Review by ssk9716757
"A great game for series veterans and newcomers alike."
Pokemon Black is a fiendishly addictive blend of adventure, action, and role-playing which is so completely and consistently exciting from start to finish that you just have to stand back and marvel at the sheer brilliance and deliberation behind its design.
Though the Pokemon video game series has long been lambasted for failing to innovate substantially between installments, it has always provided a great sense of adventure and excitement as you travel the world alongside your Pokemon. Pokemon Black not only manages to retain this sense of adventure, but also manages to innovate where the previous installments lagged behind.
In this review I want to share with you a few of the tentative conclusions I've reached regarding Pokemon Black's prognoses. And I stress the word "tentative," because the subject of what motivates Pokemon is tricky and complex. I assume you already know that Pokemon seems eager to follow the hastily dyed banner of revanchism, but I have something more important to discuss in this review. Is it important that other malodorous players are also consumed with a desire to make it virtually impossible to revamp gameplay mechanics? Of course it's important. But what's more important is that Pokemon is still going around insisting that it could do a gentler and fairer job of running the industry and genre than anyone else. Its jeremiads are part and parcel of a larger game plan to provide the most arbitrary instances of allotheism you'll ever see with a milieu in which they can skew the course of innovation. Still, I recommend you check out this review as a guideline on whether or not to try the game and actually play it to draw your own conclusions on the matter.
These innovations will be discussed in detail in a categorical breakdown that will asses each facet of the game ranging from its narrative to its gameplay mechanics.
Story - 10/10
Simply put: a great little charming story that will keep you entertained from beginning to end. The story of Pokemon Black is, on the surface, no different from its predecessors: you start as a young boy or girl in your hometown, gain a Pokemon to start out with, and then proceed to travel the world, obtaining new Pokemon and growing stronger as you challenge gym leaders and elite trainers. However, where this narrative shines is in Mr. Kojima's masterful use of the fourth wall. One sequence that illustrates this occurs in Striation City, right before the first gym battle with the mentally unstable praying mantis. As you enter you are asked to place your DS on the floor, and the insect assures that he can cause it to move with the power of his will alone. You do as you are told, because you have no will of your own, having bought this game on launch day, and once you do it begins happening right in front of your eyes. Though we know of Kojima's works in other critically-acclaimed series', this is something else entirely. Your DS begins to move, and the line between player and game become irreversibly blurred. The villains are a refreshing change and it is nice to have more than the usual Team Rocket grunts just trying to steal Pokemon. It shows that the series might eventually travel down deeper territory when it comes to narrative.
This is used later on in the story when you finally collect all the gym badges and run into your friends/rivals, Cheren and Bianca, once again. The three of you have been through the league, defeated gym leaders with Pokemon by your side, and have gotten stronger day after day, hour after hour as you slave away in front of your handheld and touchpad as your real life falls apart all around you. You try and tell your wife in nice terms that maybe she could put a little more effort into her appearance since you do the same. Well, at least you try to. You comb your hair and brush your teeth and shower. When you aren't grinding your Tepig up a few levels at least. But she still has the nerve to tell you that you're inconsiderate and shallow, and you deal by retreating further into your virtual Pokemon world. Overall, the story is great for what it is: a fun little romp through an imaginative world filled with magical creatures called Pokemon, and Pokemon Black manages to add a nice twist on top of the series' established conventions.
Gameplay - 10/10
Aside from the story, the gameplay is the other major shining point of this game. Pokemon Black takes the things everyone knows and love about the series and puts a new twist to them. One innovation is the introduction of triple battles, in which both you and your opponent battle by having three Pokemon out at once. As if this didn't seem like enough penile compensation, you can also grind your Pokemon to obscene levels, in some cases even beyond level three or four hundred, and obliterate everything in your path. And really, isn't this one place where Mr. Jaffe fails to impress? The gameplay calls back to the deity of aggression series he worked on and it is just as insipid and uninspired here. Though the story is this game's shining point, the gameplay improves a lot upon previous installments, and is worth trying not just for fans of the series, but newcomers as well.
Graphics - 10/10
The best out of any Pokemon game so far, hands down. There isn't much to say, except that like previous games each city has its own design and unique style to separate it from its neighbors. One can also look at the design choices in each of the cities as a meditation on architecture. Each vertical line represents your character and their ambition and youth, and every horizontal line represents society and the man keeping you from flying high, putting a lid on you and keeping you contained. Overall, the cute art style perfectly fits the light-hearted nature of the game, and the introduction of 3D cityscapes is quite pleasing to the eye.
Sound - 10/10
The best part of this category are the unique cries each Pokemon has. After playing it long enough you will be able to point out which Pokemon is which simply by the cries they emit. This is doubly so if you are a proficient collector and enjoy catching any Pokemon you come across. This is also true of people with various mental disorders, but I digress. Pokemon Black noses next to her product. Our empty purpose births Pokemon Black. The french person distributes Pokemon Black under our fume. A drawn tribe builds a struggle after any sick grief. A developing butter hesitates. The attention to detail in each Pokemon cry is genuinely impressive and goes back to my initial point about all the care and deliberation put into the game. When you can discern each Pokemon simply by its cry, that is a sign of hard work and talent.
The music is also great, reprising several tunes from the older games but remixing them to fit a more futuristic Pokemon installment. It was quite pleasing to hear bits of the old battle and gym leader themes but to have them remixed in heart-pounding ways that motivate you to fight harder and win. Empty roses dilapidating buildings crumble on top of bananas made of ice cream and fumes emit from exhaust pipes set in mid-air. Only devils know of true purposes and no purposes and we are all composed of symphonies that are not composed of compost or of heaps in compost heaps. Hi, Sarah. How are you doing? I bet you're reading this right now. The music is a great puller into the world and helps immerse you almost instantly as you traverse various landscapes and cityscapes searching for Pokemon and becoming stronger. Overall the sound gets a perfect 10/10.
Overall - 10/10
Pokemon Black is not only the best Pokemon game, but it gets so much right that it's hard to not give it the label of one of the most skillful and well-crafted games of this and any other console generation. You should try it yourself to form your own opinion on it, but I feel that you will have a positive impression of it even if it isn't as strong as mine. A great game for series veterans and Pokemon fans alike.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/29/11
Game Release: Pokemon Black Version (US, 03/06/11)
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