Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ghost's Angry Reviews - Pokémon Black and White 2

This is the standard spoiler warning.  If you don't want Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 spoiled then don't even bother.  

Ghost here, thanks for joining.

I didn’t think I’d be doing a sequel to a review I’ve already done this quickly but apparently Nintendo had other ideas.  Let’s go back to the beginning of the year shall we?  In Japan on February 26, 2012, a brand new pokémon game was being announced on the TV show Pokémon Smash!  It had been since March 2011 for US (Sept 2010 for Japan) that Black and White had been released.  Fans eagerly awaited news for the game we knew was going to happen; Pokémon Gray!  

Now if you are questioning my confusion or you are wondering why we all thought Pokémon Gray would be next, then it’s time for some education in the world of pokémon.  Let’s take a trip down memory lane shall we?  Pokémon Red and Blue were the first games in the series and were released in Japan in 1998 with a plethora of sequels.  Since there are so many games in the series, there are a few constants that we as fans have grown to accept and expect for the last fourteen years.

With the exception of Yellow, Your starting pokémon is grass, fire, or water type.
In the first grassy place you get to, you find a normal type pokémon which is useless in the long run.

There are eight gym leaders in a region
And of course for every new generation…

Now I fully understand making a change and shaking things up but to me this doesn’t feel like making a necessary change.  It feels like milking the cash cow for every drop she has because there are people out there who will buy both.   It just seems needlessly greedy.  But wait… I’ve never been necessarily opposed to greed.  Maybe if these games are worth it then I won’t be quite as annoyed.  

Let’s take a closer look at Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.

Main Characters
The main Characters this round are Nate and Rosa with their friend Hugh.  Even though Nate and Rosa do resemble Hilbert and Hilda highly, I have to agree that these two are better based on name alone.  My problem with Black and White was that Hilbert and Hilda are NOT American names.   Nate, Rosa and Hugh are more American sounding… granted Rosa is more Central/South American sounding but at least they got their geographical naming on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean this time.  Whichever gender you choose, you meet with the other one in Nimbasa City for a brief double battle with the Subway Bosses.  Since they are just the avatar for your actions, there isn’t much I can say about them.

Let’s go on to Hugh.

Hugh is a friend of yours who also lives in Apsertia City.  He is a very “aggressive” boy who rushes off to challenge the gym leaders or go after Team Plasma who he has an extreme hatred for.  You get through about half the game before you realize why.  Two years prior (the events that happened in Black and White) a member of Team Plasma stole his sister’s purrloin which their late grandfather had given them as a present.  Since that point he made it his goal to find that purrloin and destroy Team Plasma in the process.  Eventually on the Team Plasma Frigate, he finds that one of the Shadow Triad had stolen the purrloin and battled with it evolving it into a Liepard.  The Triad member surrendered the Liepard back to Hugh who sat there dumbfounded as to what to do with his life.  He eventually thanks you for your help in locating his sister’s pokémon and even grows as a character accepting that some people can change their hearts and minds like the Plasma members who stayed true to N’s original intention and who deeply regret the decisions they made under Ghetsis.

Talking about the plot of a pokémon game is almost like playing a game of mad libs.  You just simply fill in the blank with the region name, random names and types for gyms and the evil organization’s name and big plan involving a legendary pokémon.  And, as per usual the evil team wants to take over the world.
This time around it’s our good friends Team Plasma again… or at least the ones following Ghetsis.  When N left at the end of Pokemon Black and White, Team Plasma split.  There is the faction of old plasma members which still want pokémon to be free from mistreatment and bad trainers, but there is also the faction following the old leader in using the legendary Kyurem’s icy powers to freeze the entire world. 
So, Nate and Rosa go through the world on the usual gym leader pursuit with Team Plasma making occasional appearances till they steal the DNA Splicers.  With the help of a brilliant scientist who cares more for the findings of his research than the integrity of Team Plasma who has hired him, you eventually get through the Plasma Frigate and confront Ghetsis in the Giant Chasm where it was said the pokémon Zekrom, Reshiram, and Kyurem originated.  It is at that time that N appears in front of you riding the legendary dragon he had in the version previously and speaks with Ghetsis.  Unfortunately Ghetsis uses the DNA splicers to combine N’s dragon and Kyurem.  After you defeat the combined pokémon and then defeat Ghetsis, the world is saved from his influence and you are free to prove your worth in the Pokemon League.

