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Pokemon Black / White 2 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Exploring new parts of Unova
  • Expanded storyline
  • Seeing old faces in the Pokémon World Tournament
  • Follows the same Pokémon formula
  • Relies too heavily on Black and White games
  • Losing sleep trying to breed the perfect Pokémon

Pokémon Black and White 2 comes as something of a surprise. Not only did Game Freak buck fan expectations by announcing two new titles instead of the expected “Pokémon Gray,” it even revealed they’d be genuine sequels to the first Black and White versions and not, as we’d all assumed, a simple repackaging of them. Even more surprising is just how well B&W2 have turned out, considering their new direction, making them the most original pair of Pokémon titles since arguably Gold and Silver.

 Watch this trailer showcasing Pokémon Black and White 2's release date

You wouldn’t be able to tell just from looking at the games, though. On the surface, B&W2 seem like any other Pokémon titles: You begin your adventure in a small town, where you and your childhood friend receive your first Pokémon from the local professor (or, in this case, the professor’s assistant). From there you’re free to explore the region of Unova, capturing other monsters, battling rival trainers, challenging the world’s eight Gym Leaders, and, eventually, becoming Pokémon League champion, all the while thwarting an evil organization’s plot for world domination--you know, the usual stuff.

Not that any of this is a bad thing; the gameplay is just as compelling now as when the series first debuted. There’s something undeniably satisfying about catching a team of monsters and raising them into an unstoppable unit, and Unova’s Pokédex has even been expanded to include some older Pokémon alongside the ones introduced in Black and White, giving you more options to take on the games’ challenges. There’s also enough depth in the battle system to keep each rival encounter fun and engaging, ensuring your quest will never devolving into a monotonous grind.

Where B&W2 really differ from previous games in the series is their storyline. The pair pick up roughly two years after the events of the first Black and White. N, the enigmatic “king” of Team Plasma, has left Unova with either Reshiram or Zekrom, depending on which version of the game you choose, and in his absence, the team has splintered into two rival factions: one which wishes to atone for its misdeeds and reunite people with their stolen Pokémon, the other which looks to liberate them from their captors. It’s an engaging tale, particularly for a Pokémon game, and you’ll want to stick with it to the end to see how it all plays out.

In addition to some other welcome nods to the previous games, B&W2 bring in a handful of new features to round out the experience. Among the first you’ll notice is the inclusion of achievements, which are doled out in the form of medals each time you complete a certain task (like saving a certain number of times, for instance). Also new is the Pokémon World Tournament, a stadium in which you can battle Gym Leaders from all over the Poké-globe, including old favorites like Misty and Lt. Surge. And then there’s Join Avenue, a unique shopping mall that you can populate with other players you’ve encountered, be it through Wi-Fi or tag mode. Each of these features adds a nice layer of replayability to the games, giving you plenty to see and do after you’ve conquered the Pokémon League and finished the main quest.

 Here's the first trailer for Pokémon Black and White 2

Unfortunately, there are a few areas where B&W2 stumble. While the titles are certainly a lot of fun, there’s very little in B&W2 to attract new players to the series, which is especially true considering they’re a continuation of the previous Black and White versions. To their credit, the pair do an adequate job of easing newcomers into the gameplay, but players will only get the most out of the experience if they’ve played either of the preceding games, making B&W2 a poor starting point for the uninitiated. The setting may also make the adventure a bit too familiar for returning fans, as you’ll be exploring many of the same towns and battling many of the same trainers as in the previous titles.

Still, these are minor complaints when taken with the games’ strengths. B&W2 are yet another fine pair of entries in the Pokémon series, and they serve as a fitting sendoff for the Nintendo DS. Rather than being a mere retread of the first Black and White versions (as each “tertiary” version before them was), B&W2 offers up an entirely new adventure through the Unova region, continuing the storyline of their predecessors while introducing new features and locations of their own. They still do too little to attract non-fans to the series, but for the vast crowd who have already been taken in by its charms, B&W2 will be yet another excuse to catch ‘em all.

More Info

Release date: Oct 12 2012 - 3DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS, 3DS
Published by: Nintendo
Franchise: Pokemon
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

27 comments

  • kenshinxx - October 23, 2012 6:09 a.m.

