**If you have not read my week-long journal on Pokémon White, you can either go back and give it a skim (beware of some spoilers towards the end) or just click ‘Read More’ to get straight to the review.**
Is Pokémon still as addictive as it once was?
Fifty hours in one week. Nuff said.
Has it evolved sufficiently over the years?
It has evolved since Red/Blue, but at a snail’s pace. This could be the first time in the series that Game Freak have concentrated more on updating old things than adding new ones, but those old things should have been sorted out years ago.
Is it worth buying a DS for?
Obviously, that depends on whether you like turn-based RPGs or not, because if you’re not a fan, neither Pokémon Black or White is going to change your mind. If you are a fan, then hell yes, it’s worth getting for a DS alone.
Is there really a Pokémon shaped like an ice cream?
Yup. And don’t forget the one that looks like a rubbish bag.
Every single critic of the Pokémon franchise has said this same thing but it really is worth mentioning; there are very few games that can get away with roughly the same formula year after year. Even yearly instalments like Call of Duty shake things up with new additions to multiplayer, new gameplay mechanics and changes in setting. So why has Pokémon been allowed to let evolution pass it by? Why have I sunk fifty hours into a game that, besides some graphical upgrades, is almost unchanged since the late nineties? It’s simple, really.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’m not going to spoil any more of the game for you, but Pokéfans should know that the game’s climax, if you can call it that, is such a breath of fresh air that I was literally on the edge of my seat as the final battle played out, my DS grasped firmly in my sweaty palms. While Black/White’s plot pales in comparison to most RPGs, sometimes simplicity is the best way to get somebody excited. Here’s the bad guy, the one you’ve been poised to take down the entire game, ready and waiting for you. Go get him.
Oh, and then once you’re done with him, we’ve got a whole new quest waiting for you. Seriously. And did we mention the other 493 Pokémon you haven’t seen yet, let alone caught?
The Unova region, as seen from a Pidgey-eye’s view.
I literally cannot think of another game - save for a creation-based title like LittleBigPlanet - that offers so much friggin’ content out of the box. What’s even more incredible is that all of that content revolves around the battle concept that you would think you’d get tired of after the 40-hour campaign. But that’s simply not the case. It’s a game that I have found physically hard to put down, something I haven’t encountered since…well, LittleBigPlanet. Of course, the fact that it’s on a portable platform helps a bit (more on that later), but mostly it’s the nature of the game and the game alone.
Y’see, the thing about Pokémon that really appeals to me over everything else is the collection aspect. I’m a little obsessive compulsive, so I take the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” tagline perhaps a little more seriously than most. At the point where I overtook my friend Caithan in the game, I had caught around twenty or thirty Pokémon. He had caught seven. Of course, the battles appeal to me as well; I simply have to go in to each fight with some kind of strategy, like “He has a Flying-type, so I’ll send out my Zebstrika first, if he takes too much damage, I’ll Volt Switch and send in Boldore…” I put more thought into my Pokémon battles than I do in a whole game of Civilization IV.
In short, you can gather by now just what it is about Pokémon that appeals to me. But does that make it a niche game? I shouldn’t think so, but for all your sakes, let’s judge the game by its own merits. Just let me get my reviewing fez.