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Review: 'Pokémon' evolves a real story with 'Black' and 'White'

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

Pokémon Black and White legendariesThe fifth generation of Pokémon began by announcing a semi-anthro fox over a year ago. Now, Pokémon Black and White have hit your local video game outlet.

After four generations, Pokémon is a household name. Like the Nintendo DS – hosting five versions of the game, not counting side-trips like the Pokémon Ranger and Mystery Dungeon series – the Pokémon franchise is all but a license to print money.

Add a few critters and upgrades, slap on Pikachu's friendly face and shove it out the door, right?

Wrong. This generation of Pokémon has evolved.

Mechanics

Oh, don't worry. You get the same basic experience and virtually the same game mechanics. Pokémon get captured, fight and evolve the same way.

The game adds seasons, night and day and days of the week, and that does affect certain aspects of the game (for instance, you won't be able to buy ice cream on Tuesdays during winter. Oh no.), but the meat of the game is mostly unaffected. The game also adds wild double battle areas and trainer triple battles, which may affect Pokédex completionists and competitive gamers, but that isn't where the game evolves.

Storyline

Past Pokémon games haven't exactly had the most riveting storylines. Truth be told, they haven't needed them. The game is about either collecting or battling for most players. Past storylines have seen you trying to become the regional Pokémon champion, while simultaneously fighting an evil criminal organization, who since the third generation have plotted world domination via capture of one legendary Pokémon or another.

In Black and White, however, for the first time the game has a story that is worth playing for itself. Previous games have put your character's successes down to love of his or her Pokémon (whatever the player's actual feelings are) — but that love has been shown, for the most part, by having your Pokémon beat the snot out of the Pokémon held by everyone you meet (plus a few wild Pokémon unfortunate enough to be innocently standing in the wrong patch of tall grass). There is a real divide between what the characters in the game say and their routine in-game actions.

When you first meet this generation's Team Rocket (known as Plasma), they are peacefully hosting a rally asking trainers to release their Pokémon in order to stop hurting them. This generation may be Black and White, but the lines between the good guys and the bad guys are not so clear.

It does turn out that the "save the Wailmers" schtick is just a ruse to essentially leave the vast majority of humanity unarmed for the group's leader, but it is also clear that quite a few, if not the majority, of Team Plasma's members aren't in on it. "How many Pokémon have you hurt to get this far?" one defeated grunt asks late in the game. Even for a player lax on the grinding, hundreds at this point. Ouch.

For the first time, the battle between you and the evil organization is the primary goal; you fight the gym bosses and the Elite Four to get to them. This is also the first Pokémon game that can truly be said to be spoiled. At one point, an important member of Team Plasma does something which four previous generations of Pokémon have taught us is impossible. In the end, the game cops out – pretty much saying Pokémon like being used to beat the crap out of each other, take our word for it – but it was at least brave enough to address the issue.

Graphics and design

Black and White are certainly the prettiest of the series. Though the overhead view remains, the DS allows for three-dimensional shots that are often surprisingly spectacular (crossing a bridge for the first time is pretty cool). Pokémon now move around during fights; a small change, but appreciated.
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Character design is pretty important to the furry fandom. Nintendo took yet another risk by introducing a brand-new group of 150+ Pokémon; you can't catch any old Pokémon until after the game ends. Not even Pikachu survived the cull. Now, we all know the original 150 are totally the best-designed set, without any duds (not even the circle cut in half evolving into the circle cut in half), but the new ones grow on you pretty quickly. And, seriously, how can you say no to a lamprey-based Pokémon? Basically, as with any generation, there are a few that are going to bomb, and a few the fandom are going to eat alive.

Now, if you haven't made the choice between Black and White, the choices extend beyond Pokémon (which include ball of cotton versus extremely feminine plant, a Gothic Lolita versus a diagram of cellular mitosis, and a diaper-clad buzzard versus an American eagle).

