At release, Pokemon Black/White tore the Pokemon community apart for its polarizing design. The games attempted to implement new features, mechanics, and designs that confused and upset players. Some called the game a masterpiece, while others described it to be the downfall of the franchise as a whole.
Today, we are going to look at the bad. The things that stand out and make you question why they were implemented in the first place. This article will explain the five reasons why you should avoid playing Pokemon Black/White at all costs.
Black/White created a change in the Pokemon formula that threw fans for a loop when it first came out. One of the biggest changes was the scaling of Trainer battles and battle mechanics, making the game harder. Generation V is often seen as the most challenging Generation in the franchise, which may appeal to some but can be frustrating.
One of the ways the game’s difficulty messes with players is by having a new experience system, making it hard to level. In previous games, players who had difficulty beating Trainers or Gym Leaders could leave and grind in the tall grass. While this is still available in Black/White, the exp. is dependent on the Pokemon’s level. So, if you are trying to level up a mid-level Pokemon in a low-level area, Pokemon will receive less exp.
While interesting, trying to level for the Gym is tedious and annoying. It wouldn’t be as bad if the Gym Leaders and Trainers weren’t over-scaled. Pokemon Black/White often pitted players against opponents with high-level Pokemon, who, more often than not, would have type advantages.
Battles can be over in seconds against some of the stronger Trainers, meaning you’ll have to grind in the tall grass with less experience being rewarded. These issues become more apparent in the first Gym Battle, which surprises players and the Elite Four. This was perpetuated by the new Pokemon, leading to the next issue.
While ambitious, Black/White decided to add new Pokemon and only new Pokemon. In previous titles, fans could expect to see previous Pokemon from past Generations and new ones. Again, as the games tried to be different, they removed this and only featured new Pokemon.
Not only did this upset players hoping to see familiar faces, but it also added to the game’s difficulty. Knowing older Pokemon gave players knowledge of what they could expect. They know their moves, weaknesses, abilities, etc., and can plan around them. However, only having new Pokemon means starting from scratch.
It’s harder to plan from Trainer battles or know perfect counters when you’ve never seen the opposing Pokemon. But this idea of having new Pokemon seems good in theory. It shows dedication to creating a new roaster and makes the game feel unlike anything else. In that sense, Pokemon Black/White succeeded in having one of the franchise’s most unique styles and feels.
On the other hand, creating unique Pokemon to fill a game can be challenging work. Yes, Pokemon Red/Blue did it, but they were the first games. The successors used the original roster as a foundation and built off of it. With so many new Pokemon being added, it leads to bad designs, which is the next issue.
Generation V holds the honor of featuring the worst Pokemon ever created. This is not a hit piece but an actual vote held by fans. When voting for their favorite Pokemon, Japanese players ranked Simisear the worst in the entire series.
But it wasn’t just the three elemental monkeys that fans disliked due to their unoriginal design and moves. Vanilluxe, an ice cream cone, Garbodor, a pile of garbage, and Stunfisk, a flat disk fish, were all heavily criticized. There are countless other examples, with those being the most famous ones.
Towards the end, fans thought the designers got lazy or couldn’t come up with anything else. Pokemon in Gen V seemed inspired by many inanimate objects that they slapped eyes and a mouth onto.
The problem wasn’t so much that there were new Pokemon; there were no older ones, and the new ones lacked the iconic design. If you are going to do something new, you must do it correctly. When it goes against the formula, fans need convincing before they accept it. And it’s not a secret that Pokemon fans aren’t the most welcoming to change, especially when new mechanics don’t live up to the hype.
It’s hard not to bring up past titles when Black/White seems to change everything, but they did it once again. Considering limitations and new animations, this one is more understandable, but the results still turned out poorly.
During battles, Pokemon were always static when fighting. They would have detailed sprites that wiggled back and forth when attacking or getting hit. Gen V added in movement, so Pokemon would constantly be moving back and forth or bobbing up and down.
This feature is standard in modern Pokemon games, but the animation meant they had to reduce the resolution of the sprites. The game looked more pixelated and less detailed than older games, taking a step backward. You can say the Pokemon Black/White was ahead of its time, which is fair, but like the Pokemon designs, it must be done correctly, or else it won’t look right.
The pacing in the game for level progression and the story isn’t the worst in the series; that would go to Pokemon Diamond/Pearl. But given the difficulty, as mentioned, it can stagger when you meet someone and the next time you see them. Storylines can have a long time in between, making it hard to remember what happened.
There are ways to combat these issues; looking at the game now, it’s easier to get around. When first released, these issues were much more apparent. The pacing isn’t an issue anymore since fans know the story and how to navigate it.
If you are playing the game for the first time, the pacing becomes a lot worse and only worsens with the release of Black/ White 2. Despite trying to fix the problems with the original games, the sequels somehow missed a lot of the issues.
In retrospect, Black/White is far from bad games but had fans complaining at release. While most complaints came from the new features, fans eventually got used to them. Today, the game is remembered fondly and has a dedicated fanbase that claims it to be the best.
One thing done right was the story, which took Pokemon in a good direction. The plot was interesting and had engagement, if not for the issues that got in its way. Overall, the game can be seen as a flawed masterpiece. Something that tried to be excellent in every facet but fell short in many categories.
Although Black/White 2 is more of a sequel than a fixed game version, many problems were adjusted. It’s hard to recommend playing Black/White when their sequels are much better and offer bigger and improved mechanics. The same can be said for similar games like Diamond/Pearl, which was vastly improved with the release of Platinum. For anyone who wants to play a Generation V game, do yourself a favor and opt for Black/White 2 over the originals.