Pokemon Black and White import guide

So you've imported Pokemon Black or Pokemon White but you don't speak any Japanese and you're worried about getting stuck behind a language barrier. As we mentioned in Pokemon Monday 18, compared to previous generations, B&W is more import-friendly in some ways and less friendly in others. It can be daunting to riddle it all out, especially if you've never imported before. But never fear! We have all your non-Japanese-speaking needs covered. Armed with this guide, you should be able to play through an imported version of the game with ease no matter what your language skills.

Who this guide is for: Anyone who imported Pokemon Black or White and wants to play the game for his or herself but doesn't read any Japanese.

What this guide is: It explains essential language-based components of the game so that non-Japanese speaking players can understand what's going on and progress through the game on their own.

What this guide isn't: It's not a comprehensive walkthrough. Anything that doesn't require Japanese knowledge to figure out is not covered in this guide (gym puzzle solutions, item locations, etc).

Final note before we begin: I'm playing through Pokemon White with Tsutaja (Grass) as my starter, and Michael Grimm is playing through Black with Mijumaru (Water) as his starter, so we'll address any version differences as necessary. 

Skip to:
Gym badges 1 - 3 (Kanoko Town, Karakusa Town, Sanyou City, Hiun City and C Gear explanation)
Gym badges 4 - 6 (Raimon City, Hodomoe City and Fukiyose City)
Gym badge 7 (Sekka City)

Getting started

Choose the first option on the start menu to start a new game. The first choice you're presented with is the choice between hiragana/katakana only (first option) or kanji (second option). Choose whichever you're more comfortable with – it doesn't matter too much for now because you can always change it from the options menu later anytime you want.

Go through a bunch of dialogue with Professor Araragi. Choose boy or girl trainer and enter your name when she prompts you.

When you get to your room, go through the dialogue with Cheren and Belle and then save the game if you want. To save, hit X to bring up the menu and choose the option with the book.

Menu basics

The menus in Black and White are remarkably similar to those in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. If you have one of those games it can serve as a great cross-reference tool if you're confused about menu options. Making your own cheat sheet diagrams (pen and paper!) that you can keep with you to double check as you play can also be incredibly useful. The menus in B&W also often have helpful icons to visually indicate what your options are. Note: not all of these options will be available right away, but you'll get them all soon after you begin your quest.


Hit X to bring up the main menu.

Left side:

Right side: 
Trainer info


Select Pokemon, then select an individual Pokemon to bring up this menu.


Right side options:
Item (sub options: Give, Take, Cancel)


The decorations on each bag indicate the section of the bag you're in.

Check the black box or press Y when you have an item highlighted to register the item to the Y button. A checked box will appear next to the item.

You can now register multiple items to the Y button. If you have more than one item registered, hitting Y will bring up a menu where you can select the item you want to use (pictured here is Town Map and Trainer Card/Gym Badges registered).

On the top screen, an item description appears for the item you have highlighted. The icons can be helpful in figuring out what the item is (Town Map pictured above).


Save? Yes / No.

Note: It's probably a good idea to get used to recognizing the Japanese words for Yes (top option) and No (bottom option).



English options make the Pokedex user-friendly for importers.


From top to bottom:
Text speed - slow / mid / fast
Battle animations - on / off
Battle style - shift / set
Sound - stereo / mono
Text mode - hiragana / kanji
Infrared save (C-Gear) - save / don't save 

Skip to:
Gym badges 1 - 3 (Kanoko Town, Karakusa Town, Sanyou City, Hiun City and C Gear explanation)
Gym badges 4 - 6 (Raimon City, Hodomoe City and Fukiyose City)
Gym badge 7 (Sekka City)



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  • Burdmayn - October 24, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    I have a question regarding your Pokemon's moveset. I don't know any Japanese and I just ordered the game from PlayAsia, (can't wait to get my hands on this!) but the only thing I can't find mention of anywhere are your attacks. Is it fairly easy to tell which move you're about to use? Or am I going to be blindfiring besides knowing what "type" the move is?
  • Reaverx - September 23, 2010 6:30 p.m.

    Curse you subtle anti-piracy!
  • sepirothpk - September 23, 2010 3:27 a.m.

    @ Yaro It seems like an option, whether you want Kanji or not. Probably easier for the most part to not have any kanji.
  • snorooster47 - September 23, 2010 2:07 a.m.

    @ Reaverx, You're Pokemon aren't gaining any exp because you are playing from a rom, the developers designed it so pokemon would not gain any experience unless its an original game.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - September 23, 2010 12:11 a.m.

    @ GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson -thank you, and i love your podcast
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - September 22, 2010 11:07 p.m.

    @ihopethisisnotantistasblood - i'm trying to update at least once or twice a day as i play through. thanks for waiting - i'll try to get through the main game as fast as possible.
  • RonaldRayGun - September 22, 2010 10:51 p.m.

  • Reaverx - September 22, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    I'm glad a site actually bothered to do this. Although for some reason my pokemon aren't gaining exp, so until I figure out how to fix this I guess I'm stuck :/
  • felix7227 - September 22, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    @Spartan11794 Just read the books then if you get an exclamation mark above your head one of the 2 trainers will be face away from the bookcase, talk to them and answer Yes everytime, eventually youll fight both of them and theyll move the bookcase
  • ChipTheExecutioner - September 22, 2010 8:49 p.m.

    Thanks Carolyn
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - September 22, 2010 8:05 p.m.

    when will you publish the second part?
  • Fusionmix - September 22, 2010 6:02 p.m.

    Team...Plasma? Ugh. I really wish they'd reinvent the Pokemon games one day.
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - September 22, 2010 4:51 p.m.

    @ChipTheExecutioner - We ordered our copies from It's pretty pricey because DS games cost a lot more in Japan. I think it ended up being about $65 each.
  • musclesdylan - September 22, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    if you really want to play it in english download a ds emulator a black or white rom and an english patch thats what i did =) or you can download the rom and put it on an r4 card with the patch ..
  • ChipTheExecutioner - September 22, 2010 4:29 a.m.

    How exactly would one go about importing this? (please excuse my ignorance) is it pricey to do?
  • enlargedhousecats - September 22, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    @sabatos: and you don't mind brutally killing humans and other oganisms in other games?
  • RebornKusabi - September 22, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    I can't wait for this seeing as I became completely indoctrinated to Pokemon Platinum(before that, my first and last Pokemon game was Red) although the s***ty breakup I was going through at the time probably didn't help lol ... and yet, while I can't wait for Pokemon Black/White, I would rather delve into it when it ships here in American instead of trying to decipher the game's text, Indiana Jones- style >_>
  • Yaro - September 22, 2010 12:47 a.m.

    Wait, so is the entirety of the game in hiragana/katakana? No Kanji? I just might import this in japanese to practice reading =)
  • SoySauceHater - September 22, 2010 12:41 a.m.

    Did you mean to call it TM01? or is it still HM? just making sure, cuz they screwed around with stuff, sorry if its just a typo :P
  • aibogreens - September 21, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Meh. I don't feel like importing it. It just means I have to buy a game twice. One time to only enjoy half of it, and another time just to play it so I can slightly comprehend it more. I might try it, though. My friend may have it imported.