Review by vy2012
"Awesome innovation but with serious missing features thatís too good to ignore."
Awesome innovation but with serious missing features that's too good to ignore.
This sentence on this tagline is my statement of how I felt when I played this game. This does not mean that this is a bad game due to my point of view. Most people enjoyed it and even one or couple bad reviews do not influence the entire game.
I am not going to bash around and tell in front of my friends that I did not enjoy this game (they will criticize me for sure). I loved the entire Pokemon franchise. The first game that I got was Pokemon Blue when I was 5. That first game has started my life experience. I eventually watched the Pokemon anime every Saturday and I collect Pokemon trading cards while playing against my opponent with these cards and I still do these activities. My experiences of this wonderful franchise remained unchanged in my lifetime.
I am one of those people who did not buy this game on the first day on this release. I was given this game from my friend who has an extra copy on this game and he gave it to me for a nominal charge below the retail price of other game stores. My friends were having fun playing multiplayer with each other in the college cafeteria during break. He told me that I might definitely enjoy it, and I somewhat enjoyed it after I sunk almost 100 hours of gameplay. You might wonder why I suddenly put myself out of favor on Pokemon Black and White (BW). It wouldn't make sense to like the franchise but not like the game. However, doesn't mean that the Pokemon franchise makes Pokemon games doesn't mean that every single Pokemon game is superior on its own right. With that in mind, there's couple of complaints that I want to address, and some complaints might be serious that it might prevent any real fun in this game.
Before I get to my criticisms, I want to explain what Pokemon is, its mechanics, and some good and bad aspects that run concurrently.
What is Pokemon?
The Pokemon series has started in late 1995 and Pokemon Red and Blue has reached its shores in America. When these games arrived in the U.S., people suddenly want to buy various merchandises from the Pokemon manufacturers. The hype has begun.
For those who are new to Pokemon (I realize that not everybody in the world knows the franchise), Pokemon are strange creatures that work similar to animals in real life (not exactly animals in real life). They are creatures that are loyal to a particular trainer and it is the trainer's responsibility to train, battle, and heal their Pokemon in order to fulfill the trainer's dream: to become the Pokemon Master on earth. However, Pokemon are not subjected to merely fighting other trainer's Pokemon until they are dead and you gain experience points and level up. Creatures can express feelings, mate with other Pokemon (breeding), and change their appearance and forms (evolution).
In order to become the Pokemon Master, a player character, who is mostly quiet in most series because you are controlling him/her, has to travel through various towns and cities to battle 8 gym leaders (a leader who specializes in certain typing) and earn badges from these leaders. Once the player character gets all 8 badges from that region, he or she goes to the Pokemon League to test his or her courage and become the Champion. This is traditional story format for every Pokemon series, from Red & Blue to BW.
How do Pokemon games work?
Pokemon games such as Red, Gold, Ruby, etc. is a RPG single turn based battle mechanic. That means that during battle, you get to select an attack, use an item, switch your Pokemon, or run away. Your chance of going first depends on your Speed, the duration of your Pokemon depends on your defenses and HP, and your power of your Pokemon attacks depends on your offensive stats. Every single Pokemon has its own type and some has two types, making the type matchup interesting. Each Pokemon attacks have 18 different attack types (including the ??? type) and these attacks can range from doing direct damage to inflicting status problems and lowering/raising stats. Most Pokemon has a least a couple weakness from the opposing type; grass is weak to fire, bug, flying, and ice type moves that deals damage.
On the current battling mechanics, there are abilities (Generation III), double battles (Generation III), triple battles (Generation V), and rotation battles (Generation V). Most attacks have been categorized as the Physical/Special split (Generation IV). The physical/special split replaced the category of elemental types that used to be the category of attack or special attack, which means that attacks that made contact to the opponent will count as physical.
Double battles started on Ruby/Sapphire version. You battle two-on-two and the mechanics remained the same with a few additions. Some attacks and abilities can hit or affect both the opposing Pokemon. The same mechanics applies to triple and rotation battles in BW.
