We've been subject to Pokémon games for a long time. Many people never got beyond Pokémon Red and Blue as by time Gold and Silver came out, Pokémon had been overexposed and was considered pretty lame. That's really too bad, because Gold and Silver were probably the pinnacle of the Pokémon games, truly worthwhile sequels that felt superior in every way to it's predecessor. More than a decade later, we receive the remake, and it is truly everything I dreamt it would be.
The story is pretty much the same as every Pokémon game. You live in a small town, you step into some tall grass, a Professor gives you a Pokémon, you set off to become to the world's greatest Pokémon trainer. The story is as thin as paper, but Pokémon has never been about storytelling (and attempts at it have been made with the sub-par Pokémon Colloseums). It's about the adventure. Everyone starts off with one of the three starter Pokémon, but after that the rest of their possible six Monster lineup is different. Everyone has their own adventure to tell. It's a formula that still works.
The gameplay is essentially you going through the original Gold and Silver story, but with some Generation 4 tweaks. The battle system is updated, making it a bit deeper than it was back in the Game Boy Pocket days. Anyone not familiar with the Generation Four system should know that there is now separate normal and special attack stats, that change what moves are more damaging depending on a Pokémon's specific stats. Other than that, there's still Super Effective attacks for type matchups. There's still TMs. It's still very much like chess: easy to learn, difficult to master.
What separates Heart Gold / Soul Silver from the rest of the Pokémon series, and really from most Nintendo products, is that they really pack in as much content as humanly possible. After you finish the new Johto campaign, you get to head back to Kanto, the setting for the original Pokémon games, only three years in later. It's a nice touch, as you get to see all the original locations again and face a souped up version of the original gym leaders. It also extends the life of the game by at least another 5 hours. Ironically, Heart Gold / Soul Silver also works with Pokémon Battle Revolution, an odd value added to the game that Nintendo usually refuses to employ. Perhaps this means a second PBR is actually not on the way to gouge some more money out of the Pokéfaithful.
Features from Pearl / Diamond are added to the game, most importantly the Battle Frontier which effectively serves as the game's meta-game. After you beat the game, you can take on the Battle Tower, facing randomly generated teams that even the playing field by making everyone's Pokémon the same level. No longer can you rely on just outleveling and then overpowering enemies. Strategy comes into play at a level that you never face in the main storyline, and it is here that we see the true depth the Pokémon battle system boasts. You can also take on all these challenges with a friend co-op style. It's a nice touch, as it allows friends to do more than try to rip eachother off or beat eachother up. You can also trade Pokémon online using Nintendo Wi-Fi, if you don't mind getting ripped off internationally. Normally, you won't be able to use this feature because you can only trade for Pokémon that you have listed in your Pokédex, and even then people normally have unreasonable requests (Pidgey for Darkrai, anyone?).
The Pokéwalker, although at first glance seems to be more of a novelty than anything, actually adds something to the gameplay. You can catch Pokémon early on in the game that you would normally never see until it was too late to use them. Ever want to train a Staryu? Now's your chance. Don't want to spend ten days in the casino to buy a Dratini? Attach the Pokéwalker to your dog and get one. it's a nice addition that can actually add a lot to the game, given a chance.
The one original addition to the gameplay is the Pokéathlon. It plays like a mini-game collection in the vein of Mario Party or Wario Ware. Although it seems a little pointless compared to the rewards the Battle Tower provides, if you have enough friends with the game playing it four player is a rolicking good time. There nothing like seeing a Zubat steal frisbees from battling Ho-oh and Lugia, or watching the Inner City Pokémon team: Rattata, Zubat, Sentret, beat a team of super legendaries.
Hey, it's Pokémon. People gripe that Nintendo is just ripping you off, selling you the same game they made a long time ago or a year ago, but Heart Gold / Soul Silver never seemed like it was ripping me off. It's hard not to enjoy yourself playing this game and watching your Pokémon grow up alongside you. If you've ever enjoyed Pokémon or any RPG before, there is really no reason not to pick one of these up. Other than getting beat up at school.