Each game has a unique area appealing to different types of players. Black gives you Black City, where you can fight trainers to gain experience, while White gives you White Forest, with a variety of older Pokémon available to catch. Finally, while the third generation gave us land versus sea and the fourth generation gave us time versus space, Black will give you the right side and White the left side of this painting. Really.

Finally, this generation is the most progressive, as it sees the first female "professor" and the first black gym leader. (Ed: A step up from Jynx)

Comments

Your rating: None

This is a well-written and very informative article.

Too bad I don't have a DS right now...

Your rating: None

I would think the 'bomb' looks more like something one would 'eat alive', because it looks like ice cream.

Your rating: None

God, that was some sort of bizarre Freudian slip.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

I dunno about evolved. I don't think I would've picked this out as the best pokemon game. I haven't actually finished it yet but I've played through a lot.

The game mechanics are pretty much the same but adding seasons really seems like overkill. They take weeks to apply and I'm thinking a lot of people will be over the game by then.

I disagree the storyline is worth playing for. It does make a nice change with Team Plasma actually having a decent agenda but again it sucks that the pokemon game is completely linear. I would've probably joined Plasma but no matter how much you agree with them you are always forced to fight them. Some of the later stuff that you refer to I am not familiar with so I'll pass on commenting on that.

Honestly I found the two 'friends' to be even worse than the rivals from before. So much of the game was made up of scripted sequences that, with the entire story being linear, it didn't even feel like a game any more. In the previous games you had very little scripting and it felt like you were actually exploring the world. In B&W what you do is extremely rigid and even the areas between cities are pretty much straight paths.

If you can get the original pokemon after you complete the game then that is good because I've been very unsure about their decision to remove the previous pokemon. It might make it seem like a totally new game but it also leads to a lack of variety in what people have and really removes a lot of the connection it might otherwise have to the previous games.

The graphics aren't too bad but changing to 3D did not benefit the series at all. At times the camera angles make things blocky and the whole bridge sequence was obviously just them showing off as it served no purpose at all. That said I did like how you could now move along curves, particularly in the large city which introduced real crowds and buildings.

I've thought very little of the new pokemon since the 2nd generation and this one hasn't done much to improve that. There are a number of cute and cool ones but they are really showing a strain in the creativity department. Some of the pokemon designs are completely ridiculous and others are so pathetically generic that you could translate them as is from the pokemon world without them even seeming out of place.

It's not an overall bad game and has made a couple of improvements, particularly in the battling department, but I don't think it's nearly as good as it could have been.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2 (3 votes)

Agreed on the rival part. A little too much battling with them. (What is it? Every city you fight one of them?)

I do kinda sympathize with what N was trying to do, though. And ouch on what the Plasma Grunt says. Never knew that.

Black and White also has the most badass music I've heard in a Pokemon game for a long time. Seriously. Listen to the Gym Leader, Elite Four, and Champion (which sounds a lot like Cyrus' theme.) themes. Hell, some of the music for the cities are beautiful. Mistralton City, Raimon City, and Hodomoe City's theme come to mind.

Interesting design for the Elite Four. Everyone is strong against another. (Caitlin can beat Marshall, Marshall can beat Grimsley, Shikimi ((no I will not use Shauntal.)) can beat Caitlin.)

I love the idea of 3 Gym Leaders in Striaton City. Battling one who's strong against your starter. (Don't worry, there is an area east of the city where you can get one of the Monkey trio who's strong against the leader you'd fight.)

A little disappointed with the English names, however. I'm much more comfortable using most of the Japanese names for main characters, but I can get used to the English names for the Pokemon.

Also note this is the 1st Pokemon game to get a PERFECT score. And the 1st where not only that you're required to catch a Legendary to advance the story, but a rival trainer that isn't one at the Battle Tower/Frontier that uses one as well.

*phew* Sorry for that.

TL;DR Black and White is an AMAZING game, and you should pick up a copy.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

Spoilers man, my god...

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

See spoiler tags? No? Thought so.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

My computer couldn't either, I hit ctrl-f and the word spoiler was only found for the above comment... I cannot see what is physically not there.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Sarcasm? Really? :/

I don't care if I revealed that or not.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

I think people could tell that already, simply by the fact your responses were hardly apologetic in nature, in fact they were overtly defensive of your own actions to the point of trying to make it seem I missed some spoiler alert. And if you didn't care why would you have lied about laying out spoiler tags?

