Pokemon Black & White Version Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: New Pokemon, New Region, Improved Presentation, More Added Extras - DSi Enhanced Features
Bad: Weak Story as Always, New Pokemon Looks Ugly
User Score
6.4
(8 votes)
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Pokemon has become a phenomenal hit for Nintendo over the last decade and a half. A new Pokemon game has been released every two years since the original Pokemon Blue and Red were released back in Japan in 1996. As in every Pokemon game, the gameplay mechanics have remained the same: collect Pokemon, battle the Gym Leaders, and become the Pokemon Master. As technology advances, more enhancements are implemented towards the Pokemon series, such as the ability to battle and trade Pokemon via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. With the release of the Pokemon Black and White versions for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo and Game Freak take another big step forward with the series.

Whether you’re a Pokemon fan or not, is getting Pokemon Black or White a worthy investment? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and NOTs to find out.

HOT

New Pokemon, New Region
If you’re tired of exploring the Sinnoh or Johto Regions, getting Pokemon Black & White will give you a fresh new experience, as the newest game takes place in the Unova region, which is a very far away land from the regions of previous games. Being a new game, a new generation of Pokemon has been introduced. A fresh new start is to be expected in this game, and as a Pokemon fan who has been playing the games since the Red version, I was quite excited to see these new Pokemon, especially the starter Pokemon I picked, Tepig. In Pokemon Black & White, there are a total of 156 new Pokemon that you can catch and train on your quest to become a Pokemon Master.

For those who haven’t played any of the games in the series, each Pokemon game has the same objective: collect as many Pokemon as you can, go through the eight gym leaders in the region, battle the Elite Four, and after that, become the Pokemon Master and seek out the Legendary Pokemon for each version. If you’re one of the people that loves playing multiplayer, you can use the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection to trade or battle with different people across the globe. If this sounds like you, then you might join the club and play Pokemon.

Improved Presentation
Over the years, we’ve seen improvements in the presentation for each Pokemon game. In the Black and White versions, there are a lot of new animations and improvements in the game’s engine. The 2D environments from past Pokemon games have now been turned into 3D, making the Unova region a livelier place to go hunt Pokemon. In addition to the Night and Day cycle from Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver, Pokemon Black & White now introduces a “Season” cycle where the seasons in the Unova Region change each month and different Pokemon appear, depending on what season it is.

Another notable improvement that I found in playing the game is the battle animations. Instead of having a still sprite of the Pokemon, we now see them moving around in a loop. The special effects of the attacks are still the same but there are new ones that I find very amusing and that deliver a smooth special effect. At every new area you go to, a scrolling marquee will appear on the upper left hand side of the screen, making it more stylish than the traditional boxed indication of the area. There are other improvements yet for you to see, all of which give the impression of playing a totally new Pokemon game.

More Added Extras – DSi Enhanced Features
Aside from having the goal of defeating the Elite Four and being the Pokemon Master, there are other things that you can do that add a lot of replay value to the game. We all know that collecting 156 new Pokemon will be hard and one of the ways to complete it is via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Online trading was already implemented in Diamond and Pearl but what makes the Black and White version a step up for the series is that not only can players trade online, they can also use the Infrared to connect with anyone nearby to trade or battle. No need to use cables or be on the Union Room!

Exclusively on the Nintendo DSi, battling other trainers across the globe gets better, as they can now use a video chat option. Using the Xtranreceiver that you will receive at the early part of the game, up to four players via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection can compete and see each other thanks to the built-in camera and microphone on the DSi. Not everyone can talk to each other as the Friend Code is needed in order to communicate. This new feature totally enhances the ability to communicate when battling with other people.

My favorite new addition is the Dreamworld. For anyone who is familiar with the secret bases in the Ruby and Sapphire versions on the Gameboy Advance, the Dream World will seem very similar. Once you obtain the C-Gear and have the ability to register at the Pokemon Global website, you can do a lot of things in your dream world. For example, you can customize your home with furniture or befriend a Pokemon. Think of the dream world as your house!

From the double battle that we all love from the past two generation of games, we now move to a triple battle. If you’re getting the White version, there are a lot of triple battles to be expected. Instead of having two Pokemon fighting all at once, up to three can now join in. For those who will be getting the Black Version, they will see less Triple battles but they will be able to see more of the Rotation Battles, which is also new to the Pokemon series. In Rotation battle, the Pokemon on the field will rotate several times.

NOT

Weak Story as Always
Story in a Pokemon game has never been that good. Black and White have basically the same story as previous games. In past versions, we’ve met Team Aqua, Team Rocket, and Team Magma; this time in the Black and White versions, we get introduced to Team Plasma, whose goal is to free the Pokemon from their trainers and give them the freedom they deserve. While their intentions are good, they do things in a very bad way that you, the aspiring Pokemon Master, must stop. Nothing is that exciting in the story of Pokemon, as it’s always been about, “Gotta Catch Em All”.

New Pokemon Look Weird
There are now more than 500 creatures in the Pokemon world. While the first three generations look cute and adorable, I am disappointed to see that this generation has one of the worst designs for the new Pokemon. For more than a decade of doing Pokemon, it seems that Satoshi is running out of ideas and just recycling the creatures with different colors. Sure, new Pokemon are always a nice addition, but the overall designs of the new Pokemon are a big disappointment to me. I still prefer the old Pokemon like Bulbasaur, Chikorita, Cyndaquil, and Turtwig.

VERDICT

Editor's Choice AwardNintendo has done it once again, keeping the Pokemon community alive and active with Pokemon Black & White. No matter if you’ve played past Pokemon games or not, Pokemon Black & White will give you the feeling of playing an entirely new game. The 156 Pokemon and a totally new region to explore make for a fresh and enjoyable experience. While the gameplay is pretty much recycled, the “gotta catch em all” theme never gets old now that online trading and video chat are now possible. For veteran Pokemon trainers who played all games in the series, Black & White is a must have, as it will give you another challenging adventure to tackle and new Pokemon to catch. For gamers who are looking at getting into the Pokemon world, this is a great place to start but be warned: you might get addicted!

[Editor’s Note: Pokemon Black Version was played on the Nintendo DSi XL. The game was given to us by the publisher for review purposes.]

Pokemon Black & White Version Review, 6.4 out of 10 based on 8 ratings
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