Nukezilla Review: Pokémon Black Version 2/Pokémon White Version 2 (DS)
I’ll get right to the point – Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 are the best, most complete Pokémon games in the history of the franchise. I’ll put it like this; I love the Zelda franchise and all of the games in it, but nothing they have put out in the past 20 years has allowed me to think of any game other than The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening as the flagship – the pinnacle – of the series.
Pokémon has a new flagship. While the formula remains from the previous games, all of the intangibles of Black 2/White 2 are so far beyond what we’ve seen before that the prospect of going back to play through Pokémon Red and Blue for anything other than a trip down memory lane seems tedious.
Again, as far as the plot and gameplay go, Black 2/White 2 aren’t really breaking new ground. They’re direct sequels to Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, as you may have been able to ascertain from the titles, but this is unique in the fact that Game Freak and Nintendo had never before released two direct sequels in this manner. We usually just get a third, stand-alone version, such as Pokémon Yellow or Pokémon Platinum, which combines the games from that generation and adds some special features.
Nevertheless, the player starts out as a young boy or girl ready to start an adventure. The player is given a pokémon to start out with and a Pokédex to catalog every pokémon he or she sees. Soon enough the main character is caught up in an evil plot and must use his or her trained pokémon to become a pokémon master and save the world. That part hasn’t changed, and if you’re fine with that, I’ll focus on what has changed.
One of the best new features is the updated Pokédex that actually works. The Pokédex can now give you a list of all of the pokémon in a certain route or area, as long as you’ve seen them, and give the player marks when he or she has seen and captured all of the pokémon in a given area. For players who gotta catch ‘em all, this is an invaluable feature that has been sorely lacking in the past.
Some of the great features from Black/White were carried over, as well. Having running shoes from the start allows the player to move around quickly by holding the B button and makes the bicycle nearly useless. Technical Machines, or TM’s – the moves that can be taught to pokémon, again do not disappear after use as in previous generations. This is great, as it allows the player to give all of his or her pokémon the best moves available at a given time without having to ration them like Twinkies during the zombie apocalypse.
A new pocket in the main character’s backpack allows players to sort commonly used items into one convenient location, and new Hidden Grottoes allow players to catch pokémon with exclusive abilities previously unobtainable without using a Dream World link and a computer with internet access. There’s also a new medal system that rewards players for certain achievements.
The online features have been greatly expanded in interesting ways. Join Avenue is a new location in-game where the player can mingle with NPC’s and avatars from people he or she has traded or battled with online and use them to create shops and services. The Avenue can be built up through use and allow the player to buy new and hard-to-find items and even train or level-up his or her pokémon.
Online battles and tournaments have improved as well, along with global trading on the GTS available though any in-game PokéCenter. And if you’re not quite ready to take on the best players online, the new Pokémon World Tournament in the game lets players participate in a number of different types of battle tournaments against characters from the game and some familiar faces from past generations. Players can even download characters to play against that are based on the winning teams from the real-life Pokémon Video Game Championships.
With so much more to do than in any previous Pokémon game, so many more pokémon to catch than ever before and a more user-friendly way to get it all done, Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 are the most complete realization of the Pokémon universe to date, and an easy choice to pick up for new players or die-hard fans of the franchise.