It’s almost a sure thing with each new Pokemon generation that comes and goes: after about a year, an alternative version will be released with a few tweaks and adjustments. Nothing major, just enough to get you to fork out your hard earned Pokedollars to nab what is essentially the same game once more. We’re all suckers, obviously – but we’re suckers with a cute Pikachu that follows us around, so it’s probably worth it.
Generation 2 may have been the most ambitious evolution in the series, completely balancing the broken mechanics from the original games, adding two new types, and even allowing us to revisit Kanto once more. Because of the enormity of this leap, it would be a tall order for Pokemon Crystal to make an impact. Overall, it may have been forgotten in the series’ echelons, but it peppered several small nuances that have since become standard, many of which we probably didn’t even realize premiered on the humble sparkly cartridge. With the game set to triumphantly release on the 3DS virtual console, it seems an appropriate time to herald its finer details.
Our leadoff is an obvious one, a long-awaited move that made the titles more inclusive. Pokemon Crystal introduced us to Kris, a peppy young trainer with a name devoid of creativity, and the series’ first female protagonist. Of course, the choice is purely an aesthetic one, but it allowed an eager generation of girls to finally feel like they were the trainer on-screen. It’s hard to quantify now, but back in the peak of the franchise’s popularity, there was this engrossing notion that these were your adventures, your Pokemon, your life. Prior to Kris, female players would have to add the caveat that it was ‘them during their phase when they were actually a boy.’
Considering the lead character’s silent nature, it is rather surprising that this hadn’t been a feature in Gold and Silver prior to this. After all, the Pokemon at your disposal now had their own genders, yet you were perpetually oozing machismo? In modern entries, you can even alter your trainer’s appearance, allowing even more of a sense of familiarity. Personally, I was hoping that I could make mine into an octogenarian from some unspecified region of South America, but alas, it was not to be. Fingers crossed for gen 8, then.