Changes from Black and White

This is the big section and the part that I’m sure everyone is really wondering about.  What all has actually changed from Black and White and is this really worth the money when we can just replay Black and White?   Well I am pleasantly surprised at how much has actually changed between these two games.  If you were around when the originals came out, do you remember that feeling of nostalgia and wonder as  in Gold and Silver you crossed over into Kanto and saw all the old places you used to be and how much it had changed and what had happened since the time period of Blue and Red?  Well this same sort of excitement happens here.  With the exception of a couple routes which didn’t change at all, I was always looking forward to what each old route and city had in store for me and what had changed in the two years between it and its predecessor. 

New and Updated Locations

As I previously said, Pokemon Gold and Silver showed us the changes and updates to the Kanto Region, and this game does the same for Unova.  In fact, it doesn’t even start you off in a section that was even in the original game at all.  You start off in the southwestern portion of Unova in three cities and regions that didn’t exist before.  Aspertia City is unique as far as starting cities because it’s not just a small spit of nothing place with nothing going on.  The first Gym is actually in that city though you don’t get to challenge him for a while.  The rest of the new areas include a semi-small town where Alder, the champion from the previous game, is teaching kids, PokéStar Studios which is a Hollywood type of place, a sea-side city that is very industrial looking, and a good old fashioned ranch.
Well YEE-HAW!  Don’t know bout y’all but this gets me in a right fit of feelin at home.

There are a few other new places throughout the gameplay such as Lentimas Town, which has a very Southwestern United States feel to it, Reversal Mountain which is a giant volcano area, Humilau City which reminds me a lot of what poor uneducated white kids think Hawaii is supposed to be like, a brand new victory road with different segments to it, as well as a Nature Preserve.  The amount of new places was fairly surprising I do say and it added a little bit of variety that was missing in the previous game since this is based on North America.   There was ONE other new place but… I’ll mention that one later because it deserves its own section.

Several places have upgraded or changes massively in the two year span between games.  The ones that come to mind the most is that Driftveil City now has plenty of hotels and Clay has begun work on a series of interconnected tunnels across the western side of Unova.  Castelia City now is giving you access to the sewers as well as a park in the middle of the town.  Route 4 changes depending on which version you have.  In Black and White there was massive construction, however in Black 2 the construction has finished and the desert route is filled with fancy houses.  In White 2, they discovered an ancient settlement buried in the sand that you can explore. 

It’s nice to see the little changes and people speaking about the previous game’s settings.  However one place really does stand above the rest and if you’ve played it you know exactly what it is.

Strange House

HOLY CRAP!  If you thought the Pokémon Tower, or the Old Chateau from previous games was creepy you’ve got another thing coming.  Anyone who loves a good creepy mind game will love what they’re about to get themselves into.  As soon as you enter the strange house you notice that the couches, potted plants and lamps around the room quiver occasionally.  Every time you enter or exit the basement, the obstacles in both places move to new locations.  

Moving furniture isn’t too bad now is it?  Well let’s add THIS song to the mix.  Go on.. play it.

To add to the matters, at three times while you’re in this house you encounter the ghost of a girl.  She appears says some stuff talking out of her mind then disappears back into darkness.  Here, listen to the song above and read what all she has to say.

An everlasting dark dream…
An endless dream of darkness…
Dad, Mom, Abra…
Where are you… ?

In the dark dream…
I heard my dad’s voice…
Forget about the Lunar Wing…
Please stay here with me…

Oh… The Lunar Wing…
I can’t take it now…
But it’ll be ok…
Please return the wing to the Pokémon
I was waiting on the bridge so I could return it myself

Now what does that all mean in terms of the Pokémon universe?  Well, let me introduce you to a pokémon known as Darkrai
Darkrai is a dark type legendary pokémon from the Sinnoh region.  What’s his claim to fame?  He puts people to sleep and induces a never ending nightmare.  They never wake up and end up dying while inside of the nightmare he creates.  The only way they can be woken up is with the Lunar Wing.  In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl you run across a small boy who was in the middle of one of Darkrai’s nightmares and when you get the Lunar Wing he finally awakens. 

