Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 ReviewWith a franchise like Pokemon, it is hard to find things that are new and unique whenever a new title is announced. Every game since 1998’s Pokemon Red and Blue has basically followed the same pattern. Choose a starting Poke, train it, raise it, gather more Pokes, win eight badges from eight gyms and then challenge and defeat the Elite Four and then the Grand Champion. Rinse, repeat, no matter the color of the cartridge or gamecard. This is Pokemon. This is the game that fans know they are getting when a new version hits stores. We have all come to grips with it, and we have all accepted it.

So, when a new Pokemon game comes out that promises something new, fans of the series tend to take note. And that is where Pokemon Black and White Version 2 comes in. In one very important way, it is something entirely new to the franchise: a sequel.

Yes, a sequel. A true continuation of the events from 2011’s Pokemon Black and White.

It’s not a mishmash of the two previous versions, or a reimagining, nor is it a side story like the Mystery Dungeon games. This is not the expected Pokemon Gray (following the conventions set forth from previous titles in the series like Pokemons Yellow, Emerald, and Platinum). Pokemon Black and White Version 2 is a true sequel.

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

Two years has passed since the hero defeated Team Plasma, the mysterious N, and Ghetsis, and saved the Pokemon and the Unova region. And in two years, many things have changed. There are new gyms and new leaders. There are some new towns and new things to do. And certainly there are new Pokemon to catch. Well, new to Unova that is.

After developer Game Freak reset the entire Pokemon world in Pokemon Black and White with all-new monsters to catch, in Black and White Version 2, the floodgates are opened and pokes from the previous games in the series have invaded. Finally, a Growlithe can fight alongside an Oshawatt in a gym battle. There is no post-game uploading or trading needed. Growlithe is there in one of the first areas in the game, ready to be caught and trained for battle. And surprisingly, it makes for a level of freshness that the Unova region really needed.

But this is only the beginning of the changes that Game Freak has included this time around. The new gyms are the series’ best, hands down. They are not just places to battle the leader for his or her badge. One gym leader battle takes place during a fashion show, complete with flashing lights, terrible techno music, and catwalk posing. Another gym battle happens during a rock concert in a nightclub. Yes, a nightclub. In a Pokemon game. Whereas there are still the gimmicky “puzzle room” gyms, the designers made sure the journey to the gym leader is just as fun as the destination. Each gym is new and fresh, even though they are in the same towns as before, and sometimes with the same leaders. Major kudos go out to Game Freak for the excellent gym polish in Black and White Version 2.

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

There are a ton of smaller cosmetic changes that don’t affect the story, but help the gameplay. My favorite is the Habitat tab in the Pokedex, which lists every Pokemon by where they can be found in the Unova region. For “Catch ’em All” enthusiasts, it is a handy tool when it comes to hunting.

Another new feature is the Memory Link, which allows the player to link this game to their save file in the original Black and White, which adds “memory” scenes in Black and White Version 2 that recaps the story from the first game, as played by the player. It’s an interesting feature that helps create a cohesive two-part epic tale.

Also new is the Pokestar Studio, which lets the player “star” in Pokemon movies and actually gain a following that permeates throughout the Unova Region. I was in a billion dollar blockbuster, and people I come across in the street like to tell me how great I was and give me lemonades. The process of making the movie is very fun, as you stage a battle and you must follow a script (use certain moves or abilities at certain points of the battle, even deliver the best lines when prompted). When you watch the finished film you get to see the audience and their reaction. This feature easily trumps any berry spinning mini-game or Pokemon dance-heavy musicals.

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

There are other additions that serve as an adequate distraction from the main story, like Join Avenue, which uses the C-gear’s “street-pass-like” feature to create a community shopping district out of data traded with other trainers that you meet while out in the real world. The Pokemon Global Terminal is back for trades and battles with virtually anyone in the world via Wi-Fi, and the global link which links your Pokes to the dream world.

And the Pokemon series adds another new facet with Medals. Like trophies and/or achievements, Medals are earned for doing specific things, like walking 20,000 steps or catching 30 Pokemon and storing them in a box. A feature like this, in a game where the obsessive compulsive gamer can easily spend two hundred plus hours is yet another major addition to an already stellar game. And yes, getting every medal is as addictive as getting Trophies in a PS3 game or Achievements on the Xbox 360. I have already gone out of my way to do something I probably would not have done had there not been an award for me at the end. And in true Pokemon fashion, there is a competition for the most medals called Medal Rally, because really, how many more head-to-head confrontations can Game Freak and Nintendo cram into a game franchise.

After the main story wraps, there are also a ton of other things to do to give Black and White Version 2 massive amounts of replayability. There is the massive Battle Subway and of course, the Pokemon World Tournament that brings back gym leaders from past Pokemon games to challenge the player. We’re talking gym leaders like Brock, Misty, and even Giovanni! Winning the tournament is not only a blast from the past, but also garners HUGE bragging rights. I haven’t been this pumped to revisit old characters since I defeated Red at the end of the original Pokemon Silver.

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

I could easily go on and on about the new additions to the Pokemon Black and White Version 2, but honestly, Game Freak has included so much that I’m sure I would miss something. So, I can only say, go out, pick up this game, and experience it for yourself. There are over 300 Pokemon to catch and train, and enough side stuff to keep any Pokemaniac busy until the next game in the franchise is announced.

Speaking of, Pokemon Black and White Version 2 is most assuredly the last Pokemon game for Nintendo DS game system. The franchise’s first foray into dual screens was Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (and later Platinum) and that was followed up with Heart Gold and Soul Silver. With the Black and White games, Pokemon has had NINE games on the DS System, which is unprecedented. I bring this up, because Black and White Version 2 is by far the best, most feature-filled Pokemon game of the DS generation. If this game in indicative of where Game Freak is taking the Pokemon franchise, then the mind boggles at what StreePass, Spot Pass, and the stereoscopic 3D of the Nintendo 3DS can bring to a series that hasn’t changed much in 15 years and is so much better for it.

Shop for Pokemon Black and White Version 2 at Amazon.com (October 7, 2012 release date).

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

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