Whenever I write a review, I start by listing all the positives and then I list all the negatives.
So far, the list of negatives for Pokémon Black and White Version 2 includes just one entry: I was given a copy of the White edition, and it came on a black cartridge. I think it definitely should have come on a white cartridge, on account of its name.
That's it. That's the one gargantuan flaw of this release.
If you think you can look past this enormous presentational discrepancy then you're in for a real treat, because this is probably one of the cleverest, most comprehensive, and all round best Pokémon releases ever.
What? Pokémon Black and White is evolving!
Pokémon Black and White Version 2 is largely what you'd expect from an iterative sequel, so it's worth noting that if you've played the original version you'll have seen most of what's on offer. Everything has been updated, expanded, or remixed to provide a fuller experience than the already jam-packed first edition.
Gyms have been reworked and whole new – very large - areas have been added to the game's location of Unova. The story has also been tweaked significantly to take into account the couple of years that have passed since the events of Version 1.
There are also brand new modes of play throughout your adventure, the most challenging of which is undoubtedly to be found at Pokéstar Studios. Here you're asked to star in various movies, each revolving around filming battles between Pokémon and having set tasks to accomplish while doing so.
The most basic of these tasks is to knock out your opponent's Pokémon with one hit. To achieve this you'll need to apply a bit of strategy to work out exactly which attack types your enemy is weak against and use them accordingly.
The entire single-player journey requires more strategy than previous releases. You used to be able to focus on one or two Pokémon in your party, levelling them up far past the capabilities of opponents in the area and breezing through most places unscathed. In Version 2 you'll need at least three of four Pocket Monsters that can hold their own, or you'll invariably get creamed.
If you're just interested in visiting the new locations while continuing the narrative then you won't be disappointed. But you'll get the most from this outing if you've missed the last couple of Pokémon titles.
Pokémon Black and White became Pokémon Black and White Version 2!
This entry demonstrates just how dynamic, streamlined, and beautiful the series has become. For one thing, there are more frames of animation in the trainers and Pokémon than ever, and the creators have used multiple camera angles and cut-scenes to get even closer to the high standards of the cartoon series in terms of presentation.
Intricately designed, creatively staged battle areas positively burst with ideas and character. The music is as resounding as ever, with rearranged tracks from the series and classic sound effects mingling to make an aural landscape that's as strong as the 2D mixed with 3D visuals.
But the most important thing is how streamlined everything plays. Getting in and out of battles is quick, selecting moves is lighting fast, and there are just general improvements that make “catching 'em all” that little bit easier.
They're definitely small changes, such as asking if you want to use another Repel after you've exhausted the first, but collectively they make for one of the best Pokémon titles yet.
We're coming to the end of an era with the Nintendo DS. Old faithful is now eight-years-old and its successor the 3DS is coming into its stride. Pokémon Black and White Version 2 may well not be the last first-party Nintendo release for the DS, but it would be one hell of a note to end on if it did.
If you already own the originals and were left wanting more then you'll be well-served with Pokémon Black and White Version 2. If you're new to the series, or you've just missed a couple of entries, you can't afford to miss this terrific RPG-lite adventure.
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