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Anthony Capone
10 Mar, 2011

Pokémon Black/White Review

DS Review | Is the latest Pokemon adventure a good catch?
The Nintendo DS has been lucky enough to see two original Pokemon adventures within its lifespan. The latest duo of titles in the role-playing series, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, stay true to formula that has made the franchise such a long-lasting success. Once again, players are sent on an adventure to collect and train a team of creatures capable of making you the greatest Pokemon trainer. With a brand new set of Pokemon at your fingertips and an entirely new region to explore, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White remains the same engrossing experience that has endured for over ten years.

Pokemon Black and White begins much the same as every previous game. Players personify a young adventurer leaving home for the first time with nothing but a zoo of Pokemon in tow. The resident Pokemon researcher goes by the name of Juniper in Black and White, and she gives you and your two stock friends the pick of three brand new Pokemon. As with every previous iteration, players are given dibs on their creature of choice as well as a shiny Pokedex to catalogue their encounters. As a male or female trainer, you explore the new region of Unova, with its countless towns, cities, grassy meadows, watery wildernesses – and dare we say – numerous bridges.

The new Pokemon world is represented just as proficiently as in previous games, and benefits greatly from the inclusion of Team Plasma, the latest nefarious organization seeking to rule the Pokemon world. The story in Black and White doesn’t simply revolve around collecting gym badges, with Team Plasma playing a major role in your continuing adventures. The villainous group poses questions on the righteousness of keeping creatures as your personal battle machines. These issues are a significant addition and will resonate with mature audiences, but nonetheless don’t remove completely from your youthful quest to become the greatest Pokemon trainer.

Players choose from one of three new Pokemon to start their adventure.

Players choose from one of three new Pokemon to start their adventure.
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Black and White will be adored by old fans, with the same principles conceived by Game Freak over a decade ago still serving as the foundations of the game. Newcomers are by no means left in the cold, with lengthy tutorials on the various ins and outs of Pokemon and a gradual difficulty curve. The largest change to Pokemon Black and White are the pocket monsters themselves – during the main quest, players will only see entirely new Pokemon. Nevertheless, the crux of Pokemon Black and White remains the same as every previous title – capturing, training and battling with Pokemon.

The process of raising your Pokemon is achieved by battling fellow trainers littered across the Unova region. As your creatures gain experience and level up, they can learn new moves can evolve into stronger forms. The turn-based battle system remains the same yet always engaging scissor-paper-rock formula of previous games. Players are required to select Pokemon types with elemental attacks that are effective against the opponent’s type of Pokemon. For example, electric attacks beat water-type Pokemon, and water attacks beat fire-types. While simple to learn, these battles can be quite strategic and require plenty of forethought, especially when each Pokemon can only learn up to four different attacks.

As with previous games, the process of building and training a team of Pokemon is highly enjoyable and addictive. It can take hours of walking around to build a well-rounded team of Pokemon, especially when players are only able to carry six creatures at once. This system encourages a great deal of planning, and the payoff comes in victory against rival trainers. Winning battles is immensely satisfying, especially when you have spent hours gathering and leveling up your personal entourage of Pokemon.

The battle system remains largely unchanged.

The battle system remains largely unchanged.
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In addition to the standard single Pokemon battles, Pokemon Black and White builds on the two-on-two battles of previous games with brand new three-on-three encounters and ‘rotational’ battles. Fighting with three Pokemon at once is one of the highlights of the game, requiring players to stretch to the limits of their strategic abilities. Rotational battles are equally entertaining, with one Pokemon in the lead and two others on standby to absorb any of your foe’s attacks. These battles only take place a fair way into the game, and unfortunately, only happen on a few occasions.

As your Pokemon gradually level up, players battle local gym leaders to earn badges – symbols that represent your increasing prowess and abilities. Most gyms require some form of puzzle-solving such as navigating mazes in order to reach the leader. These problems aren’t too tough to solve, and provide a fun distraction in the lead-up to the battle. Once all of the Unova gyms have been conquered, players are challenged to a showdown with the final set of elite trainers. The lead-up to the final fight requires countless hours of training to build the ultimate Pokemon team, especially if you hope to prevail in the last nail-biting encounters. And then, the game is far from over. Even after your battle with the elites, Pokemon Black and White still has a raft of content to explore. Notwithstanding completing your Pokedex and capturing the legendary Pokemon, new towns and areas become accessible, fresh side quests become available, and finally, the ultimate trainer awaits your challenge.

