REVIEW: Pokemon White 2

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

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Title: Pokemon White 2
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: October 7th, 2012
Genre: RPG
Platform: Nintendo DS
Rating: ESRB E

The generational cycle for Pokemon has gotten to the point where we know precisely what’s coming during the next few years. After Pokemon Black and Pokemon White were released over a year ago, people assumed that there was going to be a third version called Pokemon Gray, or something like that. What we ended up getting was something a little different. Instead of being a re-release of the same game with a few alterations to the plot, we ended up getting full-on sequels that take place two years after the events of the previous game, similar to how Gold and Silver were sequels to Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2 don’t bring nearly as many changes to the franchise that Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver did, but it does bring some interesting things to the table.

Once you start up the game, you can immediately tell that there are a good amount of changes to the Unova region. You start out as a brand new trainer in Aspertia City, a brand new starting town in a new area in Unova. Parts of the region that were previously untouched have been paved over to make way for new towns, routes, and dungeons. Even old places like Castelia City and Driftveil City have received some additional areas to explore. What’s more, many Pokemon from previous generations can now be found in the wild, practically doubling the size of the regional Pokedex. This is great for those who’ve already played traveled through Unova before, like myself.

The stories in Pokemon games are typically forgettable, but Black and White tried to give us a more compelling story. Unfortunately, the story in Black 2 and White 2 falls a bit flat. There are some interesting ideas here and there, but it ultimately boils down to the same rote story as usual. There are flashbacks throughout the game that help explain what happened in between the games and provide some deeper moments, but they can only be unlocked through the game’s Memory Link feature, one of the new functions in the game. These new flashbacks will become available if you sync your copy of Pokemon Black or Pokemon White to it, but that will require you to have both a copy of the previous game and a second DS.

While I’m on the subject of the Unova link, there are a couple other faults I have with it. First, while it’s awesome that we finally got difficulty settings for the games, you can’t change them unless you either finish the game or if you sync with someone else who already unlocked them. Also, the only way you can obtain the new forms of Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus is to purchase the separate three-dollar application Pokemon Dream Radar, catch them there, and then transfer them over via the 3DS link. In other words, you have to have a 3DS and spend an extra $3 in order to get these Pokemon. I mean, you can always find someone who’s willing to trade for these Pokemon, but good luck with that.

Ya want these? Three dollars. And a 3DS if you don’t already have one.

Like with the previous “third version” games, Black 2/White 2 contains a few additions. The new features are a mixed bag. I love how the Pokemon World Tournament lets you fight gym leaders and champions from all of the previous games, and they provide a really good challenge this time around! The Pokewood mini-game, while slightly more interesting than Musicals, is pretty much forgettable. There’s a new mall area in the game called Join Avenue where people you’ve interacted with, be it local wireless, IR, Wi-Fi, or whatever, can come to build shops and improve them over time. It’s a pretty nice feature to be sure, but after you’ve beaten the Elite Four and the Champion, there’s not really much of a reason to keep coming back.

Another thing that these games feature are Medals. Yes, Pokemon finally has an in-game achievement system for those who love to get achievements. For everyone else, this system is completely pointless. Unlike catching various Pokemon, which gives you a new Pokemon you could use in battle, or finding the various TMs and HMs that you can use to teach your Pokemon new moves, there is absolutely no benefit to obtaining Medals.

Finally, filling out your Pokedex finally gets you better rewards than just useless diplomas. Unfortunately, it gives away the best one right away. If you manage to see (not catch) all the Pokemon for your regional Pokedex, you get to go to a special area where you can catch a shiny Haxorus. For catching all the Pokemon in the regional Pokedex, you get a charm that lets you hatch eggs faster, but not fast enough to keep it from being tedious. For catching every Pokemon in existence (so far), you get a charm that makes you more likely to find a shiny Pokemon in the wild. I mean, the chances of you finding one are still astronomically high, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

There’s just no way to top this.

Pokemon is one of those franchises that definitely has its die-hard fans. A bunch of you would probably buy this game and Pokemon Dream Radar, no matter what anyone says.  For everyone else, unless you really want the new forms to certain legendary Pokemon, and have the itch to explore some new areas, I can’t think of many significant reasons why you should buy this version if you already have Black or White (these two games outshine their sequels in more ways than one). It’s a good jumping on point for newcomers to the franchise, but it’s not going to matter once the 6th generation of games will be released in a couple years.

Review Score

About Kyle Emch

Kyle has been studying music at college for about three years now. He's played the piano since he was 6 years old and has been recently been learning how to write music. He has followed the Operation Rainfall movement on Facebook since it started and was happy to volunteer for the website. Just don't mention Earthbound or the Mother franchise around him.

