Who would have guessed that mere days after the launch of the Vita, we would be looking at a Nintendo game, a Nintendo DS game of all things. However, when a new Pokemon game is announced, it is important to take notice. Pokemon is easily the most influential handheld series, and one that seriously helped legitimize handheld gaming. We were told that a big Pokemon-related bit of news would come out over the weekend and this led the community to speculate about what was coming. Would it be a 3DS Pokemon game? A sequel to Pokemon Snap, or simply Pokemon Grey (Assumed name of 3rd game in the generation)? As it turns out, those who expected Pokemon Grey were the closest, as the game announced was Pokemon Black and White 2. There is precious little data surrounding the game at this point so all we can do is speculate, but the question remains: what is this game? Is it simply the third game in the generation like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum, or is it something more. Well it’s time to let the speculation begin.
|Black + White isn’t Grey apparently. It is some Frankenstein’s monster of all three colours.|
One of the biggest reactions people have had in relation to this announcement is to question why Nintendo would develop this for the DS and not the newer 3DS. Of course there was no reason to assume this game would come out for any other platform. If it is intended to by the third game in the series, we all knew that it would be released on the same platform as the other two. From a business perspective it also makes sense. The 3DS is fully backwards compatible, so by developing this for the DS, Nintendo can reach a huge audience including the large amount of people who have not yet made the jump to the 3DS. If this is more than simply the third game in the series, it is still smart. By putting it on the DS, the developers can use the same graphics engine and many of the same areas in order to reduce development costs and time. Pokemon fans may have to wait longer for a 3DS sequel, but this really shouldn’t have come as any surprise.
|Best selling handheld of all time. No, no reason to still develop for it at all|
The real question of course is whether or not Black and White 2 is the third game in the series or if it is a direct sequel. The reason for this question is the presence of the number 2 in the title. No other Pokemon game has had a number in it. Traditionally Pokemon games come in threes. Pokemon Red and Blue were joined by Pokemon Yellow: The Special Pikachu Edition. Pokemon Gold and Silver were joined by Pokemon Crystal. Ruby and Sapphire by Emerald, and Diamond and Pearl by Platinum. These titles have generally been a combination of the already mostly similar games with new refinements, areas, and legendaries thrown in. As you can see by the names of the games, these titles follow a pattern, which is why everyone assumed that the third game for the Black/White generation would be Grey. If Black and White 2 isn’t simply the third game in the series then does that mean that Nintendo is abandoning that tradition? I doubt that Nintendo would release a sequel such as this and then a third game, but that 2 is troubling. Is Nintendo simply the laziest company in the world and gave up with the already lazy and predictable naming patterns in favour of a simple numbering system, or is there more here than a simple third game.
|Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasaur, AND Squirtle, choosing is for dummies|
Despite there never having been an official direct sequel to a Pokemon game, it isn’t a completely unheard of practice in the series. Although it stands entirely on it’s own, Pokemon Gold/Silver could be seen as a direct sequel to the original games. After clearing the Elite Four, you can go back to Kanto, collect that region’s badges again, meet old faces, and see how hard Cinnabar got messed up. Finally, the strongest trainer in that game was the protagonist from the first game, which was undoubtably a cool idea. However, the brilliance of Gold/Silver was that all of these references were simply bonuses, and it contained a completely new game, in a completely new area, with completely new Pokemon. The way that Black and White 2 looks at the moment, it seems like it will likely take place in the same area with the same Pokemon, but perhaps a little later than the events of Black and White.
|Trust me, this guy is a beast|
If Pokemon Black and White 2 is a direct sequel, what does that mean. Likely, not too much. Players will likely leave on an adventure from the same town as Black/White, battle gym leaders for the same badges, and clear the Elite Four. You know, the formula for every Pokemon game. The areas will likely be recycled, and it would be a safe bet that no non-legendary Pokemon will be added. Despite this, the prospect of a direct sequel is brilliant. Nintendo’s policy of releasing a third game isn’t a good one. The game’s usually don’t offer anything substantial enough to really warrant a purchase, and only the hardest of core, or the Pokemon chaste will go for them. However, a direct sequel can be made just as cheaply, but purchasers of the originals would be far more likely to buy it simply to see how the world changes. What is going to happen to Team Plasma and N? How have the Gym leaders changed? Did anyone get a Koga-style boost into the Elite Four? The answers to these questions are far more substantial than the content of the vast majority of third games, but wouldn’t require Nintendo to put in a substantial amount of effort to produce.
|Make this happen and I’ll buy three copies on the first day!|
There is one last piece of speculation that I’ve heard around the interwebs. Namely that this game will include some kind of fusion mechanic. This is based on the fact that the only released image is of two similar looking legendary Pokemon (First image on the post). These Pokemon are clearly a combination of Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem, which were the primary legendaries of the original Black and White. I’ve heard that these Pokemon are supposed to simply be different forms of Kyurem in the same way Deoxys has different forms, but I can’t find a source on this (Update – Black Kyurem and White Kyurem, no fusion) . However, this is far more likely than Nintendo creating a brand new fusing mechanic. Do you know how much work it would be to allow the fusing of all 649 current Pokemon? It would be insane, and this is clearly not a project, which Nintendo is putting much work on. At the same time, if fusing were restricted to just these legendary Pokemon, it would lead to players not wanting to fuse as they would lose their one-per-game legendary. While the images are clearly of some Frankenstein’s monsters, there is pretty much no chance of Pokemon moving into fusion territory.
|It’s Diglett Wednesday tomorrow. Don’t forget.|
To answer the question I posed in the title, I would say that Pokemon Black and White 2 looks like it will be both lazy and brilliant. It looks lazy, as the game will likely recycle areas with no real innovation in any way; however, it looks brilliant because, if it is a sequel, it will be a very welcome new take on Pokemon’s three game formula, and should induce far more players to buy it than previous third games. Pokemon isn’t known for it’s huge amount of innovation, and those looking for this game to turn it around are likely to be out of luck. Nevertheless, Pokemon has its throng of devotees, and it is nice that something other than the painfully predictable Grey has been announced.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer