|Dev: Game Freak|
|Pub: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company|
|Release: March 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
The biggest new feature is the completely-overhauled online mode, which adds considerable depth to the experience. The game uses a new connection mechanic, known as "C-Gear," to facilitate the online features of the game. Once the C-Gear is obtained, players can connect online to play in random battles, trade items, and upload their Pokémon data to the Pokémon "Dream World." Although you will still need friend codes to play with specific players, the random battles are a certainly a welcome feature, and one that is long overdue for the series at-large. The dream world feature is a pretty nifty add-on and allows you to view your Pokémon and play mini-games with it online, when you are away from your Nintendo DS. Though participating in the Dream World feature is not a core part of the gameplay, it is a cool little add-on, and one Pokémon fans will surely appreciate when the companion website launches later this spring.
Visually, Pokémon Black and White has been substantially upgraded from its predecessors. The world of Unova is more detailed than the world of Sinnoh, and there are a lot more animated elements. The interface has also changed considerably, and the always-on time mechanic has been replaced with a more intuitive display. The visuals during battle sequences have been upgraded, Pokémon models are a lot crisper, and battles feature a roaming camera that shifts focus every so often. Though the game still retains its signature pixel-based look, everything seems smoother this time around, and the upgrades definitely add to the overall experience.
Though your time with these games will likely mirror the same core experience you've had with every Pokémon game since Gold/Silver, with 600+ Pokémon now necessary to complete your Pokédex, you're likely to get plenty of replay value out of this one, and the addition of an expansive online mode makes it easier than ever for you to catch 'em all. While the core experience and story mode will probably only take astute gamers ten hours or so to complete, the meta-game is designed to take a very long time, and the changing of the seasons, coupled with the Pokémon that must be found on alternate Pokémon titles ensures that if you really want to go for 100% completion, you'll have to commit some serious time to your game.
Pokémon Black and White is a no-brainer for fans of the series, and on the off-chance that you've never picked up a Pokémon game before (where have you been for the last decade?), Pokémon's simple formula makes it easy to jump right in and start collecting. Though the latest two entries don't exactly reinvent the wheel, the delightful familiarity, coupled with the much-improved online experience, make this game an easy recommendation, and one that will definitely pull you back into Pokémon obsession. I know I'm trembling right now just thinking about finding time to level up my Oshawott just a little bit more before getting back to work, going to sleep, or doing anything else. It sounds crazy, but Pokémon is just that important.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer