The Pokémon games have always had the strong benefit of being built on a reliable--albeit too safe--formula. That is why the series' games, at least the core, mainline ones, have all ranged from good to excellent. However, while they are all at least good games, there are clear stronger and clear weaker entries to the mainline games.
Now with Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver having reached the 20 year mark since release--the most innovative and bold of the games in the series--it is time to look at the strongest games in the mainline series so far: Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. Here are 10 reasons why HeartGold and SoulSilver are the best games in the series.
10 They're Built On A Strong Foundation
This is one of the key factors in determining why HeartGold and SoulSilver are the best of the best in the Pokémon franchise. First and foremost, HeartGold and SoulSilver are remakes. That doesn't demean their legitimacy or status as great games by any means, but it does help to make fans understand why they are so good.
Ultimately, they are so good because they are built on the foundation or groundwork established by the original Gold and Silver. If the games were a set of straight one-to-one remakes with just more species to collect, they would have at least been good games based just on that.
9 Many More Pokémon To Collect
The series of Pokémon always ultimately boil down to the different kinds of species of Pokémon you can collect, battle, and trade. And since that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were released during the fourth generation of the series--that being during the Sinnoh region--that means there are a total of 493 different species you can collect (that is 93 more than all of Sword and Shield, mind you).
This give the player a big variety of species to encounter throughout the games. Of course, this includes trading connectivity with other players, but it is still notable how many species are now available in just two games, especially for the years 2009 (Japan) and 2010.
8 The Battle Frontier
A fan favorite feature since its introduction in Pokémon Emerald all the way back in the years 2004 (Japan) and 2005 was the inclusion of the Battle Frontier. This added to the bulk of the post-game players could engage in after completing the main story, including defeating the Elite Four. In addition to this, it also scratched the difficulty itch for many fans.
The series, obviously, is first and foremost a series that is meant to attract and engage all ages. However, that doesn't mean that there should be Pokémon games that are bereft of any and all challenge. The Battle Frontier added more fun and more challenge to the overall experience, adding to the games' replay value. This was a welcome return for fans.
7 Traveling Back To Kanto
The ability to travel back to and journey through a previous region has to be the biggest fan-favorite feature of any Pokémon game and it has yet to make a return since HeartGold and SoulSilver. It then becomes easy to see why this probably has to be the most fan-requested feature to make a return.
It certainly added a big chunk to replay value and overall post-game content. HeartGold and SoulSilver, along with the original generation two games, are the only games to have this feature and have the ability to journey through a (once again) remade Kanto. This allowed you to see some familiar faces and collect eight more badges for a total of 16.
6 Gym Leader And Elite Four Rematches
Once again, this entry elaborates on how good the post game was in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. To many fans, having a good and healthy amount of post-game content is key to having a good overall experience with the video game series.
After battling the gym leaders and the Elite Four, you can go back and battle each of them again. While you have to meet some timing conditions to battle the gym leaders again, you can fight them featuring new and stronger teams than before. The same thing goes for the Elite Four starting in the second go around, minus the timing restrictions.
5 More Legendary Pokémon Events
Back in the older days of the mainline video game series, legendary species were not just handed to you over the Internet without any sort of mini campaign or story to go through. In this case, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were no exceptions. The games, of course, featured events to capture the three legendary beasts--Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, and the cover art legendaries, Ho-Oh and Lugia.
However, thanks to the expansive post-game and the fact that these games came out during the fourth generation when there were 493 species in existence, there were plenty of events to catch legendaries from past generations in the post game. This included a special event to get the mythical legendary Pokémon, Celebi.
4 More Species To Transfer Via Pal Park
Also. tying into the fact that there are now 493 species to collect once you have the national dex, the Pal Park is a notable enough feature to have its own entry. This is also a pro to have included to the generation four games in general.
The Pal Park in HeartGold and SoulSilver is located in Kanto where the original Safari Zone was. This handy feature allowed you to transfer species directly from the box in your generation three games, giving further reason to play and collect Pokémon in the definitive Johto game experiences.
3 A More Expansive Safari Zone
For the first time in the Johto region, HeartGold and SoulSilver featured a safari zone. These were once a staple in the mainline video game series. The Safari Zone in these games came in during the mainline story and gave access to Pokémon of certain types that you couldn't find anywhere else.
The Safari Zone was and is a fun way to get access to rare species. For instance, you could even find Larvitar there instead of solely relying on the post-game area where it used to be exclusive to.
2 Connectivity With The Fourth Generation
One of the most obvious benefits of these games is with the timing of when they were released. Both HeartGold and SoulSilver are compatible to connect, battle, and trade with the fourth generation titles, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.
This allowed for further accessibility to the many species that were available at the time as well as opportunities for more competitive play against a variety of teams. Admittedly, this isn't a surprising feature since most of the mainline games have good options in terms of connectivity and compatibility. Regardless, they are great features to have.
1 The Ultimate Final Boss
Nothing screams fan service and nostalgia in the best possible way like this entry. This is a perfect example of a sequel to a hit franchise set of games, in this case, Pokémon Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow, done right. The original Johto games capitalized on the success of the predecessor games by giving you the best "secret" final boss in the game and, arguably, the best boss fight in the series.
Imagine the surprise for anyone going in blind to these games of seeing the protagonist they played as in the first set of games. The remakes only bolstered this feature by strengthening his team even further.