Of all the Pokemon games released, I think Gold and Silver were by far the best. The freedom it offered and the smooth leveling arc, coupled with some cool new Pokemon and mechanics made it a perfect mix.
There were a few stumbling blocks, and I will say the middle Gyms were a little overpowering due to their proximity to each other. The lack of trainers and strong wild Pokemon between Gyms made badges four through six a grind for me. Still, I think Gold and Silver were the best in the series, and that opinion stands.
Here’s my breakdown of the starters in Gold and Silver.
Reversal of fortunes
In Red and Blue, the easy starter was a Grass type, the okay starter a Water type, the challenge stater Fire. In Gold and Silver, the roles are reversed. The first two gyms are strong against grass, the third a barrier few trainers overcome on their first go around. While powerful Grass and Fire types are still somewhat rare in Generation II, their numbers have increased. All told, there are 22 Fire types and 24 Grass (not including Celebi). Combined, Grass and Fire still don’t add up to the amount of Water types: a whopping fifty total species.
While Totodile and its evolutions are still viable Pokemon, the large number of Water types in the game makes choosing him something of a redundancy. In addition, there are several new Water dual-types that outclass Totodile in both statistics and utility. Of these, Kingdra and Slowking are the most powerful. While they are trade-dependent evolutions, the reward outweighs the annoyance of finding another human being to swap virtual pets with.* Plus, it’s nice to have a new Dragon type beyond the Dratini line, and Slowbro never really made me want a Slowpoke beyond filling a PokeDex slot.
Cyndaquil starts, Ampharos finishes
Statistically the weakest of the starters by up to 9 points, Cyndaquil makes up the deficit with Speed and Special Attack. In battle, Pokemon or not, if you deliver the first blow you’re already at an advantage. While the late game sees him fall in usefulness, the first two Gyms are easy if you went with Fire. You’ll find, however, that picking up a Mareep and taking it to Ampharos will serve you well in Gold and Silver. Even if he can’t do super effective damage against some of the Leader Pokemon, he can do enough to win the day. Especially against Lance and the Dragon/Flying dual types. I credit my success at the Indigo Plateau more to the humble sheep than to the fire breathing rodent.
Falkner: If you’re playing the original Gold and Silver games, Falkner presents more of a problem than his HeartGold/SoulSilver self. In the originals, both his Pidgey and Pidgeotto know Mud Slap, a Ground attack that will make Cyndaquil’s life a filthy hell. Both Pokemon are drastically underleveled in the originals to account for the type advantages conferred against two of the starters. In the reboots, Pidgey should pose no problem, and beyond Falkner spamming Pidgeotto’s Roost in place of Potions, the battle should be fairly simple.
Bugsy: The only real threat in Bugsy’s roster is his Scyther, which he starts with in the reboots. Fury Cutter is almost useless against Cyndaquil, but a lucky critical hit from Focus Energy/Quick Attack can pose a problem. You should have picked up at least a Mareep on Route 32, and possibly a Ghastly from Sprout Tower. Use them to soften Scyther up a bit, and once he’s out of the way, let Metapod and Kakuna burn.
Whitney: Since you’re on the internet reading a Pokemon article, you probably know about Whitney’s Miltank. With Rollout and Milk Drink in her arsenal, even Cyndaquil (now Quilava) is at risk. You can power-level him in the fields to the north and south of Goldenrod, pick up a Machop for super effective attacks, and paralyze the cow with Mareep/Flaaffy. Not even Ghastly/Haunter is immune, so even having all the right cards doesn’t guarantee victory on the first go. Whitney is a grind to defeat, but with a powerful Quilava and a Machop to soften her up a bit, she should fall.
Morty: I don’t find Morty as annoying as Whitney, simply because his Gengar ends the battle so quickly. You likely won’t have leveled much between the fight with Whitney and the battle with the Ghosts, so my best advice is to clear out his Gym trainers and save the Leader fight for later. Go west and clear out Route 38. Try going through Mt. Mortar and buffing up your team there. If you haven’t picked up a serviceable Ground type, do so. If you’ve the ability, trade your Kadabra to Alakazam. Go as far as Olivine and clear the Lighthouse. Gengar will still be faster than most of your team, but you’ll be in a much better position than when Morty was initially available to you.
