Sunday - July 12th, 2009 @ 6 AM PST -  By: Water Pokémon Master

Today was a lucky and unlucky day. HeartGold and SoulSilver demos are available at Battle Tours occurring across Japan, and today it was in Hiroshima at a department store called Jusco – the same day we were going on a field trip to Hiroshima! After our group went to the A-Bomb Museum, I took a detour to the store and started to record the demo I was playing. Staff members kept coming up to me and saying “picture… picture…,” but I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say (I was like, “Oh, you want a picture?”). After I finished, they followed me to the escalator and asked me for my camera. I showed them my photos of the museum and they were like o_O and let me go. I figured at that point that they didn’t want anyone taking photos or video of the demos, and later I found a sign in the corner of one of my photos saying exactly that. Then the big letdown! When I checked my videos, there was only a 2-second clip… either I accidentally hit the record button twice, stopping the recording, or the staff members used black magic to erase the video. Either way… fail. :(

This is all going from my memory, meaning I might have forgotten some details or made some errors. When you first start the demo, you see the full-blown intro to HeartGold or SoulSilver. First, the Gamefreak logo appears as usual. Then, Ho-Oh or Lugia are flying toward the screen in 2D animation from far-off. Lugia is flying in front of a night sky and Ho-Oh in front of a sunset. Several scenes from the game are then shown, such as the part with the autumn-colored trees. It was all Johto scenes – none from Kanto. They were from a different angle than normal gameplay, like the opening scenes from DPt. Following those shots, you see your rival’s face appear in a similar fashion to Cyrus in Platinum‘s intro. The face is exactly like Ken Sugimori’s artwork, with the dark red hair and all. Then, there is a cut-scene of about five Team Rocket members, some with pink hair, and some as silhouettes. I can’t remember if Giovanni was among them, but if he was, he would have definitely been one of the silhouettes. After that, you see the 3D Ho-Oh or Lugia shots on the bottom of your screen.

When the demo begins (for SoulSilver), you are out on a route with a Pikachu behind you. One of Professor Elm’s lab assistants walks up to you and hands you an item, which I think was probably the PokeDex. A Totodile is also on your team. Other Pokemon available in the demos (going by what was in the PokeDexes) are Steelix, Lapras, Snubull, Cyndaquil, and Chikorita. I liked the sprites for all of them; Steelix definitely had a new one, but I can’t remember if Lapras did. If it did, the sprite was very similar to this generation’s games. You can battle two twins on the route, but I forgot what they had. When you start a battle, the Pokemon that you have out with you will not emerge from a Poke Ball for obvious reasons. The remixed battle music sounded like the original but also felt new.

As all the advertisements have shown, the entire menu interface has completely changed. It has changed so much that I didn’t even know how to navigate it (because it was not like a traditional Pokemon game’s menu and I couldn’t read all the Japanese). When you hit the X button, an arrow pops up on the top screen pointing to the bottom screen, meaning “look below, stupid!” When you select your Bag, the top screen changes to a 3D view of your character with his or her bag, and when you select different parts, the character rotates and the specific part is highlighted. Additionally, the PokeDex seems to have increased searching options, though I couldn’t read what they were. Everything involves the touch screen now.

Other than the above, there wasn’t much else notable about the demos. I was in a rush when I was at the store because I was late to return back to my group, so I couldn’t get deeper into the games beyond the above. It would have been nice to have a video recording to double-check all my facts, but unfortunately that did not happen.

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