If you knock out your opponent's Pokemon, you gain fixed amount of EXP points. Conversely, if one of your Pokemon faints, it is unable to battle. If your entire team faints, you are automatically rushed to a Pokemon Center (in the addition to losing some cash from your wallet as prize money) to get your entire team healed.
Good and bad effects of some aspects that run concurrently.
Let me start off by saying that this game has a lot of potential. These are the potentials that are better than previous series.
The graphics that the game developers made is without a doubt the most outstanding achievement for the Nintendo DS and it even beats Platinum or Heart Gold & Soul Silver in terms of graphics. The screen automatically zooms in and out when you're walking on stairs and the screen can even turn or tilt when you are crossing a bridge that's above the highway in which various cars are underneath the bridge. You also see several tall buildings that have 50 floors and these buildings even exhibit three dimensional designs. Even in Pokemon battles, some attacks can make the camera tilt above the battlefield. For example, if you are using Fly, you'll see your Pokemon being curled into a blue bouncing ball and goes up very quickly. The camera zooms in at the opponent's Pokemon if you use attacks such as vine whip or water gun. The damage meter does down very quickly, too. Most Pokemon games, such as Pokemon BW, have excelled on graphics.
The story has kept the same traditional format but the story is modified with minor tweaks. You are not merely just starting your journey with a starter Pokemon, traveling through every single town or cities getting badges, defeating a major criminal organization that's plotting to take over the world, and becoming the Champion by defeating the Elite Four. The story and plot becomes much deeper; including characters that you've seen in the very beginning of your journey (including your rivals and a mysterious trainer) and the criminal organization itself. Most of the time, you can't simply skip cities and badges during your adventure; you have to go town to town; the entire Unova region is involved in the plot.
But the ones I found interesting is that the Pokemon in the native Unova region is completely new. You won't see such generic classical Pokemon that is recycled from previous versions such as Rattata or Pidgey on the very first route in the native region. There are 156 completely new species (which brings to a total amount of 649 in the 5th generation); you have to use those new species and build your team in order to progress the story. Also, after you beat the main storyline, you can get Pokemon from previous generations (which I will discuss later).
The gameplay had remained the same. You can maneuver your player character by using the control pad. The bicycle makes a return in Pokemon BW. The items and Pokedex looks more accessible than previous sequels. Another surprising breakthrough is that all Technical Machines (a color CD item that teaches your Pokemon moves) can be used unlimited times. Some moves have been replaced into fifth generation moves.
Aside from the menu options, the touch screen is focused on multiplayers. The touch screen is dubbed the C Gear. With the touch screen feature, you can trade & battle without the need to go to the Pokemon Center. The touch screen also shows your current time set on your Nintendo DS in the addition of your battery status. You can also go to a field that is used only for multiplayers called Extralink. You need to also sign up on Global Link which is in the Internet. You could get various Pokemon with different abilities, some which are useful and is better than their previous default ability. There are also other fun features to play on Global Link such as customizing your room. This game tends to be on the social side of interaction. I personally, however, do not like how the touch screen works (I will discuss later).
Another wacky feature is the experience points system. I have said before that you get fixed EXP points for defeating a wild or a trainer's Pokemon. On this game, however, the experience points are weighted. That means that if you defeat a Pokemon whose level is higher than yours, you get even more EXP points. Conversely, you get even less EXP points when you defeat a Pokemon whose level is lower than yours. This is bad because when you progress through your storyline, the value of Pokemon's EXP points in earlier routes will decrease, meaning you have to grind your Pokemon even more to get to the level curve or the level you want. Also, if you're thinking of raising your Pokemon to level 100 for competitive battles, good luck trying to do that on this game because of the EXP mechanic. I find it difficult to raise my team; most wild Pokemon is terribly weak and easy to defeat, much like Pokemon Gold or Silver versions.
The criticisms now begin.
Since I have talked about some good and bad aspects about this game that run concurrently, I am going to begin my criticisms. It's going with a massive bang.