Although it isn’t explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied by “everlasting dark dream” that this girl was placed into a nightmare state by Darkrai.  She somehow ended up in possession of the Lunar Wing but Darkrai disguising itself as her father was telling her to stay away from the Lunar Wing and stay with him in eternal nightmare to the point of her death.

I have to say Gamefreak did something smart.  With Black and White they introduced a lot of new pokémon many of which looked like terrible designs and were being judged long before the games even came out.  Due to this fact they made ONLY the new pokémon be available in the original black and white.  However now that we’ve had over a year to get used to these new ones and even reevaluate our thoughts on them, they have given us many old pokémon roaming around Unova.  Part of the charm of walking around was finding new pokémon not available in the game previously and the most welcome of which was finding Riolu before the first gym even!  That’s a BIG threat for others acquired super early. 

The inclusion of the old pokémon with the new ones was very welcome and I had a nice balance of old and new when I finally hit the Elite Four.  However old pokémon wasn’t the only thing they added.  There were brand new forms for some of the Unova legendaries.  Let’s take a look at them.

Kyurem was the “key” pokémon with these two games and it received two different forms; white and black… real original names there guys.  The way you acquire these two forms is via the DNA Splicers.  You use that item to mix Reshiram or Zekrom with Kyurem to get the White and Black version respectively.  You combine two into one… wait where have I seen this before?

Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus also got a forme upgrade!  They no longer look like clones of Robin William’s Genie anymore!  I like how Tornadus is a large bird and Landorus is some sort of catish land creature while Thundurus is…. Umm… actually WTF IS THAT???!!!  Well I guess we find them in a similar way to black and white correct?  Possibly with their new forms?  NOPE!!!  These 3 pokemon cannot be captured in this game, they have to be acquired in a 3DS specific side game you can download which would be awesome IF I HAD A FREAKING 3DS!!!  ALSO the only way you can change them back and forth in forms is by transferring over the form you found in the 3DS side game.  So those of us without a 3DS or without a friend having one, then we are screwed and stuck with the genie trio. OH LOVELY.

And last but not least is Keldeo’s new form!  Oh I can’t wait to see what My Little Pony is going to change intoLet's take a look at them side by side to see how awesome this is going to be.

Gym Leaders

The Gym Leaders have changed slightly and most of them have had an upgrade of their gym.  I’ll talk about each briefly.
Cheren from the first game is now the first gym leader.  He has normal types and has an outdoor gym.  It was really nice seeing Cheren again and he keeps coming back to help out throughout the game.  Finally we get an answer to one of the questions I’ve always known.  Are the gym leaders that weak normally?  The answer is no because Cheren talks about using pokémon that he’s not used to after your battle.

Roxie is a brand new gym leader who is also the lead singer in a punk rock band.  She has poison types and is pretty boss.  You fight her band mates slowly killing the noise in the room.

Burgh’s gym has updated from the sticky honey walls to cacoons that suck you inside them…. Odd.

Elesa’s gym has been updated to be a fashion show catwalk.  This makes so much more sense because she was always a model so WHY was her gym in a rollercoaster in the first one?

Clay’s gym is now extremely dark with conveyer belts rather than elevators.  Not a big deal

Skyla updated her gym to have large turbines blowing you all over the room rather than cannons.  That actually makes more sense in the long run.

Drayden is no longer the 8th gym leader he is now the 7th but he still has his dragons.  His gym has changed so that the dragon statues move and hit each other allowing you to only have to defeat 2 junior trainers before facing him.  The cutscenes are pretty awesome too when the two dragon statues collide.  Drayden eh?  Where’s Iris???!!

Marlon is the new 8th gym leader and he has his water types in a gym where you move around lily pads to get by.  He’s an interesting character as you aren’t really quite sure if he doesn’t give a crap about anything or is just a super chill dude.  He’s still pretty awesome. 

