4 – Pokemon Gold & Silver (Game Boy Color)
Great as Red and Blue were, still greater was the follow-up in Pokemon Gold and Silver. Pokemon GS respected everything already-brilliant about Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, gutting nothing good and adding more new features than have ever been added between generations. The breeding system was introduced here, stats were rebalanced closer to how they appear today, Dark and Steel types were added, and the friendliness mechanic was introduced. Most impressively, Pokemon GS featured an in-game, internal clock, a day/night cycle (with Pokemon appearances and interactions changing depending on time of day), a phone feature, room customization, and two whole regions to explore, complete with 16 gym leaders and a final battle with yourself from Red and Blue. To this day it remains the longest of the Pokemon adventures in terms of story, and fans still clamor for multiple-region games. Sadly, such a feature hasn’t returned since, even though it would no longer stretch the limits of the tiny cartridge as it did back in the day.
In fact, the only truly negative thing there is to say about Gold and Silver is that the impressive amount of new content didn’t become a trend. Only Gen 6 can be said to rival it in terms of positive additions to the franchise, and much of what made Gold and Silver so great (the 2nd region, internal clock) would be scrapped in later titles. If it weren’t for the technology for GS’s clock ruining the SAVE function after 5-6 years (so that currently-existing copies are mostly unplayable), Gen 2 would be well-worth returning to again and again.
Next: #3 - Pokemon Black & White