At what point did Pokefever grip you?

Were you a Pokefan from the very beginning? Maybe you picked it up around the time mothers starting asking what 'Pokemans' were and dads were pretending not to care, but secretly playing it at work.

Whether you cared for it or not, Pokemon was everywhere, and Pokemon Gold and Silver were arguably the pinnacle of the madness.

The second in the saga, the twin act expanded on all that made Red/Blue so addictive, doubling the size of the adventure and adding just over 100 new creatures to the Pokemon roster.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver brings that original magic from 2001 for a bit of plastic surgery - but this is a lot more than a simple niptuck.

Return to Johto

Along with a complete graphical rehaul, injecting the partially-3D environments of the latest Pokemon DS release into the worlds of Johto and Kanto, dramatic changes and additions make the original Game Boy version difficult to spot.

If you haven't played Gold or Silver since the early noughties, this re-imagining will most likely feel like an entirely new experience.

Pokemon gyms have been given a complete revamp, with brand new layouts and puzzles; The Goldenrod Game Corner has new touchscreen games to gamble away your coins on; Several new buildings have popped up across the land, including the Pokethlon Dome, in which your Pokemon compete in touchscreen minigames for gold medals.

The new minigames are a mixed bag, ranging from repeatedly hammering your screen to make Pokemon dash to victory, to tactical tapping in takes on football and the like. For the most part, a welcome addition to the action.

The top screen displays the main action, while down below a new interface allows for selecting special items and abilities easily. Gone are the days of sifting through menus to find your Pokegear et al, as they're now available at the tap of a screen.

No need to repeatedly remove and replace the stylus, though - every option on the touchscreen is still accessible via the DS buttons.

In fact, if you'd rather not get touchy feely at all, almost the entire game can be controlled via the buttons, bar exceptions such as the aforementioned Pokethlon minigames.

Putting your heart and soul into it

Other noteable additions include your lead Pokemon following you around, lovely static images as you enter each new area, and your mother constantly calling to let you know she's bought even more crap with your hard-earned cash.

The ability to migrate Pokemon from the Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed and LeafGreen editions is also a big plus for anyone who's spent a decent amount of time nurturing critters on an old copy.

Of course, there's also the Pokewalker, but we'll get back to that later.

So there's tons of new stuff to see, but does it retain that unique, addictive quality that once caused us to wittle many hours away?

While the Pokemon titles of recent times have failed to emulate what once made the series so great, take a bow, HeartGold and SoulSilver - you're back on top form.

The original formula has aged remarkably well and works just as gloriously now as it did nearly ten years ago. Exploring the realms of Johto initially feels a little slow-paced, but once the main action gets going, you'll be throwing Pokeballs like there's no tomorrow.

I didn't, however, find myself so interested in attempting to "catch 'em all". Instead, I opted to only bag the Pokemon I deemed squad material. It would appear that a decade of Pokemon collecting has taken its toll on me, and my heart just wasn't into bagging them all again.

Still, this did not bring the main adventure down one jolt. Quite simply, Nintendo has brought a whole new meaning to the term 'spruced-up', putting so much of the recent DS games library to shame.


Let's stroll on to the Pokewalker, then. The Pokewalker is essentially a pedometer bundled with the game, in the shape of a flattened Pokeball, with a black-and-white LCD screen and three round buttons.

Pokemon can be transferred from the game to the Pokewalker via infrared, and then each step taken whilst carrying the device adds to the little guy's experience. Each 20 real-life steps equates to 1 Watt, which can be used to play a couple of different minigames on the Pokewalker.

The first is a simple, cut-down version of battling. Players first search in grass for a Pokemon to battle, then use the three buttons to attack, evade or throw a Pokeball. Any Pokemon caught can then be transferred to the game. It's definitely a nice thought, but at the same time, entirely pointless and not worth bothering with.

The other game is The Dowsing Machine, which is essentially searching through tall grass for items. That's right, scavenging through dirt looking for stuff people have accidently dropped or thrown away.

I tried it many times, and didn't find a single useful item. Another pointless, tedious time-waster, then. If it sounds like I was deeply unimpressed with the Pokewalker, you'd be right on the money. It feels like a booby prize needlessly tacked on to something far greater than it.

So the Pokewalker gets our thumbs down, but let me reassured you - this takes nothing away from the main spectacle.

HeartGold and SoulSilver have taken our beloved original and done the unthinkable - made it even better. After 30 hours of play, I was still enthralled, lost in the Pokemon world.

If you're looking for the definitive version of Pokemon, look no further.