First off, my first complaint is about the touch screen that is dubbed C-gear. I said before that the touch screen is used purely for multiplayers. While there are numerous useful multiplayer features, my first complaint is that it feels that this feature has replaced all other features presented on Pokemon Diamond & Pearl. There is no calculator, notepad, pedometer, berry checker, roaming Pokemon checker, Pokemon egg checker, marking pad, type matchup check, color changer, coin flipper, and much more. Diamond & Pearl features have been removed and they don't seem to give it back on this game. How am I supposed to know how much steps I should take before Pokemon egg hatches? How am I supposed to deal with unique type matchups such as a dark/dragon or bug/electric Pokemon? How am I supposed to calculate stuff just like real life (in the case of not having a calculator with you)? How am I supposed to jot down notes (I guess you can use scratch paper, but that's debating on whether you use paper or electric)? How am I supposed to track roaming legendary Pokemon since it can change place to place (there's only one to roam)? All these questions are left unsolved and that totally destroys the gameplay of Pokemon BW. You probably be isolated in a new region without a device that is attachable to the wrist.
My second complaint is about the method of obtaining Pokemon from previous sequels. About 75% of the overall Pokemon (649) is unobtainable in single player overall. You have to connect with another Nintendo DS with one of the five Pokemon 4th generation games: Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heart Gold, Soul Silver. After you connect with the other Nintendo DS with another friend or yourself and transfer 6 Pokemon from your game's PC box (in addition to putting a hold item from your transferred Pokemon back into your bag in one of five 4th generation Pokemon games), you begin a short minigame. This minigame is from the feature called Poke Transfer. It is worse than Pal Park from the previous generation. Unlike the Pal Park (unlimited time for catching Pokemon from third generation games), the Poke Transfer minigame is timed. You are equipped with the bow and arrow (not the real arrow, just the Poke Ball that replaces the sharp point) and you have to shoot the Poke Ball on the Pokemon that jumps out from one branch to another. This is annoying because the branches acts like a cushion and it deflects any thrown projectile. If you fail to catch all six, whenever Pokemon you caught out of six is the ones you'll keep and the uncaptured Pokemon is sent back into the PC box of one of five games depending on the version. The Poke Transfer minigame is just like hunting in a non-fatal fashion. I wouldn't be surprised if the real sharp point actually strikes a Pokemon and we get food from a dead Pokemon just like Oregon Trail, but this isn't a good idea (ok, that would be a great idea if you experience survival of the fittest, but you get the point). Finally, after the Pokemon has reached the boundaries of the Unova region, there's no way to return that Pokemon back into the 4th generation games. You have to think very hard on which Pokemon you need to transfer to another region (the game tells you that as well).
My third complaint, and probably the most intensive criticism that is coming to the attention to myself and others, is that there is almost no replay value in this game. I'm sorry to say this to a Pokemon game, but this game actually doesn't bring much in terms of content. Let's rewind the clock 15 years ago. The game corner is a gambling faculty that has given the people the opportunity to play some slot machines. It is also a way of getting TM13 (Ice Beam), TM24 (Thunderbolt), TM35 (Flamethrower), and other prizes such as a Pokemon like Porygon. I was able to buy tons of coins without playing and spend those coins on prizes. That tactic lasted until Pokemon Platinum. Pokemon HGSS also has voltorb flip and I was still able to spend coins to get prizes (in a hard way). It is fun and tedious at the same time but I did not blame that alternative feature. Pokemon BW completely removed due to debatable issues such as anti-gambling interest groups that tried to destroy that feature so that kids won't gamble in future. 7 years ago, Pokemon Emerald introduces the rematch of gym leaders and the Battle Frontier. These were huge improvement and breakthrough on Pokemon games and I liked it. These were the beginning of competitive gameplay; I was able to level up my Pokemon ever faster and utilize my Effort Value training for the Frontier. By the way, Effort Values are a way to increase your stats permanently in other methods rather than nutritious items (Protein, Iron, etc.). You can rearrange your stats by lowering a particular stat that you don't need for a particular Pokemon. Pokemon Platinum and HGSS help Pokemon Emerald by trying to stay on top of those awesome features. On Pokemon BW, there are no Battle Frontiers; there is a Battle Subway that works similar to the Battle Tower in Pokemon Crystal, Ruby, and Sapphire versions. The Battle Subway makes it hard to obtain items because of what I said in the Poke Transfer feature; your transferred Pokemon's held item is placed back onto the bag on one of five 4th generation games. The Battle Subway is okay, but on single battles, you're up against 3 of 600+ different Pokemon to be sent out in battle from Artificial Intelligence (AI). Well, I could hardly stand it
My fourth complaint is that there is no other minigame that would give a variety of entertainment. What I mean is something to pass time and take a break from Pokemon training. Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, DP, and Platinum all have Pokemon Contests. Pokemon Contests are actually competitive and trainers with their Pokemon are showing appeal rather than battling. Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver has a similar contest called the Pokethlon, which is a sport related Olympics that trainers compete in. Both the contest and Pokethlon are my favorite side minigames. Pokemon BW has Pokemon Musicals. It looks interesting, but there's no competition, it's just like everybody wins and each of us gets a reward. Pokemon Musicals falls short of entertainment and competition than previous versions.
