Game Review

Pokémon Black and White 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Joe Walker

Pokémon used Sequel! It’s super effective!

It's fitting that the franchise typically relied upon to sell Nintendo handhelds is also the swansong that bids farewell to the mighty Nintendo DS. The enormously popular Pokémon series graces the highest-selling handheld console of all time for one last hurrah and the result is nothing short of excellence.

Pokémon Black and White 2 are the first direct sequels in the monster catching series. Traditionally after the primary paired versions have been out a while, an enhanced third version is released that adds some useful things but does little to chart new ground. This time around, however, the new additions are paired with a story that has you seeing and dealing with the repercussions of the storyline that unfolded in the original Black and White versions.

Pokémon Black and White set a new precedent for the series by placing a large emphasis on telling a compelling story. It was pleasantly surprising to see so much thought go into the plotline of a Pokémon game, especially one that challenged the very basis of what the games are about (and tying in perfectly with the “Black and White” title). While the sequels no longer have you questioning the morality of being a Pokémon trainer, it’s quite interesting to see how the world has been changed by N’s plight and how many people are still struggling to come to terms with things in the aftermath.

A neat feature is the Memory Link, which allows you to “link” your Black or White save file with the new games. This doesn’t affect your old save file in any way, but it does add interesting extra story scenes to the new games depending on what was accomplished in the originals. It’s nothing terribly groundbreaking, but they're neat asides for those invested in the lore of the world and definitely tie in with Generation V’s focus on story.

The slightly less interesting story aside, Black and White 2 improve on their predecessors in every conceivable way. There’s so much more to do this time around that it’s almost overwhelming, and Game Freak has added a lot of neat little touches that make the game much more enjoyable to play. It’s surprising that some things were added to these titles rather than saved them for the inevitable Generation VI Pokémon games for 3DS, but we're not going to look a gift Horsea in the mouth.

The first thing that’s immediately noticeable is the interface has been given a fresh coat of paint and looks fantastic. While the aesthetics of the HP and experience bars of your ‘mon seems like an insignificant detail, so much time is spent staring at it during play that it’s nice to see some care went into making it pleasant to look at. The colours actually change depending on which version is being played!

Other fancy touches are the eyecatches that pop up when entering a new area, the redesigned C-Gear and the fact that every Trainer battled now has a short animation. These are all small things taken at face value, but added together they help make Black and White 2 feel fresh even though the original games were released only a little over a year and a half ago.

One complaint about Black and White was that you had to actually complete the game before Pokémon from the first four generations would show up. While not a popular decision, it helped establish Unova as a distinct region in the Pokémon world with its own unique flavour. That goes out the window this time and you’re bombarded with familiar faces right from the get-go. Even some of the older legendary trios are included, making them much easier to obtain without having to go back to older games in the series.

Each of the gyms has been redesigned and they're all an absolute blast to experience. Long gone are the days of walking in a straight line to the gym leader; each one has a stylistic flair that represents the personality of the leader running it. As an early example, Roxie’s gym is a dingy grunge club where she and her band provide the entertainment. Defeating each band member removes a different stem from the backing music, taking away instruments until she's left singing by herself. They’re much more dynamic and interesting; gyms are no longer a chore that must be endured and are instead a joy to experience.

For those who always got a kick out of Pokémon Contests and Musicals, PokéStar Studios in Virbank City has you and your Pokémon taking on starring roles in various themed movies. The Pokémon and moves chosen, as well as script improvisations, all have an effect on the success of the film upon release. It’s actually quite engaging, and contextualising Pokémon and their moves in yet another way goes a long way to making the games feel more whole and thought out.

Hardcore battlers will be pleased once they stumble upon the Pokémon World Tournament in Driftveil City, which is similar in function to the Battle Frontier in previous games but with a larger scope. We don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a good chance you’ll run into quite a few familiar faces if you spend enough time there...

Players who tinkered with the social aspects of Black and White should also check out Join Avenue. It's a new area that allows you to employ the avatars of players you’ve tagged, via wireless communication, to populate a shopping mall with various useful shops. It’s not a very in-depth simulation by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s very fulfilling managing the Avenue and seeing representations of your friends managing shops in your game.

It's a friendly front to mess about with some of the series' most hidden factors, too: certain shops let you meddle with EV training far more simply than before, letting you pay to adjust your Pokémon's statistics. If that means little to you, don't worry too much: you can also use the Avenue for simpler purposes, such as speeding up egg hatching or entering lotteries to win wonderful prizes like Master Balls.

There are also a handful of other small additions, including an in-game achievement system. When you complete different tasks, a friendly chap will award you medals commemorating your accomplishments whenever you next visit a Pokémon Centre. It's not the smoothest implementation of such a system, but being able to peer at a case of shiny medals does add a little something.

