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Why are HGSS held up as pinnacles of main series Pokemon games?


Champion of the Zora
As per per the title really, I have always noticed that HGSS have always been seen as aspirational touchstones for any Pokemon main series game and are generally viewed by many as the pinnacle of main series games. Even though they're not that old, legit copies are hard/expensive to come by. I wanted to invite discussion as to why this might be, or if you disagree that they are held in such high regard at all?


Johto Champion
First, I’ll note that holding HGSS in particularly high regard is actually less popular now than it once was. As time passes, fans move in and out of online engagement with the series, and we’ve recently seen an influx of younger fans who view the fifth generation as the pinnacle of the series, in many spaces. One such place would be the Pokémon subreddit. I’ve seen a lot of discourse surrounding the fourth generation lately that’s explicitly negative; for HGSS, this particularly centers around the alleged sins of the weird level curve in mid-to-late Johto and the fact that HMs were still expected to traverse the region.

Nonetheless, I think there’s still a huge portion of the fanbase who do view HGSS very favorably, and indeed many who view them as the best games in the series as you mention. As for why they have that reputation in the first place…

I think it all comes down to length and quantity of content, in the end. HGSS have a relatively average main story, as far as the time it takes one to get from the start to being the champion. But beyond that, they have an entire second region to explore, complete with a full set of Gym Leaders, a couple side-quest style tasks to complete, and plenty of Pokémon to catch that you can’t find in the first region. That’s what you’ll see held up as HGSS’s greatest accomplishment most of the time, that they technically have the most extensive post-game experience of any game in the franchise. In addition to Kanto, you also open up the Battle Frontier, where trainers can spend hundreds of hours trying to beat each facility’s Brain, one of the most heralded post-game experiences in Pokémon (though I know many people prefer the original Emerald Frontier). Simply put, the sheer amount of things you can do even after beating the Elite Four and Lance is nearly unparalleled within the series so far. I would personally estimate that only Black 2 and White 2, so far, have enough to do when you’re “done” with the game to even compare to HGSS, barring perhaps Galar should one choose to preserve both DLC locations until after the final battle with Leon.

Beyond that, I think that they retain a significant amount of the charm that a lot of people feel has been lost along the way as Pokémon has evolved, for various reasons. Part of this is because they aren’t particularly pretentious in their treatment of Legendary Pokémon; you’re not going out to take down a titan that will flood the world, or stop the evil team of the moment from destroying this universe to make way for his own. Nobody’s city gets frozen, there’s no possession by Ultra Beasts, there’s no terrible ancient weapon to contend with. That’s not to say any of those things is bad, but rather that HGSS just don’t try as hard to raise the stakes, and that’s an experience that can be enjoyable as well. They’re a little closer to the pure experience of being a trainer trying to overcome two sets of Gym Leaders, a Pokémon League, a rival with an attitude problem, and a legendary trainer hidden away at the peak of a mountain - you just happen to get sucked into helping out with the dying flails of Team Rocket as well. Along the way, you may also encounter the mysterious and powerful legends of the Johto region. It’s a mellower experience, and one that I think lends itself to nostalgic memories of Pokémon battles rather than one that demands your deeper engagement with the plot. Further, agency is entirely given to the player; you’re the one doing all this because you want to, not because you’re being herded around by adult characters who tease at interesting happenings but then tell you to go away while they handle it.

The rival I mentioned is also an important point. Many people think that Silver is the way a rival should be - less friendly, more antagonistic, though I think a lot of people still prefer the classic Blue attitude. That’s one of several things that HGSS do right that a lot of people feel is not done right in recent games. The antagonistic rival; the presence of mildly complex dungeons; regions you can explore with relative freedom of choice instead of forced linear progression; the “difficulty” of many of the Gym Leaders and E4; an appealing visual style free of obvious aesthetic flaws or technical limitation issues like pop-in; the lack of a forced Experience Share; these things and more are small points in the games’ favor for those looking backward from the current games.

Finally, a significant amount of their status is rooted in nostalgia. I take issue with those that would imply that the only reason they’re so respected is nostalgia, as there’s certainly a number of newer fans who mistakenly make that argument. But the truth of the matter is that it is a factor, and clouds even my own judgment of the games. Gold and Silver were hugely popular; HGSS capitalized on the childhood memories of many, many players who remain engaged with the series, and were even the first games for some fans themselves. Nostalgia is a powerful, reality-bending kind of force - it can make simply good experiences feel perfect just because you’re comfortable being in a place where everything feels familiar and right.

TL;DR: There’s a lot to do in HGSS, they do a lot of things right that people think aren’t done right these days, and nostalgia is one hell of a drug.

Hopefully this is helpful to inspire thought and maybe even a little discussion, coming from someone who enjoys these two games more than virtually any other video games bar one or two other standout titles.


