Review by ZekRams
A decent game that would soon be overshadowed
For more than four years, Pokemon fans have eagerly awaited the arrival of the next generation of Pokemon; to see new Pokemon creatures battle in a new region, with new battle changes, and with new variety. I was fortunately able to import my copy of Pocket Monster Black, as well purchase both Pokemon Black and Pokemon White on the US release. I have played Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver with friends for the past 4 years. We've always been big Pokemon competitive battlers since 2006, and we simply could not pass up the opportunity.
However, while it was amusing for a bit, the game's problems gradually became all too noticeable, and eventually diminished my desire to keep playing. I used to like the game at first, but the core issues were just too big to ignore, and in the end I just couldn't consider this game as good as the previous RPG's. Don't get me wrong, I want to like this game, but I cannot be objective and supportive at the same time here.
The game in the overworld is rendered in 3D, which looks gorgeous and beautiful. The way the trees and bulding changes while you move around the map is a wonder to see. The graphical effects are beautiful and so are the angle changes when crossing bridges.
The battling in the game is rendered in 2D, and unlike in the past games, the Pokemon are actively moving during battle. Which is good to see. Although in long battles, it does get repetitious, but that's nothing to complain about. The effects of the attacks are okay. The battlefield is often times plain, unless you are fighting at specific places.'
Overall, the graphics do not score bad. It does really good aesthetically.
Storyline - 6/10
Gamefreak decided to take the same story that has been for used the games and add some twists here and there. The main antagonist constantly questions your motives, is always actively seeking answers, and would stop at nothing to get what he feels is correct.
At surface, it is very interesting but as the game goes on, the story starts to become more predictable. By the end, the story's quality goes into a complete halt. The main problem with the story itself, but how it's presented. The plot has you fighting the villains very very often, throughout the game and that becomes tedious. Sometimes, you may have enter certain dungeons just to clear out the villainous team even when they are not doing anything important. This feels very demanding, given how often the team always appears.
Gameplay - 3/10
Unfortunately, this is where the game really suffers, and truly turns Pokemon Black and White into more of a aesthetic re-skin than a sequel.
The battles have no mechanical changes that separate this from the previous games, despite the handful of move and ability changes; as well what Pokemon can learn the moves. Even though it there were little to problems with the battle system, it still feels like a old game with a new cover.
The Triple and Rotation battles feel very gimmicky. It seems that they just made this to add one more Pokemon to the field. It does not seem that it was tested well. As in Triple Battles, it can be awkward to attack when you are not in the center. Rotation battles is essentially singles battles with certain Pokemon on the field changing places and attacking shortly afterwards. Again, not very flawed, but also not exactly improved.
To put it simply, the game is just does not offer anything new that other generations added. Its the least innovated game in the series and makes no attempt to hide it. The previous generations would always add new gameplay changes that would change to game forever and evolve the series. Every subsequent series after the first did this with the exception of the 5th one. Generation II added new types, added held items, and split the Special stat to Special Attack and Special Defense. Generation III added Abilities and added a new mechanics (EVs and Natures) that would influence team raising and building, deepening the variety of teams. Generation IV changes the attack types to broaden strategy between different kinds of Pokemon.
The game also has become much less difficult as well. It is now much easier to increase in level. Even though, it helps streamlining the game, it also breaks the game and destroys any challenge the game could have had. Even the franchise is not meant to be challenging, it is still enjoyable to see even a little challenge going on in the game. But here none of that challenge exists and the game becomes very boring to play through as a result as you can easily over level and grind very easily and blow through the game very rapidly.
Even though the game can very enjoyable to play through, do not expect any kind of challenge. This game seems to be suited more to beginners above all else.
Now, I must discuss the biggest problem in the game, which is the new selection of Pokemon. There is great number of re-used concepts, much more than ever before. Many of the new Pokemon are very similar to previous Pokemon. Jellicent is just like Tentacruel. Foongus is very similar to Paras and Shroomish. Throh and Sawk are very much like Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan. Watchog is very similar to Bibarel. Purrloin is very similar to Meowth, Skitty, and Glameow. Lillipup is very similar to Poochyena. Munna is very similar to Drowzee. Pidove is very similar to Pidgey and Starly. Zebstrika is somewhat similar to Luxray or Manectric. Roggenrola is very similar to Geodude. Excadrill is somewhat similar to Rhydon. Woobat is very similar to Zubat. Audino is very similar to Chansey. Conkeldurr is very similar to Machamp. Tympole is nearly identical to Poliwag. And all that is just looking at a third of the 153 new Pokemon.
