Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... since every Pokemon game is essentially aimed at a new generation of youngsters who Nintendo don't want to put off with complex moral am... more
Pokemon Black: A Great Addition in the Series
Pokemon Black (DS)
Member Name: LauraHannan
Pokemon Black (DS)
Advantages: Story a little more complex than normal, gameplay improved, graphics and music are great
Disadvantages: The new pokemon are a bit...meh
The latest instalment in the Pokemon series; how does it fare?
This is probably the most complex of the handheld Pokemon games in terms of story, but in spite of this it's still pretty formulaic. You're still a child kicked out of the house at an absurdly young age to run from town to town catching Pokemon, beating gym leaders and unravelling some secret (but completely unsubtle and cliché) cabal of bad guys, wondering why there isn't a police force in PokemonLand. That said, the latest Team Rocket expy, Team Plasma, have a very interesting twist to them that instantly elevates Black above the rest of the Pokemon franchise. They're animal rights activists.
It's a nice touch, as if Game Freak heard all the jokes about how horrific the PokeVerse is when you think about it (I wonder how my 151 pokemon that have been locked in a tiny ball inside a computer since 1998 in Pokemon Yellow are doing...) and made a little shout-out to all the older Pokefans out there. Unfortunately, they don't take it far enough; in the end, the player is assured that the activists were all just evil tricksters with an ulterior motive, and catching Pokemon and forcing them to fight for your amusement is good, honest. It's understandable, since every Pokemon game is essentially aimed at a new generation of youngsters who Nintendo don't want to put off with complex moral ambiguity, but sometimes I wish they'd make a game that rewards older fans for their loyalty to the series. This could have been it, but it missed the mark.
There are now different types of battling to shake gameplay up, with double battles being available for wild Pokemon and triple battles and 'rotation battles' for trainers. These make travelling up long towers and roads much less of a repetitive slog and add a little bit more scope for strategy.
There are some nice little innovations to the time mechanism; the game now changes seasons as well as night and day, with certain Pokemon only appearing in certain seasons, and others changing their appearance depending on the season. Other little things have been changed to make gameplay flow a lot quicker, like slightly faster battles, and combining the PokeMart and Pokemon Centres into one building.
Mini-games are still available, the Contests of previous games being replaced with 'Musicals', which are much the same, and the Battle Subway fulfilling the role of the Battle Frontiers/Towers of previous games.
===The New Pokemon===
I've gotten the distinct feeling in recent years that the Pokemon production team are running out of ideas and have taken to sitting in the street making Pokemon out of anything they see. So how does Black fare? Well...there's an ice-cream Pokemon...and a pigeon Pokemon...and a garbage Pokemon...
And I feel silly for some reason.
Pokemon Black's graphics are really cool. Each gym has a unique and awesome design (there's a gym with rollercoasters in it!), and outside buildings look 3 dimensional even without 3D enabled, ranging from little villages to towering skyscrapers. In battle pokemon have even more animations, making the whole experience look a lot better.
Par the course for a Pokemon game: lots of catchy little jingles for every town, battle situation and so on. There are some really stand out pieces, such as Ghestis' battle theme, which I would happily put in my Top 5 most awesome boss battle themes of all time.
In summary, this is a solid game in the Pokemon franchise and a must have for any long term Pokeman, while as always being completely accessible to newbies. The music is great, the graphics are great, and the story is an improvement on the standard formula even if it doesn't go far enough. Much recommended!
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