Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are the latest installments in the Pokémon series and take you back into the Unova region. They are also the first Pokémon games to be direct numbered sequels to other games in the series. As Hollywood has taught us, sequels are never as good as the originals, so will these games keep that tradition, or will they be a Mold Breaker?
The games start off unlike any Pokémon game before them. These are the first games to start the player in a city, complete with a Poke Center, a Trainer’s School, and a Gym. These games also take place two years after the events of Pokémon Black and White, so there are many changes to the Unova region. These changes include an expanded regional Pokédex, new cities, new towns, new gym leaders, and a whole new story. Right off the bat you are given the feeling of a new story, rather than a copy of the first released game for that region. This is a problem that has long plagued Gamefreak, considering that every second release (Crystal, Emerald, Platinum) was almost an exact copy of the games from earlier in that generation (with the exception of Yellow because it was based on the anime) with maybe one or two new features added.
This game changes everything we’ve known these games to be. This game isn’t just a title thrown out there a year or two after the originals to see who’s willing to buy the same thing over and over again. It is its own journey, and it improves on the stories of Black and White. The narrative that has been developed from these games is just incredible. Does anyone remember the story from the original Pokémon games? No, because there wasn’t one. The entire game was about you going out into the world, beating up as many critters as possible, and crushing the dreams of your childhood friend who’s own grandfather couldn’t remember his name. Oh, and you have to stop Team Rocket. This time around there are actual story pieces that both let you know what’s going on in the region currently, and with the addition of the Memory Link, you get to learn about what happened in the Unova region during the two years between Black and White and Black 2 and White 2.
There are a few other new features introduced in these games that are worth mentioning. For those of you who want to battle gym leaders from other regions or their champions, there is the new Pokémon World Tournament. In addition to battling the gym leaders from other games, Nintendo will also be releasing some tournaments for download over the Nintendo Wireless Connection. Anyone who wishes to play mini games, there are now a few in the Xtransceiver. And for anyone who’s been waiting for Co-op, there are new missions that you can complete with friends in the Entralink. Also, a long awaited difficulty system has finally been added. Challenge mode will add a few levels to your opponent’s Pokémon while Easy mode will take a couple away.
These games are not without their faults, however. Black 2 and White 2 do still take place in the Unova region, so it is inevitable that you run into areas that you’ve explored before, and it happens rather quickly. This took all the excitement I got from seeing new places in this game and crushed it almost immediately. Personally, I would have preferred to have a little more time seeing new areas before I was thrown back to an area I had already become familiar with. I understand that this has also been done with the Kanto region in Generation II and Generation IV, but Kanto was only made available after beating the game for the first time, and played greatly on the nostalgia level of the region, while adding more difficulty to the game, and ultimately, more playability. This is something Unova doesn’t have. Also, remember the difficulty settings I’d mentioned earlier? These modes are unlocked after beating the Elite Four for the first time, so it may not have been enough as you will have to erase your current save file to start a new game on one of the new difficulties, something you may not be willing to do if you have special event Pokémon in your game with no way to keep them.
Finally, being that these games are being released well after the release of the 3DS, I was really hoping that they would also be a 3DS title. However, you have to realize that because of the size of these games, making 3D sprites and animations for every Pokémon and every move could be impossible. The memory needed for that information could very easily be too much for the cartridges to handle, not to mention the amount of money it would cost Gamefreak to develop such features. Many people expect these games to be Pokémon’s swan song on the DS system, however I feel these games may have gotten too big for their own good. Despite the popularity of Pokémon games, it would be very easy for them to slip in sales and ultimately die because they are still being developed for an outdated system.
Ultimately, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 had one thing to do, keep us entertained. This is something it does just as well as every Pokémon game before it has. The fact that this game has its own story rather than being a copy of Black and White is just an added bonus, and while you do quickly find yourself in areas you’ve already explored, the new story should still add a level of freshness to the game. Whether you’re new to Pokémon, or a longtime fan, these games are definitely worth picking up.