Pokemon Black & White Review

Developer: Gamefreak

Publisher: Nintendo

Console: Nintendo DS, DSi, DSXL and 3DS

Release Date: March 06, 2011

Genre: RPG

Players: 2 Local or 5 Online

-Keith Michael

The people at Gamefreak Inc. have managed to do it again; somehow they can continuously make a better Pokemon game. In my personal opinion, each core Pokemon game gets better than the last and Pokemon White/Black version is no different. It seems like Gamefreak was really listening to the fans this time around. With new battle modes, online play, and an overhauled graphics system making the fifth generation of Pokemon superior to the previous ones. Being a huge Pokemon fan myself, I had immense expectations for Pokemon White/Black and about 95% of them were met.

Pokemon White/Black is like most Pokemon games; the objective is to collect all eight gym badges and then reach the Elite Four and the Champion of your region. Also, this time around there is more than just a rag tag group of Pokemon thieves to deal with on the way to the championship. The story in Pokemon White/Black is the darkest story yet, don’t expect any deaths or anything like that, but there is a lot more on the line than the occasional rival battle and shiny badges. Team Plasma is a group of borderline cultists who are trying to separate trainers from their Pokemon and it is up to three young trainers (mainly you) to stop this unheard of evil. Team Plasma and their six sages really have you believing in their cause, thinking that even the trainers are using Pokemon as tools for personal gain and glory. On the other hand, every resident in the Unova region helps convince you that Pokemon are friends and want to be partners instead of just being slaves that have to bend to the trainers will. Along the way to the Pokemon League, the three young trainers befriend a boy named N who is riding the line of separation of trainer and Pokemon and the continuation of trainers and battling. Eventually N is revealed to have a lot more to do with Team Plasma than first led to believe. This Makes for a nice twist in the plot. The story of Pokemon White/Black does not end at the climatic finish with Team Plasma, instead it throws in some extra elements that have you running all around Unova looking for legendary Pokemon and finishing your Pokedex. The writers of this Pokemon game proved that the story can be above average and showed it with lots of twists and turns.

The gameplay in this version of Pokemon is much more than what I was expecting. Unlike most Pokemon games, this one has you battling your rivals before doing anything else in the game. It was a nice change of pace considering most Pokemon games have the main character running around for ten to fifteen minutes before jumping into a battle. The biggest part of Pokemon is the turn-based rock/paper/scissors style of gameplay. Gamefreak left most of the rules the same, meaning the Pokemon all have abilities, weaknesses, resistances, types, and still take turns hitting each other until one runs out of Hit Points or HP and faints.

The most notable new feature is the addition of moving Pokemon sprites. Each Pokemon has been given a fully animated sprite. This may not seem like much, but during those long leveling-up sessions, it is nice to have some eye candy to go along with making a powerful Pokemon. Another nice change to Pokemon White/Black is the addition of the new Pokemon. This makes the count go up to 649 usable characters. No longer will you have to look at a Geodude or Zubat when going through the main portion of the game. Gamefreak and Nintendo have decided it was time for a change and this is a much needed change. For anyone wanting to see new Pokemon, this is definitely the version for you. Every nook and cranny of the main game is filled with a new monster that has never been seen in any other Pokemon game.

Pokemon Black & White has also added two new battle modes: “Rotation” and “three-on-three”. Rotation battles allow for three Pokemon on the field attacking then rotating to the back which brings out the pack from the back to be the next Pokemon in line. The rotation battles are definitely for the players looking for a different style and strategy. My favorite battle mode is the new three-on-three and it is exactly what it sounds like; three Pokemon battling three other Pokemon.  There are also the the musicals. Pokemon Musicals are a lot like the old battle tents from Emerald, which have you compete in different events and testing the cuteness and other attributes of the Pokemon outside of battles. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the musicals. I eventually found myself looking for cute Pokemon and setting them aside just to do the musicals. Finally, there is the online battling. In the past Pokemon games for the DS allowed you to download player data and battle an NPC version of the team but not the actual trainer. The new online feature is much more than that and gives trainers around the world the chance to participate in live Pokemon battles with other humans. There are actual tournaments that are held online, making for the best online Pokemon experience yet. 

(When I say 3D I do not mean for the 3DS, I only mean the buildings and such have depth.) Pokemon White/Black versions are well above the other Pokemon games when it comes to the graphic and are only being held back by the sound. Don’t get me wrong Pokemon music is very catchy and I have always liked the different growls and chirps that the Pokemon make, though I still don’t understand why they won’t take full advantage of the Nintendo DS’s speakers. The graphics on the other hand are just short of being fantastic. The people at Gamefreak have perfected pixilated art. The camera now pans in and out during battles, the battles move themselves and are all nice and flashy, using tons of lighting and colors. The fact that there are 649 Pokemon is pretty amazing in itself, add that with the fact that they all move and have great battle animations and you get yourself a dream come true when it comes to Pokemon battling. A lot of time is spent in battles, but more time is probably spent wandering around the Unova region and it is time well spent. Gamefreak tried something new this time, adding in 3D buildings, weather effects, and giant bridges and it worked out great. Unova is my favorite region by far, with two mountains, a desert, and a massive 3D city. I was always pleased when I turned on Pokemon Black & White version.

In the end I found myself enjoying Pokemon Black & White more than any other Pokemon to date. I loved that the story was a little more mature and longer (pushing eighty hours on my file, instead of the normal fifty). The gameplay was improved and the new animation was the fresh kick that Pokemon needed. The added online feature also allows those trash-talking trainers to put their pokeballs where their mouths are. The only thing I would want to see done better next time is 3D Pokemon or cell-shaded Pokemon with the addition of better sound.

Verdict:95% 

This is the best Pokemon game I have played up to this point. 

Pokemon Black and White English Trailer #1

This is Keith’s favorite Pokemon game. Is it yours also?