Pokémon has come a long way since its first game back 1998. Its latest instalments, Black 2 and White 2 (B2&W2), are no different when it comes to its standard formula of ‘8 gym badges, fight Team Bad Guys, defeat Elite 4 and Champion, become Champion’, and this tried and tested recipe has always been the main crux of the games. Little has deviated from that, which may be either a plus or a down point, depending on the player’s personal preference. Still, with every game that is released, developers and writers have tried to throw in new things to keep things fresh.
Where Ruby and Sapphire had Emerald, and Diamond and Pearl had Platinum, Black and White (B&W) had B2&W2. Originally rumoured to be named Pokémon Grey, the release of two enhanced remakes puts a spin on to it. Black and White had more differences than just version-specific Pokémon, and in fact, entire cities were drawn and designed differently. For example, Opelucid city was a highly futuristic city in Black, and it was an old-fashioned, traditional city in White. Logically, releasing two enhanced remakes would allow the developers to maintain such differences.
B2&W2 is set two years after the original B&W games in the same region, being the New York City-inspired Unova. Unlike previous enhanced remakes, the developers have taken it a step further by introducing brand new cities and towns, and the original route-of-travel has been changed slightly. It’s a pretty welcome change, especially for players who have already played B&W. Where one would have started at Nuvema Town in B&W, the player would instead began at Aspertia City, a new city located on the opposite side of the map. A developing area (Route 4) in B&W has now changed, and what used to be a half-constructed road is now either a settlement of housing (Black 2) or an abandoned development (White 2). It’s great seeing these changes in the game, as it makes B2&W2 feel less like a replay of the original.
There’s not much to reveal about the plot without spoiling anything. But as a sort of sequel to B&W, the games do continue on the original Team Plasma storyline, and functions as a conclusion to it. You might be pleased to know, also, that you get to link your B&W game with B2&W2 through memory link, though you’d have finish the original game to see some substantial effect. For example, there are many flashback scenes that you can unlock, such as finding out why the trio Gym leaders in Striaton Gym have left, and so on.
Plenty of previous characters make a return in B2&W2. B&W’s player’s old friends Bianca and Cheren are some of the first people you meet, and they’ve grown and matured over the past two years. That’s continuity right there, and it’s pretty good in keeping in line with the idea that two years had passed between the games.
There are a few new gym leaders, though a number remain the same. Regardless, the gyms of the original leaders have received a complete overhaul. There are new puzzles in each gym to work through before you get to them, and that’s pretty fantastic, because, again, novelty.
Gym battles are also set to be a little more challenging. Some of the leaders use the same Pokémon, while others have had a different line-up. The overall levels of their teams have also increased by an average of 1 – 2. It might not seem like much, but for players who have based their playing on mainly strategy instead of grinding and hacking through, this might change things a little. Nonetheless, you’d probably breeze through them quite easily, since, Pokémon is primarily a kids’ game.
A large number of Pokémon from previous generations have been introduced into the region. You get all kinds of classics, like Eevee and Growlithe from the first generation, and also Riolu from the fourth generation. In fact, B2&W2 has the most number of Pokémon among all the other games. But what’s quantity without quality, you might ask. Good news for you, because you get a pretty decent bunch of Pokémon rather early. If you’re willing to run around maniacally in the grass for a while, you can get the aforementioned Riolu and Eevee even before your third gym match. In fact, you could get Riolu before the first gym, and that’s quite awesome. In the previous games, pretty much the only Pokémon you could get at the start was a rat Pokémon, a bug Pokémon, and a bird Pokémon, and while they still persist, the player would delight in the greater amount of choice now.
There’s always something new in every game. In B2&W2, there’s plenty of stuff to keep you occupied while you go through the entire 8 gyms routine. Most of the fun stuff from B&W is retained, for example, the Battle Subway is still there, and you still have seasons, which change every month in real time.
There’s also the entry of something called PokéStudio in one of the new cities. In Japanese, it’s called PokéWood, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a movie studio. There’s not much to it, aside from a bit of extra battling, and while you could go through the entire game without going back to it, it’s a bit of fun to see all the different kinds of ‘scenarios’ that they can be unlocked.
Medals are also introduced in B2&W2. It’s pretty useless and not worth anything, but it is basically Pokémon version of an ‘achievement unlocked’, and some may enjoy going out to get all of them.
At the end of the day, B2&W2 is a lot like B&W. While there’s a certain flair of freshness to keep things interesting, it’s not exactly an entirely new game, though as an enhanced remake, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve enjoyed any other remakes after playing the original game, then you’ll probably like B2&W2. If not, at least give this a try, because while B2&W2 is quite like the original, there’s a number of incentives to draw you into it, and makes for a pretty great game in its own right.
Ratings: 4 out of 5 stars
by Chua Yuxuan
© POPCulture Online 2012, All Rights Reserved.