The same recycled gameplay over a decade would certainly cause some people to hate that franchise, so knowing that, why has Pokemon garnered so much success? The argument also applies to the sports genre, and yet both series sell millions of copies. Does Pokemon have the perfect formula to compliment the core gameplay, or is there just a persistent fan base who knows what they are going into?
Every gamer knows the process of these games: get your starting pokemon, beat eight gym leaders, overcome a group threatening world domination, beat the Pokemon League and catch all the critters. The same goes for the recently released Pokemon Black & White, and both games go on to sell two million copies in the US. I suckered into it, but that's mainly because I haven't played an iteration since Silver and I was interested to see the changes. My podcast buddies (belowradarpodcast.podbean.com) encouraged me to get one of the versions, and we decided to mostly dedicate an entire episode to the game.
Now to the actual review and enough of my rambling. The advantage of not playing one of the games for so long is the fresh perspective, and no preconceived expectations. The decision to buy the game rests on two things - are the new generation of Pokemon and additional changes enough to warrant the purchase? I think so.
For a game that shares the formula of generations past, it's impossible not to compare it to those previous generations. First starting your adventure, you'll only run into the new batch of creatures and not any old ones. With so many new additions to the Pokedex, this is perfect because it familiarizes fans with the new group, and keeps the fresh perspective for people coming back to the franchise. By the end of the game, a new area is unlocked and so is all of the Pokedex. Also, knowing which version to buy is a strategic choice - not only for the version exclusives, but each version includes a special area. White version has the White Forest, where Pokemon are loved and cherished and treated like gods, and Black version has Black City, where trainers rule the streets.
The most interesting change, obviously, is the new array of Pokemon to dominate your friends. In typical fashion there are some that look really cool, like the surprisingly powerful Krookodile (final evolved form of Sandile), and some that look terribly stupid. So far, I have seen a garbage bag, an ice cream cone, an old bodybuilder carrying a weapon, a set of gears and one that can embody itself inside an appliance. Your friggin' Pokemon can turn into a toaster oven. Up until this moment I still question whether that is awesome, or Nintendo is running out of ideas. Nevertheless, as stupid as these may be, they are strong and serve a great purpose if EV trained correctly. Although I prefer to do the classy thing and win with my favourites.
Unlike other cases before, the starting creature you choose has an effect on the range of difficulty early on. Snivy presents the biggest challenge, while Tepig can breeze through the first five gyms. Snivy, previously known as Smugleaf, is the coolest; his facial expression is where he gets his infamous nickname, and he's just awesome. Tepig is fire/fighting, nothing new, while Oshawott is a pure water type and best for those that want to build a strong and diverse party right off the gate. The design of the three has been the subject of controversy, with many fans accusing Nintendo of not caring anymore. I'll admit the designs could be better, and maybe greater variety; ever consider switching up the types a bit? Not grass, fire, and water; I'd love to start with a ghost or ice Pokemon. But I do understand the balancing issues so if this is ever implemented, I hope it's taken with caution.
The game is the best in the series so far, and I'm sure Generation VI will overshadow it. Both versions are the fastest-selling DS titles and highest-selling behind one of the Professor Layton games, and for good reason. In not playing a Pokemon for so long it feels great to get back into it, and I actually wanted to wait a while before writing a review. But then any review might become irrelevant. Similar to other games, however, it's impossible not to invest a week's worth of time into it. And that's the beauty of this franchise - how a concoction can be so simple yet so complicated at the same time. It's clear what type is useful against what type, and which abilities are useful in different situations; but having a counter for every move, and a counter to your opponent's counter drives up the games' complexities.
Get it. The Pokemon games never fail to disappoint.