Review: Pokemon Black 2 and White 2

In b4 someone talks about Kyurem being a Nobody…

Hello Moarpowah readers, it’s good to be back in black… Two that is! Going off my earlier impressions here is my full review of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2. These are Game Freak’s first true sequels, how did the stack up? Let’s find out.

The most shocking thing about BW2  is the presence of a plot. The story kicks off two years after the fall of Team Plasma in the shoes of a new trainer from the outskirts of Unova who will embark on a quest to solve the mysteries of the forgotten third Dragon of the Tao, Kyurem.

Generation V’s biggest draw, in my opinion, was a far more developed plot than other Pokemon games. While far from the same level as the best RPGs, Black and White brought a more cohesive world and story addressing the long-standing ethical questions behind being a Pokemon trainer. So in BW2 we see a continuation of that story focusing on Team Plasma rebuilding and reforming with New Team Plasma as the new enemy analogous to Neo Team Rocket. Here, Game Freak is a bit more overt with their theme of ideals vs reality, and they develop it a bit more than the hints towards the end of the first games. There is also a sub-theme of “what it means to live” that some enemies cry out as you defeat them, but it’s small nearing microscopic. The vengeance-driven rival Hugh could have had a moment where you smack some sense into him, but no such moment comes even though it’s “the avenger” archetype’s biggest conflict. Personally I see a lot more potential to be capitalized on. For Pokemon standards though, this is a major step up.

BW2 as a sequel inevitably has some disconnects plot-wise. Game Freak was in a good toss up about still trying to make the sequels accessible to those who didn’t play BW1, a valid angle, but it also can create an awkward space where continuing players might feel like they’re not getting paid back on their investment in the first games while new players are in catch-up on stuff they missed. Fortunately, Memory Link mitigates some of these concerns where invested players can feel the tension in the flashbacks. Going more heavy on the sequel idea would have been my best suggestion, much like how Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 was an all-out direct continuation where you will need massive spoilers to the first game to play the second.


As I’ve probably stated before, these games are a swan song for longtime fans like myself. Many old issues that have plagued Pokemon have been getting addressed. Breeding and effort training is becoming easier with lots of revisions. You are welcomed by many old favorites when you start up the game, and while I think the Pokemon distribution could be a bit more different from the first games, you won’t be stuck with the same team you used for BW1 if you try. The Pokemon World Tournament is an amazing draw, giving players the opportunity to battle every gym leader, elite four member, and champion from the entire series history. Who doesn’t wanna square off with Red again?

Then there’s the overall levels of the game. Whereas grinding and training have been chores in the past, BW2 gives ample opportunities to fight wild Pokemon nearing level 70 and tons of enemy trainers with Pokemon over level 80. Join Avenue lets you pay money, usually useless bar Pokeballs and healing, to raise and lower effort values, making training a breeze.  Finally, the installation of Challenge Mode after beating the Elite Four, gives many of us our long awaited hard mode, which you can share with other friends to spread the wealth around. Yours truly switched to Challenge Mode and has no plans on switching back, let alone touching Easy Mode.

The music and midgame could be a little better. Hearing the same battle themes in a different key was a bit disappointing, and the middle of the game isn’t too distinguishable from the midgame of the first games, but the new areas and the new mixes and songs are rather good, and welcome breaths of fresh air.

Pokemon BW2 feels like a full and jam-packed game. Unlike the first games, you have more than just a few new areas, the subway, and some legendary Pokemon to catch after finishing the story. The post-timeskip Unova does not feel like the half-baked Kanto we were taken to halfway through generation 2, there’s plenty to see and catch up on with the world and characters in BW2. Though that fullness hinges on playing BW1 to get the full effect, it’s well worth it if you’ve been in the game for a long time. Game Freak has made plenty of things easier for fans new and old to make good on the investments made into a sixteen year old game series. Join me next time when I debate which side is the front side of a Metapod.

Pros:

– Most plot-driven Pokemon games to date, especially Memory Link

– Far easier to competitively raise Pokemon thanks to features such as Join Avenue

– Many bonuses for longtime fans

– Long-awaited improvements to the system and hard mode

– More things are relevant, such as money and collectors’ items

– A very complete feeling game when put near Black and White

Cons:

– More than recommend having played the first games first

– Midgame slumps a bit before things get better

– Pokemon diversity could be a bit better after the early game

– A few missed opportunities with the story and themes, potentials that can be brought out more

– BGM isn’t as impressive second time around when the new tracks aren’t playing

Rating: 4/5

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Miscellaneous details:
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Available on: Nintendo DS
Genre: RPG
Rating: E
Release date: October 7, 2012

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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