Six Months ago, a good friend of mine asked me what I wanted from the next main-series Pokémon Game. As my favourite part of the series is always that moment of finding something new and unknown, I said the obvious;
More Pokémon, a new world and 3D support. From my research at the time, I wasn’t alone. It’s understandable why there was a communal sigh when Black/White 2 was announced, especially when we were expecting either a remake of Ruby/Sapphire or a brand new world. In some ways it felt as though Nintendo were trying to hoodwink us into buying the same game twice.
However, despite the recycled assets Black/White 2 can definitely be considered a full sequel. Set two years after the events of Black/White it has a distinctly different feel to it when set alongside its predecessor.
Rather than going over the same old features typical to the Pokémon franchise in great detail, I intend to focus upon what is new. However, for those new to the franchise I’ll explain the basic concept. As in every Pokémon Game, you start off in your small hometown, get a Pokémon from a local Professor, travel around the continent collecting badges from eight Gym Leaders and take on the Elite Four to gain the title of Champion. Some claim that this formula is stale after five generations, but Black/White 2 is proof that it still works, albeit with a few tweak. Rather than starting in a village, in this you start in a town, and are given your Pokémon by the Professor’s assistant; a returning character in a new role. Yes, these are small changes, but they have an immediate effect on the opening as they break your expectations. No, Unova isn’t a new world, but these new areas and different perspectives make it feel new, or at least upgraded.
The central part of any Pokémon game is, of course, the selection of critters available to the player. The roster works well, with a mixture of 5th gen and earlier, but with nothing distinctly new. There are a few new forms, but they are purely academical in the scheme of things. The confusing thing with the appearance of certain Pokémon is the timing. Certain creatures, such as Eevee and Riolu, which were found in previous games as one-off finds can be caught in the wild. Whilst this causes a few slight balance issues to start with it is but a momentary problem which, after a while, feels welcome.
As far as upgrades go, the actual engine feels much smoother and more refined. There has been a clearly futuristic redesign to reflect the difference in time from Black/White which for the most part works very well, despite requiring a few hours to get used to. A new feature that is especially noteworthy is the addition of Medals; a primitive achievement system. Though at the start they are delivered thick and fast, there are a few which can prove a real challenge and give you a true sense of achievement.
Just about every feature in Black/White returns, including the Pokémon Musical and Battle Subway, but many of these things remain the same as last time with little or no added interest. This flaw is made up for by the sheer volume of new content and Areas. My personal favourites are Join Avenue; a place where other players connected with in any way can appear in your game, and PokeStar Studios; home of a movie-styled mini-game where you must battle to a script. These additions are more than welcome, and add extra levels to the things introduced before. Whilst in Black you could link to other players in a variety of ways, you were never left with a real memento. Here someone could simply enter your house in the Dream World; an internet-browser mini-game connected to your save, and end up visiting your street in Black 2 as an NPC. You can even ask them to set up shops on the Av’, which becomes a management and real-estate task. Meanwhile the strategic elements of the Studio add challenges and levels not even considered in earlier iterations. It’s the same game but with added puzzle elements, and is simply fantastic.
The over-arching story carries on from Black, and despite the fact it doesn’t quite live up the grand scale of the last it still has some exciting sequences. In addition, all of the Gyms you encounter have been redesigned, and two have been completely replaced by some in new cities, probably due to the changes in journey path. The new characters are deep whilst the old have been expanded upon and referenced, which makes for some interesting moments. With the Memory-Link feature and a completed copy of Black/White you can see extra sequences which bridge the storylines further and even more references to your old character. However, I feel that players who missed the last outing would still get an enjoyable experience out of the game, if not as in-depth.
However, there were a few times when I felt distinctly disappointed. Despite everything new, some characters and dialogue inside buildings are exactly the same as last time around, unashamedly so. It’s lazy, pure and simple, and in many ways unforgivable. Also, despite having so much new stuff thrown at us, there are many occasions where you can feel like you are just retracing your steps, especially post-story.
