Pokemon Black Review (DS)

A NintendoFuse game review by JHardin1112.

Game – Pokémon Black
Version – DS
Time Spent Playing – 20+ hours
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Nintendo of America

Introduction
I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of Pokémon.  In fact, I have only ever played a Pokémon game once before in my life and that was 5+ years ago.  Seriously, I don’t even remember what system it was on, or what the title of the game was.  All I remember is that the game was fun, even for me who could care less about the whole Pokémon craze.  After having put in over 20+ hours playing Pokémon Black, evolving my Oshawatt into a level 32 Dewott, and defeating the first four gym leaders I have decided something.  Pokémon Black is a fun and entertaining game and now I am a fan.

As it has been since the beginning of the series, Pokémon Black starts out the same as all the other games.  You’re a small town kid who, along with your two friends dream of becoming Pokémon Trainers.  The local Pokémon Professor, Juniper has created a device called the Pokédex, which catalogs each Pokémon the bearer encounters.  Prof. Juniper request that you and your friends explore the local Unova region and catalog Pokémon for her research.  As you set out you are given a choice of a starter Pokémon to accompany you, (I chose Oshawatt.)  Your two friends, Bianca and Cheren will take the other two Pokémon with them.  Don’t worry, this isn’t the last time you’ll see your friends as you will encounter them throughout the game and occasionally engage in battles.

Before long you will encounter the villains in the game, Team Plasma.  Team Plasma along with the Seven Sages led by N, believe that Pokémon are oppressed by mankind and seek a way to liberate them.

Your overall goal as a Trainer is to become the Pokémon Champion.  This is done by defeating each of the 8 gym leaders and obtaining their gym badges.  Once you have achieved this feat, you must challenge the Elite Four of the Pokémon league and defeat its Champion, Alder in order to win the game.  Alongside the standard gameplay, players must also defeat Team Plasma.

Once you have done all this, you will be tasked with finding the Seven Sages and assist in bringing them to justice.  In addition, you will gain access to the eastern portion of Unova , which contains Pokémon from previous games in the series, as well as Black City, home to powerful Pokémon trainers.  As you no doubt can tell, Pokémon Black has much to offer in terms of content.

Gameplay and Controls
As I described above, the gameplay is quite simple.  Players must explore the region battling and capturing wild Pokémon, leveling up their Pokémon, defeating Trainers and Gym leaders, all in order to become the Pokémon Champion.

There are several new additions to the series in Pokémon Black which add to the value all the more.  Here is a brief list highlighting the additions.

  • Changing Seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter; as seasons change certain areas become accessible/inaccessible and some Pokémon show up more/less often than other times.  Seasons change once per month of real time using the clock feature.
  • 150 Brand New Pokémon to the series.
  • Fully animated Pokémon sprites.
  • Triple and Rotation Battles – Black has more Rotation Battles.
  • In battle, the camera will change position to highlight specific parts of the battle.
  • C-Gear – A new mechanic which allows the player to control the various wireless capabilities of Pokémon Black.  These include connecting to other players via infrared communication (battling, trading, friend codes, and the Feeling Check function), wireless communications with friends in the Xtranciever video chat or access to the Entralink to transfer content from the Pokémon Dream World, connecting to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to sync with the Pokémon Global Link servers, and the new Pass By mode which allows the game to communicate with other games through  IR when not being played.  Whew, that’s a lot!

The controls are equally as simple and easy to use.  Players can use the control pad to move around in the field or move the cursor on menu screens.  In order to select a command, talk, search, or scroll through text, players will use the A button.  The B button is used to cancel commands, while X brings up the Menu and Y brings up the Ready button menu, which can be used as a shortcut window of sorts for certain key items.  I played the game using the 3DS so I had the added option of using the circle pad to control my character.  While the circle pad felt nicer to use, I preferred the control pad as I am creature of habit.

Visuals and Sound
Pokemon Black uses an increased amount of 3D visuals, more than any other game in the series.  So far, the best example is Castelia City, pictured below.  As you walk left or right the camera will rotate as the other buildings come into view.  Not to mention the bridges you walk across, some of which are massive and well designed.   As the seasons change, the landscape will change as well.  Being able to explore and see leaves change color, flowers in bloom, or see snow piled up high is a nice touch which I always appreciate in my games.  The camera has impressed me so much during my time playing Pokémon Black.  It’s clear that a lot of attention went into the camera and the visuals overall.


Absolutely stunning!

The music and sounds complement the game so well.  In fact, I enjoyed the music most of all, especially when I got to Nimbasa City, which you can listen to here – Nimbasa City music.  The sound effects are great as well.  The only area where I question whether or not the sound quality could have been better is when viewing your Pokémon and playing their call.  Other than that, I was really pleased with the sound and music.

Concluding Overall Impressions
For someone who has heard of Pokémon but never been a fan, I was quite surprised at how good of a game Pokémon Black is.  If you have never played a Pokémon game before and are looking for a solid RPG to fill your time, go out and purchase Pokémon Black, now.  Right now, I mean it.  For all of you who are familiar to the series, you have a lot of new changes to keep you interested.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

 

About the author:

Jeremy’s love of gaming, especially Nintendo started in the late 80’s when his parents bought him and his older brother an NES. Many hours were spent playing Mario and Duck Hunt. Eventually Jeremy graduated to bigger and better games and systems, like the SNES, GC, Wii, 3DS, and finally to the Wii U. Ask him what the defining moment of his childhood gaming was and he’ll answer, “the day I beat Zelda 2.” To this day that game holds a special place in his heart. His favorite types of games are platformers.

Jeremy started blogging for NintendoFuse in October 2010. He started off as a lurker on the forums who won a free copy of And Yet It Moves on WiiWare. From there he realized he liked the forums and the site and wanted to remain a part of it. He was brought on board shortly thereafter and has helped post news and reviews for the past couple of years. Currently Jeremy has taken a step back to focus on family and school. He assists in minor back-end site maintenance from time to time.

Jeremy – who has written posts on NintendoFuse.