Two new modes, Challenge Mode and Easy Mode, allow you to change the difficulty of the game for the first time in series history by raising or lowering the strength of opposing Trainer’s teams. The new move preview feature allows you to check the strength and effects of a Pokémon’s move by simply holding the L trigger when selecting it, a process that used to involve clicking through several different menus during battle. It’s clear that a lot of time and effort went into making Black and White 2 feel very fresh and easy to play.

Conclusion

Those who would brush Pokémon Black and White Versions 2 off as more of the same are sorely mistaken. On a superficial level the Pokémon games have not changed much, and for good reason; the foundation that was placed way back in Pokémon Red and Blue was solid and engaging. By adding more around it and tweaking things under the hood for each release the series has grown and evolved — pun intended — far beyond its humble monochromatic origins. The latest release adds so much to the formula and breaks so much new ground that writing it off as a rehash is doing it a massive disservice. Pokémon Black and White 2 are easily the best in the series to date and an absolute must-buy for fans. Even if it's been ages since you've picked up a Poké Ball, there's no better time to jump back in and start catching them all.

More Stories

Game Trailer

The next Pokémon adventures are coming to Europe and North America in October, and they look just like this. Find out much more at http://ww

User Comments (74)

Mizore

#1

Mizore said:

Wish they brought back the Battle Frontier, I miss the Arcade. :c
Anyways I was against it (kinda figured it wasn't worth it), but it looks like I'm getting it now. xD

BenAV

#3

BenAV said:

Still undecided, but it's becoming more likely that I might buy it.

Void

#4

Void said:

I still don't understand why it's called evolving, since it looks more like they are getting older. :P most of them anyways.
I'm going to get Black 2 at launch. :3

Gridatttack

#6

Gridatttack said:

Oh wow, its release its soon? I guess not giving notice to this game worked so I didnt felt the time passing by.
Cant wait to play the official english version (since the fan translation was limited) :)

True_Hero

#9

True_Hero said:

Great review! Already knew it was good, but it's nice to hear such positive reviews. Hurry up and be the 7th already! :)

Onett

#11

Onett said:

I'll pass on this one. Maybe Nintendo will reveal a 3DS title next E3. Here's to hoping for something that is a bit easier on the eyes. Cheers!

Konata

#15

Konata said:

Great review!

I'm very excited for this, at first I was skeptical since it's a "Squeal" But now that I've learned more about it the more I Like it.

DavidRY

#16

DavidRY said:

Is it worth getting the first Black and White before this one? Or is it not necessary. Pokemon sequels! Where should I jump in?

Wonder_Ideal

#17

Wonder_Ideal said:

Great review! I can't wait to pick up White 2 on the 7th. When you get your copy, don't forget to pick up Genesect.

ElsaGamer

#18

ElsaGamer said:

Excellent, well-written review! Although, I was expecting 10 glorious stars at the end, but I'm sure it was a significantly high-leaning 9. :P

TOMBOY25

#19

TOMBOY25 said:

@stuffedmushroom hmmm interesting could he do it with (deep breath) professor layton and the miracle mask(exhale) looking forward to it but would like to know what a normal person thinks of it first (or what a super magic powered bunny thinks)

FonistofCruxis

#21

FonistofCruxis said:

How's the story compared to B/W? I'm not into the Pokemon series but B/W had a pretty interesting story so it was interesting to read about and watch some videos of the games story. Is the story in this game good enough for that?

Dodger

#22

Dodger said:

So what you are saying is...The pokemon series has had some major changes for the first time in ever? I still wish the graphics looked a bit better but I am slightly impressed. For a sequel, this seems a lot less lazy then the other pokemon DS games. I imagine my sister will pick it up and let me play when she's all done with it though so I doubt I'll be getting it with my money.

I am super excited to see what they do with the series on the 3DS though.

Raghav

#28

Raghav said:

I am getting Black 2 but I you can get White forest on it by trading a White 2 owner a key.

OptometristLime

#29

OptometristLime said:

@DavidRY
I would reccomend skipping right into Black 2 / White 2, Pokemon games are NOT about the story so don't be concerned with continuity.
The way this review sounds, this could be the perfect entry point for you.

SpaceKappa

#30

SpaceKappa said:

I don't know where the "no EV training" thing comes from, but rest assured it's still in there. :)

SpaceKappa

#31

SpaceKappa said:

I don't know where the "no EV training" thing comes from, but rest assured it's still in there. :)

Supremeist

#35

Supremeist said:

Super excited for this game. Hopefully getting it on launch, if I can't, It's a wait for christmas.

okamiki

#36

okamiki said:

@Onett So you´ll have to wait a little bit longer...

Anyways this is the best pokemon gamer ever no doubt anout it, at least it´s my opinion :)

GuardianKing

#37

GuardianKing said:

Why does everyone forget about Gold and Silver?! >: (

I mean, they were originally called Pocket Monsters 2, and were intended to be the final games in the series.

You can't get more sequel-ish than that.