For starters, the walking Pokemon aspect was generally well-received and it's one of the features that HG/SS is most known for. There was also a lot of improvements in these games compared to G/S/C, including the addition of the Jouto Safari Zone, the inclusion of the Platinum Battle Frontier, the Pokethlon, and the Pokewalker. While I wasn't necessarily a fan of some of those features [finding rare Pokemon in the Jouto Safari Zone was dependent on having the right block placements and took too much time, while the Pokewalker took too long to gain watts and had a short battery life], I do think that HG/SS had a lot of replay value because of those features, as well as the fact that two regions could be explored.

Bolt the Cat

Bringing the Thunder
I see various opinions on which game is considered the best, but most people I encounter (especially online) tend to point to one of the DS games, and if you extend it to a Top 5 list, you'll probably see some or all of them pop up on a lot of peoples' lists. The third versions and remakes from that era (Platinum, HGSS, BW2) are especially praised. So the first part of this is the approach the DS games took towards designing the games. The DS games seem to have especially emphasized aspects such as gameplay, region/map design, and extra content that make them very polished experiences that could be enjoyed for long periods of times, especially compared to the games that came before and after it. The older games were just finding their footing and were rough in certain aspects, whereas the 3DS and Switch games have put an emphasis on appealing to casual players and adapting to 3D graphics and open world gameplay so much of what's made the DS games' design and content so beloved has started to disappear. So that era of the series in general is often thought of as the golden age, when the games were high quality experiences with few flaws.

Now as for HGSS in particular, another part of the equation is its source material, as even before the remake there were a lot of fans that regarded the original GSC as the best games in the series. A large part of this is because it's the only game that takes place in 2 regions, making it in one sense the largest game in the series. I would personally contest that notion because Kanto and Johto are both relatively smaller regions and it's more like having two half-regions instead of one full region, but there's an undeniable appeal to "hey, just when you thought you were done, there's a whole new region to explore". Beyond that, it had the largest regional dex up until BW2 including all 1st and 2nd gen Pokemon, and many familiar characters from 1st gen. In that sense, it was a perfect sense of old and new, and showed RBY 3 years later which is something no other game aside from BW2 has done.

The thing is with HGSS, is that it isn't just GSC, because they added so much to the game that makes it that content-rich, near-flawless experience that defines the DS era as a whole. They added the ability for any Pokemon to follow you, expanding on Yellow having Pikachu follow you around to any Pokemon in the game and allowing you to bond with them in a way that you never could before. They added the Pokeathlon, which were a fun set of minigames to serve as a nice alternative to battling. They imported the Battle Frontier from Platinum to expand on Crystal's Battle Tower. Many of the areas GSC cut from Kanto were added back. They made use of some of GSC's features such as the Radio, Headbutt, and Bug Catching Contest to add some 3rd and 4th gen Pokemon. There is so much more here than the originals and unlike certain games (*coughoras*) they included just about everything from Crystal, so these games are by far the definitive way to experience Johto. You could really tell that they were trying to make this game as good as it could possibly be.

Personally, I think Platinum the best, but HGSS is a close second, and I wouldn't argue with anyone who likes BW2 the best either. They're just on a completely different level from so many other games.


Well-Known Member
Features that made you get more attached to your pokémon (walking pkmn), good side activities that you could do aside from battling (pokéathlon), an accessory that motivated you to do physical exercise (pokéwalker), lots of content (2 regions, 16 gym leaders and etc...) and actual challenging battles (like Whitney, Clair, BF, Red...).

The only thing i wish they did better was the storyline but it is not bad, it's just too simple. At least we had some character development from Silver, which is not something that was common with older pkmn games.

Captain Jigglypuff

Leader of Jigglypuff Army
I think it’s due to the content of the games plus the Poké Walker that makes them the most popular of the remakes. You have two regions, tons of rematches with Gym Leaders, Pokéathalon, the entire BF from Pt, and the Radio gear being able to attract Pokémon from other regions to the area where you are. The drastic level curve was also adjusted so it wouldn’t be so out of place and Whitney’s Miltank is a bit easier to take out since you can trade over a strong Fighting type from DPPt and Scrappy allowed Miltank to hit Ghost types but they weren’t super effective.
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Black and White, Yin and Yang, Light and Dark.
The content is what makes them popular, I mean, it's hard to not like challenging 16 gym leaders and travelling to two regions back and forth along with all of the post Gen2 crap that was all stuffed in and having the Gen 4 pokedex too.

And HGSS isn't really considered the pinnacle of the franchise nowadays, Gen 5 is seen as that instead and post-Gen 5 was seen as the decline of the quality of the games which is.... quite truthful really.

Bolt the Cat

Bringing the Thunder
And HGSS isn't really considered the pinnacle of the franchise nowadays, Gen 5 is seen as that instead and post-Gen 5 was seen as the decline of the quality of the games which is.... quite truthful really.

