Pokémon Black and White 2 are different to any other Pokémon games before them; they’re direct, fully-fledged sequels to Black and White, rather than just an upgrade in the vein of Yellow, Crystal, Emerald or Platinum, and they’re not a complete generation jump as the original Black and White games were to Diamond and Pearl.
They’re not all that different though – White 2 (the version I played, and the one we’ll be looking at) is still permeated with all of the staples of a handheld Pokémon game: hundreds of battle-ready Pokémon; eight gyms and badges; a story involving an evil organisation, the Elite Four and the region’s Champion; and, of course, one-of-a-kind legendary Pokémon.[boxout]Set two years after the events of Pokémon Black and White and taking place in the same region of Unova, the sequel builds on what is one of the best games in the series. There’s a plethora of new things to do and new places to visit – both the storyline and Unova itself have been completely revamped.
You’ll start in an entirely new area on the western side of the map, where you’ll pick your starter Pokémon, as you’ve done in previous games, and then go on to face an all-new first gym, headed by a familiar face from Black and White. In fact, all of the gyms have been completely redone, making for new mechanics to find your way around them – some of which are absolutely brilliant, with roller coasters, colossal dragon statues and many other puzzles that you’ll have to make your way around.
There’s something really amazing about the first several hours of the game, as you set out on your big adventure and train up your freshly caught Pokémon in order to take on the first few gym leaders. It’s something that the Pokémon games have always managed to keep, drawing you in and making it feel all the more worthwhile thirty or forty hours later when you’ve become the Champion using a Pokémon you’ve raised, levelled up and evolved from a very low level.
Of course you will catch other Pokémon along the way, but there’s nothing like raising your starter or a low levelled Pokémon that you found in the first grassy patch you walked through. It’s a type of character development, a friendship even, that can be found in no other game and it’s something that’s been there for over fifteen years, since Red and Blue. The games deserve a lot for the way you bond with the Pokémon you catch.
Certain Pokémon from previous generations are available to catch from the very start, so there’s no need to worry about not being familiar with the newer additions. However, there are no brand-new Pokémon added, only different forms.
Team Plasma, who you might know from the preceding games, are back and hell-bent on liberating Pokémon from their trainers once again. This time, however, Plasma seem genuinely insane and many previous workers have defected, leaving only the worst of the lot for you to fight against. Plasma play a very large role in the story and although their plan is quite odd, they’re very fun villains.
The soundtrack is solid, too – some tracks have been subtly remixed from Black and White, yet they’re still reminiscent of the classic games and there’s sometimes nothing better than blasting the music to help you through that final, epic battle.[drop2]Since it’s a DS game, however, the visuals aren’t anything spectacular, but the vibrant colours are still wonderful and the 2D sprites in an almost 3D world simply works. Battle animations are better than ever, however, with some real depth, even though they’re completely two dimensional.
There’s an abundance of new features to stand alongside the tried and tested formula of the games, including a new Medal system, with which you’ll be rewarded medals for doing certain tasks, much like in-game achievements and Hidden Grottos, which are small, secret areas containing rare Pokémon and items, hidden in between trees.
Completely new attractions and areas exist, too – we won’t spoil the surprise entirely but there’s a movie studio where you’re able to star in battle movies and even a full World Tournament, which is absolutely brilliant, along with many other new places aside from gyms and the Elite Four to battle other trainers. There’s also a lot more to do after completion, something which Black and White missed out on.
- It has everything that makes Pokémon such a good series of games.
- The world of Unova has been reworked and is better than ever.
- It manages to innovate and differ from Black and White, despite being set in the same world.
- There’s a lot to do throughout the game and after completion.
- It isn’t as much of a jump as we’ve seen before.
- The storyline doesn’t match the heights of the previous games.
With a combination of nostalgia, riveting gameplay and a deep world full of Pokémon, Black and White 2 manages to keep you drawn in throughout, from your first steps into the tall grass to your last steps into the hall of fame, and beyond. There’s so much to do, even after the first fifty hours.
Game Freak have transformed the world of Unova into a wonderful playground for Pokémon fans and it’s a level up from Black and White; the perfect swan song for the DS titles before the series evolves into the next generation of Pokémon games, which we can hope to see big things from.