Reader Review: Pokemon White

Reader Review: Pokemon White

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.

Pokemon White 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.

LOVED 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.

Hated 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.


  • I pretty much agree with this review. I really liked the constantly-moving Pokemon and cool camera angles (though sometimes the 3D overworld, made the 2D sprite of the trainer look pretty woeful :P). Overall, really good game for both newcomers and veterans.

    The main thing I didn’t like:

    As you said, the touchscreen use. I think HeartGold/SoulSilver had the best implementation of the touchscreen (touch menus) so it felt a real step back to have to use the buttons again. I think it would have been much better to have a tabbed touchscreen so you could toggle through Menus, C-Gear, etc. Really a let down.

    Also, having to hold down B to run again. HG/SS has spoiled me… I really hope they continue in that direction with upcoming games.

  • Nice one Jimu. I too am going to be 29 this year but I admit that I started playing Pokemon back on launch day with Pokemon Blue which I played mostly on the Super Gameboy adapter for the SNES and was a fan of the TV show (what with it being the only anime on air at the time).

    I have Pokemon Black but I’ll admit to having done little with it besides pick my starter Pokemon. I didn’t realise I couldn’t have my map on th elower screen. Seems like quite a waste.

  • played pokemon pretty much all my life
    will get this, their all amazing 🙂
    and mark, pick up a ds and play from the GBA games onwards, their still heaps of fun
    but, start at fire red

  • This reminded me of the pokemon song cover by powerglove. That song is awesome.

    Do many people vs each other? or is there an online battle mode?

    • Online and there will be a tounrnament at local EBs, Canberra not included(suprise, suprise).

      I’d go but if I beat a bunch of ten year olds I’d feel like a real arse. If a bunch of ten year olds beat me I would feel inadequate…

      • …you mean to say people shouldn’t enjoy beating snotty 10 year olds at a Pokemon?

        One of us is doing something wrong :/

  • I find this one of the most agreeable reviews I’ve ever read. A few things I disagree with though:

    1: I think Zoroark is ugly. I do agree though that it sucks you have to own previous games and take part in special events to get all the Pokemon.

    2: I thought the story was a lot better then any previous Pokemon game. Every new team and story in the other Pokemon games are all pretty much copies of each other. Team Plasma felt refreshingly new. Unlike the other Pokemon games I found my self caring about the story and wanting to know what happens next.

    I’d also like to add I loved the way gym leaders actually stepped out of their gyms and took part in the story unlike previous games.

    • I wasn’t hating on the story, just thought the concept made room for so much more.
      Could have been a lot more ambiguous than it was.

    • yeah but its not just own previous games to get it, you have to actually have downloaded the things in the limited time frame too 🙁

  • Good review! I had the same experience with Black City, it is very frustrating having one of the major version differences nullified because I took my time enjoying the game before I went and beat the league.

    On the matter of Zoroark, it can be bred, so if you can find someone with one, I’m sure they could trade you a nice cute Zorua to train up.

  • Just a comment on the storyline, it sounds like it’s a great premise over whether or not fighting animals against each other is a good idea or not, but maybe it wasn’t extensively pursued because there isn’t really any answer except “no, it’s not a good idea”. Then where does that leave the series?

  • You know what was great about the bottom screen though? If you did turn it on (noat tht I used it very much), you could customise the shapes and patterns that would light up representing WiFi, IR and the other thing.
    Spent a good half hour customising that thing even though I never use it.

  • HATRED HATRED HATRED, I’m tearing you a new one, and a comment about how everything you do is inadequate.

    Actually, good review, I pretty much agree with everything, but I really am curious about what they’ll do for the inevitable 3DS one, as sprites are wa-ay cheaper to make than 3d models. Maybe the battles will be fully animated? (The answer to this is “no”)

    Umm, I mean, hate hate hate, you are terrible at this. Hate.

  • we need to start posting some FC for battling and trading kotaku style. ill start FC:3181 6139 5134

    • Is it just me, or is having the internalised friend code a ridiculous system? I was twenty hours into the game before I even realised you could add friends inside it.

      Anyway, FC is: 3696-9976-0877

      • I havn’t gotten very far yet but i’m going to be house sitting at my mothers for a week from friday. How do I find the firend code?

        • what you need to do is go into bag then select pal pad it shows what your FC is and you can add others there. Now comes the awkward part you have to be in the wifi room at the same time as someone else in your FC list. which sucks no other way of knowing if they are on.

    • Do I already have a code or do I need to go online first?

      I will not be online for at least 2 months…

  • The GTS (global trade system)exists for a reason. If you didn’t get a zorua you can still find one on the GTS in less than a minute. The “not everyone has wifi” excuse is a lame excuse. If you don’t have wifi, then get with the times. You just cant enjoy games without it these days.

      • And not everyone has wifi compatible with the DS. The only reason I can connect is because I’m running it off the 3DS, otherwise, I’d be screwed, normal DS setting find my wireless router far too advanced.

  • You can set the bottom screen to do things, I have mine set as Item finder most of the time.

    And I have to agree with your point, I accept X is in Black and Y is in White. But to need to get a pokemon from a previous game to get one of the all new pokemon in a game of all new pokemon is kinda lame.

    Oh and the GTS, the trades are just so unbalanced. common pokemon, Patrat for trade for female starters or L100 legendries.

  • Breed your starter and place the baby on GTS with a request for Zorua and you’ll have one in a few hours. You can’t do this for the unobtainable legendaries because they won’t be in your Pokedex. Now THAT is lame.

    And as said, the story is leaps and bounds better then the older generations… but it is still pretty Trubbish.

    • That is if you re-started the game enough times to get a female one…

      But yeah a Starter can get you almost anything.

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