Sunday, 20 March 2011

Pokemon Black DS Game Review

A new generation of Pokemon has arrived! The fifth generation of Pokemon games come in the form of Pokemon Black and White (back to the colours, eh?) and feature 150 new Pokemon. 

Among the 150 new Pokemon are some rather silly additions such as Woobat (we already have the Zubat family) and Trubbish (A rubbish Pokemon, literally!). This was a problem with the last generation, where many additions were completely unecessary, such as evolutions to first generation Pokemon such as Lickitung, Magmar and Electrobuzz. Thankfully, Game Freak have learned from their mistakes and these 150 are all original, with some lovable ones, my favourite being Emolga, a flying squirrel Pokemon which will go very nicely next to my Pachirisu from Pokemon Diamond.

Like the predecessors, you start as a budding young Pokemon Trainer, enroped into helping complete the Pokedex, this time by an all time first female professor, Juniper. She gives you one of three starters, Snivy (grass), Tepig (fire) or Oshawatt (water) before you begin on your typical journey of gym battling, Pokemon catching (Gotta Catch 'Em All!) and training.

Most unfortunately, Team Plasma are here to stop you. They believe that Pokemon should be free to roam and not captured by Trainers, our use exploitation of them obstructing their development as a greater being. This darker plot is probably the best they've come up with thus far but is never developed deeply enough, due to the short storyline and the surprising ease of getting through the game.

This may be due to the linear progression through the world map, which is literally a straight line from home town to Pokemon league, with very little need to revisit previous towns. Each town houses a Pokemon centre so your Pokemon can be healed, which is now merged with the market to buy goods, the most convenient upgrade. Another noticeable upgrade is the ability to register multiple key items which can be accessed with a touch of a button. Now there is no need to go into the bag every time you want to use the rod or bike! Most of the towns will also have a gym, eight in total, which you will have to defeat to collect the badges necessary to fight the Pokemon League. 

Gym Leaders are notable opponents, each mastering a certain type of Pokemon. Whilst gyms in previous games were rather laborious, the puzzles are now so much more fun and less of a chore. The complexity of originality of the ideas in each gym really make going to the next gym an exciting prospect. One of my favourites was the roller coaster gym and the dragon one.

Upon beating all eight gyms, the Pokemon League awaits. Whilst many reviewers slate the game for being too similar in storyline to other games, I personally found this the most refreshing. The team behind it successfully spruced things up, offering surprise after surprise. This time round, you can choose the order in which you want to tackle the league and once you do, there will be a big surprise for you which is totally unexpected and is definitely the highlight of the whole Pokemon game series.

The completion of the game took me about 25 hours, including talking to all the trainers and exploring every crevice to pick up items. Whilst this was much shorter than previous games, which took me an excess of 40 hours to complete, this game offers a vast amount of post game content.

Three towns and new routes are unlocked upon completion of the game, where Pokemon from previous generations can be found and obtained, as well as trainers with very high level Pokemon (60+) for you to battle. Daily Swarms also activate where special Pokemon will appear on certain routes each day. 

Most notably, an exclusive location is available for each game, Pokemon Black has Black City (with tough trainers and rare items up for purchase) whilst White has White Forest (with rare Pokemon to capture and items to find). A connection from the game to the Internet can also be made via Dream World (used on the computer) where berries can be grown and exclusive Pokemon to be captured (via mini games?) and sent to the DS game, making full use of the DS's wifi capabilities. This is open on the 30th March 2011.

Multiplayer has also been given a revamp with the C-Gear accessible on the lower touch screen, offering infra-red, wifi sync and wireless capabilities a touch of a button away. As well as playing friends you know, you can battle and trade with people across the world over Wi-fi, accessible at every Pokemon Centre. Matches can be played via free mode or rated, with official tournaments also held on here, making this game a must for competitive players.

Perhaps the most stunning thing about this game is the graphics. Exploiting 3D capabilities, for the first time ever, the Pokemon World is truly life like. Whilst the whole game isn't rendered in 3D, special aspects and locations here and there really bring out the beauty of Unnova, especially the bridges and spiral staircases, with a moving camera which will WOW you the first time you see it. 

Overall, Pokemon Black and White offer the most comprehensive Pokemon experience, set in a beautifully rendered landscape, with the short storyline made up for by the extensive post game content. With over 600 Pokemon in all to catch and numerous side quests and games, these two games will undoubtedly last longer than all the other games combined.

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