Pokémon Black vs Pokémon White Similarities, Differences, and Full Comparison

Promotional cover art for Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 featuring Reshiram and Kyurem.

Pokémon Black vs Pokémon White Similarities, Differences, and Full Comparison

Ever since Pokémon games began, the franchise has followed a certain method of release. Every generation, games get two different releases of the same game. They’re literally color-coded, such as Red and Green, etc. And while the gameplay and storylines are largely the same, each version of the game includes major differences that change the experience. That gives players a reason to try both or trade with others who have access to content they don’t.

This time, we’re taking a close look at the popular Black and White games from the fifth generation of Pokémon releases. Black and White were first sold back in 2011, and were eventually followed by Black 2 and White 2 which are not remakes but rather sequels.

The biggest differences between Pokémon Black and Pokémon White are the different regions you can explore and the different Pokémon you can find. We’ll go over the most important changes, how they work, and what new players should know.

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White: Must-Know Facts

Two legendary Pokemon in Black and White.
Different Pokemon await in Black and White depending on your choices.

©Pokemon.com – Original

Let’s go through a quick overview of the biggest differences between these two versions of the game:

  • Black gives access to the Black City, while White gives access to the White Forest
  • The Black City is focused on training and evolving Pokémon ASAP
  • The White Forest is focused on capturing Pokémon and has many additional Pokémon that can’t be found anywhere else
  • The Black version allows you to capture the legendary Reshiram
  • The White version allows you to capture the legendary Zekrom
  • Both versions include additional Pokémon that can’t be found in the other
  • Both versions have regions that die out over time, so getting to the special region quickly is very important

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White: Regions

The primary storyline in Pokémon Black and Pokémon White takes place in Unova, and that doesn’t change much between versions. However, the games follow tradition by opening up special regions that can only be accessed by one version of the game: Each are at the intersection of Route 14 and Route 15.

Pokémon Black gets the Black City. Black City is a modern cityscape with techno themes and a general focus on research and evolution. The Black City is filled with advanced Pokémon trainers and citizens, which will dwindle over time played. The sooner a player can make it to the Black City, the more populated it will be, and the more there is to explore. That also affects what items are available in the area. That means players are greatly encouraged to reach the Black City ASAP. This issue was fixed in Black 2, where the City expands as you complete side quests.

Black City is highly focused on dueling with other Trainers and advancing. It’s an excellent place to five level 5 Pokémon and level up your favorite Pokémon accordingly – much more so than the White region. Also, you can get a lot of currency every time you defeat 10 trainers in the Black City, so you won’t need to worry about purchasing evolutionary materials. The city also features a couple of unique trainers, Roughneck Johnny and Backpacker Kiro (more on this below).

Meanwhile, the White version of the game allows access to the White Forest. This gentle area is home to giant trees and a number of wild Pokémon, as well as foraging trainers. There aren’t as many possible NPCs in the area as in Black City, but it follows the same time rules. The longer you wait to go to the White Forest, the fewer people will be there, and the less vibrant the region will look.

Instead of a focus on trainers and evolution, the White Forest focuses on harmony, exploration, and finding new Pokémon. Instead of awards for battle, you’re more likely to find special items that residents may have dropped around town. The Mayor of White Forest’s settlement will also give you different Berries based on the number of Pokémon you have captured, so there’s plenty of encouragement to go encounter wild Pokémon. White Forest also has access to a couple of unique trainers, like School Kid Shaye and Nursery Aide Briana.

Several small hints of lore indicate that Black City and White Forest may be the same region at different places in time.  

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White: Pokémon

If you really want to catch them all, the different Pokémon colors present a problem: Which is best for getting Pokémon? As we mentioned above, Black City is best for training and White Forest is best for capturing. Each has unique Pokémon you can only find in that version of the game, too. Let’s go through some specifics.

Pokémon Black: Available Pokémon

In Pokémon Black, you can find a variety of Pokémon that you won’t be able to encounter or capture in the White version. You don’t have to go to the Black-specific Black City to get these, you can find them exploring throughout Unova.

  • Weedle
  • Kakuna
  • Beedrill
  • Murkrow
  • Houndour
  • Houndoom
  • Shroomish
  • Breloom
  • Plusle
  • Honchkrow
  • Gothita
  • Gothorita
  • Gothitelle
  • Vullaby
  • Mandibuzz

Pokémon White: Available Pokémon

Pokémon White has a slightly different approach than Pokémon Black. There is a set of Pokémon that can only be found in this version of the game, just like in Black. However, there is also a separate list of Pokémon that you can only find in wild encounters in the White Forest. These Pokémon cannot be avoided and you’re encouraged to capture them for rewards. Obviously, this makes the White version a popular choice for those who want as many Pokémon as possible when first starting out. The normal unique Pokémon are:

