Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 make a neatly matched set of entries into one of the most venerable (and most predictable) of game franchises. The pair are direct sequels to the Black and White of 2011. That's a good amount of time to make tweaks to a tried-and-true formula. But are the updates super effective?
There are too many reviews in the world to catch 'em all, but we've rounded up eight below.
The core Pokemon games are notorious for sticking to a tried, tested, and very familiar formula. After all, it's a formula that works, and that people enjoy, and one thing you can never accuse the main entry Pokemon games of is forgetting their roots. Black 2 is pretty much exactly what you'd expect, then. Given that it's the first numbered sequel in the series, it's even less of a version shift than seen in previous games. It's not exactly the same as its predecessor; there have been a number of tweaks, functionally and aesthetically, and the plot's (sort of) new too. The problem is that, despite the additions, a weak plot, poor pacing, and an overabundance of easily-defeated Pokemon mean it's just not as good as the games that came before it.
You already know what to expect from Pokemon Black and White 2. Its doesn't buck the formulaic nature of the franchise, which will leave a large part of its audience -- a chunk that wants to rekindle their lapsed love of the series with something genuinely new -- out in the cold. But that audience is bookended by veterans and newcomers alike, and for those two groups, Black and White 2's improvements make it the franchise's most accessible entry point to date.
Pokémon Black and White 2 comes as something of a surprise. Not only did Game Freak buck fan expectations by announcing two new titles instead of the expected "Pokémon grey", it even revealed they'd be genuine sequels to the first Black and White versions and not, as we'd all assumed, a simple repackaging of them. Even more surprising is just how well B&W2 have turned out, considering their new direction, making them the most original pair of Pokémon titles since arguably Gold and Silver.
In the meantime, Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 feel like the "true" versions of Black and White, much as Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum felt like the real versions of their respective generations. It has more Pokémon, better post-game content and, apart from a few added perks like the aforementioned Memory Link, largely renders the original games unnecessary. Whether returning fans should pick up Black and White 2, meanwhile, depends entirely on whether you're burned out on Pokémon yet. The sequel is bigger and better than the original, but it's still Pokémon. In your heart, you already know whether or not you're ready to slog through another eight badges and get back to catching them all.
At their core, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 are the same games we've been playing since 1999 -- warts and all. While the law of diminishing returns applies less to this franchise, there's still a sense of deja vu about it. Whether Game Freak will shake things up, or simply replace sprites with polygons, is to be seen, but whatever lies in store, Black 2 and White 2 stand proud as the last and probably best of classic Pokemon.
There are times when Pokemon Black and White Version 2 feel a little too familiar, especially when you're exploring the same towns, roads, and caves from the previous game. Once you assemble a solid team and start earning gym badges, though, you won't care. The series' trademark charm and addictive challenges will make you want to keep playing, and you might have trouble putting down your system as you pursue the next opponent, next gym badge, or next legendary Pokemon. In addition to the 20-or-so-hour campaign, there's plenty of post-game content and extra stuff to do, so you might have this cartridge in your DS or 3DS for a long time. It might just be a holdover until the next generation of Pokemon arrives, but it's still a good way to pass the time.
Despite throwing in some new bells and whistles, Pokémon Black & White 2 doesn't deviate from established formula. It manages to deliver everything you'd expect out of a Pokémon game, and it's still a decent RPG, but it fails to take any chances or offer real innovation. Considering it's only a DS game rather than a proper sequel that takes advantage of the 3DS, it's hard not to label this as a lazy attempt to make a quick buck. Hopefully the next game brings some much needed reform.
How can a man possibly sleep when he hasn't captured a Koffing in the Virbank Complex? How can I save my game without the completion stamp for Route 20? Where the hell is Dunsparce!? This game has upgraded my mild OCD to flamin' hot Cajun spice OCD.
That obsessive compulsion is what defines the Pokémon series. It's right there in the tagline: "Gotta Catch 'Em All". It kept me playing into the wee hours of the morning when I was a much younger man. It drove me to acquire each iteration of the game since, hoping to rekindle that manic motivation. I've found it again in Pokémon Black and White 2.