Of all the Pokemon in all the towns in all the world, you walk into my gym….
As a young gamer, I couldn't have been more enthralled with Pokémon
. The act of collecting, training, and dominating the world seemed too good to be true. Even if my brother wanted to unplug our Game Boy Colors and sulk in the corner, I made sure he stuck around long enough for my Raichu to KO his entire team. I exploited glitches to ensure I had every single Pokémon, whether Mew was supported officially or not.
I metaphorically wore my Red
cartridge down to a nub, but every entry in the series felt too expansive and were spread too thin. Then Black and White
arrived on the DS, and I was drawn back in. Black and White Version 2
purports to act as the franchise's first true sequel, but can Black and White
's lightning truly strike twice?
Set two years after the original Black and White
, Version 2
puts players in the shoes of a new protagonist complete with a new rival, new gym leaders, and new Pokemon. Well, "new-old" Pokémon. Generations of the little monsters return to expand the scope of your Pokédex exponentially. In addition to the familiar faces, Version 2
follows the same strict regiment of gym leaders and Elite 4. As tired as I may be of the formula, Game Freak is aware that what ain't broke doesn't need fixing.
To that end, you'll go about earning badges in Unova until you're ready for the so-called battle of your life in the halls of the intimidating Elite 4. Thankfully, this rote path to victory allows player to enjoy Version 2
with or without the experience of the original Black and White
Players will find brand new post-campaign gameplay in the shape of the Pokémon World Tournament. The tournament gathers the gym leaders from four previous generations of Pokémon games for one massive showdown. If you've been with the series for long, the World Tournament proves to be an entertaining trip down nostalgia lane.
Joining the Pokémon World Tournament is PokéStar Studios, a throwback to the contests and musicals in previous titles. I've never been a huge fan of these stardom distractions, but it's another way Game Freak has reached through the ages to draw content for long-time fans.
Still, I felt compelled to explore PokéStar Studios in my drive to collect every possible medal. Medals are much like achievements or trophies in the way they represent in-game accomplishments. Complete tournaments, play against other trainers, or simply buy tons of items to unlock these medals and slip further into obsessive-compulsive madness. Gotta catch 'em all, gotta earn 'em all, gotta beat 'em all… the list goes on.
In a way, Version 2
makes me hope for a future where the gates are thrown wide open to any and all trainers from the beginning, regardless of how many badges they've earned. While there's a lot of value in grinding up to competent levels, the gym circuit seemed archaic and tired compared to everything available to players afterward.
The general sentiment among the community seems that Pearl and Diamond
will retain their fan-favorite status. Part of this is due to the fact that many all-star trainers are waiting for the inevitable 3DS
version before reinvesting their lives in collecting a shiny Pokémon or two.
What 3DS features are present in Black and White Version 2
are negligible and feel tacked on. It's instead best to consider Version 2
as the Fire Red and Leaf Green
of the original Black and White
pair. In the end, it's possible to skip these two, but the hardcore won't let it go. After all, you can't be the very best if you're not also exacting your commanding power over the latest installment in the series. Still, lapsed trainers would do well with Version 2
, despite feeling like a stepping stone to the next generation of Pokémon
games on the 3DS.
Copy provided by publisher.