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Pokemon Black/White

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Pokemon Black/White

Pokemon Black/White

Image © Nintendo
Pokemon Black/White for the Nintendo DS are games that nary need an introduction. We were first introduced to Pikachu and pals in 1998, and the series has been a staple on Nintendo handhelds ever since.

Pokemon Black/White bring numerous changes to the Pokemon universe, but fear not: The magic and imagination cultivated by the long-lived series is still present, and then some. The question is, do you have the time and energy for another journey?

Developer: GameFreak
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: E
Genre: Role-Playing

THE BASICS: Catch 'Em All, Fight 'Em All, Breed 'Em All

The world of Pokemon is populated by human beings and their Pokemon companions. Pokemon are magical animals that can be caught in the game's wild countryside, or traded with other trainers. Once you (that is, your in-game avatar) selects your starter Pokemon at the beginning of the game, you begin a journey to catch more Pokemon, battle other trainers, take on the very best, and become a Pokemon master.

As dictated by Poke-tradition, the two "versions" of the game--"Black" and "White"--contain minute differences, such as types of Pokemon you can find, and the informative text that's registered in your PokeDex. In this particular outing, the version of the game you have also determines if you'll visit "White Forest" or "Black City."

Whether battling wild Pokemon or another trainer's Pokemon, the key is to take note of the opponent's "type." The Pokemon games utilize a battle system that's not unlike Rock, Paper, Scissors: A fire-type Pokemon is effective against a grass-type, which in turn is effective against a water-type, etc.

Pokemon games are typically thin on story, but Pokemon Black/White has an intriguing plot involving Team Plasma, a Pokemon liberation group that seeks to "free" Pokemon by separating them from their trainers. Along the way, you'll meet a few interesting ladies and gentlemen.


Wow, There's a Lot to Do - Pokemon Black/White's main journey will keep you busy for forty hours or so, but the game's potential stretches way beyond its core quest. You can trade Pokemon with friends, battle friends over a Wi-Fi connection, and hunt for more Pokemon to fill out your PokeDex.

The Graphics Have Been Updated - Pokemon battles have been criticized over the years for being rather lifeless, but the Pokemon in Black/White all have unique standstill animations that add a lot of characters to the little monsters. You won't see your Pokemon lunge for your opponent's throat, but the mere twitching of ears and stomping of hooves is still fun to behold.

A Whole New Pokemon Roster - On your first playthrough of Pokemon Black/White, you'll only be able to access entirely new Pokemon. This can be seen as a major drawback for some; no more foraging for a trusty Pikachu as your go-to electric Pokemon. But starting over feels refreshing and liberating. You can give your undivided attention to the new Pokemon and form fresh battle strategies.

Great Environments - The cities and towns in Pokemon Black/White utilize 3D structures, which really makes them pop. Metropolises are imposing, and villages are peaceful. These modern backgrounds compliment the simpler, nostalgic foreground graphics.

Lots of Wi-Fi/Trading Options - Between battling friends worldwide over a wireless internet connection and utilizing the Global Trade System to garner rare Pokemon from across the sea, it's hard to believe we once traded Pokemon over Game Boy link cables.


Little Change in the Gameplay Formula - Despite a whole new monster roster, Pokemon Black/White is still Pokemon. The core gameplay hasn't evolved much (*cough*) since the series' start on the Game Boy. If you find Pokemon games tedious or overwhelming, Pokemon Black/White probably won't change your mind.

CONCLUSION: To Train Them is Your Cause

If you're thoroughly fed-up with all things Pokemon or you never took a liking to the series in the first place, Pokemon Black/White won't help you re-discover the magic of catching and training little monsters. If, however, you haven't played a Pokemon game in a while or you're completely wild about the series, Pokemon Black/White will keep you enthralled for ages. It's the biggest, most detailed offering in a series that's never skimped on the details to begin with.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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