Plays Like: Every Pokémon game previously released.
Review Basis: Completed the game.
Pokémon is my cup of tea, and I’m always very critical with each new release because I see how much potential this franchise has. While Black and White 2 prove yet another excellent addition to this classic RPG series, there are quite a few mind puzzling shortcomings that should be fixed by now. Still, as the first direct sequel, Black and White 2 is fantastic. It’s a great place to start if you’ve never tried Pokémon before, and another must-buy for series veterans.
Finally no more third pillar game! Every Pokémon game before had one. The originals had Yellow, Gold and Silver got Crystal, Ruby/Sapphire had Emerald, even Pearl and Diamond got there very own Platinum version. Heck, the first two Pokémon games even got full-on remakes. That means that Pokémon fans got to replay the same games way too often. The gaming world was shocked when Black and White 2 were revealed. Everybody was expecting Nintendo to come out with Pokémon Grey, which would have been the next logical step given the series’ history. Instead, what gamers got were a (mostly) brand new game set two years after the events of Black and White. All this just one year after the release of Black/White. With Pokemon Y and X set for this October, this will mark the third straight year where Pokéfans everywhere are treated to a brand new entry to their favorite series.
+ The absolute best storyline yet in a Pokémon game. Although it is still not even close to what other RPG’s are offering, given this is aimed towards kids, it’s definitely a big step in the right direction. There are actual characters that you will care for here, and villains that perform truly evil deeds. Even their looks and designs play the part this time around.
+ Given that you’re spending most of your time in areas you’ve previously visited, I was surprised by how everything felt fresh. Never a dull moment here.
+ The movie making mini-game is actually a clever and challenging way to offer different Pokémon battles. Trying to complete every last scenario will keep you occupied for hours and hours.
+ Finally a challenge mode! The downside here is that you have to complete the game to unlock it. The mode itself actually makes the single player game quite difficult, even for die-hard fans.
+ Quite a lengthy adventure. It will take you around 30 hours or so to complete the main quest depending on your experience. That would not even count for half of what the game has to offer. There’s so many more dungeons to explore, and quests to complete after you’ve defeated the elite 4 its sick. Add the gotta catch ’em all factor and you could very well be playing this till X and Y come out.
+ The community aspect has always been this series’ bread and butter. Battling and trading makes this one of the best e-sports out there. Sadly, Nintendo doesn’t seem to realize that, or just doesn’t want to invest the time or money to take it to the next level.
+/- I’m a bit tired of the formula. Why would a gym leader (or an elite 4 member none the less) carry less then six Pokémon? You’re gonna go in that fight with six Pokémon, and he’s supposed to win using only two or three? Also, why would they carry only one type, leaving their entire team weak to the same Pokémon? This has been the status quo since the series debuted, changing this would help make the franchise feel “new” again.
– No new starters. How hard would it have been to create three new Pokémon (nine, if you count the evolved forms) for this game? Bad enough that there’s no new Pokémon at all, some new starters would have been perfect.
– This is the big one. The online infrastructure is horrible, terrible, and complete crap. There is no way to meet people online, talk with them and ask them if they want to battle, or if they have a certain Pokémon you’d like to trade for. Everything mentioned has to be done using other means. Whether it’s by calling friends, going online or posting in forums, that’s the only way to meet people and play. Even then, it’s incredibly tedious to try and set up a match by using online forums. There is absolutely no reason why Nintendo doesn’t simply create servers where you can meet up, register new players to your friend’s list, be informed when they pop up online, etc. You should always be one click away from a battle invitation. Even worse, the options you have now are too simplistic. All you can do is either battle with registered friends, which again means that you have to make the arrangements on your own via other devices (phone, internet) to then set up a battle or a trade. You can battle random people, but by doing that, you have to play on preset rules that makes raising Pokémon to level 100 pointless. This could be a tremendous e-sport (it already kind of is). Nintendo needs to wake up and invest the money to do so. This is the next level of Pokémon gaming.
What really grinds my gears here is that the big boys, the ones that actually could influence Nintendo (or Gamefreak… whoever you want to call) and make a difference don’t even mention the online aspects of the game in their reviews at all! I’m a pro-IGN guy, I really am. I visit their site everyday and enjoy their content tremendously, but let’s be honest here, the chances of Nintendo reading this review are slim. The industry listens to sites like IGN or Gamespot because they have a huge amount of readers. I like Audrey, but sometimes her fanboyism gets in the way. If only one of them would point this out, then there would be hope for change, alas…
Black and White 2 is an excellent portable adventure. One that should absolutely not be missed. That being said, I’m expecting huge changes to the online infrastructure with Pokemon Y and X. I’m very doubtful that the potential of this series will be realized then, but if it is, Pokémon will become an unstoppable franchise. Buy this if you haven’t already.
Final Score: 8.5/10