The 3 starters are also similar in typing to previous Pokemon. Snivys final form typing is pure grass just like previous starters. So is Oshawotts final form being pure Water just like the starters of the first 2 generations. Tepigs final form is Fire/Fighting, just like the last two Fire typed starter final forms, making that a 3rd in a row. Many of the other Pokemon do not seem creative at all: Many of the other Pokemon do not seem creative at all: Crustle, Archen, Sigilyph, Garbodor, Gothitelle, Vanillite, Klinklang, Beheeyem, Cryogonal, Druddigon, Stunfisk, and Heatmor come to mind.
A special mention goes to 6 elemental monkey pokemon. These are 3 pairs of identical Pokemon; a monkey with a plant, torch, or wave that evolves into a bigger monkey with a style reflecting their previous form. The concept of elemental trio groups are overdone (specifically with Water, Fire, and Grass/Electric) with starters (tradionally), evolutions of Eevee, and several legendary groups. And there already many pokemon that were based on monkeys already (especially a certain Fire typed one). To add to the uncreativeness, the monkey lines have identical stats. Its as if the creators just did not care. There is even a legendary trio of Pokemon that are identical to each other, with the only difference being in color and minor sprite changes. Two of them even have identical stats.
What is worse is that these Pokemon are forced upon you. The main game revolves solely on the new Pokemon; you can only obtain those Pokemon and the in game trainers only use those Pokemon in the duration of the main game. Even though this would have given the series a refreshing new feel, that is ruined by the low amount of ingenuity and originality of the new Pokemon. Given how forced the new Pokemon are, it makes me wish to use to older, superiorly designed Pokemon instead. Some of the best new Pokemon are legendaries, an event-only Pokemon (Zorua/Zoroark), and small handful of useful Pokemon such as Haxorus, Darmanitan, Hydreigon, Gigalith, and Eelektross to name a few.
The biggest improvements of this game are aesthetic changes such as faster processing and a new EXP system. Welcome changes that only affect the game minorly in the long run.
The soundtrack of this game is on par. Nowhere as good as Platinums soundtrack, but still a good listen. The instruments blend well, and the tone fits really good. Many of the battles themes are good and they even included a new music track for when your HP is low and for when the Gym Leader has the last Pokemon. A very nice touch, although the song does not apply for certain key trainers like Elite 4.
The cries are a mied bag. There are many cries in this game that resemble the pokemons real-life counterparts (like Lillipups barking). But some cries are really annoying like Serperiors and Gothitelles. The sounds are nice, too.
Replay Value 4/10
For a Pokemon RPG game, this is where it really hurts. The postgame content of Black and White just does not stand up to its predecessors, or most RPGs in that matter. There little nothing to do in the game after its done. All you can is go to a version exclusive city that offers very little things, battle a few people and catch legendaries. There no Gym Leader Rematches, no cool minor games like Voltorb Flip or the Underground, or many new areas to explore. There are only so little to explore in the game (an eastern part of Unova that can be skimmed very easily). The Pokemon Musicals are boring is there is no winning in them. There is a small sidequest that involves you finding 7 sages, but that is not hard to do even with no guide as their hiding spots are obvious (hiding in the Dreamyard/Cold Storage, again). The Pokemon do not follow you around in the game like in HeartGold/SoulSilver.
The Entralink feature is kind of fun, but requires a second player to help you and in the end are very useless and you can only use it in North Unova. Makes me wonder why they pushed this feature.
The previous games excelled wonderfully at Replay Value with many additions to what to do after the game is finished. It was what kept me playing after I beat the game and this magic is very limited here.
This game is just falls very short of what a Pokemon game is: a very fun adventure RPG that has many options and fun challenges along that enriches the series with much fun. Instead, its a short RPG, with barely any difficulty and lacks the ingenuity, creativity, originality, magic, fun, and soul that all the previous main series Pokemon RPGs happen to have. Its boring and dull to play through and does alright as a game, but compared to the previous installments, its a failure and a misstep. I hope next generation, Game Freak does better than this.
Again, I really wanted to like this game. When Reshiram and Zekrom were first revealed worldwide on Pokemom.com, I was so excited to see that the 5th generation was coming and I thought these games would spark a new revolution of Pokemon and step up the series a notch by giving us masny new creative pokemon. When I saw all the Pokemon, I was unfortunately wrong. This review is the nicest way for me to express my feelings, because if I were to take the fanbase into account, this review would be much less reasonable.
If you are a huge Pokemon enthusiast that wants to collect all the creatures and wish to play a new Pokemon game, this game is good for you to buy. If you are looking for an amazing game for your DS for you to play, pass this game and buy HeartGold, SoulSilver, Platinum, or Ace Attorney Investigations instead. That or wait for a future Pokemon game.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Pokemon Black Version (US, 03/06/11)
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