"An Excellent Double Dip into the Land of Unova"
I’ve been away from the core Pokémon series for a while, but most recently, I invested time into the Generation I remakes FireRed and LeafGreen. Since then, I’ve kept track of what has been going on with the main games, but I never got back on the Pokémon bandwagon. That is, until Pokémon Black / White Version 2, one of the two first ever direct sequels to core Pokémon titles (as opposed to the expanded-upon "third" version that previous generations have gotten).
After all this time, I found myself getting into the exploration of a vast land, the discovery of new and diverse Pokémon, and (most of all) the intensity of Pokémon battles. While it may not be the revolutionary step forward for the series that some have hoped for, it takes what has worked in the past and refines it, making for a wonderfully-executed game.
Pokémon Black and White Version 2 returns players to the Unova region, and while it has them going through the same setting as the original Pokémon White, much has changed between the games, with some locations (like gyms) revamped completely, while brand new settings make it so even veterans of the original have a thing or two to discover.
Tying into the plot of the original, the story in Pokémon Black / White Version 2 takes place two years later, involving you in the conflict between the reunited Team Plasma and its former members, who disagree with their power-hungry ways. It works well throughout, playing out enjoyably all the way to the end and providing a good close to the Black / White arc.
While collecting Pokémon, battling trainers, winning gym badges and journeying to be the very best are still the main objectives, Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 come with plenty of other things to do if you want to take a break and do something different. Pokéstar Studios, which tasks you with making mini-movies with your Pokémon, adds a fun (if somewhat superfluous) diversion. Meanwhile, the Pokémon World Tournament offers you a chance to test your skills in challenging tournament battles against classic gym leaders and champions from past games -best part: you can engage in a tournament whenever you want. A new medal system (basically this game’s version of achievements or trophies) provides further incentive to go off the beaten path and try out the game’s many different elements.
Along with those, there is Join Avenue, an area that is populated by the avatars of trainers that you’ve connected with through the game’s various forms of communication (IR, wireless, and online). Not only can you interact with them, but you can encourage them to open a variety of special shops, providing you with plenty of unique goods to buy. The DS’s communication capabilities also come in handy with the revamped Entralink and its new Fun Fest Missions. Featuring objectives ranging from collecting berries to catching Pokémon, the truly impressive thing about the missions in Pokémon Black / White Version 2 is that they allow up to 100 players to connect locally and explore Unova together simultaneously.
These diversions may be fun, but like I said before, the main objective of Pokémon Black / White Version 2 is to collect and battle Pokémon, and in that the game does not fail. Sporting nearly 300 Pokémon from all five generations inhabiting the region, there are a lot of them to catch. Luckily, the game makes it easy to keep tabs on your ever-growing Poké-collection through a new and ingenious feature for the Pokedex: the Habitat List. This feature allows you to keep track of the Pokémon you’ve encountered in each area and which you’ve caught, making it super easy to go about clearing an area and filling up the Pokédex in the process.
Most importantly, the Pokémon battles are well handled here. Once again, the series provides us with another expertly done display of turn-based RPG combat, which, while it's familiar enough for any Poké-fan to get into with ease, it plays with an enjoyable intensity whether you’re engaging in either a single, double, triple, or rotation battle. The detailed gameplay is such that even at the very beginning, as you’re pitting your Pokémon against low-leveled wild critters, you’re aware of type advantages / disadvantages, the Pokémon’s status condition, and a number of other variables. To sum up, the combat never fails to entertain.
With excellent combat, a fun story regardless of whether you played the original, and plenty of new and revamped content to keep returning players happy for a while, Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 more than justify the move to go full-on sequel instead of the traditional "third" version that people had originally expected. There’s something here for everyone. For new players, it is a highly-refined spin on the legendary Pokémon gameplay, and for those who played the original White / Black Version, there is enough new stuff to make a second trip to Unova easily worth it.
GameDynamo's Score for Pokémon Black Version 2 (DS/DSi)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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