If it somehow involves catching or contracting, breeding or fusing, you know I’m your man!
I’ve been putting this off due to my job for a while, but now I can finally turn my attention back to my “second job” or “MMO-like”, Pokemon. Earlier in the month we had the release of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2. Now that I’m about four badges in, let’s see what the game is like halfway in!
Pokemon Black and White 1 was an experiment. What would it look like if we truly started every player off fresh, from longtime retro fans who’ve been slinging every kind of Pokeball to type-chart newbies? It was also an experiment into *gasp!* plot in Pokemon?! According to this interview on Pokemon.com, making two sequels was the logical step once they noticed how more story-centric BW1 was compared to other games.
So when you pop in BW2 you see from the get-go the Memory Link feature. Using either your Pokemon Global account or another DS, you can unlock extra features if you played BW1. At the first town you can contact an NPC and get a rather emotional flashback about N, and there’s lots more to see to keep previous players invested. But instead of playing as the old protagonists, you’re just a dude in Aspertia City (the Staten Island of Unova). You’ll see many old faces and they’ll contact you throughout the game. As for new characters, Hugh is interesting, he’s a vengeance motivated rival, which he’s gonna take out on New Plasma, but I’m in a little corner here dying for a moment where the main character gets in his way and there’s some kind of tension between him and you.
The story is still strong and while right now things have yet to ramp up, I am anticipating that momentous moment when N bursts through the door again. But in the meantime, I’m very satisfied with how cohesive Unova is now. The Battle Subway in Nimbasa actually gets a formal mention and you can meet the other player character there. Pokestar Studios has lots of fun mission battles that really give an identity to the world as well as let us battle Sabrina and Brycen on the silver screen. On that note, I would love it if the mid-battle cut-ins and the changing battlefield was more incorporated into regular Pokemon battles. How cool would it be if you could exchange banter and choose dialogue against big plot related opponents?
Consider who your favorite Pokemon are. Consider which Pokemon just has legions of fans. Pokemon that when Game Freak made them, they just knew plushies would fly off the rack even though they may not be starters, Pikachu clones, or legendary. My thoughts tend towards the Eevee family, Lucario family, Flygon family, and more. And all of these Pokemon can be captured in the early game. You can practically get a Riolu from the moment you start playing. Not only are you playing with power now, but it was really a necessary must for Game Freak to shake up the Pokemon distribution. This is a direct sequel, you have invested players and they don’t want to use Patrat again (I know I don’t). So while you’re in Staten Island, you’re finding Mareeps, Koffings, Growlithes, and a whole host of other Pokemon. It feels like you’re mixing several generations together while you swat Pidoves and massacre Audinos for exp.
Then the game starts getting just a wee bit sadistic once you ride the ferry into Castelia City. True there are some changes but for the most part, the city feels much the same. You get to the sewer dungeon and we run into our friends Rattata and Zubat again. Yes, folks, we have a dungeon that almost exclusively contains our least favorite Pokemon for the past sixteen years. But if you slog through this dungeon or spray some Repel, you’ll get to a wonderful garden with Eevees for you to catch! The problem is that there’s about a 5% chance to see one. And the situation is quite the same for this point of the game. You will find old places that may have new quirks and cool things, but the Pokemon there may be nigh exactly the same as BW1 with the exception of one very popular Pokemon that is now very rare. Happy hunting. Having spoiled the Pokemon list beforehand, I know it’ll shape up, but for now, I’ll drag the Heracross out if I have to.
The Little Things
While I’m romping through these games, there are little things that Game Freak has put in that are quite nice. Firstly, almost any explanation that would be superfluous to anyone who has played Pokemon before can be skipped, so we don’t have drivel like.
“Hey do you need me to teach you about types and weaknesses?”
“No. I already know.”
“But you simply must know! Try and guess what type beats fire.”
For the advanced fan there is the medal system and hard mode (post-game). You get medals for doing mundane things, important story things, and even OCD things like checking 50+ trash cans (daddy needs him some Leftovers!). Given this is Pokemon, we already obsess over jumping through hoops ever since that blasted truck rumor. And speaking of being obsessive, if you’re after indexing 649 Pokemon, the Habitat View is a long awaited feature for the Pokedex, it tells you if you’ve captured every Pokemon in the area. In a way, filling out Habitat View is an achievement in its own right. Let the games begin.
So I’m at about the fourth gym and so far, things have taken a bit of a lull. One thing I do note is that the A.I has gotten a bit smarter. They knew to switch when they realized they couldn’t touch my Drifloon. And the trainers that will always challenge you keep me on my toes for good exp. Then there’s Join Avenue which will be a trainer’s paradise but right now is a ghost town. Until the plot gets going around after the sixth gym, I suppose I’ll be hunting Deerlings, and looking for Dunsparce. At least Elesa’s still an awesome gym leader so we’ll make do for now. Join me next time when I interview a very famous Hiker.