|Title: Pokemon White 2
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: October 7th, 2012
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.
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.
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.