Pokémon League
The Elite Four are basically the same.  They changed their dialogue so none of them are really massively hateful or terrible people anymore.  Even Grimsly who I criticized highly last time had better dialog to explain himself.  I really liked them this time around and I liked the slight changes in their rooms especially how Marshall’s stage just slams down from the ceiling with him kneeling on it like a boss!

The only thing that’s massively changed about the Elite Four is the champion.  If you remember from my Black and White review, Alder reveals that he was just chosen to be in that position.  He didn’t fight through and earn the right it was just given to him, and seeing as how he is such a great guy he stepped aside to allow for the inclusion of a new champion.


I really like it when one of the strong trainers in the game step up to a new higher role showing natural progression in lives such as Lance and Koga in Gold Silver (though I still stand that Wallace progressing was just shoe-horned in).   All in all this call was a brilliant one and I enjoyed playing through the Pokémon League this time. 

Other Additions
Pokémon World Tournament
The first thing that comes to mind is the Pokémon World Tournament.  This is just below Driftveil City and is probably the one thing that long term pokémon fans were the most excited about.  A tournament of all the gym leaders and strong trainers across all of the Pokémon universe coming together.   I mean look at this roster!!!

This is a great idea having all of the gym leaders together in one place.  It really makes the whole world seem connected in ways that it really didn't before.  We even get to fight Red again and that's got me stoked.  There are other tourneys that you can download and mess around with.  The one I downlaoded was the 2012 Junior Division Challenge.  Let's just say that apparently they imported the EV trained exact replicas of the ones used for the Junior Division cause I promptly got my butt handed to me in round one.  Looks like yet another aspect of the game that I won't be finishing.

PokéStar Studios
Another thing is the new PokéStar Studios in which you can star in movies with your pokémon and the old gym leader Brycen who left being a gym leader to return to acting.  I've messed around some with this feature and have determined that it's pretty much a colossal waste of space kind of like the Pokémon Musicals which unfortunately made a return in this game.  Basically all you have to do it check the script each turn and follow the instructions then go watch the "movie" you just made.  As you can tell I like side quests but not side games of pointlessness.  If I wanted that I’d just play Pokémon Stadium.  

However PokéStar Studios did give us something really cool.  Some unique sprites to look at!

And if these three sprites that were used in the movies aren't trashed pokémon ideas then they REALLY missed a good calling to be them.  Honestly I would LOVE to see these three actually be pokémon.  They're a lot more inventive than the trash bag pokémon that's for freaking sure!

Closing Thoughts
As far as the normal “third game” in a generation is concerned these two are really worth it.  There are several massive changes that make it worth the money to play even more so than Emerald and Platinum before it.  It’s more reminiscent of Crystal to me with the great number of massive changes that came with that game. 

There’s probably more I could talk about but in general most of the things I haven’t mentioned are somewhat standard for pokémon games if you’ve ever played one.  I do think that Black 2 and White 2 should have just been one game and called it Gray.  I understand that since N shows up with the pokémon he had in the previous version having him show up with just one of them or both would not be in good continuity but they could have easily worked around that.  Here I COULD EASILY WORK AROUND THAT.

Multiple times in the game they make mention to the trainer in Black and White and how great of a person they were yet they don’t make a single appearance anywhere.  Red appeared in Gold and Silver so why couldn’t Hilbert or Hilda be in this game? Now I know what you're thinking.  "How can the game know whether you chose Hilbert or Hilda and how can the game know which version you previously played so that it would give N the proper one?"   EASY!!  There is an option within the game itself to sync up with the previous game you played.  Why couldn't we just have the previous game be synced up with the current game and that will give them the gender and version you played before meaning N would have the proper one and then Hilbert or Hilda would have the other when they make their appearance.   If the person doesn't sync up with their previous game then they have a generic pre-set formula with N's appearance. 

If you consider yourself a pokémon fan then I would definitely pick this one up though, especially if you played Black and White.  The addition of the previous generations’ pokémon to the new ones as well as all the changes in the world will keep you interested and invested.  Hugh is a great character to get to know and the new Team Plasma seems more menacing once they ice over one of the towns.  I’m glad I played it and I’m glad I’m still finding all of its intricate secrets. 

This is Ghost fading into the darkness.
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