You may have tossed your Furby, but “Pokémon” will never die.
“Pokémon” has always been about little evolutionary changes here and there rather than anything remotely revolutionary. The two newest entries in the series, “Black” and “White,” are no different.
Players start out as a mute trainer in the quaint little town just as they have in past games. Your neighbor is once again a renowned Pokémon professor who gives you your own Pokémon and urges you to set off on your own adventure. The only difference this time is that now you have friends. And believe me, the second you meet these “friends” you’re going to want to get the hell out of there and run far, far away.
The game plays just like its predecessors; you go from town to town, fighting gym leaders and earning badges in a quest to become the Pokémon champion.
However, rather than having the villainous Team Rocket constantly accosting you, it’s Team Plasma on your tail this time.
The franchise makes a bold attempt at a more mature story with Team Plasma, a group that claims to be interested in liberating Pokémon.
Unfortunately, the story quickly gets convoluted and at some points irritating. It was nice of Nintendo to try to make the franchise grow up, but who plays Pokémon for the captivating narrative?
There are also some small changes that move the game along slightly faster.
“Pokécenters,” where you heal your injured little buddies, are now in the same building as “PokéMarts,” where you buy toys for your said buddies. In addition, battles move faster, noticeably speeding up the pace of the game.
There are two new battle modes, the triple battle and the rotation battle. Triple battles are exactly what they sound like: your three Pokémon versus an opponent’s three.
The battle dynamic is certainly interesting, but having six Pokémon onscreen at once is pretty insane. Rotation battles are a little bit more exciting as they allow you or your opponent to choose moves from one of three Pokémon every turn, which adds a whole new level of strategy to the game.
Additionally, the games are seasonal and will rotate through the year bringing new pokemon or alternate forms of certain ones.
Of course, one cannot forget the pokemon themselves. “Black” and “White” introduce 155 new creatures, ranging from the awesome legendary pokemon Zekrom and Reshiram to the bland beaver-squirrel blight, Patrat.
While purists will never consider any new Pokémon to be as cool as Charizard, there are definitely some cool new additions that make up for some of the less inventive ones––I’m looking at you Vanillite, the ice cream Pokémon.
It should also be said that during the main story of the game, you will exclusively run into new Pokémon, which is terrific news if you’re sick of running into Pidgey and Zubat every five seconds.
As far as differences between the two versions go, each game contains one area specific to itself. Players in “Pokémon Black” will get to stroll the Black City, while those in “Pokémon White” get to enjoy the White Forest.
Also, as usual, each game comes with handfull of exclusive Pokémon. As far as choosing which game to go with, it basically boils down to which pokemon you personally like more. Eyeballing the covers should give you an idea.
However, once you catch these slick new “Poké-pals” you’ll be forced to view them through graphics that are offensively worse than past games.
While Pokémon are now slightly animated, they tend to look distorted and grainy.
While the graphics are by no means as bad as the ice cream cone that was Blastoise in “Blue” and “Red,” it just stands out more on a system as powerful as the Nintendo DS. Especially when you consider that the graphics were noticeably better in “HeartGold” and “SoulSilver.”
But considering the game has so much else going for it, the less than stellar graphics are forgivable. “Black” and “White” are great, and if you’ve been keeping up with the series and enjoyed past installments, you’ll certainly be a fan of this one. And if you haven’t been keeping up with “Pokémon,” “Black” and “White” are great places to get back into the franchise.