  • Chris Johnson

    You don’t have to have a second DS to unlock the Memory Link. All you have to do is tuck in a pokemon on your Black/White game and then go online and make sure it connected. Then when you are choosing memory link you can do it through the NWC after you linked your new game to your online account.

    “Not much to keep you coming back” for Join Avenue is silly as well. There are special breeding things you can buy to cut down egg hatching by a TON which makes creating your perfect team even shorter as well as many, many, many other perks…Your not much assessment is totally and completely wrong.

    Also I can’t believe you can do a review of this game and NOT mention the new habitat Pokedex feature. It sort of revolutionizes the impetus to “Catch ‘Em All” because you want to spend time in each area getting those stamps. Unless you just shipped all your Pokemon over from another game (which I initially intended to do) it makes catching Pokemon actually fun again. Another thing worth mentioning is the diversity of Pokemon that can be caught early on. You have much more diversity which makes it much easier to tailor your team to your personal specs.

    Otherwise good review. Thanks.

    • Kyle’s review of the game seems to reflect the initial journey through Unova, leading up to the Elite 4 and enjoying the postgame to some extent. If Kyle is the kind of person who doesn’t care much about breeding, collecting, or milking every bit of gameplay he can out of a title, it’s easy to overlook some of the game’s additional features. 

      If you [do] intend on spending hundreds of hours with the game in order to completely fill your Pokedex, there’s a lot to love. But for the <100hrs folk, especially those who have already experienced Black & White, there's really not a lot to be impressed with. 

      I think Kyle's review is tailored towards the casual Pokemon crowd. That's the impression I got while I was editing it, which is why I let it go as is instead of asking him how he felt about certain other features (or for more specificity) like what you've mentioned. 

    • Chris Johnson

      I thought it was a fair review aside from these small details which I felt he either misrepresented or left out entirely.

  • I caught 3 shiny Pokemon in 1 day, the shiny charm is a god send…
    Also this reviewer doesn’t seem to really love Pokemon…

    • I can’t really speak for Kyle’s love of Pokemon, but he has played every main game in the franchise and was the first among the staff to complete the game after obsessively playing it for 5 days straight upon its release. I would have reviewed the game in his stead, but I feel like I would have said a lot of the same stuff.

      Speaking personally–I love Pokemon, but I don’t love Black & White 2 at all. I think his review reflects these sentiments accurately. 

    • If you haven’t read my origins piece for Pokemon Crystal, I’ll summarize for you. The Pokemon franchise has me (mostly) by the freaking balls. I’ve played nearly every main-series Pokemon game since I got Crystal and will likely continue to do so until the day I die.

      That being said, I’m not really into 100% completing the games, or at least as much as I used to be. I don’t care about getting all the Medals, ranking up my Trainer card, filling out the habitat stamps, etc. because doing all of that provides me with absolutely zero benefits, as I’ve stated in my review.

    • Chris Johnson

      What benefits do any RPG’s give us really? Aside from replayability (World Tournament and Battle Subway come to mind) and good times. I’m sorry to see you’ve become so cynical about the whole thing.

      Glad you at least enjoyed the game though man. Have fun gaming.

    • Unless completing habitats each get me a piece of Rare Candy, or if collecting every medal in the game gives me 5 Master Balls or something, I’m not terribly interested.

    • Chris Johnson

      Obviously this is where we diverge, once I realized Rare Candy’s couldn’t make a monster Pokemon they became worthless to me, but breeding for better stats and building a coherent team so I can win some strategic rotation battles or go farther in the subway is imminently more interesting and difficult. I’m playing for a challenge (as well as for love of a game I started playing as a youth), and Pokemon is delivering in spades these days, I guess I love it because it has sort of matured (while still offering the satisfying shallow experience for folks like yourself) but this highlights one of the main problems of your review, you leave out the things that make it the best monster catcher around. 

  • Sniper D. Luffy

    3 out of 5?! ….oh well… i love this game…despite a few setbacks i’m not happy with..but overall it’s a good buy.

  • Even as a Pokemaniac, I have to agree with this review.  I enjoyed the game, if only because of my obsession with Pokemon, but it’s far from the pinnacle of the series.  It’s more of the same; something fans will appreciate.

  • TrueWiiMaster

    “A bunch of you would probably buy this game and Pokemon Dream Radar, no matter what anyone says”
    That implies that everyone is saying it’s bad, but they’re not.  The fact is, based on Metacritic’s scores, this is the lowest one yet.  Based on those same numbers, the positive reviews outnumber the neutral reviews (there are NO negative reviews) by more than 3 to 1.  It’s average score right now is an 80, not stellar, but still great.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that, based on what most critics say, you should buy this game.

  • My Pokemaniac friend can’t put the game down.  She played the hell out of Black, as well as Diamond.  She seriously can’t get enough, trading Pokemon with people online, battling, and in general just having fun.