Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Thoughts: Pokemon Black and White

If you know me, you know that I'm positively obsessed with the core Pokemon games (core meaning the RPG-style color-named games, I've never gotten into any of the spin-off games such as the Mystery Dungeon or the Ranger games). I've put more hours into Pokemon Diamond than Fallout 3. I've got more fan art saved on my computer than any other anime/video game source combined.

For those of you who didn't know that (you're reading this, seriously?) you may scoff at the fact that Pokemon is so big to me. To you I say; grow up.

Not only do the Pokemon games appeal to a collector's nature using colorful, creative, and a seemingly ever-expanding list of creatures to capture, but it also appeals to a strategist's nature. I'm not comparing Pokemon to chess or Civilization Revolution or anything, but anybody who play's Pokemon competitively will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Pokemon Black and White versions (as of this time, I've beaten them both) are exactly what we've come to expect: pick a starter (grass, water, fire) and set off on an adventure to capture hundreds of dangerous animals and stuff them in little balls and then stuff those into a computer, never to see the light of day again until you need to breed the little bastards over and over again until you get that perfect addition to your team.


They changed some things up in this generation, for better or worse.

First, let's talk about some of the Poke's that appear. All 150 Pokemon that appear in the games are brand new. No more geodude or zubat to drive you nuts in this iteration, oh no! Now, we get such charming annoyances such as woobat:

and patrat (AKA: hypnosquirrel)
So, expect to be tired of these guys really quickly.

Like the rest of the games, this one features the good:
the bad:

and the ugly:

This generation however, seemed to be more pronounced in those categories than we're used to. Normally, I can look at a bad-looking Pokemon and think "Okay, maybe it would be neat to train up if done correctly", or "maybe if you squint...". This time though, we get some wonderful gems like Derpfish up there. I hate that thing. Bad.

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, we get some sweet Mon's like Heydreigon (the King Ghidorah thing up there) or Haxorus:

Yes. That's an axe for a FACE.

At this point, I've trained up two teams to level 80 and I'm already piecing together a third team in my head.

I won't even get into the huge Smugleaf vs. Wotter debacle the internet exploded into after the starters were revealed last year. Here's a hint, though:
Imagine that the pig is a greater-than sign.

Now to start nit-picking! I have some minor complaints/compliments for the game.

PRO! HM moves are NOT required to get through the game! The HMs still exist, but they're mostly used as a method to get to special items and areas, and sometimes to create a shortcut. Strength boulders stay where they were moved, cutable trees are kept to a minimum, dive is used to get to a secret area, and there isn't a smashable rock anywhere in sight!

CON! The world map is boring. Don't get me wrong, sometimes simpler is better. Generation IV had a huge complex maze-like mess of routs and cities that was split in half by pain-in-the-ass mountain. But it was interesting. Generation V has a circle. Whoooo. I found myself caring a lot less for the world in B&W than I did any other generation. Kanto was classic. Johto was scenic. Hoenn was tropical. Sinnoh was mountainous and complex. Unova is... full of bridges? I don't miss the HM obstacles from past games, but they at least added some puzzel-ey complexity and character to the routs. In Unova, I found most in-betweens to be pretty dull.

PRO! TMs are reusable. Gone are the days where I save every TM like a paranoid pack-rat for fear that I would eventually train up a team and need that one move to make it perfect.

CON! FAR too much NPC involvement. What happened to the "You're 10 now! Off you go into the world to fend for yourself and do the professor's job!" mentality of the old? Now, you can't take ten steps without an NPC running up to you to tell you about how strength isn't the most important thing or that Team Plasma is bad.

PRO! The story was... interesting? I hesitate to call it good because, let's face it. It's Pokemon. But still, the storyline was a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter style of the previous games, and it actually had somewhat of a twist!

In all, I enjoyed the games (and will continue to enjoy them) for the most part, but I will miss the older regions I spent most of my DS's life in. Besides, what other game has the fighting/steel legendary I dubbed 'Pony Stark':

It's funny because he's ridiculous!

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