Early Pokemon games such as Pokemon Gold and Silver have received high levels of praise from all sorts of media outlets. Nintendo Life rates Pokemon Gold a 9/10, and IGN rates it 10/10. Since Gold and Silver were released in the year 2000 for the Game Boy Color, and they received such high acclaims back then, how do they hold up 20 years later?
Pokemon Gold and Silver are RPGs (role-playing games) based on the premise of exploring a world, catching monsters, and using those monsters to battle other trainers and their Pokemon. The concept may be simple or even oversaturated now, but back when these games were released, Pokemon was the only game series like it to become widely popular among general audiences.
The gameplay of G/S can be split into three main components: 1) Traversing the overworld, 2) Battling, and 3) Collecting Pokemon.
In the overworld, you get to explore a wide range of towns, cities, and routes, each with their own gimmicks, trainers, and events to play through. You can walk through tall grass which allows you to encounter Pokemon which you can battle or catch. Scattered among each map are dropped items which you can pick up and use to make your Pokemon stronger. You can also encounter other trainers, which litter each route. As you progress through the game, the trainers and Pokemon you encounter become increasingly more powerful, which means you need to build up a team. This leads us to...
Battling. Each Pokemon is unique in that each Pokemon you come across has their own typing (up to two), different attacks they can use, their own strengths and weaknesses, and what stats they all have. Every Pokemon, no matter what you use, can have a maximum of 4 moves/attacks, which are pulled from a pre-programmed movepool specific to that Pokemon. This means that you have to not only juggle type matchups you'll have to encounter, but you have to make sure your Pokemon are powerful enough to deal with the increasingly powerful trainers you come across. I go more in-depth about battle mechanics and why they're important on my Competitive page, but nonetheless battling is one of the key gameplay elements in a Pokemon game.
Catching Pokemon is also important, as you can't grow your team without obtaining some in the first place. This is probably the simplest gameplay aspect of them all, as all you need are some Poke Ball items (there are many types with different strengths and weaknesses). First, lower a wild Pokemon's health down until it's in the red, and then throw some Poke Balls at it. Every Pokemon has a different catch rate, usually the more rare a Pokemon is the harder it is to catch. Some Pokemon are pre-programmed to want to run away as soon as you find them, like the legendary beasts Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, or other rare pokemon like Quagsire. These can be kept from running away by the use of the move Mean Look, which traps the opponent from escaping.
Despite how early of a system the Game Boy Color is, it boasts a 15-bit color palette as used in G/S. Likely due to storage limitations, the game's tiles and sprites often never had more than 4 or 5 different colors each. However, these limitations never stopped its developers from creating well-crafted, intricate sprites.
Piggybacking off of a monochromatic and somewhat awkward spriteset, the developers of Pokemon Gold and Silver were tasked with not only recreating the original 151 Pokemon, but remaking them all AND creating new front and back sprites for the new 100 Pokemon that were to be put into the new games.
It's obvious that a new design philopshy had arisen, as the sprites made for G/S are much cleaner and much less awkward than their previous generation's. Their fresh, big, simple, yet distinguishable designs makes them impressive for such a technically primitive game.