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Pokemon Black & White 2

January 1, 2013

I probably owe my medical career so far to Pokemon. While the other kids were outside having lives, I was training to be a Pokemon Master. This has endowed with a high threshold for boredom, essential to studying medicine. Time well spent.

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(Note: This review will be of Pokemon Black 2 only. I didn’t play both games because I’m not a selfish rich bastard)

Pokemon Black and White 2 are the second installments in the fifth generation of Pokemon games. Like their predecessors, Pokemon Black and White, they take place in the region of Unova, but take place two years after the events of those games. Team Plasma, the ambiguous Pokemon liberationists from the first games, are back and have now decided to be outright evil. Naturally, as the protagonist, it is up to you to stop them. Also, if you feel like it, become a Pokemon master.

How on earth do you review a Pokemon game?

The plot has never been the strong point of Pokemon games and this certainly does no worse than usual. However, instead of focussing on the main hero’s quest to champion over the Pokemon League (with defeating the bad guys as a subplot), defeating Team Plasma is main focus of the game. Indeed, defeating most of the Gym Leaders (civic leaders and powerful Pokemon trainers) is something to do while waiting for the plot to advance. It is odd that stopping the bad guys is given such prominence since the protagonist has no strong reason to do so, compared to everyone else.

Enough about the plot. Despite my private beliefs that most Pokemon introduced in generation five are re-hashes of previous Pokemon, the gameplay has been greatly improved by mixing the new 156 Pokemon with a selection of Pokemon from previous generations. This offers a much richer experience, as does traversing Unova in a different order to Black and White.

There have been a handful of other additions, gimmicky things like Pokestar movies and Pokemon musicals. I don’t really give these things much time and I’m not going to start now. Likewise, there are a lot of wireless options that work best if you’re out and about, passing other Pokemon players on a regular basis. Since I’m not a 12 year old in Akhibara, Tokyo, these go under-utilised once again.

The music, graphics, et cetera are largely unchanged from Black and White. They’re good but they hardly push the Nintendo DS. Pokemon found its groove 16 years ago and been comfortable sitting in it ever since. The result is a series of entertaining, somewhat rewarding but rarely surprising games. Pokemon Black and White 2 are the latest installments in a slightly complacent family tree.

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