    Ugh, when are they going to FINALLY make some real progress in this series? I've been trying to get into it for years, but the ridiculously dated battle animations always keep me away. And yes, I realize the main focus is the strategy, not the visual spectacle, but good grief c'mon already! There's no excuse not to make the battles more visually pleasing. Also, MAKE ONE FOR THE 3DS ALREADY! Seriously, it's not rocket science...B&W should have been the last Pokemon game on the DS. I don't even care if they leave it in 2D (although I think it's about time they stepped into the 3rd dimension as well), as long as they put more love into the battle animations. If my attack is "Tackle", I want to see an actual charge and tackle, not a lame slide forward one millimeter animation. Talk about resting on your laurels...they've been making the same game since 1998!
  • Thequestion 121 - October 1, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    Great review!
  • Nikku7 - October 1, 2012 12:09 p.m.

    They should have brought back the poketch. One of the best damn additions the series ever had... Plus Pokemon D/P had a better post game in my opinion. To this day it's between it and G/S as my personal favorite in the franchise.
  • iluvpkmnmonday - October 1, 2012 12:41 p.m.

    Agree on the Poketch. I find the C-Gear to be borderline useless.
  • Viron - October 1, 2012 11:39 a.m.

    I never finished white, I still don't understand why they needed to make more.
  • RedOutlive. - October 4, 2012 12:44 p.m.

    They don't put much effort into it with, only new monster designs that fit the same niche as before like the (pidgeon lv 3 pokemon etc you find int he game quickly) and fringe changes yet each game sells millions on top of millions. Doubt they will ever stop producing those.
  • Crabhand - October 4, 2012 1:16 p.m.

    Strange... the "You'll Hate" points are all things that I like...
  • iluvpkmnmonday - October 1, 2012 7:51 a.m.

    For some reason I couldn't get in to B/W as much as D/P. I hope these new changes help change that. Day one purchase for me. I think I should my SN to imisspkmnmonday :(
  • Starblind - October 1, 2012 7:30 a.m.

    If you read the comments, people make it seem the reviewer gave it a 2 out of 5 lol. The game gets a 4 out of 5 and people still complain... I think what the reader is implying about the sequel part is that you will want to pick Pokemon B/W first before B/W 2 if you are new to the series. While you people are all familiar with Pokemon already, he was giving an insight to people who aren't. Anyway, as someone who's familiar with Pokemon but haven't played the Black and White series, this review convinced me to buy B/W before B/W 2. Looking forward to it, good review.
  • KnowYourPokemon - October 1, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    Numbers mean nothing in reviews considering they're subjective as hell. The fact remains that if a game simply being the sequel of a game is considered a negative point then games like Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2, Halo 2, pretty much any game ending in 2 or higher is not as good as it could be simply due to it being a sequel and maybe requiring fans to know things that happened in previous games. Hell, by this reviews logic the fact that Gold and Silver is somewhat of a continuation from red/blue/green is a bad thing since Team Rockets story is continued through G&S.
  • Starblind - October 1, 2012 11:15 a.m.