By who? I never liked BW, a lot of what people complain about with the 3D games (linear areas, lower difficulty, constantly getting barraged by NPCs holding your hand) started with BW. BW2 was really good because it reverted some of the things BW did wrong and added a ton of content, but other than that I would actually say 5th gen was the beginning of the decline, not 6th gen. I would still put 4th gen as the pinnacle of the series (although I prefer Platinum over HGSS, but HGSS is still #2).


They were great games with almost every single feature you could want from remakes. The only thing I didn't like about them was the GB Sounds because GF recreated the old music from scratch instead of transferring those tunes over in their original form.

Shiny Venusaur

Internet Relic
They were great games with almost every single feature you could want from remakes. The only thing I didn't like about them was the GB Sounds because GF recreated the old music from scratch instead of transferring those tunes over in their original form.
"Despite the fact that the old-style tracks are supposed to sound like the original tracks from Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, none of them sound exactly like the originals. This is due to the way chiptunes are handled on the Nintendo DS. The capabilities of the PSG found in the DS line is limited compared to the one found in the Game Boy line. The DS PSG has fixed square wave and noise channels like the Game Boy PSG, but lacks the crucial 4-bit wavetable synthesis channel, which renders the DS incapable of generating the variety of different waveforms the Game Boy could. This meant that parts played using the 4-bit wavetable synthesis channel in the original tracks were approximated using square waves, leading some parts to sound vastly different. In addition, some tracks had their tempos altered somewhat and other notes in various tracks are not even heard at all." -Sourced from Bulbapedia

Unfortunately, there's a reason for that the GB Sounds not being perfect.

As per the topic at hand, I think Sαpphire really hit the nail on the head. There's a level of nostalgia at play for sure, but it's also the time where the community felt most alive and engaged positively. The DS era is great all throughout. The series feels like it really found it's footing and was comfortable and confident in the changes and directions taken. I won't repeat what has already been said so I'll leave with this idea; playing these games (especially at the time of release) gives you a feeling the newer games don't seem to give. I'm unsure if it's the sprite work vs 3D models, map design, or what exactly, but the DS era has an atmosphere around it that just exudes character. HGSS is like a warm sweater on a cold day; a comfortable friend.


crystal dreams
HGSS has the best dex IMO. Nostalgia probably plays the biggest role. I remember Christmas day those 20 some years ago. I got a copy of Gold and my neighbor got Silver. We played the hell out of those games for what seemed like months.


Sticky & Sweet
They are not. Mystery dungeon explorers of sky is where the series peaked.
The OP was obviously talking about the main games not side games. Plus EOS was basically Explorers of Time and Darkness with only like 5% new material...

HGSS were loved for being the best remakes we had had at the time. They added so much cool stuff that Game Freak for some reason got rid of in future games.


The amount of content the game has, pretty much. I'm 15 hours into my playthrough of Soil Silver and have only just reached Morty (4th gym leader). 15 hours in BW and I would be at the Elite Four or further.

Don't get me wrong, I like BW - but SoulSilver encourages you to play at a slower pace, to spend time figuring out what strategies to use against the gym leaders', has a ton of minigames if you ever get bored of battling, and actually encourages you to travel back to earlier areas in order to complete NPC quests or to explore previously inaccessible dungeons.


Well-Known Member
They aren't my absolute favourite video games of the franchise, but surely up there. To start with, they're wonderful remakes that updated almost everything appearing in the two original generations for the better: graphics, colours, characters, locations, etc... Do you remember, for example, how Viridian Forest looked like in G/S? It was limited to just one road of trees.
I did however dislike a few things in HG/SS and the Mt. Silver is one of them because of the HM spam needed in order to climb it.


Well-Known Member
They exceeded my expectations. I admit I thought Game Freak would cut out Kanto but they kept it and made great changes like keeping the Seafoam Islands and Cerulean Cave completely intact unlike in G/S/C.

Also the Pokeathlon was real fun and we got to see some Platinum version stuff like the Battle Frontier and Wi-Fi Plaza in HG/SS.


Well-Known Member
HGSS are just awesome games, second to only BW2 for me. They have so much varied content. Not only did we get to explore Johto and Kanto, but also got a time skip for Kanto. It was fun seeing how things changed, like Lavender Town becoming more peaceful, Cinnabar Island getting destroyed, Blue being the final leader, etc. There were a lot of legendaries to catch in the post game, especially with special events, which were scripted events instead of just handing you the legendary on mystery gift like they do nowadays. Take Sinjoh ruins as an example

Also unlike most remakes nowadays they are definitive improvements over the original, they didn’t cut any corners or do anything worse than GSC. The story is relatively weak stakes wise, but Red is such an iconic final boss so it still feels epic. While the level curve can be a hassle and gym leaders had weird trainer rosters at first (barely using Johto mons) these games deserve the praise they get imo