When I was a little kid the USA Network used to re-run old cartoons from the 1960s and 70s on a show called Cartoon Express. One of my favourites was a show called Laugh-A-Lympics where Hanna-Barbara characters would compete against each other in comedy versions of Olympic events. You’d have Scooby-Doo Vs. Yogi Bear, Hong Kong Phooey against Quick Draw McGraw and other classic match-ups guaranteed to delight children at that time. Well now Pokemon has given us something similar. In Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver, Pokemon Contests have been eliminated and replaced by the Pokeathlon – a series of ten events in which your Pokemon will compete in mini-games, trying to earn both medals and points that you can use to purchase new or rare items for your team. Much like Pokemon Contests, there are different stats that come into play rather than the ones used in Pokemon Battles. Let’s take a look at what you’ll have to prepare for if you want to make the Pokeathlon Hall of Fame.
When you first arrive at the Pokeathlon Dome, you’ll begin to realize what an entirely new beast this is for Pokemon and how some Pokemon are far more useful here than they would have been in Battles or Contests. This is based heavily in part to new Pokemon stats that only come into playing during Pokeathlon events. They are Speed, Power, Skill, Stamina, and Jump. Each Pokemon with have a star rating in each ability ranging from one to five stars. The more stars a Pokemon has, the more likely it will succeed at the event in question. When you look at a Pokemon’s Pokeathlon stats, you will see that some stars are filled in while others are transparent. The filled in ones are your Pokemon’s current rating, while the transparent stars show their potential. You can fill these in by feeding your Pokemon Aprijuice. Let’s take a look at Butterfree, since he’s a fairly common Pokemon you can get early on in the game. It has two stars in Speed, two stars in Power, two stars in Skill, two stars in Stamina and a full five stars in Jump. Obviously, Butterfree then makes a great choice for jump based events. With the use of Acorn juice, you can boost Butterfree up to four stars in Speed, three in Power, three in Skill and three in stamina. Since Butterfree is already at a max score in Jump, you can’t raise it any higher. This means if you max out Butterfree, it will perform best at Speed and/or Jump based events.
When you enter a Pokeathlon event, you don’t actually get to choose which of the ten possible events you are in. Instead you pick a category based on one of the five statistics. The game then chooses three events for you based on that category. Using Butterfree as our example, you would most likely choose Jump as your category. However, you will have to have three Pokemon, so you’ll want to have two other Pokemon that are also maxed out with Jump but then also have strong secondary ability of four or five stars as well.
Each event has two statistics that help determine the outcome of the event. If you have maxed out your Butterfree, you would want it in an event where Speed and Jump are the two determining factors. This event would be Hurdles. So you would put Butterfree in this event and then use your two other Pokemon in the events that came up that their stats were best suited for.
After the events are done, you’ll be able to view records, see your high scores, spend points on nifty items like evolution stones or PP Ups, and eventually unlock the Pokeathlon Hall of Fame, Pokeathlon Crowns and even bonus Pokeathlon points to make your team even more dominant on the field.
Now don’t think stats are the only things that come into play in the events. You’ll still have to use all your gaming skills in conjunction with those stats in order to win events. Let’s take a quick look at all ten events. Remember that these names are basic translations from the Japanese version of Heart Gold and Soul Silver and may be slightly different in the English release.
Important Stats: Power, Stamina
This is similar to how martial arts experts break stacks of wood or bricks with their hands. You’ll use the touch screen to get enough power and rhythm behind your attacks to successfully break the blocks in front of you. The goal is not only to break the most bricks, but also to see who can break the most in the least amount of time.
Important Stats: Jump, Skill
In this event you will use the touch screen and stylus to “flick” a Pokemon up the screen in an attempt to knock out as many lights as possible in an allotted time. You’ll be able to use all three Pokemon at once in this event so try ricocheting them off each other to send them off in new directions and knock out more lights.
Important Stats: Speed, Stamina
This is simply a side-scrolling race where each member of your team will take a leg of the race. There are also occasionally obstacles that show up, so you’ll have to be able to avoid these as well.
Important Stats: Power, Speed
Circle Push is an event where each of your three Pokemon will be engaging in a shoving match against many opponents. Your goal is to stay in the circles for as long as possible while keeping opponents out. The longer you stay in, the more points you earn. You also have to control all three Pokemon at once, so time management and strategy are big parts of this event.
Important Stats: Speed, Skill
This event has each of your Pokemon running an obstacle course where you collect flags. The goal is to collect as many flags as possible but the secondary goal is to keep your opponents from collecting flags of their own. You can do this by knocking into them and causing them to drop their flags.
Important Stats: Power, Skill
This is a nice little three on three Soccer (Football in Europe) match, with a twist. Each corner of the screen is a goal. Your job is to deflect balls headed for your team’s goal, and to then score goals. You get a point for scoring a goal and the team that failed to defend their goal loses one. If you’re a long-time gamer, you’ll find that Goal Roll is very similar to the old Atari 2600 game Warlords.
Important Stats: Jump, Speed
In this event your Pokemon will be racing nine other Pokemon in a standard vertically scrolling hurdles race. You tap the DS’ touch screen in order to make them jump. For each hurdle you successfully jump over, you earn a speed boost. For each one you don’t…well you collide with the hurdle.
Important Stats: Power, Stamina
This event is basically a combination of Pokemon Rumble battle royals and Sumo Wrestling. Here’s you’ll flick your Pokemon into the other ones in the ring in an attempt to knock them out of it. Last man standing wins, or if the time limit runs out, you will be judged by the amount of Pokemony you successfully knocked out and the amount remaining in the ring.
Important Stats: Jump, Power
This is another game where you will have to control all three of your Pokemon at once. Your goal is to have them leap up and catch Frisbees as the pass over your Pokemon. Just tap the touch pad to make one jump. There are opposing Pokemon on the field as well, so you’ll have to knock them out or push them away to make sure they don’t intercept your catch.
Important Stats: Power, Skill
This is a combination of dodgeball and a snowball fight. You’ll flick snowballs at your opponents to stun them and earn points while also dodging incoming fire.
Although some Pokemon fans will no doubt be disappointed in the loss of Pokemon Contests, it is plain to see that the Pokeathlon offers a larger variety of things to do and it requires both skill and wits in order to come up with a team that will net the gold. This is definitely going to be one of the most talked about aspects of Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver, as well as one of the most played, so start thinking about your teams!