Visually, the game looks rather impressive while roaming freely across the Unova region, with the 3D world implemented superbly into the top-down perspective we have all become accustomed too. Players will also be treated to some impressive scenery as the camera pans to show movement across areas such as a large bridges and colossal gym buildings. The game world also adapts to the current real-world season, with the environment and weather effects representing summer, autumn, winter and spring. Pokemon battles have also been treated to some new visuals effects, making encounters with opposing trainers livelier than before. However, actual Pokemon appeared somewhat pixelated during fight sequences, which seems odd given the graphical power of the Nintendo DS. Nonetheless, it does nothing to remove from the excitement of battle. Battle music also helps immerse players in the action, but sound effects are as basic as always. The anime style of Pokemon Black and White continues to amaze, with impressive art direction and characters drawn with a high degree of individuality. Finally, while some of them are downright ugly, the majority of the latest Pokemon are rather presentable and are probably the best batch of creatures since Gold and Silver.

Players will be treated to some impressive new visuals.

Players will be treated to some impressive new visuals.
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Online functionality for Black and White, known as C-Gear communications, is handled painlessly with a permanent display on the bottom screen (removing the need to go to a Pokemon centre entirely). Players can connect via Wi-Fi or infrared to battle and trade with other Pokemon users. Players will still need to use the infamous Friend Code system to link with friends, but impromptu and local connections require no such input. It is always great fun pitting your Pokemon against a friend's team, and completionists will have to trade if they want to catch em’ all. Players can also activate the Pass By feature to gather and compare statistics with other trainers, or try their hand at the Feeling Check game, which tests the compatibility of your Pokemon against others through a mindless rhythm mini-game.

Applying the if it isn’t broken formula, Pokemon Black and White is still very much about catching, raising and battling with a team of pocket monsters. Nevertheless, with a vast new world to explore, Pokemon to catch and trainers to battle, the game is very much a brand new saga in the endearing role-playing series. New features such as the three-on-three and rotational battles, changing seasons and the streamlined online features will satisfy existing fans, while new players will discover an engrossing experience at their fingertips. Pokemon Black and White treats players to an entirely new adventure while retaining the core elements that have made the series such an addictive and enjoyable game for years. Prepare yourself to catch them all over again.
The Score
Retaining the classic role-playing and battle systems, Pokemon Black and White is treat for players old and new, with an engaging and lengthy adventure and countless new Pokemon to catch.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 Comments
3 years ago
just curious is the random encounter rate as high as it was in Gold/Silver?
3 years ago
Another question; was trading disabled for the main story? If so, for how long?

I WANT MY ZUBAT
3 years ago
You have to beat the Elite 4, then you can trade.

I like that. It makes me use and get to know the new Pokemon.
3 years ago
HOW WILL I GET ALONG WITHOUT MY TRUSTY CROBAT?

HOW, GAME FREAK? HOW!?

*sobs*
3 years ago
plazma wrote
You have to beat the Elite 4, then you can trade.

I like that. It makes me use and get to know the new Pokemon.
Slightly inaccurate.

You have to beat the Elite 4 before you can transfer Pokemon from previous versions (D/P/Pt/HG/SS). This is a one-way transfer, like Pal Park - you can put your Pokemon from Gen IV games onto Gen V games, but you can't put them back. (You can get your Gen III Pokemon onto Gen V this way - Pal Park them to Gen IV, then transfer to V).

However, if someone else has already beat the E4 and can transfer, they can trade you those Pokemon just fine, even if you haven't beaten the E4. Lots of people are doing this on Pokemon comms I visit, mainly for breeding purposes (wanting Dittos). So if you want your Crobat (they're adorable, aren't they?), find someone who's already beat the game (probably someone from America or who got a Japanese version) and ask them to trade you one.
3 years ago
do you really like Zubat/Crobat? alot of people seem to...I thought it was some inside Pokemon joke because he's like always in those damn caves ha.

Yea I dunno icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
I didn't like Zubat for a long time, but I grew to love it after seeing how cute it was in plushie form. Crobat's just awesome. And shiny Crobat is pink.





3 years ago
Jedi_Amara wrote
I didn't like Zubat for a long time, but I grew to love it after seeing how cute it was in plushie form. Crobat's just awesome. And shiny Crobat is pink.
I had one of them. Gave it to my friend then deleted my save.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/03/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Year Made:
  2011

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