With the release of Pokemon Black Version and Pokemon White Version last year, Pokemon hasn’t changed too much in terms of game mechanics. However, changes in the tone of story and a bunch of new features, helped make Pokemon Black and Pokemon White a huge push forward for this franchise. Showing that the team at Game Freak are still full of new ideas on making Pokemon fresh, but staying true to what fans have always known with the main Pokemon titles.
Platform: 3DS (eShop)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: December 8, 2011
That stays true with Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2. It’s already a new thing for Pokemon, with it being a direct sequel to an already existing installment and not just a third version within the same generation of games (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum). Although, parts of the game are very similar to Black and White, there’s enough changes and additions that make this feel like a whole new experience.
Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 take you back to the region of Unova, two years after the events of Black and White. You do assume the role of a beginner Pokemon trainer, but this is a new set of trainers and not the same from the previous games. You start in a new town and have a new rival. It’s already a different experience from Black and White, but the rest of it will feel familiar for those revisiting Unova.
The usuals still remain unchanged. You still get the same three choices of Pokemon to start with, and embark on a journey. Still eight badges to earn, with a Pokemon League to battle the Elite Four and the Champion. You do start off in a new city this time, but the Unova region is still as you will remember. Two different version that feature different sets of Pokemon and areas. The battle system is still the same turn-based set up. This is still Pokemon. So long time players already know what to expect.
It’s the new things that this particular Pokemon version does though, that set it apart from what the past installments have always done. First off, the story is continuing. Things are familiar, but different. It has that factor that makes sequels so enjoyable for me, which is seeing characters in the aftermath. The way Black and White played out, made for some good connections with multiple characters, so revisting them and seeing how things are for them, was a nice treat. That’s a new thing that I’ve never experienced before in a Pokemon game. So having that feeling, I already knew that this latest version of Pokemon is out to become something different.
There’s the Pokemon World Tournament, a place where you can battle against past gym leaders and champions from previous Pokemon installments. A place for nostalgia, but to merge old with the new. Battling Kanto gym leaders with your Unova Pokemon was a bit odd to experience, but much appreciated.
Pokestar Studios puts you on the big screen as you act out a role on a movie set. You’ll enter into specific scenarios with your Pokemon and will need to play through the battle like normal, but fulfilling certain objectives. Those objectives mainly focus around your knowledge of Pokemon types and their weaknesses. So it’s a neat way to learn the basic mechanics of Pokmeon, while getting the chance to see your trainer in some goofy roles.
The biggest addition would have to be the new area of Join Avenue. It’s a straight empty path at first, full of empty booths. You get put in charge of the whole place, with the task of making the place full and active with various shops. You do this by assigning normal citizens that are passing through and having them become shop owners. As you connect with other players, through any of the multiple ways of connecting (Wifi, IR, local), you’ll get the chance to open up more shops of different varieties. Once shops are open, you can shop at them for unique items that aren’t sold elsewhere in Unova. In order to make the place thrive though, you’ll need to make the area popular. This is done by guiding potential customers to shops that they’ll get the most use from and having that shop earn points in order to rank up, allowing it to sell more items. You’ll also earn a nice discount for your trouble. In a good scenario, there will be plenty of stuff to manage, and a good amount of time to invest into this. I thought this particular addition showed a new ‘mini-game’ type thing that can side-track from your main quest, but has some great rewards to offer.
The more unique feature that was added would be the Keys system. As you perform certain tasks in the game, like completing the Pokemon League, you’ll obtain a Key. This isn’t an item you can use in-game. You access these keys from the Main Menu of the game, and these Keys will alter things in your saved game. You can make the game easier or more difficult depending on the Key used. You can also send these Keys to another version, as different versions will house different keys that you can earn. There doesn’t seem to be that many Keys to find, but it’s a neat idea that I can see being used in future games that would help change things up in your Pokemon experience, and to futher encouage the connection between multiple versions of the game.
There are also plenty of other features like the Medals system, which is an in-game Achievement system that will give you a medal whenever you meet specific requirements in the game. It’s entirely optional, but can be a nice challenge system for those dedicated. Also, interaction with Pokemon Dream Radar, an eShop game for the 3DS that is another way to obtain Pokemon that you can then send over to your main Pokemon title. As with all new features, they are optional. They don’t take away from the main Pokemon experience, and you’ll still have a lot to do without even dedicating much time to all the side stuff. But there is a lot of content here in addition to the already lengthy Pokemon journey, that only helps further enhance the game.
This is a sequel to Black and White, so there’s not much change in the graphics or audio department. It’s all on par with what you expect from Pokemon, and this is still a Nintendo DS game, so no huge jump to the 3DS just yet. This isn’t bad though, as there are lots being done visually even if it’s on old hardware. The new viewing angle is still taken well advantage of, allowing for sceneries to be more grand, this is most apparent in the gyms you visit. Some gyms are more simple in appearance than others, but it feels like there’s more personality added to the gyms that reflect the type of person the gym trainer is. Helps add more to the atmosphere and to show off the uniqueness of each gym leader.
Pokemon games were always lengthy. Traveling from gym to gym, fighting and catching Pokemon, battling other trainers, stopping whatever evildoer is out there. That routine alone is still enough to last you many hours. With the added features, there is plenty there to invest your time in along the way. Even after completing the main quest, there are also other experiences that you can encounter. If you need one game to last you a long while, the Pokemon titles are always a go to choice of mine, and you can easily spend a lot of hours with Black 2 and White 2.
Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 is a sequel, but it can also be viewed at its own game. It’s not a new generation of Pokemon, but there is enough here that make it different enough from the previous game that it certainly feels like another leap forward. There may be some moments that won’t have the same impact on a new player compared to a returning one, but this is the new definitive experience of Pokemon that curious players should check out. Not just from the huge list of features added, but also the fact that you can encounter a lot of the Pokemon in one version alone than other versions in the past. Pokemon is always changing, yet sticking true to what it is. I was in the group that felt it was maybe getting a little stale by not revamping the battle system and the same Pokemon League journey routine, but after playing through Black 2 and White 2, I’ve come to realize that those things are what Pokemon is and I’m once again excited to see what will be in store for the next Pokemon game.