Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... the rest of the games. I bought Soul Silver and Diamond recently, but had not played Pokemon for about 6 years before that, so was naively ... more
Still gotta catch 'em all...and still loving it!
Pokemon Black (DS)
Member Name: Anti
Pokemon Black (DS)
Advantages: Solid gameplay as always, great graphical, technical and story improvements, post-game content
Disadvantages: New Pokemon designs uninspiring, more of the same.
===---Aim of the Game---===
In Pokémon you play the role of a ten year old boy or girl who is a Pokémon trainer in the new world of Unova. Pokémon are creatures that inhabit the known world and be caught and trained by humans to help them or use in battle against others.
In every Pokémon game there are two main goals. The first is, of course, to catch as many Pokémon as you can to fill your Pokedex- an encyclopaedic device given to you by your mentor-like figure of the game, Professor Juniper. During your journey you will encounter Pokémon while travelling and catch them with Pokeballs for them to be yours, but other Pokémon needed to be traded with a friend (or stranger's) game or from previous games in the series With over 600 Pokémon now available this is an increasingly difficult task and one I've resigned myself to never completing, but it certainly one that is a rewarding experience for young and old trainers alike!
The second big aim of the game (and more important story-wise) is to become the best Pokémon trainer of all. Raising the Pokémon you catch, you will progress through the world of Unova beating the Gyms and their leaders- powerful trainers whom carry a certain type of Pokémon- in each city. Upon beating each gym leader they will give you a badge. Once you collect all eight badges you advance to Victory Road and then the Pokémon League where you beat the extremely difficult Elite 4 trainers and then the champion.
The stories of the Pokémon games are pretty formulaic: you're a trainer, a professor gives you (and rival) a starter Pokémon and Pokedex, you go out into the world catching and raising Pokémon, there's an "evil" corporation around trying to mess with the world but you sort them out and eventually become the Pokémon Champion.
However Pokémon Black and White's story, whilst hardly at 'Final Fantasy' levels of storytelling, has much more depth than its predecessors. Your two rivals are your friends Cheren and Bianca, and I found that they are realistic characters with personality and development throughout the course of the story. Bianca for example is a bit of a naive ditz whose father subsequently disapproves of her going on her Pokémon adventures, but by the end she's a bit more mature and capable of being a trainer by herself. Then there is the mysterious trainer N, who you meet throughout your journey and has much more sinister opinions about Pokémon but is shown to be a very conflicted individual. The big bad corporation of these games are the rather dated looking (seriously- they're dressed as Knight Templars!) Team Plasma. They envision taking away Pokémon from their trainers so that they're "free"; the philosophy behind this is actually well-explained and treated with more thought than previous series. It is a well-enough told story and the ending, along with some surprising story battles and a predictable but decently handled plot twist, definitely held my attention.
Gameplay is more or less the same as other games in the series. At the beginning Professor Juniper lets you choose a starter Pokémon: Snivy (grass type), Tepig (fire type and my personal choice) and Oshawott (water type) and then you head off into the rest of Unova, beating gym leaders, other trainers and the occasional Team Plasma grunts on the way. Wild Pokémon are found in patches of grass, on water or in caves and can be caught with Pokeballs from your Bag, or defeated by your Pokémon, which grants them experience points. Gaining enough Experience Points lets your Pokémon level up so they get stronger, learn new moves and eventually evolve into another more powerful Pokémon! If you're Pokémon are injured or affected by one of the various status effects, then you take them to a town's Pokémon Center where they all are restored to full health. Some Pokémon are as common as mud and very easy to catch, some are only available in certain kinds of places, and some are even only available at certain times of day or year (the games introduce season cycles). but a few Pokémon are the one-of-the-kind legendaries who are much more powerful than regular Pokémon and are only available to catch once- if you defeat them you cannot find them again to catch them!
So as always I found Pokémon Black/White's gameplay to be fun and very simple to get into. It's easy for anyone to learn about which Pokémon types work best against each and which moves are best to use in certain situations, regardless of age. However there's nothing really new or innovative in the core gameplay and it's very much more of the same, even with implements such as Triple Battles (3 vs. 3 Pokémon on at the same time), Rotation Battles (similar to Triple Battles but with only two Pokémon fighting with the opportunity to switch in/out with the third). I still find constant battling to be repetitive and the idea getting your Pokémon to the max level of 100 is too long and uninteresting a task for me to deal with. That said, there are no major changes that will annoy Pokefans either so I should be thankful.
===---Graphics and Music---===
Pokémon Black and White's graphics are huge improvement over its predecessors. Buildings, paths and landmarks have been 3D rendered to a great level that makes the towns and other places you visit truly fascinating for a handheld game such as this, especially when your character is travelling across bridges that extend into the distance or watch the coastline from a ship. They do lack polish when zoomed in (as found with some paths) but it's still impressive and it is still a large enough step from the previous games as it is that I can ignore it. In battles Pokémon have also been rendered slightly 3D and are animated too so they will move about slightly in battle instead of being a staccato image- neat! However, with regards to the new Pokémon introduced in these games, some of their designs are beginning to look stale. I'm beginning to think that the developers are taking the basis for other Pokémon and then changing their appearance and type to get a new Pokémon. They are even designing Pokémon that look like bags of rubbish (Trubbish) or having punny names (new Rock/Ground Pokémon Roggenrolla- get it?). It's pretty uninspiring and the creators need to think of some unique designs fast for the next games or start introducing less Pokémon next time.
The music is very good as always, with fittingly atmospheric tunes for various cities and different kinds of battles. I don't think they're as catchy as the music from the Gold/Silver games but that might be nostalgia talking, and besides I'm happy to listen to it rather than put my DS on mute- even when the critical Low HP song is playing!
The main story game length is about twenty hours, which I find is a decent amount for this game. Fortunately after you've beaten the final boss story wise there is plenty of extra content to sink your teeth into; defeat more trainers (quite the difficulty spike here too), re-battle the Elite Four and Champion, find more Pokémon, complete your Pokedex...all this I believe adds another twenty hours to the game and perhaps longer if you're a total completionist. This isn't even counting all the minigames you can do in the various cities (no Game Corner however) such as having your Pokémon play in sports or participate in musicals. Personally those activities don't interest me but they should be fun for other players and add further longevity.
Furthermore the multiplayer options are numerous too. You can trade or battle either wirelessly with another person's game on their DS, or go onto a network called GlobalLink and do the same with trainers all over the world via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Although I cannot access Nintendo Wi-fi myself (my DS Lite doesn't support my broadband connection), I like that the WFC has been expanded so that rare Pokémon can be received easily through special online events.
Pokémon Black and White is an excellent addition to the series with some excellent improvements and plenty of challenges and bonus content to keep you interested. If you are a fan of the games I suggest you definitely buy this if you haven't done so already! If you aren't then by all means still buy it anyway- you shouldn't be disappointed.
(Review also on Dooyoo under the username Anti_W)
Summary: An excellent addition to the Pokemon series and many improvements.
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