Pokemon Black and White has been the peak of the Pokemon series to date. It has broken the mold, has become a sequel and has had the most expansive universe to explore to date. Pokemon has always been a large game when it comes to the RPG style. When the first Generation of Pokemon came out, nothing of its kind had been seen on handheld. It had 151 unique characters to battle with, each with a customizable move set, although only 4 could be known at one time, but they also had hidden values. So how has the crowd at GameFreak been able to grow on this already huge base? Hit the jump to find out with me.
First was always the question, why do a sequel rather than do a comparative game like Pokemon Grey? Why move directly onto something like a sequel? History would say that they shouldn’t have done this. They have always gone with a third game combining the previous two, and made money from it alongside. In Pokemon Yellow they introduced a new feature, the mood of Pokemon and some sprite improvements. In Crystal they had an improved storyline and introduced movable sprites, and in Emerald they introduced many small improvements such as abilities now made eggs hatch quicker, double battles are more prominent, and a storyline that is completely different from the original one, revolving around Rayquaza’s awakening rather than any of the others who were less of a focus in this game.
So my point is, why didn’t they introduce another game to combine the two and add a new feature? Maybe they had run out of ideas to introduce into a flashier game? Who knows? But what I do know is that the Black and White series is well thought out. And here’s why.
First, within these games you feel more involved in the game than ever before. The Pokemon series has always been immersive for me, but since Black and White I have been enthralled. Perhaps the graphics have something to do with this, but for the first time I have felt that sitting down and playing a game, I haven’t been alone. Wi-fi helps, but this was always a feature in the previous Generation. What sets this one apart is that it is so integrated and such a big community now that we are able to trade what we want, when we want. Characters in the game are better designed and the story of N makes you feel like your really trying to make someone change their mind. This game makes you feel like your really in the world of Pokemon.
Second, the stars of the series. Zekrom and Reshiram define the series, and by design alone. They are coloured black and white, polar opposites, which is the overall theme of the generation. They are yin and yang. Their names also come from Japanese; ‘kuro’ meaning black, and ‘shiro’ meaning white. Zekrom derives from this meaning for black, and has ‘ze’ – a strong sounding word, more urban. ‘Re’ is a softer sounding word and brings the ‘shiro’ into it’s name. The names of these Pokemon themselves are opposites. As far as design goes these Pokemon had to be black and white, and to make a dragon Pokemon look cool with such simple colours is a difficult job, so Ken Sugimori used straight lines and sophistication by adding plenty of lines, and a thick tail to make them look strong. These Pokemon simply look cool.
Third, the game is balanced. I am not a competitive player, and nor do I ever intend to get involved in it. I feel if I apply myself to something I would get too involved and being competitive and having little time doesn’t help. But this game is balanced as it gets. Breaking the 600 Pokemon barrier, things could have gone very wrong. But it was dealt with in a more serious light than ever before I feel. A team of 3 was designated for the task alone. This might not seem much, but in a game company with so many talented people, and very complex algorithms to do this automatically you can tell that they’re not messing around. They even outsourced a debug team. I don’t have any examples to hand, but that’s a testament to how well the game was balanced. Nothing stands out as being too much one way or another.
Lastly, it’s the small differences. The triple battle system that was introduced. Doesn’t seem like much, but all the previous sprites (493 in total) had to be re-made to fit in with the new design style, and had to fit into a triple battle. Not as easy as first thought. Then there is the music, that has to be constantly on in the background and yet you don’t get bored of it. How do you make a piece of music that you can loop that you don’t get bored of? I don’t know, I only did one year of Video Game music in college. But what I do know is that it has to be something that isn’t easily remembered. It has to be like a roller coaster, an easy place then some drama. It’s this kind of crazy thinking into music that makes Pokemon so enthralling. And last but not least, Unova. It is a brand new area, far away from the island that housed our previous 4 areas. Based from Manhatten Island, it is a far more urban area than previous Pokemon areas with a diverse culture just like New York City. I love this area and I love this game series.
If you liked the Black and White series, please leave a comment below.