All in all, Black/White 2 is an awesome game by itself. I can easily see it taking over 100 hours to complete everything, and that’s excluding the eventual aim of catching every single Pokémon. As a sequel it proves slightly less effective however, as there is a lot of repeated content. If you’re a brand new player unsure of the franchise or a die-hard fan, this game is perfect for you. However, if you didn’t enjoy the original Black/White then maybe you should give it a miss.
Pokémon Dream Radar (3DS)
On the 3DS Store, alongside the release of Black/White 2 comes Dream Radar. Designed primarily as a connectable 3DS minigame for Black/White 2, you can pick this up for £2.69. The aim of this Augmented Reality Shooter is to shoot clouds to gain orbs, and potentially catch Pokémon and Items which you can transfer to your copy of Black/White 2. Whilst not a particularly thrilling concept, this is the only way you can catch Gen 5’s Legendary Trio; Tornadus, Landorus and Thunderus, in their alternate forms. There are also some lesser Pokémon who only have their hidden when transferred from this game.
Whilst at first Dream Radar is a fun distraction, its flaws are huge, if hidden. My main gripe is the way in which you can only search through a limited number of clouds at a time, before having to wait hours for them to recharge. In many ways it’s almost like a Facebook game in this respect, in that they essentially ask you to either wait or to spend Play coins to recharge; earnt on your 3DS via the stand-by pedometer. What purpose this has is a true mystery, and it makes an otherwise enjoyable interlude of a few hours into a frenzy of time-watching and frustration.
In many ways this is barely even a game and more an exercise in extorting time from you. For £2.69 it is worth playing, but only because of the rewards you can receive in Black 2, not the actual experience.
In a nut-shell? “Yes, you can have Ho-Oh, Lugia and a Legendary Trio, but only if you do your cleaning chores first.”
Overall Score 2/5
Pokedex 3D Pro
The final Pokémon-related release in the trio, Pokedex 3D Pro is not a game. It’s a utility, comprising of a huge amount of information that is incredibly whilst playing Black and White 2. Essentially an upgrade of the free 3DS application “Pokedex 3D”, you can now mess around with Models of all 649 Pokémon and all their forms, whilst reading a variety of titbits about them.
This is essentially what every Pokémon Fan dreams of; a true Pokedex. You can find information on every creature and closely examine models in fully detailed 3D, which frankly is amazing. Upon selection of a critter, you even hear the voice of the Pokedex from the Anime saying the name. Each model has either one or two animations which can be played and paused at will. The app also incorporates Augmented Reality technology with the use of AR codes. When the camera picks up one it displays a character associated with it on the DS, which works just as they do on the screen just with the backdrop of reality and the ability to manually move around it. With multiple codes you can potentially have many Pokémon on screen at once and take photos of them.
A completely new feature is the Quiz function, which sends you through progressively faster rounds of identifying Pokémon by sight, which can be a challenge if you aren’t hugely familiar with the franchise, but otherwise is a walk in the park.
The product itself is awesome; I love it. I loved PokeDex 3D, and as an expanded version you can have hours of fun just fiddling and reading. With the move-sets and stats it provides it can prove invaluable to training the perfect team. However, there is one massive issue with it. The price.
How much would you expect to pay for an upgraded version of a previously free app? £2? £5?
Well, according to Nintendo, £13.49. Yes, you read correctly. £13.49.
I would love to recommend this heartily, shout it from the rooftops even, but I really can’t whilst Nintendo want to charge that amount.
In conclusion, if you have more money than sense, go ahead, snap this up. But otherwise, with negligible actual gameplay and a price-tag like that you should avoid it like the plague, at least until Nintendo realise their mistake.
Seriously, if you need the information that badly, put your wallet away, look online at the huge databases compiled by fans of the franchise and get back to your training.
Overall Score 1/5
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
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