If you thought Pokémon has been dead since the days of Red and Blue, think again. Every iteration of the series has set new sales records, and Black and White is no different — in just the first day of sales in America, the game five main entries and two remakes, let me assure you that the game is as fun as ever. Black and White shines in many places that the older games flopped, and is without a doubt the quintessential Pokémon experience. Even so, the game has a few noticeable flaws that keep it from attaining perfection.
One of the first and most noticeable changes to the series is that, throughout the main game, you will only find brand new Pokémon. Game Freak went with fresh and new ideas over nostalgia, and it was definitely the right choice. Even though a few of the creatures are a little uninspired, many are incredibly compelling. Brand new type combinations and dozens of new attacks and abilities make this game feel like a brand new experience. From a ghost-candle, to a Pokémon made of garbage, to an electric spider, many of these new Pokémon are both powerful and exciting to look at.
The storyline is another area where the developer chose to make huge strides. No more is the incredibly stale and played-out plot, where your rival is a power-hungry trainer with no love for his Pokémon. Instead, you have two friends who help you through your journey, and come across an organization that urges people to look into the ethics of enslaving creatures like Pokémon. There is much more to the plot, but to avoid spoilers, let’s just say it’s beyond the most intriguing story that the Pokémon franchise has seen. The music is also incredibly catchy, even haunting at times. It perfectly suits the moody plot and will have you humming along all day.
Finally, the connectivity options in this game are absurd. From local wireless connection, to Infrared, to online battles with both random opponents and friends alike, this game is packed with content that makes it easier than ever to connect with other Pokémon fanatics.
Even though it won’t be released until the end of the month, Pokémon has added another brand new feature called the Dream World. You can send a Pokémon to the web where you can play mini games, train it, and even catch Pokémon with rare and never before seen abilities and moves.
As for the few shortcomings, it is only that Game Freak has come up with so many ingenious twists in the past that weren’t carried over. From the Pokéwalker in HeartGold/Soul Silver, to the Pokétch in Diamond/Pearl, these few amazing additions would have brought Black and White to a perfect score. The menu, even with the smoothness and ease of use that is brought to it by the touch screen, is occasionally awkward. A simple Pokétch-like application that allows easier registration and use of key items like the bicycle, town map, and dowsing machine was really needed.
If you are on the fence about this game, there is no question that you should definitely buy it. Even those who have never played RPGs before and are interested, there is no game that gives you more bang for your buck. The main game is over 30 hours of content, with a dozen more hours available of single player action after the credits roll. Not to mention the countless hours you can spend battle and trading with friends. Pokémon Black and White will certainly not let down fans and will hopefully bring in many new gamers into the series.
Penney is a member of the class of 2012.