The way to not respond when someone said you did something that may not be appreciated is to lie about having laid out a warning.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

...Do you know what spoiler tags are? Y'know "" ? That's what I meant.

And nowhere did I say spoiler alert.

It's pretty obvious you're just a troll.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

I think there may be a misunderstanding. Sonious simply meant that you posted spoilers in your comment, and was expressing the opinion that this was inappropriate without a prior warning.

We do not have a "spoiler" tag and you cannot insert arbitrary HTML, but bold, italic, etc. are available.

Edit: Ironically the comment folding system works just as well for this, if not better.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Yes, a troll who has been here for over a year just waiting for the day you showed up and do my trolly troll things, hark my plan has been revealed! What shall I do?

If you did use a spoiler tag and didn't realize they were there, then that was a simple mistake, you made it more complicated by saying something like "I didn't care that I revealed the spoilers." If you used the tags you claimed you did then obviously you did care. Are you lying about using the tags or are you lying about not caring about revealing the spoilers? You cannot be telling the truth in both cases. The actions contradict one another.

I don't appreciate being lied to. How hard would it have been to have said: "Oh, I thought I used spoiler tags and thought it would hide the content, but apparently it didn't work, sorry about that"? Heck the spoilers weren't even all that big, it isn't worth your integrity to get defensive over a mistake like that. Before assuming and responding as if I'm the one who missed something, make sure you go back and see if it is yourself that is not mistaken, because if you're trying to protect your image, it's very counterproductive to assume you're in the right and not that you had overlooked something that makes your assumptions incorrect.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

....Where in my original post did I say I used spoilers or a spoiler tag?

Where in it did I say I was? I did NOT say I used spoiler tags, nor did I intend too.

God damn you're an idiot.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

How about on March 13th at 17:31?

See spoiler tags? No? Thought so.
-Dat Spy

(In context you were responding to me noting you were kind of dishing out spoilers, you responded as if I had missed spoiler tags you had laid out)

Final warning, one more lie like that, and you'll be the first person on my block list. There are alot of people I can tolerate, liars are not one of them, and the only posts you've made here so far are either trying to weasel out of a simply mistake you made as if any fallibility is so detrimental it is worth your entire credibility, or you've been spoiling games whether purposefully or inadvertently I'm not sure as you've been not clearing that up. But I'm starting to no longer care whether it was purposeful or not.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

http://verydemotivational.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/demotivational-posters-qua...

Oh no! Not blocked! Whatever shall I do?

Yeah no. You're obviously just a troll.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

I suppose if it helps you sleep better at night, you can believe I'm the Tooth Fairy, who is doing dentistry on the Easter Bunny as well. Humanity seems to have this fixation of changing the people who disagree with them into monsters, into creatures of fiction who are evil.

It's always pathetic.

Liars are real, trolls are fictional creatures, if I somehow am misinterpreting you, tell me, but from what I can see you're the one who hit me with sarcasm first.

Your rating: None

Hey, do you two remember when this discussion was about Pokemon?

Seriously, if this article ends up in GR's "2011 most commented list" simply because you two couldn't stop sniping at each other, that would actually be freaking awesome.

The more articles I have in that puppy, the better!

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (4 votes)

Well I did. Unfortunately someone decided to throw a temper tantrum because I revealed a little too much.

Furries. Always easy to nudge into a shitstorm.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Pokemon are only as evil as their owners, and I am only as aggressive as the individual commenting "towards" me.

Treat others as you expect to be.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Someone doesn't get the concept of spoiler tags.

When he said that, he meant it towards your post, thought it meant you wanted it in spoiler tags.

Your rating: None

...Apparently that doesn't work. < spoiler > <--THAT is what I meant by spoiler tag.

Your rating: None

Not sure if trolling...

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

So far I'm enjoying the game.

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.