I always though I missed out on the whole Pokemon crazy as a result of my age – maybe it’s just a generation thing, I thought. I was a little too old for Pokemon when it first took off and, despite being a huge Nintendo fan, I’ve ignored the series ever since. But our very own Jimu Hsien is the same age as me, and he loves Pokemon. In this extensive Reader Review, he goes in-depth on the pros and cons of the latest installment in the Pokemon franchise.
The best review each month wins a selection of Blu-rays from Madman.
I have a confession to make, I will be 29 this year and I play Pokemon.
Although I have seen a fair few episodes of the cartoon I’m not a long time fan of the game series; I only started playing when a copy of Diamond fell into my hands. That was when I was 27. That’s the same age Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix died… coincidence?
Pokemon Black and White Version the latest instalments of the world’s best selling RPG has arrived. Aiming to be a little more ground breaking than previous sequels, this time rather than just version exclusive Pokemon there is an exclusive level in each game; Black contains Black City and White contains White Forest. All of the Pokemon featured are new and you cannot import the old until after completing the main story. All Pokemon are now far more animated during battles; they still contain the same animations for shared attacks but now they move around on screen rather than standing motionless.
Baby Steps: Game Freak has been smart enough over the years to slowly evolve (heh) Pokemon. Rather than just changing everything in one big move they have slowly added tweaks and changes to each generation, this includes the art direction as well as game mechanics. A smart move I think, as it stops alienating fans that may otherwise be scared off by the unknown
Sticking with the DS: I can’t afford a 3DS right now and frankly the game isn’t so advanced as to need release on the system. Another smart move since I’m sure the big profits are coming in from the already massive amount of DS owners. Parents across the globe will be sighing in relief when they realise they don’t have to fork out for a new game and a new machine to play it on
Starting from scratch: The new feature of not seeing any old Pokemon until you see credits roll is an interesting idea as it means all players are equal and forced to learn all the different types as they play. Everyone not knowing all the ways to put the beat-down on the new types of Pokemon was great, it sparked some interesting conversations with other players as I tried to form a new team and I’m sure has evened things out a little in the scene. Each time I encountered a new Pokemon I didn’t know what to expect. It gave the game a very fun feeling as new discoveries were made much more regularly.
Old school: I love the fact that the visual style, the music and the sound effects all look like they would have been quite at home in the 16 bit era. In a time of 3d graphics, Dolby surround sound, voice acting etc, it’s good to know that there are still some games out there that pull the nostalgia string and remind me of the fun I had when I was 10 years old.
A little 3D to spice things up: At certain parts in the game they used 3d to make thinks look better. Things like the dynamic views of the bridge and the camera being able to look up at the Elite Four building really made the game have a bigger more epic feel than has ever been possible. There are even some animated sequences near the end that excited me.
White Forest: I had a look online and apparently this doesn’t happen to everyone, I am one of the unlucky few. When I arrived in White Forest there was a Pokemon Centre, a house and some trees, NOTHING ELSE. The way to fix this is to use Entralink this will reset the forest and there will be grass available so I can catch Pokemon. Unfortunately, my current circumstances won’t allow me to use this function for quite some time making the entire area useless.
Missing Features: The bottom screen of the DS is used for all the WiFi, Infra red and other connection stuff, I turn this off as I don’t make use of any of these features. What this means is apart from the time in the top left corner the screen is completely black. I preferred the system in Platinum where you could choose what the bottom screen showed. I mostly chose the map but you had access to a clock and your current team as well as various others.
Soulsilver and HeartGold had running shoes as an auto feature that you could turn off in the menu saving my poor thumb from fatigue. Also the first Pokemon in your party would follow you around on the field. I can only imagine these features will return when the inevitable Grey/Rainbow Version arrives in two years.
Impossible to catch Pokemon: This seems to be an ongoing problem with the series. Because I didn’t grab a Shiney Entei during Nintendo’s online HG/SS promotion there is no way for me to catch a Zoroark. This is one of the cooler looking new Pokemon and anyone that didn’t buy a copy of any of the previous DS games will just have to miss out. For a series that’s motto is “Gotta catch ‘em all” It seems strange that they have effectively made it impossible to do so for more than a few people.
Missed Opportunities: In the lead up to the release of this game one of the stand-out features to me was the new story. This time it’s about a boy who was raised alongside Pokemon and his goal is to free all the Pokemon from their tyrannical trainers. Oh, the possibilities! They could have really ripped apart the entire point of Pokemon and asked the question: Is trapping wild animals and forcing them to fight each other really so noble?
Unfortunately they didn’t, you could easily cut Team Plasma out of this game and insert Team Rocket, because at the end of the day they serve the same function and do all the same things. I know this is a game aimed at children, but would it really hurt to challenge young minds and sow the seeds of intelligence???
Overall Pokemon White Version is really just more of the same all wrapped up in shiny new packaging. You still “catch ‘em” with a variety of Pokeballs, you still travel from gym to gym aiming to be “the very best” and the story doesn’t go anywhere a Pokemon game hasn’t gone before.
If you’ve played a Pokemon before then you know what you’re in or if you haven’t but enjoy turn based JRPGs then it’s time to check it out.
If you’re not a big RPG fan or you’ve had enough of the same old formula then perhaps you should aim your sights elsewhere.