Pokemon Black and White 2 Review

Pokemon is the biggest and most important handheld franchise ever. As such, a main Pokemon game being released is certainly important, and Nintendo has used the series very effectively to keep their dominance in the handheld field. The general Pokemon formula is to release two almost identical games, but with a couple of exclusive Pokemon in each, forcing players to buy both or, more likely, trade Pokemon with someone who has the other game. After a little bit, Gamefreak then releases a third game, which more or less combines the two games and adds a bunch of neat new features. More lately, they have been remaking older generation games, with the Gameboy Advance release of Fire Red and Leaf Green, followed by the DS release of Heart Gold and Soul Silver (Yes, Nintendo shouldn’t be allowed to name anything ever again). Consequently, Black and White 2 is a pretty major departure from this basic formula, being a direct sequel to Pokemon Blank and White. So what does that make Black and White 2? Is this change in formula groundbreaking or is it merely superficial?

Fusion Ha!

Have you ever played a Pokemon game before, even if it was just Red, Blue, or Yellow? If you have, you know exactly what this game entails. Is it even necessary to recap it? Oh well, here we go anyway. In Black and White 2, you start out as a young boy or girl, receive one of three starter Pokemon and go on a quest to become Pokemon champion. Along the way, you must complete eight Pokemon Gyms, and deal with a nefarious team with a pretty bad business model. Pokemon Black and White 2 does not at all vary the experience. You will progress through the game in exactly the same way as you did back when the original games were released. There will be a rival, tons of talk about love and caring towards your battle hardened monsters, and a Pokemon professor that can’t tell your gender. Is it disappointing that Black and White 2 didn’t change up the formula? Maybe the better question is: Did you think that it would?

I love you, internet.

Unlike the basic premise of the series, the combat has evolved significantly since the original series. Pear and Diamond changed which stats effected which moves and revolutionized Pokemon (Who would have thought that Bite should be a physical move). Black and White brought something to Pokemon that it needed just as much: speed. The combat of Black and White made other Pokemon games seem infuriatingly slow. So what interesting thing does Black and White 2 do? Once again the answer is absolutely nothing. If this were the third game in the generation like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, or Platinum, it wouldn’t be expected to be breaking any ground. Should we expect more from a direct sequel?

Call me a slave to nostalgia, but I’d kill for a remake of this on the 3DS

There are, of course, some new features, but these are mostly purely cosmetic. The most interesting new addition is the inclusion of medals. These are mini achievements that you will be awarded for completing various tasks. Unfortunately, these tasks are mostly pretty mundane and uninteresting and medals as a whole seem like a wasted opportunity. However, a possible future refinement could really help this feature. Another new feature is called Union Street. In this place you can recruit people to set up shops. It’s a pretty poor knockoff of much better town creation games such as Dark Cloud, and it feels like zero work or thought went into it. The last new addition worth mentioning is being able to make Pokemon movies. These are fun if you enjoyed Pokemon musicals or fashion shows. If you didn’t, then this feature will be just as incredibly boring as the other distractions proved to be.

Name this game without looking at the name of the picture for some serious nerd cred.

Black and White 2 does do one thing that no Pokemon game has done since Gold and Silver, however. They showed time passing in the world. This is what you’d expect from a direct sequel, but it is still a good thing. Players who wanted to know what would happen to the nefarious PETA-like Team Plasma or the state of the main characters from Black and White will be happy with this game. Unfortunately, I personally didn’t have nearly as much attachment to the characters as I did when Gold and Silver came out, but kids who are watching the Pokemon TV show now, might really appreciate seeing some of their favourite characters coming back for more.

As far as I’m concerned. Misty and Brock never left.

Pokemon Black and White 2 does modify the Black and White experience significantly. For one thing, there are a massive amount of Pokemon to be collected, spanning all generations. This is opposed to the 150 new Pokemon limitation during the main game of Black and White. It also isn’t simply a rehash of gym leaders and areas. There are many familiar locations, but also a lot of new ones. Unfortunately, most gym leaders are almost entirely unchanged. In the end, the fact that Black and White 2 has the biggest roster of catchable Pokemon is probably its best selling point.

Pokemon Black and White 2 is really hard to classify. Should I compare it to other main games, or to a third game in the sequence? As a main game, Black and White 2 adds absolutely nothing worth mentioning. However, as a third game, it adds significantly more than any other in the past, and is absolutely worth your time. As it stands, Black and White 2 is kind of its own thing. It is the best Pokemon game ever made, but the way these games work, it only gets this title because it is the newest.  So today, I won’t be putting up a score. Pokemon Black and White 2 may be a 6 if you are tiring of the formula, as the games don’t change anything. However, they may also score a 9 for being the most recent refinement of a wonderful series, and adding to the story of Black and White. It all depends on what you are looking for, and I don’t feel comfortable giving this game a score somewhere in the middle since it could easily be wonderful or dreary.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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