Chuck: Yes, Cianwood’s gym is Fighting based, but you’ll find they don’t use too many actual Fighting moves. One trainer uses a Hitmonchan with all three typed punching moves. Chuck’s Primeape knows Rock Slide in the reboots, making Quilava something of a poor choice. His Poliwrath is even more threatening, knowing Surf and Hypnosis. If you can, get rid of the Primape quickly using whatever means you have. When the Poliwrath comes out, hit hard with Psychic attacks, using your Flying moves if your Kadabra/Alakazam faints. Chuck will use a Hyper Potion after you do enough damage, so try to force him to use it on Primeape. Quilava should be a last resort or a delay Pokemon in this battle, but if you can win with him, good on you.
Jasmine: Finally, back to something Fire can kill. Steel-type, new in the original Gold and Silver, are quick to fall to a flame. Do your best to avoid getting Quilava paralyzed by the Magnemites, and soften up Steelix with some Water moves, as he’s got a metric-crap ton of HP to spare. Ground attacks are also good, and Ground Types hold up well to all of his attacks. Beware of Iron Tail if you’re running a Rock-Ground dual-type, as it will usually one-hit-KO a poorly leveled Rock type. Jasmine shouldn’t pose a problem so long as you take Steelix for the threat he is.
Pryce: Truth be told, I think Ampharos is more useful against Pryce than Quilava/Typhlosion is. While Piloswine is immune to Electricity, his Seel and Dewgong are HP tanks, and both know Rest and an attack while sleeping move. If you haven’t evolved your Flaaffy to Ampharos yet, I urge you to do so, as Thunderpunch will make quick work of the two seal Pokemon, and you can use either Water or Fire on Piloswine.
Claire: Few Pokemon in the Gold and Silver games have more utility than Ampharos, I find. He’s a tank with good HP and defense stats. He can paralyze almost anything, and he isn’t limited to just electric attacks. Dragons have innate resistance to Electricity, but Ampharos’s high Special Attack will still do plenty of damage. Even Claire’s Kingdra is vulnerable, having the Water dual-type, leaving him open to a few good Thunders. Her Gyarados is a joke against Electricity, and if you picked up a Lapras in Union Cave (which you should always do), her Dragonaires won’t pose too much of a challenge. Beware of Dragon Pulse spam, which can KO your strongest Pokemon, and Hyper Beam can always be trouble. Use discretion and patience, and you ought to do fine.
Pokemon League Breakdown
Will: The Elite Four as a whole are something of a cinch with Typhlosion. Will uses two Pokemon with weaknesses to Fire: Jynx and Exeggutor. Xatu doesn’t have any inherent resistance to Fire, and its Special Defense isn’t stellar. Save your best Fire attacks for later, and KO Slowbro with your Ampharos. Will should be a breeze on the first go around.
Koga: Fire wins again against Koga. His first two Pokemon, Ariados and Venomth, are Bug types. His Forretress is Bug/Steel, making him a one hit KO to almost anything Fire related. Muk is a Psychic type’s bitch, though beware of his high Attack and HP stats. Crobat would pose a problem with its high Speed and Attack, but you have Ampharos and/or Lapras and/or something that can take on Flying types. All else fails, hit the bat with some Psychic, and you’ll be golden.
Bruno: Why Game Freak insists on putting Bruno in these games is beyond me. Even third in the Elite Four, he’s a pushover. Typhlosion can take out his Hitmon-team, and Onix is one Surf away from fainting. Machamp can be an issue, as he counters both Fire and Flying with Rock Slide. Psychic’s good here too, though a lucky hit will probably KO your low defense Psychic type. If you have to, pull out the ringer: Ampharos.
Karen: As the first real annoyance of the Four, I can’t say Karen was anywhere close to as frustrating to fight as Whitney or Morty. Umbreon’s high Special Defense and HP make taking it down a chore. Murkrow and Vileblume are cake, and beware of Gengar’s Destiny Bond. Use a throwaway Pokemon when it comes time to take down the Ghost. Houndoom is the only real issue in Karen’s lineup. After two Nasty Plots, his good Special Attack goes through the roof. Take him down with Water, Fighting, and Rock before he can get some good licks in.
Lance: I won’t lie. Lance is a bear to beat unless you’re prepared. His first Dragonite, Aerodactyl, and his Charizard can do serious damage to your Lapras. Gyarados has never been an issue, and I found that paralyzing every one of his Pokemon is a must. Cyndaquil can’t do much against the Dragons unless you’ve taught him Rock Slide (which you should). If you have, then all three Dragonites and the Charizard are at your mercy. If Typhlosion goes down, which he might, fall back on Ampharos, and use Lapras as a delay Pokemon to get some others on your team up on their feet.
Next time, I’ll finish covering the Gold and Silver starters. After that, expect a Minecraft article discussing my house and its construction. I’ll also have a Pokemon Basics article detailing my approach to raising, breeding, and team construction.