Pokemon Black and White Version 2 Review

Sarah LeBoeuf | 2 Oct 2012 16:00
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Since the release of Pokemon Red and Blue for the Game Boy in 1998, the series hasn't changed much in its basic formula. As the protagonist, a novice trainer about to embark on his or her journey to catch 'em all, you choose one of three starters (fire, water, or grass types), travel from town to town earning eight gym badges, battle the Elite Four, and take out an evil organization along the way. Despite the similarities from game to game, Nintendo has never released a direct sequel until Black and White Version 2, which retain all of the improvements from their predecessors but don't do nearly as much to push the series forward.

Having the same starter Pokemon as the previous game is a little disappointing, but since Black and White 2 have even more Pokemon than its predecessors, it won't be long until you've got a diverse roster of six creatures ready to battle. Because the turn-based skirmishes feature the series' trademark rock-paper-scissors balance of elemental strengths and weaknesses, the Pokemon you choose can put you at a huge advantage or disadvantage. No matter how varied your favorites are, you'll still find yourself needing to grind from time to time, but this happened a lot less frequently in Black/White 2 than previous games.

The Unova region has changed in the two years since Black/White took place, though you'll still see plenty of familiar faces and locations. All of the trainer gyms have been redesigned, some with new leaders, and there are a handful of towns that didn't appear in the previous game. Additionally, you'll have a chance to capture the black or white version of legendary Pokemon Kyurem, depending on which version of the game you prefer. The events of the previous game are mentioned frequently, and Team Plasma returns for another shot at taking over the Unova region and liberating its Pokemon. The plot itself is largely the same, but at least you'll be able to pick up plenty of Pokemon along the way, including old favorites like Eevee, Riolu, and Mareep.

When you need a break from wandering from town to town in search of more gym badges, Black/White 2 offer additional activities not found in the first game. The single-elimination Pokemon World Tournament allows you to battle trainers from around Unova and even regions from the previous games, including Brock and Misty from Kanto. Seeing those familiar faces is reason enough to keep coming back for more tournaments, but the thrill of progressing through the brackets and winning prizes is also a pretty good incentive. On the other hand, Pokestar Studios, where you battle Pokemon in front of a green screen, is more of a distraction that slows down the pace of the game.

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