For a long time, Pokémon has been one of the most influential franchises that got me interested in Anime. Ever since I played Pokémon Blue back in the late 90s, the games have refined themselves during the years.
After reviewing Pokemon HeartGold nearly a year ago, Pokémon Black and White, the fifth generation of Pokémon were released two months ago bringing stunning graphics, eye catching battle animations, new game mechanics, Pokémon and story. Since I played over 200 hours of Pokémon White, I felt that it’s finally time to share my thoughts about the game overall. (Image Source)
Like in the previous Pokémon Games, you are sent out on an adventure to catch Pokémon and earn new gym badges. What are different is that you have two rivals in your adventure, the ever so clumsy Bianca and Cheren. In addition to the usual goal, you have to fight Team Plasma, a PeTA/Animal Liberation Front-esque organization whom is fighting against Pokémon Cruelty. In a way, Team Plasma has a rather interesting evil organization considering that mistreatment of Pokémon hasn’t been discussed in great detail and tossed around.
Behind Team Plasma is the leader named N… He is a very mysterious person that is very intriguing, as we know nothing about him until the last few chapters of the story. It appears that he has seen Pokémon being brutally abused by humans in the past and wants to liberate them from their abusers. While he has good intensions, he is being used by Ghetsis’s evil plans of releasing everyone’s Pokémon so they are the only ones to control Pokémon and take over the world.
For the most part, the battling mechanics in Generation V remains vastly similar to Generation IV with some significant changes. First off, the perspective of the Pokémon being used for battle is more defined. The full back spite of the Pokémon is now shown and all the spites are fully animated throughout the battle. When a Pokémon uses a move, the camera moves and if your Pokémon’s HP is critical, a more suspenseful music is played.
Along with the visual changes is the introduction of Triple and Rotation Battles. They are essentially upgraded versions of Double and Single battles, but they involve more strategy. For instance, Triple Battles depend on the position of the Pokémon is in to determine which Pokémon it can attack. For Rotation Battles, rotating to another Pokémon does not take a turn away or remove any status effects/ailments the Pokémon currently has. The downside is that not to many battles uses Triple/Rotation Battles and the only way to fully experience it is to battle someone online.
Besides the array of new abilities, moves and unlimited TMs is the addition of hidden abilities. Hidden abilities allows a Pokémon to gain an ability the Pokémon won’t normally have in the wild such as a Drought Vulpix or a Magic Bounce Espeon. With the exception of Darmanita and Musharna that you can obtain their hidden abilities in-game, you need to send a Pokémon over Dream World in order to befriend with the third ability. It should be noted that not all Pokémon have a hidden ability, which includes Pokémon with special abilities they are dependent on (Castform’s Forecast) and Pokémon with Levitate. While some of the hidden abilities gives older Pokémon something to become more competitive, there are some hidden abilities that are utterly useless such as Milotic’s Cute Charm, which proves Gamefreak must likes to troll its fans sometimes.
Lastly, one of the most notable and controversial changes to the game is how experience is earned. Since the new experience system now takes account of the Pokemon’s level, it could become a double-edged sword for level grinders. The new leveling system greatly benefits lower level Pokémon, especially ones that are hatched from the egg. They can be quickly trained to Level 50 within 1-4 hours by just holding an Exp. Share. The flip side is that higher leveled Pokémon grains less experience when their variance between the lower level Pokémon and the level of the Pokémon that earns experience gets higher. Because of this, getting a Pokémon up to level 100 could take a long time, but it is still manageable. I managed to get over 10+ Pokémon that I effort value trained to level 100 after battles with trainers that have high leveled Pokémon while holding a Lucky Egg, which is given by Professor Juniper to double the EXP a Pokémon gets.
The gameplay remains the same from the other game, except it’s given a more 3D perspective. When you pass though some areas in the over world like the bridges, the camera angles changes to show the overall landscape. The downside is that it gets a bit difficult to see where you are going. In addition, Pokémon Centers, GTS and Pokemarts are now integrated in one building in each city and town, which makes it more convenient.
Also new in this game is the addition of seasons. Depending on the season, there are different events a player can experience along with aesthetic changes. The season changes each month and each can be experienced three times a year.
Unlike the other games, the Gym Leaders are too easy in this game and has no challenge. In the older games, one has to spend hours training other Pokémon just to defeat one gym leader. Despite the hours of effort value training one of my Pokémon, it was still extremely easy to take them out. The problem I see is the poor choice of Pokémon the Gym Leader uses, especially when they only have three Pokémon to work with compared to 4 used in Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. If they have a bigger selection of Pokémon to work with, perhaps it would add more challenge.
Lastly, Pokémon Contests are now replaced with Pokémon Musicals. Unlike the previous contests, musicals don’t take account any moves or stats, but instead the appearance. The main objective is to dress up your Pokémon to a specific theme and watch it dance on the stage with other Pokémon. After the performance, you can save a picture of the performance and share it on the Internet. For most players like myself, there is not really a point to play this unless I wanted to out of curiosity.
Improving on the wireless features from the previous generation, Pokémon White gives a bigger selection of wireless activities. One of these features is the C-Gear, which allows a person to interact with nearby people via Infrared or Wireless and connect to the Dream World with Game Sync. For the GTS, you can now negotiate a trade and battle with other strangers. For DSi and 3DS users, you can now play on WPA wireless networks and use the video feature from the Xtransceiver.
Unlike the previous games, battling with other people in your Pal Pad is rather restricted. Compared to the “No Restrictions Level 50/100,” the Flat rules restricts the number and species of Pokémon one can use. Furthermore, you cannot use the same hold items. Because of this restriction, it severely nerfs competitive battling unless you and your friend train all the Pokémon to the same levels. It makes me wish there is an option to have custom rules sets like Pokémon Battle Revolution did.
So in short, you better have all Level 100 Pokémon or you will get screwed!
Pokémon Dream World
After a long delay, Pokémon Global Link has opened last month and it allows the ability to have rated battles and use Dream World. Pokémon Dream World is an online feature where you can grow berries, decorate your house, trade items, and befriend Pokémon. To befriend Pokémon, you need to play some minigames like scooping Ice Cream, finding a Pokémon, steer a Pelipper to the finish line and play a breakout-like game with a Wailord. While it seems fun at first, the games get really redundant after a while. Considering that Dream World is constantly updating with new content, I expect that they will add new minigames and areas to explore.
Once you get to the end of the area, you can send one Pokémon to your game and they will show up in the Entrée Forest in your Entralink.
While Pokémon White visuals and gameplay are a big improvement, there were some things that made me slightly disappointed. The lack of battle options on Wifi is one of the gaping flaws that limit the fun of battling unless everyone trains all the Pokémon to Level 100. Also, the lack of a Safari Zone that was present in the previous games was also appointing. Nevertheless, I thought the story in Pokémon White was an improvement over the previous games as it felt tense and exciting. For a veteran Pokémon like myself, I mostly enjoyed the game and I would definitely recommend it.
8.8/10, B+, Very Good