SparklingBlue Plays Pokemon Black

Love it or hate it, Pokemon is one of the Big Three of Nintendo’s franchises. So it was no surprise that the revealing of a fifth generation, deemed Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, led to a firestorm of eager anticipation. The fervor was so great, Nintendo actually cracked down on fansites for leaking pre-release information.

It has been said that Pokemon Black and White are an attempt to revitalize the series–so how does this new generation hold up?

There will be spoilers in here, so if you want to be surprised, click away now.

Still with me? Let’s embark on our Unovan adventure…

Story-Very Good

This is not your typical “get eight badges and stop the evil team” tale–while this is what you eventually have to do, the way the evil team, Team Plasma, is designed and characterized make you sympathetic to them, and they even have justification for their plot to take over the world (they want to do this under the guise of “liberating” Pokemon from their trainers, but our hero/heroine discovers what they REALLY want to do). No more are the evil teams evil just because–the character development on both sides shows how well Pokemon as a whole is moving foward in storytelling. It is only kept from being Excellent because, well, it is your same old “get the eight badges and stop the evil team” plot!

Graphics-Very Good

The graphics here are very nicely done for being sprite based, and the city design pushes the DS to its full power–you can see rustling grass and dirt flying (which are clues to hiding Pokemon) In addition to having passing of day and night, the seasons also change here, making for four completely different looks and songs for each location (this even affects some Pokemon as well.) Overall, the attention to detail makes you really feel like you are right there alongside your character.

Sound/Music: Very Good

The soundtrack is a blend of old and new–while some old favorites are here (the final Gary battle from Red/Blue/Yellow returns, to name one example), the new tracks are just as good, and you’ll likely find yourself humming or singing along to at least one of them (case in point: vs. Cheren, one of the two rivals in the game) The music is also affected by how well you are doing in battle–doing great against a Gym Leader results in the Red/Blue opening being mixed into the soundtrack when you get down to their last Pokemon–as if the game is telling you “Yes! You’re almost there!” Doing badly results in the game switching to a minor key as the low HP warning beep becomes part of the music, signaling “Hey, you’re fixing to lose a Pokemon here!” Overall, the music is very enjoyable and enhances the experience, thankfully with no annoying tracks.

Gameplay: Excellent

Where do I begin with what has been changed for this generation–in addition to a new region (Unova) new Pokemon (bringing the grand total to 649 Pokemon), new items, new characters, and new moves, we have:

–a revamped 3D battle system
–3 on 3 battles
–a revamped HP bar (rather than sitting and watching it drain, appropriate sized chunks are taken off of it, speeding up the battle process)
–the ability to send your saved game to others via Wi-fi
–Pokemon Centers and Pokemarts are now conveiniently in one place
–The Dream World, a Wi fi area to obtain Pokemon from previous generations, many with new abilities

and that’s only scratching the surface!

Combine this with plenty to do besides the quest and afterwards, and you’ll be playing for a long time.

Overall, this is a very refreshing take on the standard Pokemon game that moves both the formula and the franchise forward in a big way.

Final Score: Very Good (4/5)

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