|Dev: Game Freak|
|Pub: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company|
|Release: March 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
In the world of Pokémon, it seems life culminates at adolescence, when all children are sent off into the world to have a Pokémon adventure. And what adventures these kids have! Though the structure is always the same (wander around in the tall grass for hours finding Pokémon and then go beat gym leaders), Pokémon is that rare series that works primarily because we know what to expect from it. There's never been any real surprises when you pick up a Pokémon title (in terms of gameplay), and honestly, I don't think Pokémon fans would have it any other way.
That's why when you hear that Pokémon Black and White is still the same game, you should be excited. Sure, there have been some visual tweaks, and some added online functionality, but at the end of the day, you're still going to be wandering through the tall grass for hours on end waiting for that rare Pokémon to finally appear. Is this a bad thing? No. Is it expected? Absolutely.
But as long as you're cool with the lack of formula-changing in Pokémon Black and White (and really, who wouldn't be?), then you'll have a lot of fun with Black and White. The Unova region is absolutely massive, and there is plenty of room to explore and find the 156 new Pokémon hidden between the two games. One thing that surprised me was how organized Unova was, compared to Sinnoh and Johto. It almost feels linear, which is a good thing if you have a tendency to get lost, but not if you want to return to an area near the beginning of the game in a quick fashion.
Unfortunately, this becomes a problem, as the game encourages you to re-visit areas frequently to find new Pokémon. Black and White have a new season feature that changes both the environment and the available Pokémon depending on the time of year. The game's internal time-system has the seasons changing every three months, and you'll have to do a lot of backtracking every season if you are trying to catch all the Pokémon on your game card without trading. Still, the seasons system is engaging, and it keeps you immersed in the game far beyond the simplistic day/night system that was used previously.
Also new to Pokémon Black and White are triple battles and rotation battles. Triple battles are fairly straightforward and allow players to engage in 3-on-3 Pokémon battles. Rotation battles are similar, except instead of using all three Pokémon at once, you can rotate between the three Pokémon you call without using a turn as you normally would. These battles help break up the monotony that is grinding in the Pokémon universe.