    I should have clarified, I never meant to make it seem like scores matter, but it got a high score, and positive review in the article, and people are complaining was my main point. While I understand your concern, " but players will only get the most out of the experience if they’ve played either of the preceding games," of course we don't know if he is simply mentioning the story, or are there many features your missing by skipping the first, however, the games you have mentioned, Borderlands 2, Guild Wars 2, Halo 2, Black Ops 1/2, or games that highly anticipated for it's online play. While the first of those games might have a story, there is nothing of significance that you should be recommended to play the previous. Black Ops/Halo are FPS widely hyped for FPS online, not the single player, Borderlands is known for it's online play as well as the story is shrugged by users. So in that case the sequels get a positive review. While Pokemon has it's entertaining online play, it is also known for it's single player. This reviewer obviously saw some connections why you should play B/W first, doesn't mean you have to, or you won't enjoy it if you don't. But yeah, I think there are times where a sequel can be seen as negative/positive based of concerns of the previous version. Just because this reviewer feels this way about B/W 2 doesn't mean he should feel about it with every sequel that exists. To each his own.
  • KnowYourPokemon - October 1, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    Ok then let's change it to games like the Jack and Daxter trilogy, Assassins Creed, any series where the main focus is story having a sequel. Even if we still count the games I listed earlier which are primarily online games yes, but also have story which does count on the player experiencing the first games if they want a single clue of whats going on(borderlands 2 still being an exception). I remember way back when playing through Halo 2's story and not having a clue what the story was about due to me not playing Halo 1, should I have looked down on the game because of that? Nope, it's not the game's fault I didn't play the first game and it's not the game's issue to make sure it recaps every single detail of what I missed either. When games are being compared to it's previous installments I feel that comparison should be done solely through one question "What expectations do they give me based on what they did in the first game". And until the Author can give legitimate reasoning other than "relies on the prequel" as to why that's a negative point to begin with I can't think differently on the subject. Sequels are meant to be continuations of the previous, sure some rely more on remembering the previous games more so than others(for example you can play the uncharted games in pretty much any order) but that doesn't mean a game relying on its prequel for story is a negative point.
  • shawksta - October 1, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    No ones actually complaining about the score if you read them properly
  • Moondoggie1157 - October 1, 2012 7:02 a.m.

    The list of things "You'll hate" is pretty funny... Why on Earth would I enjoy a handheld Pokemon game that follows the same handheld Pokemon formula, I mean that's just crazy! God forbid a sequel should rely on it's prequel. In the end, I give this review 2 star out of 5. Anyyyyways... Chose Snivy before for White version, that was a mistake... Think I'll be starting with Oshawatt this time in White 2. Tepig is cool and all, but I just don't like pigs, they bother me. "Catch 'em all, Let Oak sort 'em out"
  • shawksta - October 1, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    Great review, despite the shenanigans. The Pokemon World Tournament where you fight gym leaders and elite 4's will definitely be exciting for me and of course you got the hardcore scene who will abuse the online like they did to the originals, I just love how theirs literally 2 different experience for Pokemon
  • Cyberninja - October 1, 2012 3:47 a.m.

    2 things 1. why would someone buy a sequel to a game they don't own that is the same price and going to be literally right next to it in a store? 2. by this logic no game should ever have a sequel because it would confuse new fans to a series, for the love of God its pokemon it won't confuse anyone new or old, sure they are going to miss somethings but to be fair this has tons of cameos by very old characters to begin with making that point moot.
  • jackthemenace - October 1, 2012 5:51 a.m.

    That's exactly what I was thinking :P I don't remember any other sequel to ANY game having a review complaining about it being sequel, so why should Pokemon be any different, just because it's the first actual sequel? Anyway, I think this really is the way forward for Pokemon games. Stop making new generations, as they have been doing in the past, and even stop making remakes- I mean, there are only so many times you can actually remake a game. What Nintendo needs to do is start to make SEQUELS to their old games, especially Ruby and Sapphire (Since the first two already have remakes, they can wait till last). They, too, should pick up a little while after the previous games ended, and give us access to plenty of the new Pokemon, as well as others that weren't previously available, new sections of the region, and returning villains given new ideologies or purposes. I mean, it worked for Rocket between RBY and GSC, and it's worked for Plasma between BW and B2W2, So why can't Ruby 2 and Saphire 2 feature the return of Magma and Aqua, this time trying to harness the powers of Groudon and Kyogre to marge them into into Grouquaza and Kyquaza?
  • Hobogonigal - October 1, 2012 7:52 p.m.

    I think what he was trying to say was that you should play B&W before B&W2 if you are new to the series and care about story. It also seems that B&W acts as a better introduction to the gameplay elements than B&W2 so for new players, it would make sense to buy the first to become familiar with the usual tropes of the series. The way I see it is that B&W2 is like a sequel without an initial gameplay tutorial or story recap which is seen in most games. Just a pat on the shoulder and a 'go on, you know what to do. Right?' Either that or I have read the review incorrectly and the reviewer has made a null point in an attempt to find some constructive criticism. I guess I would need to play the game first to decide.
  • codystovall - October 1, 2012 3:13 a.m.

    Does snivy still suck ass and tepig overpowered?

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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