Review by Akki

"Unova gives it another go, but was it as successful as last time?"

Unova gives it another go, but was it as successful as last time?

Long story short, the answer is a big “of course it was”! But why? Well, if you had played Black or White Versions, you already are familiar with the Isshu, or Unova in English, region. It added the most new Pokemon in history, and for once since the beginning of the franchise, no older Pokemon were available for capture until after you beat the game, so it was as if the Pokemon franchise as a whole was getting a much needed reboot. However, this version is much more “classic”, in that it includes older Pokemon right from the start, and feels much more like an older entry in the series. Which is by no means a bad thing, and in fact, may be the best Pokemon game yet? Read on to see what I mean.

Story (8/10)
The plot takes place two years after Black and White 1. Team Plasma is divided by N's revelation at the end of the first games and Ghetsis, who had escaped from authorities. Not only that, but a new, strange man by the name of Akuroma is involved in the plot as well. Without spoiling too much of the plot, this game works not only as a sequel, but also as a standalone title, so it's okay if you haven't played the first versions. Though, to fully understand old Team Plasma and N's importance in the plot, it would be better to have played the first games first.

Over-all Graphics (9/10)
The graphics in Black and White 2 are even better than the first. While the sprites look mainly the same, the 3D cut scenes are even more impressive than the first. Without trying to spoil too much, the cut scene involving Kyurem towards the end of the game especially stands out to me and was quite the spectacle. Also, the sprites of every trainer class and gym leader are now animated, instead of just Cheren, Bianca, and N, making the game seem even less stoic. The only flaw I find with these graphics are the slightly pixelated back sprites, however in motion they're just as good looking as the first and you get used to them pretty quickly.

Sound (10/10)
The music in Black and White 2 was even better than the soundtrack in the first. The main trainer theme stayed the same, but the gym themes are all different and are very characteristic of whose gym you're in. Some songs even have lyrics, like Homika, the Poison gym leader, spelling out Koffing's Japanese name (D-O-G-A-R-S), or Elesa's runway theme with “Are you ready?” being sung in the background. That being said, I'm not sure what they're going to do in other languages' versions about “Dogars”, but that's a topic to discuss for later, I suppose. Also featured are many remixes of older songs. The Team Plasma battle theme is much more “techno” sounding than the first and sounds amazing. And older gym leaders and champions also make appearances, sporting their own battle theme remixes. Long story short, I have no complaints about the soundtrack of this game, and even downloaded it to listen to while I'm not playing the game.

Gameplay (8.5/10)-
The core gameplay here has remained largely unchanged from Black and White 1. It's pretty generic Pokemon gameplay that has grown over the years. But if you've played an earlier Gen 5 game, you know that they added 2 new types of battles into the mix: triple and rotation battles. Both of which work quite interestingly, and are a very surprisingly different and fun way to battle. One thing that was improved on was the number of times you got into one of these fights. Black and White 1 only had, maybe, 3 mandatory triple/rotation battles that changed on which version you were playing (Black had rotation, while White had triple, I believe). However, in Black and White 2, even just random trainers will challenge you to a triple or rotation battle. While this is a very welcome expansion, there's no way to tell if these trainers are going to challenge you to one, so you'll always need to have your party ready for a triple or rotation battle. While that's not hard, it can occasionally catch you off guard and your first three Pokemon won't mesh well together at all, setting you back a turn to fix things around. However, it was still a very welcome change to the gameplay, and something I look forward to seeing more of.

Why a sequel? Why not a third version?-
Another section that's really needed is what has changed since the first versions. While I have covered a bunch already, Pokemon is known for having a “third version” of their games. For example, Red and Blue had Yellow, while even newer, Diamond and Pearl had Platinum. However, this time they chose to make two separate sequels to the games instead. This section is here to defend that choice, and I honestly hope that they do this sort of thing again. To start with, older generations of Pokemon had the “third version”, which was essentially just a retelling of the original story, and incorporating elements from both titles to make the third version a superior version. So superior in fact, that many people held off on buying the first versions on purpose, waiting for the better third version to come out. But this time, they made a sequel, as obviously noted by the titles. While this caught many people off guard, and disappointed some, claiming that this was probably just a money sink, to convince more hardcore Pokemon fans to have to buy both versions, many other people saw this as a welcome change to the Pokemon series. I, for one, saw it as a great change. Considering how story-heavy Gen 5 was in the first place, a simply retelling of the story would feel rather unsatisfying, as the end of Black and White 1 left so many questions unanswered, mainly questions revolving around what became of N and Team Plasma. Also, considering how important the version exclusive mascots were, later elements of the sequels' story (which I won't spoil, but simply note that it involves N) would make no sense if there was only one sequel to this game. Something that also isn't a first (as it had happened in Gen 3, and to a lesser extent in Gen 4), but was a welcome change was the addition of new gym leaders and changes to the gym puzzles. While I can say, slightly disappointingly, that the gym puzzles changed and made them easier, visually, they're much better. Arti/Burgh's gym, for one, changed dramatically, and suits him much better as a Bug type trainer. As I'm sure a lot of you already know, the order of the badge's is different, and the types and leaders of a few of the gyms has changed too- removing the first “starter type” gym and the Ice gym, to include and Poison and Water gym. Also, Aloe/Lenora has been replaced by another familiar face. They've also added a bunch of new ideas in, including an item to change game difficulty and even one to up Shiny Pokemon encounter rates (but have fun trying to get it). Also, if you sync up your Black or White 1 game to your Black or White 2 game, you can unlock a few flashback like scenes and additional battles to do. Not to mention if you have a 3DS, don't fret, they've added new things for you as well, namely the Dream Radar app that comes out later this year in America.

Final Verdict (9.5/10, rounded down to 9 for official score)-
These two games might not be perfect, but they're pretty darn close. Over-all, I think that no Pokemon fan will be disappointed once they play these sequels, and will welcome the sequel idea over the third version idea in future generations of Pokemon to come.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/28/12

Game Release: Pocket Monsters Black 2 (JP, 06/23/12)

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