Pokemon Black and White Version 2: Long in the tooth, but still has bite

Pokemon Black White 2 review
Pokemon Black White 2 review

If you, an admitted Pokemon fan, were to sit down with your copy of Pokemon Black or White Version 2 for Nintendo's 3DS next to a sad (or nostalgic) sap playing Red or Blue from 1998, you'd be hard pressed to find the differences beyond first glance. There's no denial that the first-ever direct sequels to a Pokemon game are the greatest and best-looking in the series, but technically, you could say that every time the next in the series hits store shelves.

In its 12th iteration, the series is undoubtedly long in the tooth after creator Game Freak developing on top of its core systems of battling and trading monsters for nearly 15 years. While Black and White 2 is (as you'd expect) not drastically different, it streamlines the experience and connects the community at large in more and better ways than ever before. But perhaps fans of the series don't come back for groundbreaking changes or revolutionary updates.


Maybe they just come back for what they've come to know and love in a fancy new dress. so to speak. Long in the tooth Pokemon may be, but Black and White 2 proves that this icon of handheld gaming still has plenty of bite. Even those who have gone a few years without Pokemon pumping through their veins (like this writer) might find themselves roped in all over again. After 14 long years, Pokemon's still got it, and perhaps with even more gusto this time around.

Maybe it's because Black and White 2 somehow mix things up in sticking to the same region, Unova, picking up where the story left off two years later. A decidedly more nuanced story than games of the past, it plays off the themes of its predecessor and gives multiple viewpoints their time in the limelight. But where Black and White tackled one of the ultimate questions lobbed at the Pokemon universe--why the hell are Pokemon captured, anyway?--this sequel sees yet another mad man selfishly trying to "draw out the potential" in Pokemon.

Pokemon Black and White 2 screens
Pokemon Black and White 2 screens

Maybe it's the fact that this iteration of the series offers not only more avenues through which to battle trainers both real and artificial, but more things to do than simply battle and trade pocket monsters. For instance, Pokestar Studios lets players create and view goofy little movies starring their Pokemon--all made possible with a clever application of the existing battle system. There's also Join Avenue, yet another place for players to connect and find special items.

Maybe it's that, for as self-referent as the games are, Black and White 2 are just as easy to pick up as ever. Granted, that's mostly thanks to the largely inconsequential storyline endemic to all Pokemon games. That's also due to the fact that the core loop of battle, catch, battle, trade, battle, level up, battle some more etc. hasn't changed dramatically in years.

Pokemon Black and White 2 screen shots
Pokemon Black and White 2 screen shots

Or maybe Pokemon fans come back to relive that feeling of starting a new adventure, with one lowly fire, grass or water-type monster. Even as direct sequels, Black and White 2 accomplish this in mixing up everything from the distribution of its adorable creatures to the route that players take and the gym leaders that they face in battle.

As jaded as this writer is to the Pokemon series after once calling himself a mega fan, he found himself thumbing the circle pad around in the tall grass, looking for the elusive Riolu for an hour and 30 minutes after midnight. (That was after I accidentally killed one, of course.) It's safe to say that the fire has been reignited, and this series most certainly still has bite.

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Are you going to pick up Black and White 2 on launch day? If so, which version will you choose? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.