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Pokemon Black and White Version 2
Pokemon Black and White Version 2

Nintendo 3DS | Nintendo DS
Genre: Role Playing Players: 1
Developer: Nintendo Official Site: http://www.pokemonblackwhite...
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date:
2012
Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review
Review By @ 11:53am 16/10/12
DS
The Pokémon RPGs fill an odd space within Nintendo’s vast catalogue. They’re simultaneously cynically profit-driven (hence the two different versions and near-identical progression structures in each iteration) and extremely inventive, producing experiences that would be exceptionally unique if not for the fact that we've already played so many previous Pokémon games. They also sit in the weird position of being perceived as a throwback to childhood by many, as games made for kids, despite actually offering a far deeper, obsession-baiting experience than anything else Nintendo releases. People will spend literally hundreds of hours scouring these games for rare Pokémon, and Wikis are all but essential for tapping into the game’s numerous unlisted stats, evolution chains, breeding possibilities, item combinations, move combos and more. They are extraordinary games…but there’s also a lot of them now, so it’s easy to be blasé.

Black & White 2 are overwhelming, even for a series veteran. It’s not because they’re overly difficult – the different levels of effectiveness of certain moves against certain Pokémon types is so ingrained into my psyche now that it’s sort of scary – but because you can’t walk down the street without a new mechanic, item, move, important building, trade offer, or piece of information being thrown at you. The game is obsessed with proving that it’s not exactly the same as its predecessors, despite spending so much time in the same places, with many of the same characters and so few truly new Pokémon. NPCs constantly note the things that have changed in the two years since the events of the last games, but these changes don’t equate to much to those of us who invested a mere 40-odd hours into the prior game. Plus the fundamental gameplay model, the one I familiarised myself with extensively when I played through Pokémon Red 11 times as a kid, is still the same.



That said, the first Black & White games refined the formula quite a bit, and those refinements are still present. Pokémon get an XP boost if they’re involved in a fight with a Pokémon at a level higher than theirs, HMs aren't required the same way they were before, the graphics are vastly improved, and all the little changes that only the absolute top players (the ones who don’t need reviews like this one) will notice are still in place. As nice as these changes are, though, the experience is no longer as fresh as it once was.
Does this matter? Not as much as you might think. At its core, the system behind Pokémon is still as enjoyable as it has ever been, and it’s all but impossible to not get invested in the team you've built up, which can now be made up of both new and old Pokémon from the very start. The key to Pokémon has always been that you’re given complete freedom to catch, train and nurture your own team, subbing in and out different monsters and building up an odd rapport with the ragtag bunch that you've essentially recruited as your slaves. The surprising insight into the ethics of Pokémon that popped up in Black & White is followed up on slightly here, but not to the degree we would have liked. In fact, the narrative here isn't as interesting as the one the previous game offered, although that’s unlikely to bother many people.

As has been the case for a while, the really interesting new stuff doesn't pop up until the endgame, which makes the journey to the credits very enjoyable, but also somewhat perfunctory. Ultimately, it’s hard to get into these games the way we did when its predecessors hit a year and a half ago, but that doesn't mean that we’re not going to keep going until we've exhausted ourselves again.
What we liked
  • All the things we always like about Pokémon are present and correct
  • The graphics are pretty great for the DS
  • The mix of old and new Pokémon
  • The life-ruining addictiveness
What we didn't like
  • It’s very familiar
  • It throws so much at you
  • Encyclopaedic knowledge required to get the most out of it
  • We’re going to get sick of this formula eventually, surely
More
We gave it:
7.9
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Ryan
Posted 11:45pm 16/10/12
"We’re going to get sick of this formula eventually, surely"
NEVER.
Nerf Lord
Posted 11:57pm 16/10/12
I got sick of it in the last game, and quit before the elite 4. :(

Though then finished FireRed, so I think that I just didn't like the second half of the last game.
jmw2689
Posted 07:33am 17/10/12
I can't believe there's still no mass-transfer of pokemon from one game to another. Like if you 'caught them all' in the previous version but wanted to enjoy some of the new content in these games, you have to perform tedious trades with yourself, which also means catching a discardable pokemon for every one you want to bring over. Its pretty idiotic that Nintendo still haven't implemented a better trade system after so many generations of pokemon games.

I'm glad they finally made more characters available earlier in the game this time around. Previously everyone would have near-identical teams because half the pokemon weren't encountered until after the storyline was completed.

I think one of the best features in this generation is also one of my biggest gripes; they added a hardcore difficulty mode but it is only available after you BEAT the game in ONE version. Honestly why not just have difficulty settings available from the very beginning, in both versions. Nintendo makes some terrible decisions. Especially since the change in difficulty affects the entire game and would greatly increase the challenge of early parts of the game. And if you trade for the 'challenge mode key' (which can only be done over infra-red to my knowledge) but then start a new game, it erases the key as part of your old savegame data, making it hugely impractical to play the game the way you want to from the start.

And at the end of the day I'll still be playing it.
Jickle
Posted 11:28am 17/10/12
Yeah, I was excited when I read about 'Hard mode' in the instruction manual...until I realised just how impractical actually activating it was.
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