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Pokémon White Version (Nintendo DS)

86
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zokolov (66)
Written on  :  Jan 13, 2012
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

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Summary

Despite the familiarity, it still might be the best Pokémon game ever

The Good

Everything good said about the Pokémon series still applies to White - more than ever, actually. The overworld is nice and colorful and the sprites are more detailed than ever. The game mechanics still work perfectly. Exploring the Unova region feels more like a true adventure than in any other Pokémon game: there always seems to be a surprise around the corner. There are countless NPC's to talk to, and the game constantly introduces new content and variety. Even after beating the Pokémon League, there's loads of stuff to do besides just catching more Pokémon.

There are some improvements, too. There are a lot of battles, yes, sometimes a bit too much, but their pace is much faster and enjoyable than in the previous generation, where the battles seemed sluggish and sometimes even boring. The fact that we get to reuse TM's is a lifesaver, and it's also nice to see that using pointless HM's like Defog or Rock Smash is no longer a requirement to advance in the game.

I first disliked the fact that there are initially no "classic" Pokémon in the game, but I got over the silly fanboy rage and found out that 150 new Pokémon is a good thing. Even if I still have trouble remembering their names, it's fun to be surprised and try to guess what type your opponent is. The triple battles were initially a letdown, but once you get the hang of it, you will appreciate the tactical elements they bring.

The changes to the Pokémon formula are incredibly minor, but at least they're good changes.

The Bad

All in all, the game is still a bit too familiar. Anyone who says that the game has "reinvented" or "revolutionized" Pokémon is likely to be exaggerating. It's still the same game, with the level grinding and all. The most annoying thing is that Game Freak still insists that we start the game with the same grass-, fire- and water-types and that we initially face only weak, incredibly common Pokémon. That said, one should remember that no Pokémon is entirely useless.

Black and White also add something of a "plot" to the game. The earlier games did just fine without it, but I had nothing against it. The villains seemed intriguing, but in the long run, the plot does more harm than good. You have to browse through endless text as you listen to the characters spouting long, sometimes pretentious monologues. The "friends" from your character's hometown are probably the most annoying characters ever, what with them constantly harassing you with their navel-gazing and existential angst. Sometimes it hardly felt like you were playing Pokémon at all.

The battles could also use a use a major change in the future. Even if it has come a long way from the original Red and Blue, I still can't shake the feeling that I've gone through the same thing for twelve years now.

The Bottom Line

A thoroughly entertaining RPG with lots and lots of fun stuff to do. The meat and the potatoes of the game, the exploring and battling, work as well as ever, and the improvements these new versions have to offer make it feel fresh. Still, if you think Pokémon overstayed its welcome the last time you played it, you probably won't get much out of Black and White.