I was curious to see ONM's countdown of the top-rated DS games this week which featured two Pokemon games in the top ten: Pokemon HeartGold and Soul Silver plus Pokemon Black and White. With Black and White just behind New Super Mario Bros at number two, I am wondering if Generation V is the golden generation? Will we look back upon this generation of games as the best of the best, or will it fade away like the Game Boy Advance games?
I think there's two generations of games that stand head and shoulders above the others: Generation II (the Game Boy Color games: Gold, Silver, and Crystal) and generation V: Black and White and their sequels.
Let's begin with Generation II. While the original games were great fun and incredible achievements for the time, the second generation managed to squeeze in a whole new region and more Pokemon, plus the story was greatly improved. It was a shockingly large game, and given the amount of content stored in those cartridges, was incredible value for money.
Moving on to Generation V, Black and White were also incredibly important as they took the Pokemon formula and gave it an interesting twist - effectively wiping the history of the series for the main story, and starting from scratch. For so long the games had been building upon their predecessors, but the new games were treated like whole new entities.
With a new Unova Dex, a really engrossing story (arguably for the first time), and a great region to explore, Black and White really were a new starting point and allowed the developers to cull a lot of the bloated aspects of the games from previous generations.
I know many will argue that the first generation should be favoured as it was the starting point and the third generation seems to have an awful lot of love. But frankly I think that the second generation was miles ahead of the original set of games and the third generation is miles behind every other generation.
But the real question is: is this the golden age? I think there are arguments for both.
I think the second generation is wonderful due to its simplicity. Before EVs, IVs, before soft resetting and manic breeding, the second generation were the last games before a lot of the competitive tactics came into play. Instead, they just improved upon everything that had come before them. Both regions could be rendered in full colour, and in Crystal the sprites began to move, which was a gigantic leap at the time. With sixteen gym leaders to beat, and tons to explore, it was just huge.
Black and White 2, on the other hand, act as a culmination of all of the previous Pokemon games - they perfect everything that has come before, trimming out the fat to leave gamers with a pure and perfected Pokemon experience. They also have the additional benefit of being able to use new technology: between the Entralink, WiFi connection, infrared, a more powerful graphics engine, and the ability to transfer from older games, they do feel like a culmination of what has made the previous games great.
I think that whether Black and White will be seen as the golden generation largely depends on what comes next. If Game Freak moves away from the traditional sprite-based or turn-based battle gameplay, I think Black and White will be remembered as the ultimate traditional games. If similar games follow them, however, I think that they'll be seen as just another generation, and they could be overlooked.
I can't choose between Generation II and V so it's over to you: What do you think is the best Pokemon generation? I've added a little poll for you so you can cast your vote but please do leave the reason for your pick in the comments below.