Nowadays, Pokémon has great difficulty appearing fresh in the eyes of critics. The franchise is fast approaching 20 years of age, and yet the basic formula remains near enough the same.
There is a reason for this, the formula still works, but the series has been accused of chasing quantity over quality and stagnating as a result. So how has Pokémon Black & White Version 2 managed to set itself apart?
As of now, the total number of Pokémon in the world comes in at 649. Whilst the previous games limited the number of monsters the player could obtain to 150 until said player had reached a certain point the game, Version 2 present you with a whopping 300 Pokémon from the get-go. Not only that, the games introduce a helpful habitat list, which displays all of the Pokémon available in a certain area.
Also introduced is the world tournament mode in which the players can battle famous faces from the previous games, including download-only characters and seasonal tournaments.
Pokéstar studios, a mini-game involving the direction and production of a short film, is also a neat diversion.
Another cool feature is the unova link, which allows the player to sync their new save file with their original copy of Pokémon Black & White, so that their player character from those games is mentioned by name in various cut-scenes, along with other, hidden references.
The game not only expands upon the legacy left by its predecessors, but also make a number of exciting tweaks and changes. Central to these changes are the game’s graphics, which have received a redesign to include full animations for every monster, character and attack in the game.
The memorable soundtrack has also been remixed and includes many tracks from the older generations of games. Each gym now plays its own version of the traditional music and the in-battle music frequently changes depending on circumstance. These are small changes but nice nods towards longtime fans of the series.
The games are also the first in the series to introduce a difficulty setting. However, this is unlocked once the player has beaten the game on a normal difficulty, which seems absurdly counterintuitive.
Challenge mode is unlocked on Black 2, which is ideal for veterans, and easy mode is unlocked on White 2.
Whilst players may scoff at the idea of replaying the game on easy mode once normal mode has already been beaten, both difficulty settings can be transferred to other carts, opening up the possibility of sending easy mode across to somebody new to the games, or sending challenge mode to a fan with the White 2 cartridge. It’s still a little dissapointing that these features aren’t available on both copies of the game though.
The remaining small but helpful interface changes are too numerous to mention. Multiple Pokémon can be moved around the save file at once for example and while this may seem a minor change, these kind of alterations add up to streamline the expereince. The option to organise your items also makes a welcome return.
Overall, Pokémon Black & White Version 2 improves upon past iterations but doesn’t make any revolutionary changes to the formula.