview

An in-game screenshot from Pokemon Black Version 2.

©Screenshot from Pokemon Black Version 2.

Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver came out in 2009 as remakes of the Generation 2 titles Pokémon Gold & Silver. They follow the same story as their original iterations. This allows fans who missed out on the original release a chance to experience the story. New players, however, can benefit from enhanced features that keep the games fresh. Meanwhile, Black 2 & White 2, released in 2012, are direct sequels to Pokémon Black & White. This is an unconventional direction for the franchise to take. The story takes place 2 years after the initial titles, mirroring the release schedule of the games themselves. While the region and the Pokémon populating it are largely the same in Black 2 & White 2, there are, again, several new additions to the formula.

Both titles are available exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Black 2 & White 2, released three years after HeartGold & SoulSilver, are arguably the more polished games. The core gameplay loop is essentially the same in both, however. The most noticeable difference between the two is the fact that Black 2 & White 2 have a completely different storyline from their games of origin. HeartGold & SoulSilver, meanwhile, simply retread the stories of the games they’re remaking, albeit with some minor changes.

Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver: Major Changes

An in-game screenshot from Pokémon HeartGold.

The story may be mostly the same, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some very major changes in Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver. One of the most noticeable changes is a feature that several other Pokémon games would emulate moving forward. In HeartGold & SoulSilver, every single Pokémon is capable of following you around. This is true of even the largest, most intimidating legendary creatures. However, certain buildings might not permit them due to their size. This feature doesn’t have especially significant gameplay ramifications, but it can be quite delightful to have your Pokémon companion following at your side. It’s a very immersive way to simulate living in a world where these creatures are an everyday part of life.

Multiple new locations have been added to the Johto region. Some of these, like the Battle Tower, return from Pokémon Crystal, the expanded version of Pokémon Gold & Silver. Other locations have been tweaked to give players new secrets to uncover. Various gyms have new puzzles and enemies to fight, for example. Another major change comes in how the player unlocks the game’s legendary mascot. The five Kimono Girls, who were once encountered in a single building, now have major roles in the story. Each one can be found somewhere on the game’s map, and each one has a favor for you to complete. Once you’ve finished their favors and battled each one, they will travel to the sight of your game’s mascot, either Ho-oh or Lugia, and perform a dance to summon the creature.

Pokémon Black 2 & White 2: Major Changes

An in-game screenshot from Pokémon Black 2.

Even though Black 2 & White 2 are sequels to the 2010 games, they’re pretty close to their origins. They take place in the same region and use the same map, but like HeartGold & SoulSilver before them, they do boast considerable changes. One of the most prominent is the introduction of a new mascot legendary to pose on the cover of the box. The intimidating Kyurem is a powerful legendary creature who you could encounter in the Giant Chasm in the original Black & White. It resides there still, but there’s a twist. By combining Kyurem with the legendary corresponding to your version of the game (either Reshiram or Zekrom) you can fuse the creature into an even more powerful form; either White Kyurem or Black Kyurem, depending on its counterpart. This transforming legendary creature plays a major role in the new storyline, but cannot be caught until the postgame.

The new plot of these sequels reintroduces the villainous Team Plasma, and high-ranking members like the Shadow Triad now plague you on your journey. You can also catch members of the Swords of Justice, a group of legendary Pokémon based on the Three Musketeers. While these creatures did appear in the original Black and White, you can find them even earlier in the sequels. As with HeartGold and SoulSilver, numerous new locations have been added, giving you even more new things to do as you re-familiarize yourself with the Unova region.

The Pokémon Situation

The sinister Kyruem hunts for Keldeo.
The sinister Kyruem hunts for Keldeo.

©OLM – License

Of course, with any Pokémon title, the most important part is the Pokémon themselves. Since they’re primarily remakes of earlier games, Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver do not feature any brand new Pokémon. However, the roster is still considerably expanded from previous entries. You can catch multiple legendary Pokémon from previous generations in-game now, as opposed to trading them in from earlier games. Regional starters from previous generations can also be obtained as rewards after you defeat Red. Version-exclusive Gen 1 Pokémon fossils can also be found at the Ruins of Alph. HeartGold players get Omanyte, while SoulSilver fans receive Kabuto. All told, the remake features a staggering 493 Pokémon for players to catch.

Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 technically have a leg up when it comes to new Pokémon since they feature Black and White Kyurem. As with HeartGold & SoulSilver, Black 2 & White 2 give you opportunities to catch many Pokémon from previous generations. This one also offers the chance to catch legendaries from other games. Beating the story also unlocks a variety of new locations where even more creatures from previous generations can be found. Zorua and Zoroark, who were previously limited to special Nintendo distribution events, can also now be encountered and caught without any special in-game requirements. Despite these expanded opportunities, Black 2 & White 2 do lag behind their counterparts, with a roster of just 301 Pokémon.

The Final Verdict

Lovable Grass-type starter Chikorita returns for HeartGold & SoulSilver.
Lovable Grass-type starter Chikorita returns for HeartGold & SoulSilver.

As with so many other aspects of the Pokémon world, it’s hard to say which of these games is objectively superior. Both revisit beloved regions of the Pokémon world and spice them up with new features, and both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Nostalgic fans will likely gravitate more toward HeartGold & SoulSilver. The original games have had considerably more time to earn love and admiration, and these remakes give newer fans a chance to experience the classics. Black & White certainly weren’t without their own fans, however; even though they were more recent, there’s bound to be plenty of players who want an opportunity to explore Unova once again. Of course, unlike HeartGold & SoulSilver, Black 2 & White 2 offer a brand new storyline. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on what you want out of the game.

Black 2 & White 2’s newer story content is offset by its smaller Pokémon roster when compared to HeartGold & SoulSilver, though. Even though both entries rely largely on previous generations, the older games do have the advantage in numbers. Ultimately, however, the choice of which game to favor will likely come down to which generation one enjoys. Since they’re both available on the DS, fans are sure to gravitate to whichever entry has their favorite creatures. With a host of new features and changes to keep even seasoned veterans guessing, both games are more than capable of entertaining any Pokémon fan.

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