Shotgunryugan

#38

Shotgunryugan said:

I'll have to look into this one later on,i liked White version,although i still need to buy Platinum and one of the Gen 2 remakes :P

I'm liking that challenge and easy mode options,more games should have that,great review! :)

Aqueous

#41

Aqueous said:

@Joe Walker - Will we see a review of the Pokemon Dream Radar?

I'll be getting black 2 sunday. The new EV training will help I hope.

Ron_DelVillanoStaff

#44

Ron_DelVillano said:

I wasn't really interested in picking this up, but now that I've read the review, I can't wait for Sunday! Great job, @Joe

MarvelMon22

#46

MarvelMon22 said:

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS!!!!!!!! finally! i have been waiting for so long... i've trained my pokemon, filled the pokedex to the brim, gotten a pre-order, and now i am 2 days away! WOOOWOWOHOOOO! :D :D
ahem... sorry. :( but you can tell i can't wait, right? XD

MrWalkieTalkie

#47

MrWalkieTalkie said:

I'm actually getting chills, thank goodness theres no school on Monday so I'll have even MORE time to play! Gotta finish my homework tomorrow so I can play all Sunday & Monday!!!

Emaan

#48

Emaan said:

HYPE! Although I most likely won't be getting this day one, since I'm still saving up for Wii U. Glad these sequels turned out great however. Gotta catch em all! :p

SamuraiShyGuy

#52

SamuraiShyGuy said:

It's funny. I'm actually playing through Pokemon Red right now. It brings back a lot of memories.

Wheels2050

#54

Wheels2050 said:

Looking forward to it. I wasn't really all that enthusiastic until reviews started coming out - now I'll probably be picking up a copy on Sunday!

PSI_King

#56

PSI_King said:

yay!now i am one of the many people who will be getting this game in 2 days!!!

rjejr

#57

rjejr said:

Good review, both my sons have it on pre-order so it seems like money well spent.

Looking forward to the Dream Radar review, though since its the weekend they'll probably both own it before I read it ;-)

Adhrast

#62

Adhrast said:

Lol @ the elitist pricks who don't like other people knowing about EVs and IVs D:
The ones who couldn't care less will still ignore them, it will be just a bit easier for the others. And btw, what's the harm in other people understanding the deep mechanics beneath the surface?
My paycheck (here in Italy we're usually paid on the 10th) was delayed of about a week, so as I'm already moneyless, I'll have to wait until the 15th or the 16th to buy this game :/

zipmonStaff

#63

zipmon said:

@stuffedmushroom Aww he totally looks like a Simba!! =D Mine's named Olivia but we call her Ollie. That's too cool!! Glad to see they both like Pokémon - Ollie's racked up quite a few watts for me on the PokéWalker by knocking it around the room when I'd leave it on my desk! =D

Rensch

#65

Rensch said:

I found this game excellent until after finishing the main quest. After that it is pretty much like the first one. Still the best out of the two though.

hillbill26

#66

hillbill26 said:

Can't wait to pick this up tomorrow. itz gonna be awesome. and i cant wait for the next line of pokemon games for the 3DS

Denkou

#68

Denkou said:

Lets be honest. Even if this game got a 1, most people would still buy it.

Candy811

#69

Candy811 said:

Looking forward to this game but I wont be getting it tomorrow on Sunday but I will eventually.

Blizzaga

#70

Blizzaga said:

I'm burnt out when it comes to Pokémon. Soul Silver was the last hurah for me. Good ol' Johto...

Looking forward to seeing the 3DS versions though. They just might rekindle my interest in the series. Only time will tell.

Kitsune_Rei

#73

Kitsune_Rei said:

Can you trade pokemon between B/W and B/W 2 easily? I'm still not far in the first, but am thinking of just skipping to 2.

Nibelilt

#74

Nibelilt said:

I'm with @Blizzinga - I got the game on release even though I vowed not to at one time...
My exact reaction... "Meh."
The story is particularly bad for a Pokemon game, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it didn't come after the wonderful one Black and White had. It's deeper than gen-under-V, to be sure, but it's just bad. I liked Hugh's backstory about Purrloin(I don't want to spoil it), but while I was actually playing and battling I forgot about it. It just felt so... Something about it felt off. I don't know what, but something did.
Story aside, the gameplay is as good as ever. All the graphical and overworld changes are gorgeously welcome.
But my praise about it in particular just ends there. I don't know why. I'm still playing SoulSilver. Maybe that's it and it's just because I know I will go back to SoulSilver at the end, but right now I'm hanging in limbo at the spot just before Victory Road with the game still remaining unfinished in my library. (I allocated a slot for it in my 3DS bag, but I don't think it will be empty that often.)
White 2 certainly isn't bad and on the contrary it fixes a lot of issues- mainly replay issues- that White, a fantastic game, had for me. But it can't hold a Litwick to SoulSilver in my opinion. I'm just not motivated to complete it again.

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