There have been a lot of games in the Pokémon series but none has been a direct sequel to any other. Rather, they have each focused on a different region in the world with a unique adventure largely unrelated to any other one.
However, this all changes with the first direct sequels in the series, Pokémon White Version 2 and Pokémon Black Version 2. However, do Black 2 and White 2 bring enough new to the table to merit being their own games or are they nothing more than a quick cash-in before the DS is whisked away to the cornfield forever?
Good — Return to Familiar World
Black 2 and White 2 take place in the same region as the original Black and White. Most of the areas visited in Black and White return as do many of the gym leaders, trainers, and villains. However, the most enjoyable part of Black 2 and White 2 is seeing how the people and places have changed over the two years since Black and White — and let me tell you, there have been some major changes. The region is now populated by 300 Pokémon, a cross section of those from all previous games, and many locations have been extensively redesigned. Moreover, with N, the leader of Team Plasma, gone, a new Team Plasma has risen up with a new goal: world domination. So, taking the role of a young teenager, you head out (once again) to become the next Pokémon champion — and maybe save the world, if there's time.
Good — Hey, That's New!
Just because Black 2 and White 2 are set in a location we've already visited doesn't mean there isn't any new content. Rather, there is an entire new section of the region with two new gyms, a ranch, a port city, and perhaps most importantly, Pokéstar Studios. Replacing the Pokémon
Musical, Pokéstar Studios is a minigame where, through battling and dialogue choices, you can become a movie star in the Pokémon world.
However, the addition that will no doubt interest long-time players the most is the Pokémon World Tournament. The Pokémon World Tournament allows you to battle against all gym leaders from all previous Pokémon titles (sans Koga) — and even a few of the past champions as well.
Mixed — It's Pokémon
To some people, Pokémon is a series with deep mechanics and a fanatical online community. To others, it's just that JRPG that little kids like. Whichever way you look at the series though, Black 2 and White 2 are just more of the same. The improvements and other small tweaks to the game will interest longtime players, but there is really nothing here to draw new players in. If you are a Pokémon fan, you will no doubt enjoy this game; but if you are a non-fan, you will find nothing to change your mind.
Are Black 2 and White 2 a mere cash-in? No. There's more new here than in the Pokémon remake titles, but that doesn't mean these are the best of the series either. All in all, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 really are just average Pokémon titles. Fans will no doubt enjoy a new Poké-tastic adventure, but if you're looking for a game-changing entry in the series, you won't find it here.
Pokémon White Version 2 and Pokémon Black Version 2 were released on June 23, 2012, in Japan and will be released in North America on October 7, 2012 (October 12 for PAL).