Pokémon Gold vs. Red: Which Version should you get?

Pokémon Red and Gold were among the first two games in the series, so, I’m sure they hold a sort of nostalgia for those of us who played them as kids😊. I personally, started with Pokémon Gold, because it was among the recent releases at the time, but went back to play Pokémon Red later.

Pokémon Gold vs. Red

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As a kid, I never stopped to think of which game was better. I simply chose them based on which was most recent or which color I liked best🤷. A week ago, however, my cousin told me that he got a good deal on both games from a player who was selling them. But he could only afford one game so he needed to know which of the two was worth getting.

That got me thinking🤔 and so, I decided to share my detailed insights in this article. After replaying both games, I’m going to share my first-hand experience to help you decide which of the two games is better in this article. So, if you’ve been stuck in a dilemma of choosing between them, read till the end to see my final verdict and understand why.

Pokémon Gold vs. Red – How They Compare.

Let’s start with a quick summary of how the two games compare, as demonstrated in the table below:


Pokémon Red

Pokémon Gold


  • Based in the Kanto region
  • No main Legendary Pokémon
  • Pokémon Starters; Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur
  • Based in Johto Region
  • The main legendary is Ho-oh
  • Pokémon Starters: Cyndaquil, Totodile, and Chikorita.

Post-Game Content

  • Complete the Pokedex
  • Capture Legendary Birds
  • Battle trainers and play minigames
  • Complete Pokedex
  • Capture Legendary Beasts
  • Face Kanto Gym leaders and Champion

Game Features

  • Black and white layout
  • Poor graphics and animations compared to Gold
  • No time difference
  • No Dark and Steel types.
  • Colorful and vibrant layout
  • Improved graphics and animation
  • Day and Night Time scheme
  • Dark and Steel Pokémon Types

Exclusive Pokémon

  • Charmander
  • Bulbasaur
  • Squirtle
  • Zapdos
  • Moltres
  • Articuno
  • Cyndaquil
  • Chikorita
  • Totodile
  • Suicune
  • Entei
  • Raikou
  • Ho-oh
  • Lugia

What are the differences between Pokémon Gold and Red?

Pokémon Gold 
Pokémon Red. Image source: Pokemon

Pokémon Red and Pokémon Gold, belong to different generations. Red is part of the GEN I while Gold is part of GEN II. While the two generations are not so far apart there are still some significant differences that could help sway your decision.

Below are the differences I thought were worth noting and why:


As I’m sure some players might agree, the storyline is an important aspect of the game. It helps me immerse myself better into the game, and also adds some uniqueness to an otherwise monotonous plot, through the different characters and locations.

With these two games in particular, I’ve always thought that Gold and Silver were kind of sequels of Red and Blue, set 3 years ahead. This is because some similarities between Gold and Red seemed to be a continuation of the latter. For example, Team Rocket🚀, the villain team in Pokémon Red’s storyline, was disbanded by the protagonist in the Kanto region. According to Gold’s storyline, after their defeat in Kanto, they regrouped in the Johto region three years later. There were, however, different characters representing the team in Red compared to Gold.

The characters you will encounter in the game are also different. The Johto gym leaders🏋🏽 I faced were different from the gym leaders in Red’s Kanto region. Even though I got to face Kanto gym leaders later in Gold, some of the gym leaders were different. For example, the eighth Kanto gym leader I faced in Red was Giovanni but in Gold I faced Blue.

Another difference between the two games is the starter options I had to choose from at the beginning of each game. In Red, the options are Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. In Gold, however, the options were Chikorita, Cyndaquil, and Totodile. Pokémon Gold was also among the first games to include a main legendary bird in the main storyline. I encountered the legendary bird Ho-oh, several times during the game. In red, however, I only encountered the three legendary birds in the post-game content🙁.

Pokémon Gold vs. Red - Which Version should you get?

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While both storylines were good, I preferred Pokémon Gold’s storyline a bit better, because it kind of felt like a continuation of Red’s story. Of course, you don’t have to play Red first to play Gold, but it would help appreciate Gold’s storyline a bit more, especially in the post-game.

Post Game Content

Speaking of post-game content, this is one of the biggest differences I found between Pokémon Red and Gold. I personally like exploring every aspect of each Pokémon game I play; therefore, post-game content is an important factor for me when choosing a game😌. In Pokémon Red, there wasn’t a lot to do. After defeating the Elite 4 and Blue the champion, other than the minigames and battling Pokémon, all I was able to do was complete the Pokedex and capture the legendary birds😑.

In Gold, however, there was a lot more to do😁. After defeating the champion and the Elite 4, I got access to the Kanto region. There I faced the gym leaders again and battled Red, the Kanto champion. On top of that, Gold still had minigames and you can capture the legendary beasts which weren’t available in Pokémon Red, but I’ll get into that later.

Overall, Gold is the clear winner when it comes to post-game content. Facing the Kanto gym leaders again in Gold adds a layer of challenge that I felt Pokémon Red lacks.

