Why can’t our logo be this cool?

So, I’ve had Pokemon Black for a little over a week now, and I think I’m well-versed in it enough to give a preliminary review of the game. I’m pleased to announce that this isn’t just another expansion on the Red/Blue formula. This actually feels like a sequel.

Those of you who haven’t played a Pokemon game before have obviously just been born, so let me explain it to you in small words. Pokemon is a monster-collecting RPG, set in a world populated by humans and hundreds of small (and not-so-small) monsters, called Pokemon.  People in this world capture and train these monsters as companions, fighters, workers, or whatever use they can find. You play as a boy or girl whose task it is to go out into the world, catch as many Pokemon as there are, and ultimately defeat the Elite trainers of the world cementing your place in Pokemon history.

This is the fifth generation of the Pokemon games to hit handhelds (not counting remakes of the first two generations), and the second to hit the DS. It seems that with what is probably the final generation to hit Nintendo’s soon-to-be-obsolete handheld, Game Freak and The Pokemon Company have finally given in to change, and released the strongest, smartest Pokemon game ever.

While the previous generations gave only small upgrades in terms of number of Pokemon available, game mechanics, and even graphics, Black/White seems to have been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the DS, using 3D graphics, new battle mechanics, and a new roster of 100 Pokemon to catch, trade, and train. Not only that, but they’ve cut out of a lot of the previous baggage to give this iteration a fresh, new feel.

In order to really understand my feelings on the game, you have to understand my relationship with the series. I was a big fan of the original games, Red/Blue, and when Generation 2 hit (Gold and Silver), I jumped on that bandwagon right away as well, catching and training to my heart’s content. But after that, I faltered. It just seemed like the same game, every time. Sure, there were new places, and new monsters, but I couldn’t displace the feeling that I’d already done all of it before. And so, every game after Gold and Silver has gone unplayed. All the pre-hype for Black and White said that this game would change everything, and it would be a Pokemon game that would make you start playing again. And they were right.

For starters, they’ve made you start completely from scratch. Gone are all the Pokemon of previous generations, instead opting to restrict you to the roster of 100 brand-new monsters until you beat the game. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to not have to spend the first 2 hours of the game fighting nothing but Pidgy’s and Rattata’s. They’ve streamlined several aspects as well, like combining Stores and Pokemon Centers into one building, and two rivals to play off your strengths and weaknesses.

Shopping on left, straight ahead to heal

Now Centers have Shops. All your Pokemon needs in one place.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again.  For the first time since playing Red/Blue way back in the 90’s, I feel like Pokemon is new again.  This is the sequel that the series has been waiting for.