It’s one of the greatest moments in gaming when Kanto was discovered in ‘Pokemon Gold & Silver.
It’s been 22 years since Pokemon Gold & Silver was released. This iconic line of dialogue has remained ingrained as one of the great moments in gaming.
I don’t know how popular the inclusion of a second area in the original Pokemon sequels was before the release of Silver. As an eight-year-old, I don’t think I knew about including a second region in the original Pokemon sequels. The most amazing thing about the sudden appearance on the Kanto shores was that it effectively doubled the size, scope and adventure of an already great game. It was my first “oh shit” moment in gaming and one I will always treasure.
I thought I had seen all that the Johto region had, which was a lot. I explored old ruins and dusty graves. I climbed to the tops of the tallest towers and took in the views of sprawling cities. I was happy to accept my six Pokemon, eight gym badges, beat The Elite Four, and get credit for my role. Nintendo and Game Freak had different ideas.
Just a few feet from where I began my Johto adventure, I surf to the right to find a lot more games… It was goosebumps-inducing stuff. This was Kanto, and it wasn’t just a random location without any history or meaning. This was where many of our Pokemon stories began just a few short years ago. It was a feeling of weight to return there for the final battle. It was important. You didn’t even know what Kanto was. It was an entirely new area for you to explore.
The way Silverslowly teases Kanto out is as inspiring as its inclusion. It is a difficult and strenuous stretch with strong trainers that leads to the Indigo Plateau, where the Elite Four will be facing. It’s Kanto. But it tells it Kanto. However, it seems like Pokemon Red and Blue. Just as you are about to become the new Champion, you start to wonder if your visit to Kanto was just a brief stopover for nostalgia’s sake. You can explore the entire region, from Pallet Town to Celadon City, just like you remember. You could say more.
In my opinion, Kanto in Gold & Silver is still the best post-game content of any Pokemon game. You can now get eight new badges by completing some extremely difficult battles. New towns and routes are available, as well as new Pokemon to be spotted. The term “new” is used for Gold & Silver. Game Freak didn’t just recycle Kanto as it was in Blue but also took care to make the world feel like it had changed from two years ago.
The reason for this was partly because the area needed to be reduced from a practical perspective, but it still gave the impression that you had dropped back into a world that continued without you when your Blue copy was put down. Many of the new gym leaders were there, and some returning characters had gone through complete emotional arcs between games. It was smart, and it gave Gold and Silver that extra sense of grandeur.
Amazingly, it happened. Game Freak had difficulty fitting the Johto region with its new Pokemon onto the Game Boy Colour cartridge. Satoru Iwata, a former Nintendo president and gaming icon, stepped in and compressed Silverso efficiently that there was no room for another region.
It is a tribute to Game Freak and Iwata that Kanto appears in Gold & Silver. He also feels completely relevant to the experience. This is so much more than just a nostalgic tour that Arceus has sewed on at the end. We’d still be impressed. It’s an end-of-the-line test of skill, a race around the globe that will push you and all your Pokemon to their limits. It all culminates with the most iconic battle of the series: an epic mountaintop confrontation with Red, the protagonist from the original games.
Since our first visit to Johto, Pokemon games have evolved, improved, and innovated in many exciting ways. In terms of sheer ambition, scale? It’s because of one legendary return trip to Kanto that Pokemon Gold & Silver remain unmatched.