Pokémon White Version review
Change Isn't Always Good in Pokemon
Finally, Pokemon Black and White are here! If you're a veteran to the series, you've been awaiting this release for a while. You rush to your local game store, pick up your copy, giggle like a schoolgirl all the way home, turn on the game... and are in for a bit of a disappointment.
Right off the bat, one of the things I noticed was that the bottom screen of the DS wasn't being used much. Interesting, considering Soul Silver and Heart Gold utilized the bottom screen as the menu, and that seemed to work rather well. Then it got worse: you can't use the touchscreen to advance conversation, or investigate objects, or even select yes/no answers. Plus, you are forced to hit X to bring up the menu, whereas in HG/SS it was constantly onscreen. This makes the times when you ARE encouraged to use the touchscreen (such as battles or the PC) awkward, since you've probably put the stylus away by that point. It just seems like such a huge step backwards from HG/SS, where you effectively had your choice of playing the game completely with the touchscreen or completely with the buttons.
But, okay, I can overlook that. I mean, D/P were decent games, and they had the same problem. Let's see how a battle actually plays out. If you're like me, you've been waiting to see these new battle animations. And, if you're like me, you'll be disappointed again. Yes, having animated sprites is pretty cool, but having the camera fly back and forth across the battlefield during attacks gets confusing; there's just too much movement. And then there's the fact that when the camera gets close to a sprite, it becomes choppy and pixelated. And guess what - it's usually positioned right behind your Pokemon's sprite, meaning the back of your Pokemon always looks like you've zoomed in too far on MS Paint. That's just sloppy.
Alright, well, that's only graphics. I've never been one to discredit a game for having bad graphics, and besides, the overworld looks phenomenal. Let's just play the game. If you've played a Pokemon game before, you know the drill - catch a bunch of creatures, battle Gym Leaders, save the world, and become the greatest trainer in the land, all before the age of 12. Business as usual. So, you battle your rivals (yes, you've got two) a couple times, catch your first Pokemon as usual, blah blah blah... and now we're at the first Gym? That doesn't seem right... All I've seen for Pokemon so far are Patrat and Lillipup! Seriously, the first Gym appears so quickly compared to all other generations; there's not even enough time to build a team. Let's take a look at this: in R/B, you had 10 different evolutionary lines to choose from (including your starter) before you faced Brock. In G/S, there were 14, even Geodude and Gastly. R/S had 12 options for you before Roxanne, and D/P gave you 11. In B/W, you have literally 6 choices for your team before the first Gym. SIX. And each other generation offered a variety of types (each one includes at least one Bug, Grass, Flying, Poison, and Normal type before Gym #1). In Gen V, you have your starter, one of the Elemental Monkeys (dependent on your starter), 3 Normal types, and one Dark. I understand that the first Gym is designed to teach new players about Type Match-ups, but give the veteran players a break!
But whatever, they're catering to new players. Every series does that. So, why don't we just look at the basic mechanics? They've done some fantastic things here: TMs are now multi-use (thank god!), the Pokemart and Pokemon Centers have been combined into one building, and you now have two rivals, who take both the Pokemon you don't choose as your starter. Pretty good. But in Black and White, the developers decided to harken back to the days of Generation I, and introduce a region with an entire set of brand-spanking new Pokemon to discover. That's right, you won't be seeing Rattata, Geodude, Zubat, or any of the other Pokemon that have appeared in every single generation to date. While it's a fantastic concept to make things entirely new, it sucks in practice, especially for a diehard fan of the series. I find myself longing to run into a damn Tentacool when surfing, instead of this Basculin thing. For god's sake, I'd even take a Bidoof.
But, maybe I'm being harsh. It's a bold move, and I commend what they're trying to do. Let's take a look at some of the new Pokemon: there's Patrat, a Rattata rip-off... Lillipup, basically a Zigzagoon with an extra evolution... Pidove, which, if you couldn't tell by the name, is a redesigned Pidgey... Purrloin, a Poocheyna in cat form... Woobat, the most unoriginally-named Zubat knockoff they could have come up with... I'm beginning to wonder if the developers even TRIED with these things. And then the names, oh god the names. Half of them are unpronounceable, and 90 percent of the other half don't make any sense. "Throh" and "Sawk" are the Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee of this generation, accompanied by others like Sewaddle (which would make sense if it were a duck, maybe), Darmanitan, Cofagrigus, Alomomola, and Reuniclus. ...My brain hurts. Granted, there are some good names out there: Braviary, for example, or Galvantula, the new Bug/Electric hybrid. And here's another decent one: Timburr, a Fighting type that evolves into... um... Conkeldurr?
You know what, I'm just going to go back to Soul Silver.
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