Review by KeyBlade999
"They're running out of names... A good game, nevertheless."
Pokemon Black is one the two entries into the fifth generation of Pokemon. Many fan sites detailed the new changes to graphics, Pokemon, and the such, but were they really able to make the series better? Let's see....
Pokemon is a turn-based RPG that began in the late 1990s with the GameBoy games Pokemon Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow. Nintendo soon expanded the game to the GameBoy Color with the games Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. In 2003, more games were released for the third generation: Pokemon Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald. And then, in 2007, they released the fourth generation onto the DS: Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Pokemon Black and White -- the fifth generation -- came around 2011.
However, Nintendo didn't stick with just these games: it would make collecting around the third generation too tough. As such, the remakes of Red/Green Versions were released as FireRed and LeafGreen in 2004 on the GBA alongside Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald. They did this again with Gold/Silver Versions -- they were released as HeartGold and Soulsilver on the DS alongside Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.
Aside from the mainstream and remakes, several other games were developed. Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness stuck to the basic rules of the mainstream games. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games took it to a different, fully turn-based and mission-based. Pokemon Channel allowed some interactivity with Pokemon. There are others, like the Pokemon Ranger series, that I haven't yet played. But, the basic idea is that Nintendo has released many side games.
The basic ideas for Pokemon have remained the same for more than a decade. You'll catch Pokemon, battle them in a turn-based format, and, after that, you can complete the Pokedex and use the game to battle and trade with friends. Let's go more in-depth.
The aspect of battling came from encountering wild Pokemon and other Pokemon Trainers. When you do fight them, you can use your own Pokemon to try to defeat the opposing Pokemon, or, in the case of wild Pokemon, to catch the Pokemon. The battles are turn-based, like chess or Final Fantasy X. At the end of the battle, Pokemon that battled can get experience points, or EXP. If a Pokemon earns enough EXP., it will level up, become stronger, learn moves, and possibly evolve.
There are some special battles you may partake in. The obvious ones are against Gym Leaders of the region -- in this game, it is Unova. There are eight Pokemon Gyms spread across Unova -- just like with Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh in the other games -- and your primary goal is to beat the Gym Leader in the Gym to obtain a Pokemon League Badge. If you obtain eight such badges in a single region, you may be allowed to fight the region's Elite Four and Champion. Doing so makes you the Champion of the region.
However, along the way, you will encounter, like in the other games, a group of people who will try to abuse Pokemon to their own nefarious deeds. This group, Team Plasma, has a fairly basic want: to rule the world using the legendary Pokemon of Unova. Along the way, you'll end up stopping them.
After completing the game, there is still a fair deal to do. Just because Nintendo issued over 150 new Pokemon into the game doesn't mean that your goal of completing the Pokedex should be limited to the Unova Pokedex. Instead, you want to complete the whole National Pokedex, which contains, as of this game, very close to 650 Pokemon. To actually get this goal finished, you'll either need Wi-Fi or several generations of Pokemon games -- Emerald, FireRed, LeafGreen, Platinum, HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black, and White Versions.
Speaking of that, the method of trading Pokemon from one generation to another has changed. Rather than using the Pal Park of the fourth generation, you'll use Poke Transfer. By putting a Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, or SoulSilver game into another DS and communicating with it via Wi-Fi, you'll be able to transfer some of the Pokemon from one of those games to Pokemon Black or White. However, such a change is permanent and items cannot be taken. The worse part of it is that, to get Pokemon from a GBA game, you'll have to do the Pal Park THEN the Poke Transfer thing.
Now, what about multiplayer functions? Well, as far as I have known, you can do the basic trade and battle with someone. There are several methods of doing this: by local DS-to-DS Wi-Fi, Nintendo WFC, or infrared signals. All of the functions are usable at the Pokemon Center (which has no more of the escalators or stairs that move from room to room), including those of the GTS of the fourth generation.
There are also some other functions, like the Entralink and the Pokemon Dream World. I've never done these because they require Wi-Fi or someone else with Pokemon Black/White, and I don't know anyone near me who has it. They each have their own uses, I assume.
Unlike the other Pokemon games, the game is centered on you, a teenager -- not a ten-year-old -- who, like the main protagonist of the previous games, wants to become the Champion of your region, Unova. You wish is granted one day when Professor Juniper, the local professor of your hometown Nuvema Town. You and two of your friends, Bianca and Cheren, also their starter Pokemon and proceed to battle you.
And then, you soon leave on your Pokemon journey. Not far down the road, you find the mysterious man N, who is basically your rival for the course of the game, although he is much more... Also down the road, you find Team Plasma, imploring people to free their Pokemon because the Pokemon are unhappy.
Who is N? And what the purpose of Team Plasma? As you continue on the journey to become the Unova Pokemon Champion, you will figure these things out, and more.
The graphics have utterly changed for the better. For the past four generations of Pokemon, you were lucky to have the occasional movement in battle. You were lucky in Generations II and IV to have time-based graphical and Pokemon changes. It ALL changed here.
Firstly, let's go over battling graphics. Every sprite has the same basic drawing as it did in previous games (excepting the single-colored Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green). So, basically, a Pikachu from Pokemon Gold will look generally the same in Black and White. However, there are some welcome changes. Firstly, the Pokemon actually have shadows, which adds to the sense of reality. Secondly, the Pokemon actually move constantly in battle, whether they are attacking are not. These movements can even hint at how much HP the Pokemon has left. And thirdly, the camera will actually focus on the action or just move away if you're doing nothing in particular.
Now, what about other graphics? Well, remember that more tilted-down view Generation IV gave us compared to the others? Black and White has the same viewpoint, except with a change. The camera can rotate and zoom in/out, but only in certain situations; nevertheless, it is a decent change. Also, the graphics change with not just time of day (according to the DS clock), but also by the month of the year (also according to the DS clock). These changes in season (there are four: spring, summer, autumn, and winter) not only change the graphics, but also how often a specific Pokemon may be found in a certain area. It is quite amazing.
SOUND EFFECTS AND MUSIC: 10/10
Nothing much has changed from the good old days. The music stays generally the same, and it changes depending upon the area and situation. For example, the battle theme will only play in battles.
However, there are some minute changes. Firstly, battle music can change slightly if your Pokemon is at less than 25% HP or if your opponent is special, like N or Bianca. Also, for battles against Gym Leaders and the like, the music changes once the opposing trainer is down to their last Pokemon.
For the most part, little else has changed except that there are new Pokemon cries and some new music. It is still pretty good.
PLAY TIME AND REPLAYABILITY: 10/10
As I said earlier, the graphics can change by season, as do Pokemon encounter rates. Seeing as the seasons change monthly, it will take you about four months to fully finish the Pokedex if you play honestly. As for just finishing the Elite Four, it can be done in about two weeks to a month. The play time can vary depending on your experience playing Pokemon.
The game is worth several replays. It is virtually always different and gives you opportunities to play it differently. You could play with just your starter, or try a low-level challenge, or a speed playthrough. It is always nice to try something new.
THE END: Overall score: 10/10
In general, the games of Pokemon Black and White are of an unprecedented quality compared to other Pokemon games. The graphical changes, gameplay changes, and the new Pokemon guarantee long-played files, few 100% completions, and a very fun time. It is indeed a shame Nintendo didn't wait to release it on the 3DS, but it still good. I very highly recommend you buy this, as it can entertain almost everyone.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/09/11
Game Release: Pokemon Black Version (US, 03/06/11)
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