I could be ranting on other criticisms, but these four does it for me. The touch screen, method of getting Pokemon, entertainment, and the replay value should be resolved. They should've kept the features from DP and Platinum while they made multiplayer features. They also should've give the game the ability to rebattle trainers via vs. seeker and rebattler gym leaders for easier level ups. Overall, I find this game to be downgraded in terms of content.
Blending three things in one basket is uncomfortable.
What I noticed is that this game is meant to be mostly social, meaning that we are supposed to keep track of what other friends are doing even at the internet, which is why the C-gear has to be kept on at all times. Assuming that there's no one who live next to you who plays Pokemon, you would see that this multiplayer business is entirely useless to you. It is very hard to enjoy this game and be competitive on this game because this game does not have enough resources to help my training scheme. As a single player, it took only 30 hours to finish the storyline. After I finished additional content on single player, I feel that there is no point for me to keep playing this game after I finished everything I need to do in this game. The basket is probably filled with 30% single player, 30% multiplayer, and 40% online gaming.
+ new Pokemon and region makes this a fresh start for young audiences
+ massive multiplayer experience
+ deeper stories in comparison to other Pokemon versions
+ magnificent graphics and sound
+ new battle strategies, including triple and rotation battles
- lack of post story content (replay value)
- no helpful touch screen features (completely multiplayer)
- the method of obtaining Pokemon is a bad idea.
Replay value: 2/10
Overall: 28/40 --- 7/10
As you can see (as a single player), this game doesn't stand out much because it lacks the features that we enjoy much often. It just looks like Pokemon Red and Blue in the top screen of the Nintendo DS but with awesome graphics, slight mechanical changes, and little replayability after I finished the game. Also, this game doesn't tell players enough information of how to balance their teams so that they will raise their teams properly in order to win Pokemon battles often. Unfortunately, I saw several of my friend's Pokemon roster in their games and some Pokemon have four moves of the same type but with different base power. I sighed when I saw it; it's like saying How can you win against the required trainer? I feel like there's going to be declining numbers of competitive players in the community that I live in.
But you've got to realize that not all Pokemon games are good. Many people had got Pokemon BW just because it was the most overhyped game there is to be. Many people has waited for that moment and once the moment came, everyone burst in to game stores to grab a copy of that game and be happy about it. This hype is short-lived because they failed to realize that (if they played Pokemon before) Pokemon games has the same tired formula and yet they still buy it. They did not take risks and didn't compare other Pokemon games that would be worth playing. Nintendo was making money for that short lived hype, although cash-cow games remain to be a heated debate.
These criticisms are the best way for me to express my feelings toward this game and explain that this game is definitely missing something. This game had its strengths and weaknesses. As much as I still like the franchise, especially the Pokemon trading card games, Pokemon BW might be the best game for you to enjoy as well. Or if you like to see those criticisms that are already fixed, you can play Platinum or HGSS. At the time of this writing, serebii.net has posted the next Pokemon BW game, which is the sequel to the first one. I would look forward to the upcoming game and hope that they would achieve better than the first sequel. Despite these four harsh criticisms that I mentioned, I will say that it is a solid game and it would be definitely be worth your time more than I do. Ultimately, the choice of getting this game depends on you.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/09/12, Updated 04/26/12
Game Release: Pokemon White Version (US, 03/06/11)
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