Review: 'Pokémon Black 2' and 'White 2' for the Nintendo DS
Nintendo threw everyone for a loop when the newest Pokémon games were revealed. This is the first time since Pokémon Gold and Silver that a Pokémon game has been a direct sequel. It takes place explicitly two years after the events of Pokémon Black and White.
This is just another Pokémon game. It follows the path set by the series, and does not deviate. It does not take any risks, and if you have played any other game in the series, well, you know how it goes. You pick a starter, fight gyms that do not specialize in Dark type Pokemon, ever, fight off bad guys, and become the Pokémon Champion. Same old, same old.
But, it is still as fun as its ever been.
Story and setting
In my review of those games, I praised the story. This game's story is not quite as good. Team Plasma, the villains from last game who wanted to free all the Pokémon from the bondage of Poké Balls, have split into two groups. Some, the true believers, are genuinely sorry for what they have done, wear the same old odd robes from the previous game and spend their time taking care of the Pokémon they have inadvertently orphaned. The rest were in on the real scheme, and spend their time stealing Pokémon and basically being the bad guys.
You play a brand new trainer, not your original character from the last game, so you start out with a brand new level 5 starter Pokémon. You have a new nameable friendly rival, who has a grudge against Team Plasma for stealing his little sister's Purrloin. He spends the rest of the game leading you to attack Team Plasma at every opportunity. As a side note, the game does not allow you to name him Dick. That's a real name, Nintendo!
The story plays out pretty much the way it always does, you thwarting the evil team while attempting to beat the Elite Four and become the Unova region's champion. In the last game, these two story threads were fairly well woven together; here, they're pretty divorced. There are some obvious twists near the end that I admit did catch me by surprise, but mostly because I am still not used to twists from my Pokémon games.
The setting is more interesting, and I compared it to Gold and Silver for a reason; remember revisiting Kanto? This is a lot like that, except the Unova region has changed even more dramatically. You start in an entirely new section of the map, in a town that did not even exist during the original Black and White.
Once again, both versions have exclusive areas, with Black 2 featuring battle-specific areas with sci-fi decorations, and White 2 featuring collector-specific areas with fantasy trappings.
Gameplay and Pokémon
The gameplay has not changed at all from Black and White; all the battle modes, evolution and trading are exactly the same. You can trade with any Black, White, Black 2 or White 2 game at any point after the first gym battle. Interestingly, you can trade for any Pokémon at any point, even if you do not yet have the National Pokédex. The Unova Pokédex has been doubled, bringing in a bunch of older Pokémon, though still bravely skipping over Pikachu.
The list of version exclusives are about the same as the last games, with one key exception; if you play Black 2, you will find yourself only able to catch the White exclusive legendary, and vice versa. This is a bit of a spoiler, but the cover legendary Pokémon, Black and White Kyurem, is actually not catchable, as the game makes it clear that this is basically a one off fusion of two Pokémon that must be seperated, and therefore an abomination before Arceus. So don't worry about which version of that monstrosity you want, you'll get the normal, grey version eventually.
While I'm spoiling things, the game features catchable Riolu, which evolves into furry favorite Lucario, very early on. Also, to make up for only being able to obtain Zorua with a special giveaway that was easy to miss last time around, a character just hands you one at certain point.
It's the same as it ever was, without even any new Pokémon to catch. But it took me a little over a week to beat and review this game, as compared to the months it took for some other games. You see the difference here? It's formulaic, but the formula works.
That being said, unless you are a fanatic, it may be best to just keep your Black and White and wait until the next generation.
Note: This review is based on a playthrough of the 'Black 2' version.