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Review | Pokemon Black/White


Format: DS | Genre: RPG| Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo | Release date: 04/03/2011 | Price: £29.99

Jennifer Allen has to catch them all thanks to POKEMON BLACK/WHITE.

IT’S A game for kids isn’t it? That’s what you might be thinking when you see the word Pokémon. After all, its appearance is rather childlike and it’s as far away from gory as you can possibly get. It’s not really a game for kids though, for one thing there’s a little too much depth to be seen here. While cynics could argue that recent Pokémon instalments have been more of the same and lacking in a few revolutionary innovations, Pokémon Black and White manages to be both feeling like a whole new game while maintaining its original sense of magic.

The storyline is rather familiar admittedly. You play a teenage dreamer, determined to turn their dull life around and become the greatest Pokémon trainer of them all. So off he/she goes to battle the gym trainers scattered around the land of Unova, in order to collect their badges and ultimately face the Elite Four. There’s even the ever familiar dilemma of choosing your starter Pokémon. Do you go with the fire based Tepig, the grass based Snivy or the water based Oshawatt? This is where the sense of shiny new goodness kicks in. The Pokémon on offer are all entirely new. Sure you’re playing the game in a very similar way but the Pokémon – the key component to ensure that this game is wondrous – are all new. You might notice that a few of these new creatures have borrowed ideas from older generation ones but there are still sufficient number that feel all new. Such as the ice cream based Baibanira. Yes, ice cream based. It’s perhaps not the most amazing of ideas for a Pokémon but it’s unique, I’ll give it that.

Insert predictable gotta catch em all gag

Traversing the world of Unova is no great hardship, offering a fairly linear structure to proceedings but it’s the variations within the Pokémon themselves that offer flexibility and of course the urge to collect them all. Each Pokémon has a bit more character too in the form of individual animations during battle. It’s unfortunate that the graphics within battles are still distinctly patchy but overall, the style is much improved. Indeed in the case of much of the exploration you’ll be conducting, you’ll be busy oohing and ahhing at the impressive sights of the pseudo 3D world you inhabit. Visiting huge cities actually feels like an accomplishment rather than the flat lands of the past. Further improvements are present in small but no less important things such as Pokemarts now being incorporated within Pokecentres, thus enabling you to heal and rest while also stocking up on items all within the one place. TMs, useful extra moves for Pokémon, can now be used multiple times on different Pokémon making it simpler to micro manage your abilities more efficiently.

Online functionality has also been improved with the C-Gear device enabling you to battle or trade with other players via infra-red, local and online Wi-Fi. Pokémon Dream World also offers the ability to communicate with other players via your PC too although this wasn’t available to test out just yet.

While you can spend tens of hours ploughing through the main game, the fun doesn’t end with the Elite Four. Like previous Pokémon titles, it’s the end game where things get truly excellent. Expanding your Pokedex to over 600 Pokémon is a joy and a series of new towns and areas to explore are unlocked. There’s even a new storyline to follow. There’s also enough of a difference between Black and White to encourage you to track down someone with the opposite colour to yours with both titles offering their own unique Pokémon as well as an unique area.

Pokémon Black and White won’t convert naysayers to the cause but regardless of this, it’s quite clearly the best title in the series yet. It’s a fantastic way to say goodbye to the DS in time for the launch of the 3DS. Familiar yet fresh, it’ll undoubtedly claim hundreds of hours from anyone who gives it a shot.


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