Pokemon Black and White are the latest RPGs from Game Freak and Nintendo. Originally released in Japan last September, Pokemon Black and White have already broken records to become the best selling Pokemon games to date. Black and White are taking the series back to its roots, allowing players to discover the world of Pokemon for the first time, even if it's not your first time. Players will begin the game unaware of the world of Pokemon, a notion not seen since Pokemon Blue and Red (or Green).
A Wild Pokemon Has Appeared
Every second of Black and White, from the moment you walk out of your mom's house to beating the Elite 4, is filled with new Generation 5Pokemon. You won't be able to even see older generations of Pokemon until you beat the story.
I get the decision to do this, but for a series whose tag-line is "Catch Them All," they sure make it hard to do so. Nintendo is trying to recapture the freshness of the franchise: not knowing where to find Pokemon, not knowing what type is good against another, etc. This level of mystery was absent from Pokemon SoulSilver and HeartGold.
The Pokefan in you is getting excited because gone are the days of entering a cave and being bombarded with Zubats. I hate to bring you down, but the alternative isn't much better. One of my biggest problems with Black and White is how similar the 5th generation of Pokemon are to the other generations.
The alternative to Zubat you ask? It's Woobat, a psychic, flying type bat Pokemon that hangs out in caves. Patrat is a rodent Pokemon who hangs out in the grass, is lower level and very common. I dare say it reminds me of Rattat. Woobat and Patrat are just two of the many Pokemon that seem to be only an extra letter and an extra body part from an already existing, and much cuter or cooler looking Pokemon.
Black and White's story follows the same formula as all the previous games, something I wasn't surprised with. You're a young Pokemon trainer, ready to take on the world and all the Pokemon in it. You're tasked with choosing one of three Pokemon, Tepig (fire), Snivy(grass), or Oshawott(water).
For the first time in the series the Professor who guides you on your quest is female and instead of rivals you have two best friends. All the other basics are there, eight gym badges, the Elite Four, and a Pokemon terrorist organization bent on taking over the world through stealing Pokemon and wearing matching outfits. All of this is wrapped up with a legendary Pokemon, just as the formula dictates: Reshiram in Black and Zekrom in White.
Pokemon Finally Goes Next Gen...Sort Of
It seems like Nintendo is finally harnessing the current technology as Black and White boast character animations, and cinematic cutscenes. The character animations are a welcome addition, and the opponent's Pokemon animations look great.
During battles however, I can't say the same thing of my own pokemon, as they are pixelated and look only marginally better than previous games, but cutscenes advance the story and allow my thumbs a break at the same time; however, the more advanced graphics mean slight load times in between moving to new rooms or locations.
My favorite addition though is the camera angles. The first time you travel to Castlia City, you'll notice how much it feels like an actual city, at least compared to the towns of previous games. Skyarrow Bridge's only function is to allow you see how big they are capable of making Unova feel. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they are finally updating the game in this way, but I can't help but wonder what took them so long. And why finally release an a more advanced game weeks before the 3DS comes out, a system more powerful than the Wii.
C-Gear lets you connect with gamers using the console's infrared communication. Once acquired, it takes up the entire bottom screen of the DS. With it you can exchange friend codes, trade Pokemon, or battle. There are several types of battles: Single, Double, Triple, Rotation and Multi. Rotation Battles are when each trainer sends out three Pokemon at once but only one at a time can attack. Triple battles are like single and double, but with three. Multi battles are between four players, armed with one Pokemon each.
Two other multiplayer modes are accessible through Pokemon Centers: Draw Together and Spin Trade. Draw Together lets up to five players draw together. Spin Trade might surprise you, in it up to five players can trade eggs. Who will get what? Nobody knows...
Run? Can't Get Away
I think my review is a bit critical, but I've played every single Pokemon game and have come to expect a lot from the series. My biggest disappointment in Black and White is it often felt like they put a fancy new skin over Red and Blue. So much of this game is familiar.
While they did innovate and build, I wanted more. But this is an argument I can make with every subsequent game after Red and Blue. Did it meet my expectations of a fresh experience? No. Is it still an amazing game that did improve on many aspects? Absolutely. Life long Pokefans, you're going to love this game just like you loved all the others, but don't expect too much. Gamers who are new to the series, this is great way to get acquainted with the series, and the best one yet.