Review: Pokémon Black and White

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For fifteen years, Pokemon has become one of Nintendo’s most recognised brands, rivalling that of Mario, Link and Donkey Kong. For its longevity, it has kept carrying over characters, but now Nintendo has seen its time to bury the hatchet with a massive overhaul to traditional game setup that we have known for so long. But do the modifications restore or tarnish the brand name?

TECHGEEK.com.au’s verdict on Pokemon Black and White is after the jump.

  • Score:

    9.2 / 10

  • The Good:

    Interesting mechanics, great cutscenes and graphics

  • The Bad:

    Unable to see nor catch the previous 493 Pokémon before finishing the main storyline, Pokémon Musical

  • Bottom Line:

    Great game for Pokémon fans. Feels like a new game despite being very similar to previous games.

The new and the old

Just looking and playing the game the game are the same from the original. The traditional simple combat system remains the same. The same storyline that is in all Pokémon: how a young child manages to disband a whole evil organisation.

However the game includes many new features that somehow manage to keep the game fresh. Surprising! Like also every Pokémon game, Game Freak, the developer of Pokémon added new Pokémon and a new land to explore. The new Pokémon that were added changed the total number to 649 Pokémon, adding 156 new Pokémon to the lot. Good luck trying the catch ’em all. The new land is called Unova based on New York city, changing from the traditional setting of Japan.

New gameplay features are a new form of Pokémon battling, Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. Triple Battles expand on the Double Battles first shown in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Triple Battles are three-vs-three battles. The Rotation Battle is a three-vs-three battle, similar to Triple Battle, but are one-vs-one with switching between the other two team mates.

Similar to the time feature added in Pokémon Gold and Silver the game adds a new time related feature: seasonal change. The seasons are changed monthly based on the Nintendo DS calendar. With the change of the season many Pokémon that are exclusive to that season will appear, some areas of the game will be changed and the time of in-game day and night will change. For example, snow will gather to reveal paths to unreachable areas during winter.

Side quests or mini games that are including in this game are Pokémon Musical and Battle Subway. The Pokémon Musical is very similar to the Pokémon Contest first shown in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The player must enter one Pokémon in the musical by dressing the Pokémon up in accessories. The Battle Subway is when the player can battle NPC Pokémon Trainers on a subway. Aside from battling on a subway the player is able to travel to locations via the subway.

Whenever Nintendo released two Pokémon games at the same time two games are exactly the same by with different Pokémon. This game adds something a little more, a exclusive location for each game. In Pokémon Black there is a city called Black City where it is a futuristic-looking city. In Pokémon White instead of the city it is a forest called White Forest. White Forest is a simple town where people live with nature.

Multiplayer and Online gameplay

The game, like the previous game includes the a local multiplayer which players are about to communicate, trade Pokémon, and a new feature: multiplayer missions. The multiplayer missions are based on supporting other players during or after battles.

Another new feature is to play either game online via a new site called Pokémon Global Link. The site allows the player to link their game save file and access Pokémon from older games. These older Pokémon can be sent to the player game and will have a new ability that the Pokémon can not legally obtain in-game and might have new Pokémon attacks that are also unobtainable in-game. Within the Pokémon Global Link site players are able to unlock Random Battles online for worldwide battling fun.

Graphics

In the fifteen years since the franchise the graphics have constantly changed and these games are no exception. From the previous games, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver the graphics have changed dramatically. In Pokémon Battles the Pokémon in the battle are animated and will be constantly moving. Aside from the moving Pokémon the battle screen will move left and right if left idle. The moving screen is good for Triple Battles. Also the graphics of the Pokémon Battles have improved by including shadows behind the Pokémon to add some depth to them.

Also the world of Unova contains new graphics and gameplay. The game includes many new gameplay such as changing camera angles when crossing a spiral bridge, riding a roller-coaster with hills and loops, pushing magnetised rocks, and others. The game includes many cutscenes ranging from bridge lowing down to others. (Sorry can not discuss spoilers)

Conclusion

Well fifteen years have affected the Pokémon franchise dearly, but not a negative way. For you devoted Pokémon fans you will feel a slight challenge with the increase of AI intelligent. If you are a previous Pokémon fan you will be find that the challenging gameplay, the impressive graphics might be appealing. Other than that the game is a fun game for any Pokémon fan, old and new; and will not fail to impress.

Pokémon Black and White is available now in Australia for the Nintendo DS.