They've been on the crest of a wave for sixteen years. Each year they offer us the exact same game, adding just a few monsters and changing some mechanics. Yet, they're a huge success. And, hell, they're fun.
Let me start with an anecdote: I was fifteen when, for the first time, I went to the world of Pokémon. I didn't own a Game Boy, and my only alternative was an emulator for PC. I remember I illegally downloaded Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow, and I played them to death. I was the oldest kid in my street, and the neighborhood kids kept asking me to give them that emulator with the related ROMs. I could've make a fortune out of that. Thirteen years have passed, I have moved to another town. Two weeks ago, however, I paid a visit to my parents, and the neighbors' son (seven years old) stopped me and asked if I still had the "Pokémon CD". Obviously those games have left their mark in many children, and continue to do so. In a word: they're transgenerational.
This, perhaps, is the real reason why Pokémon are unassailable. We liked, we like and we will like them. But, on the other hand, this is also the reason why Nintendo didn't change its successful formula for over a decade and a half.
Yet, Pokémon Black/White 2 is somehow an exception. It is, in fact, the first sequel to a game in the whole series. All the other games, in fact, changed "colour" from year to year, with new Pokémons and a new continent to explore. In this game, however, we return to the region of Unova and Team Plasma, who this time are determined to freeze the world with a powerful machine.
Two years have passed since the events of the first game, but things have changed: there are new cities, routes have been altered and the characters are almost all new. Those who played the first game will find some old acquaintance, and be able to understand some quotes scattered among the dialogue. As usual, the plot of the game is, not for nothing, simplistic: whether you are old fans or newcomers in the world of Pokémon, everything is clear right from the start.
The formula is always the same: you create a character and meet a professor (in this case a woman) who allows us to choose your first level 5 Pokémon, between Snivy, Tepig and Oshawott, the same as the first game. We find our friend/rival Hugh, who is also determined to become a great trainer, and the usual challenges with gym leaders and the evil Team Plasma.
I won't go into the mechanics of the game, since they are basically the same we met sixteen years ago: fight, catch a Pokémon, earn medals and enrich your Pokédex. There are, however, some new feature to unlock during the course of the game. For example, you can participate in a tournament called Pokémon World Tournament, which confronts us with the gym leaders of all the old games of the series. It is a real fan-service that will be appreciated by those who stoically dedicated part of their gaming life to Pokémon for many years.
In addition, there's a place called Pokéwood (yes, it is a portmanteau of Pokémon and Hollywood) that allows coaches to take part in a big movie about Pokémons, of course through a number of fights in very different locations.
Finally, the developers have improved all the aspects already found in Pokémon Black/White: The Pokédex is the most comprehensive ever created, the animations are more fluid, the faces of the characters in some scenes are drawn and animated in anime style, the 3D environment are further accentuated by some (rare) camera movements.
As usual, the replay value is immense. After ten hours of gameplay, you still feel you're just at the beginning of the story, and even when you win all the medals, there's still plenty of things to do. All this without counting the online challenges, the opportunity to exchange Pokémons with friends via wi-fi and the exhausting hunt for Legendary Pokémons (which are unlocked only after completing the game).
I don't think this series can be pushed further from a technical point of view. At least not on Nintendo DS. It's bizarre that Nintendo, so active in promoting its 3DS, has decided to continue the series on his old portable console. In addition, the DS games on Nintendo 3DS undergo a really annoying upscaling, and it's therefore advisable to play this game on an old DS - or, better yet, on a DSi XL. In any case, this will probably be the last game in the series to arrive on DS. We can expect a Pokémon 3D in the near future.
Pokémon Black / White 2 is perhaps the most "honest" game in the series. It brings some improvements, but without proclaiming itself a "new game". At the same time, however, there's a feeling that the series needs a jolt, that we hope will happen with the next generation. In the meantime, we can enjoy this last game and its very high quality.
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