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Pokemon Black Version 2 / Pokemon White Version 2

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Pokemon Black/White Version 2

Pokemon Black/White Version 2

Image © Nintendo
Your mission now and forever: Catch ‘em All. Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise has maintained steady popularity since 1996’s release of Pokemon Red/Blue (Red/Green in Japan). Well, once again, here we are, this time with Pokemon White Version 2/Pokemon Black Version 2 for the Nintendo DS.

In some ways, White Version 2/Black Version 2 plays more like Pokemon White/Black Version 2: All the Stuff We Couldn’t Fit Into the Game the First Time Around. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since Pokemon White and Pokemon Black are excellent additions to the Pokemon saga. If you liked White and Black, you should have no trouble falling in love with the reams of extra content that Pokemon White Version 2/Black Version 2 offers up. If, however, you’re not in the mood for another trip into the Black/White universe or you just don’t care for Pokemon in general, then keep rambling down the path, young trainer.

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Role-Playing (RPG)
ESRB Rating: E
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi

GOOD: Looks good, sound good, solid gameplay, tons to do.

BAD: Retreads a lot of content we’ve already seen in Pokemon Black/White.

GAMEPLAY: One More Time

While Pokemon games have traditionally had a “follow-up” game with every generation--Pokemon Platinum following behind Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS is a good example--Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 is the first instance of one of the main games receiving a direct sequel. The game takes place two years after the events of Pokemon Black/Pokemon White, and a lot of small changes have taken place in Unova region in that time. Some new locations have opened, some old locations have closed, and Pokemon from previous generations can be caught right from the get–go (unlike Pokemon Black/White, which requires you to play through the game before you’re allowed to catch Pikachu and other familiar faces)

Much of Pokemon Black/White’s cast makes the jump to the new game too, though some of the characters have different roles. Bianca, the female rival from the first game, now works as an assistant to Professor Juniper, and Cheren, the male rival, is the first Gym leader that you can challenge for a Badge.

Otherwise, basic Pokemon lore applies with Black/White 2. You fight Pokemon using RPG-style commands. You catch them in Pokeballs, you raise them, train them, and take on Gym leaders that own stables of formidable creatures. You also need to go toe-to-toe with Team Plasma, the corrupt Pokemon liberation organization that made big trouble for you in the first game. Yes, Team Plasma is back, and it’s ready to get up in your face.

Luckily, you can take your time saving the entire Pokemon species since Pokemon Black/White 2 has about a million things you can do with your Pokemon whenever you feel the need to take a break. You can act in a movie, participate in a musical, and fight against veteran trainers from past games in the Pokemon World Tournament.

Pokemon White/Black 2’s single-player game is absolutely packed, and will keep you busy for hours. When you consider that you can also battle trainers from around the world via Wi-Fi or just spar with your friends through a local connection, it’s admirable how much content you get for the price you pay. The only problem is that you really do feel like you’re treading familiar ground—and frankly, you often do.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: What’s Old is New Again

If you’ve seen the Pokemon splash and thrash in Pokemon Black/White, then you already have a pretty good idea about how they move in Black/White 2. Make no mistake though, Pokemon Black/White 2 is a great-looking game, and like its predecessor, it manages to bring the “Wow!” while retaining the nostalgic look of the earliest Game Boy games. The character sprites come off as a bit squashed and chubby, but the 3D backgrounds look fantastic, particularly the game’s bridges, overpasses, and towering locales like Castelia City and the Black City (which you can only visit in Pokemon Black Version 2--see more differences between Black Version 2 and White Version 2).

The soundtrack likewise manages to add rich layers to the early games’ simple but compelling audio roots. If it’s possible, play Pokemon Black/White 2 with a good pair of headphones.

CONCLUSION: Never Stop Catching

Let’s face it: the Nintendo DS is on life support. At this point, any game for the system is a good game. Luckily, Pokemon Black/White 2 is a great game, though you’re not going to want to have anything to do with it if you just didn’t enjoy Black/White to begin with. However you feel about Nintendo liberally reusing its assets, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Black/White 2 is a noble send-off for a champion handheld.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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