You’ve heard it all before. Pokemon is washed up. Pokemon is using a dying game mechanic. There’s no way the new games are ever going to capture the magic of the first ones.
And while it’s true that the game revolves heavily around the same basic concept of capturing Pokemon and training them in battles, the folks over at GameFreak have managed to spice things up just enough in the latest iteration of the brand to make it feel new and refreshing. What’s that? Yes, you heard me. Pokemon Black and White 2 are a joy to play. I’ll admit, I was a skeptic too at first, but once I took the plunge and started playing, I had twenty hours logged on my save file. Damn. That was quick.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the review. Don’t worry, your eyes are safe. I’ll try to keep my mon0r reviews concise from now on.
Collecting At Its Best?
Pokemon Black and White 2 take full advantage of the Nintendo DS hardware and blast you with a beautiful array of 2D sprites and 3D structures. The trees are verdant and the towns look vibrant – this is definitely the best looking Pokemon game out there. In addition to that, a variety of new features like Join Avenue and the Pokemon World Tournament are sure to keep you busy for hours upon hours. If battling is your thing, you can also participate in online Pokemon battles with your friends or people across the world over Wi-Fi. You can also trade with a countless number of people so filling up your Pokedex is easier than ever before. Oh, and don’t forget Pokemon musicals or Pokestar Studios. You’re going to have a blast with them if side-games are your cup of tea.
For a lot of people, the Pokemon battling and collecting have been the main draws for the series. GameFreak and Nintendo were smart enough to leave the fundamental aspects of these two things intact and instead focused on improving its presentation rather than its implementation. Gone are the gyms of old with their drab hallways and long corridors. Now you’ll be scaling the backs of gigantic dragon statues and whizzing across water on lily pads. Speaking of foliage, there are also things called Hidden Grottoes where you’ll be able to catch unique Pokemon with different abilities and higher levels. The only caveat is that they’re hidden – you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to the screen to spot them. What’s more, you won’t be stuck wondering where to catch certain Pokemon now thanks to the brand new Habitat List. It tells you where Pokemon live – a vital tool for completionists. Also, you won’t be limited to Pokemon from the Unova region since all five generations will be represented in some form in Pokemon Black and White 2.
The story aspect of Pokemon games, though, has always been something of a weak spot. The plot lines were all fairly generic and followed the same structure without fail: get starter Pokemon, beat gyms, meet evil team, beat evil team, beat Pokemon League, catch Legendary Pokemon. Rinse and repeat. So while Pokemon Black and White 2 don’t necessarily shake the foundations of the literary world, they do take a step in the right direction by acknowledging what happened in the previous games and incorporating that into the story. It also starts to focus on heavier themes than what’s typical of Pokemon. Themes of control, and grey areas of morality? That kind of stuff belongs in a Bioware game! Nevertheless, the story was enjoyable this time around and I found myself reading the text boxes instead of skimming through them like I used to. It serves as a fitting conclusion to the Unova region’s story arc and is a promising sign of what’s to come.
Is Pokemon Black and White 2 the definitive versions of the Pokemon brand? The simple answer is a resounding yes. Pokemon Black and White 2 take everything that people love about the Pokemon series and turn it up a notch. New locations, gripping battles, plentiful Pokemon, and a better story. If this still doesn’t compel you to buy the game, then you’re missing out on one of the year’s deepest and most addicting turn-based roleplaying games. If you want my advice, buy it and don’t look back. Trust me, you won’t regret it.