  • Caterpie
  • Metapod
  • Butterfree
  • Paras
  • Parasect
  • Misdreavus
  • Poochyena
  • Mightyena
  • Minun
  • Mismagius
  • Solosis
  • Duosion
  • Reuniclus
  • Rufflet
  • Braviary

And the White Forest Pokémon are:

  • Pidgey
  • Nidoran (male and female)
  • Oddish
  • Abra
  • Machop
  • Bellsprout
  • Magnemite
  • Gastly
  • Rhyhorn
  • Porygon
  • Togepi
  • Mareep
  • Hoppip
  • Wooper
  • Elekid
  • Magby
  • Wurmple
  • Lotad
  • Seedot
  • Ralts
  • Surskit
  • Slakoth
  • Whismur
  • Azurill
  • Aron
  • Trapinch
  • Corphish
  • Bagon
  • Starly
  • Shinx
  • Budew
  • Happiny

Note that the White Forest Pokémon will be low-level when you capture them and you’ll have to do some work to level them up. That’s one of the trade-offs when choosing the White version.

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White: Legendary Pokémon

Finally, each version of the game has access to its own Legendary Pokémon. For serious fans, this is one of the biggest factors in deciding which game to choose.

Pokémon Black allows you to get the Legendary Pokémon Tornadus. This powerful Pokémon roams the map, and must be encountered like other rare legendaries to capture it. The game also allows access to the powerful Reshiram. You can only gain access to Reshiram by defeating the Elite 4, accessing N’s Castle, and making your way to the throne room.

In Pokémon White, you gain access to the electric type Thundurus. You can also find this Pokémon roaming the land like Tornadus. And if you’ve traded with another player so you can get both Tornadus and Thundurus, you can find Landorus in a similar manner as well. Pokémon White also allows you to acquire Zekrom. Zekrom takes the place of Reshiram in N’s Throne Room, so the steps to getting it are the same.

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White: Storyline

As we mentioned, the core story of the two games is the same, with the exception of the different kinds of Pokémon that you can run into. You won’t be doing anything too different for the main campaign. However, the two new regions will have somewhat different experiences.

In the Black City, you’ll want to focus on the market section and find the boss that asks you to battle other players. In the White Forest, you’ll want to find the Mayor and get his quest to capture Pokémon. There’s not a lot to these storylines, but the people/trainers you meet will be different and act a bit differently as you explore. Remember, you’ll want to visit these special regions frequently and talk or battle with whoever you can to help give them “points” which ensures they won’t disappear over time like they do before you first arrive.

It may seem unfair that the separate regions decrease in population over time. There are a couple of ways to help that – getting to the regions early and talking to all NPCs regularly can help. However, the limitation also once encouraged the use of another feature: Entralink.

With the Entralink system, you can digitally connect with someone who has the opposite copy of the game. That allows you to visit another player’s world, as well as explore the Dream World. You can find items, join special quests, and, most importantly, invite trainers from the other player’s opposing region to join your region. In other words, that means you can recruit Black City trainers to join your White Forest, and vice-versa.

This was the only way to build up your region’s population and change its appearance once you have first visited. Traditionally, you can find the Entralink portal in a central location in Unova. But there’s a small problem here: The Entralink portal was designed for the original version of the game back in 2011. These days, players are more likely to use an emulator. Even if you hop on the old hardware, Entralink’s wireless support isn’t really there anymore: By the time Black 2 and White 2 came around, it had changed entirely anyway, and now the wireless capabilities are lost to time.

That means if you’re playing today, your best bet is to get to the special regions ASAP before anything else and keep visiting to keep people from leaving.

Is Everything Else the Same in White vs. Black?

Basically, yes. There are some other minor differences that are more cosmetic than anything else. Those include:

  • Opelucid City will have a different look depending on the version of the game you have
  • Opelucid City’s Gym trainers and leader will change, too
  • Misaltron City will have slightly different tilesets as well
  • N’s legendary Pokémon changes, which has some impact on motivation and canon

Which Version Should I Play?

That depends on your goals as a player. The two versions of the game are very open about how they differ. The Black City is for leveling Pokémon quickly, getting lots of money, and evolving your favorite picks fast. The White Forest is for collecting as many Pokémon as you can, and accessing a wide variety of Pokémon that aren’t available in the Black version. Some players also like either the techno or back-to-nature vibes of the two different regions. Overall, players interested in getting as many Pokémon as possible will want to choose White.

And if you’re most interested in getting a special legendary Pokémon, then you’ll need to ask if you like Reshiram or Zekrom better. That was another hotly debated topic. Reshiram tends to be a better pick if you want to win NPC duels and is a fan favorite for his dragon aspect, but Zekrom is popular for those who want something a bit more special.

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