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Pokemon Black & White (DS)

on . Posted in Video Games

{tab=Info} {tab=Review}

Never would I have imagined two generations on one handheld; however, Pokemon Black and White have successfully removed that notion from my mind forever. Boasting a whole new region, under the auspices of a whole new generation of Pokemon, trainers, gym leaders, and Elite Four trainers, UNOVA has a lot to offer to players old and new.

Interestingly enough, under the words of ken Sugimori, B&K is supposed to be a reboot or redefining of the Pokemon video game franchise. In all honesty, it's the same game, just with a new coat of paint, which isn't necessarily bad; however, I think a reboot should really propose the concept of rebooting the genre - not adding an expansion pack or rehash of an existing game, so-to-speak.

Just like any other Pokemon RPG game, you select your character, pick a starter consisting of one of the elemental types (grass, fire, and water), start in a small town, and progress on your journey of becoming the region's champion or master - all the while thwarting the devious plans of the new team on the block, Team Plasma. Nothing different; however, the key differences are hugely prominent in graphical and sequencing aspects.

First, all sprites are animated constantly through battle, meaning, the monsters actually move - how wonderful! This was truly a surprise for me (which it really shouldn't have been). In addition, in terms of viewing the sprite from the back (when you see your monster in battle) the whole sprite is viewable, not just the top half. Slightly not germane, but kind of, you won't be able to catch any monsters outside of the UNOVA region until you beat the game. Crazy!? No, it's a cop-out in order to call the game a reboot, lol. Don't fret, you can trade those legendary BAMF's from Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (if you have the older DS's) and D,P,and Platinum (if you have a second DS), only after beating the game though... fuck.

Though double battles were cool? B&K add, you guessed it, triple battles! I think these battles really excel strategy quite a bit, far more than what previous installments have done. As you imagine, you have three monsters in a row: the left monster can only attack the monster directly in front of him and the opponent in the center (or if you're weird, your center monster, unless you're healing it). This is mirrored for the right monster.

As for the center monster, he can choose to attack any one of the three monsters directly in front of him. For full field affecting attacks, such as Surf or Earthquake, these attacks hit all monsters on the field, pretty neat if you ask me. Thus, Pokemon placement becomes a key strategy which hasn't been introduced in any previous games, which I thought was a fine addition.

Another minor, but mind blowing-ly huge, tweak of the system details how TM's are used in the game. Instead of only being able to use a TM once, you can use them an infinite amount, meaning, you can teach many monsters Psychic with a TM and not have to worry about getting a new one every time you use it. So badass, which is how it should have been a while ago, you hear me GameFreak, a while ago!!!

In terms of graphical advances, all of the environment designs in B&K are polygonal and not sprite-based, which is how D&P was. But, interiors are also 3D as well. Plus, camera angles actually change when you enter different areas. For instance, when you enter the large Manhattan- inspired city (I don't know the English name since I played the Japanese version), the camera is positioned low to the ground to allow the player to see the heights of the buildings. Furthermore, the camera zooms out to display more of the metropolis. Many areas of UNOVA utilize these camera shifts which makes the game more immersible and visually pleasing/complex.

Aside from these mentions above, the game is literally the same as all the others. Which is absolutely fine, but please don't be fooled into thinking it's a proper reboot - the show, however, is a proper reboot, but I won't delve into that nonsensical matter at this moment (actually, that last part, I take back). The new monsters are first somewhat strange, but they'll grow on you, trust me, despised them at first, but damn, "they cute."

In summation, B&K is a great game even though it's a rehash. The next generation will be similar, but then again, it'll utilize 3D so, they'll have something to cover up the real creative improvements that need to happen, but won't ;).

9 / 10 {tab=Video} {/tabs}