Exclusive Pokémon

Pokémon Gold vs. Red- Which Version should you get?
Exclusive Pokémon. Image source: Pokemon

If you’ve played a couple of Pokémon games before, then you are familiar with the main difference that sets each game apart; the exclusive Pokémon. In Pokémon Red and Gold, there are also some Pokémon that are exclusive to each version.

In Red, I found that the Pokémon available in the game were limited to the Kanto region. In Gold, however, I had access to both Johto and Kanto regions. I, however, could not capture any of the Pokémon Red starters in Gold😧. The legendary birds, Zapdos, Moltres, and Articuno are also only available in Pokémon Red not in Gold.

You’ll, however, be able to capture the legendary beasts, Suicune, Raikou, and Entei, in Gold but not in Red. You’ll also have access to Ho-oh the main legendary in Gold, as well as Lugia, both of which aren’t capturable in Pokémon Red😃. Gold also includes some extra lore on the mythical Pokémon, Celebi, even though you won’t be able to catch it in the game.

So, overall, I would say, Gold wins in terms of the exclusive Pokémon. It has a wider variety of Pokémon available including the legendary Pokémon you can capture.

Game Features

Pokémon Gold vs. Red
Pokémon Gold. Image source: Pokemon

Lastly, the game features in Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Red differ greatly. However, it is fair to point out that Pokémon Red is a first-generation game. It was designed for the original Game Boy, which was more limited in its capabilities compared to the Game Boy Color, Pokémon Gold was designed for.

Therefore, I wasn’t surprised to find that Pokémon Gold had improved graphics and animations compared to Pokémon Red. Additionally, thanks to the color palette in Game Boy Color, Gold’s layout is more vibrant making it visually appealing compared to the dull monochromatic layout in Red.

I also noted that Pokémon Gold introduced a lot of new features that weren’t present in Red. The Day🌞 and Night🌙 Time Scheme introduced in the game, greatly affected the gameplay experience. There were some Pokémon that could only be captured and trainers that only battled at a specific time, either day or night. Pokémon Gold also introduced new types that weren’t in Pokémon Red, that is, Steel and Dark. It was also among the first games of the second generation where you could breed and hunt for shining Pokémon.

Therefore, I would say, Gold has better game features compared to Red. From the improved graphics to the exciting new features like the time scheme, they have improved the overall gameplay experience.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Pokémon Gold or Red

All things considered; it is clear that Pokémon Gold is the better game when compared to Pokémon Red. It offers better graphics, improved visual appeal, and a smoother gameplay experience. The game also has a wider variety of Pokémon available for capture and better post-game content.

Even with that said, Pokémon Red still holds greater nostalgic value. Playing it always brings back fond childhood memories for me. The game also has the original Pokémon sprites you just don’t see in the Pokémon games nowadays. Being the first generation game, it is among the only games that were developed in black and white, therefore has an element of uniqueness. Still, for a better gameplay experience, I would suggest going with Gold if you have to pick between the two.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon Gold or Red?

According to the different forums including Reddit, both games seem to be popular, although most players seem more inclined to Pokémon Gold. Additionally, according to Bulbapedia, Pokémon Gold seems to have gotten a slightly better reception from the press, with GameRankings giving it 89.56% while Pokémon Red got 89%.

Is Pokémon Gold more successful than Pokémon Red?

No, based on sales, Pokémon Red seems to be more successful compared to Pokémon Gold. According to VGChartz, Pokémon Red, and Green/Blue have sold a total of 31.38 million copies as of May 2023, whereas Pokémon Gold and Silver sold 23.10 million copies. Additionally, according to Bulbapedia, in Japan, Gold had sold approximately 3.56 million copies by December 2006. Although it is not clear how many copies Red had specifically sold in Japan by that time, Bulbapedia reports that this version had sold 4.83 million copies in the US.

How many hours does it take to finish Pokémon Gold and Red?

If you are only focusing on the main objectives, it should take you about 26 hours to complete Red and about 30 hours to complete Gold. But if you want to explore every aspect of the game and achieve full completion, then Red will take 102 hours, whereas Gold will take 162 hours.

Which game is longer between Pokémon Gold and Red?

Pokémon Gold is a longer game than Red seeing as it may take you approximately 4-60 more hours to complete, depending on whether you are only focused on the main objectives or exploring the entire game.

Can you replace Pokémon Gold with Red?

No, the two games are from different generations with different plots and features, therefore offering a slightly different gameplay experience. You can, however, switch with a willing player who has the opposite version.

Is Pokémon Gold and Red the same story?

No. The two games are set in different regions and have different characters as well as certain Pokémon exclusive to their respective regions.

Which one has a better game Pokémon Gold or Red?

The choice of which game is better will depend on your preference as a player, and what game you find more appealing. Ideally, both games are great, although Pokémon Gold has better graphics and visuals compared to Pokémon Red.

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