Overwhelmed by the torrent of news that come flooding in every few weeks or so? Let me try to put everything we already know about Pokemon Black/White (as of July 24th) into order. Those of you interested but haven't been able to catch up, this is your chance!
Now, where do I start? Alright, I'll start off by talking about the games themselves.
Pokemon Black/ White was revealed sometime before summer, is for the Nintendo DS, and scheduled to release in Japan on September 18th this year. In an unprecedented move the US and Europe release dates were also confirmed on the same day, which is somewhere in Spring 2011.
The games take place in the new region of Isshu, which is, as put by the Pokemon creators, a land far away from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh. They mentioned giving the Pokemon series a fresh start through this. There are confirmed to be many cities and towns around Isshu, though none of them have had confirmed names, save for the one main city on the bottom of the map, Hiun City, which was shown off many times for the revolutionary changing camera angles and the new 3D effects while you walk.
The one big difference about Isshu in Pokemon Black and Pokemon White is that cities will look different based on which version you're playing. In Black version everything is industrialised and advanced, while in White the cities co-exist with nature and the buildings are built from more primitive materials. Hiun City should be the same in both, however.
It's still unknown if the story involves 'trainer wants to be a Pokemon Master, fight eight Gyms, beat the crap out of the Champion' all over again, but from the looks of things it could be a little more different this time. From the opening of the game you're presented with two rivals, Belle and Cheren, and receive a present from the region's Pokemon Professor, Prof. Araragi (who is the first female professor in the series). So far nothing involving 'wanting to be the very best' yet, but I'll keep my eye out. Also, it takes place in a small town. You don't start out from Hiun City, unfortunately.
A few other areas we already know in Isshu is a theme park above a desert, which is above Hiun City, the High Link building (I'll get to more on that later) in the Pokeball-shaped area smack in the middle of Isshu, a town with train tracks running through it, a cave, and a honey-covered building. (excuse me for not putting in too many images, they can get quite annoying while you're trying to read through everything!) I'll leave it to you to check this detailed scan of Isshu and the many places around it.
Now for the new Pokemon.
From even before Black/White was named, two Pokemon were already revealed. They were Zorua and its evolution, Zoroark, both of which would star in the 13th Pokemon Movie, Phantom Ruler: Zoroark. Both are Dark-type Pokemon, and can be obtained through a special event only for Japanese players, involving a shiny Raikou/Entei/Suicune.
Then came the starter Pokemon, Tsutaaja (Grass), Pokabu (Fire), and Mijumaru (Water)
And then the main legendary Pokemon, Reshiram (Dragon/Fire) and Zekrom (Dragon/Electric). Reshiram is the one in white and catchable in the Black version, while Zekrom is black and catchable in White version. It's a pretty confusing mess to sort out sometimes.
June Coro-Coro revealed seven new Pokemon, which are, in order of their pictures, Chiraamii (Normal), Munna (Psychic), Giaru (Steel), Mamepato (Normal/Flying), Meguroko (Dark/Ground), Hihidaruma (Fire) and Shimama (Electric)
Seven more were revealed the following month in CoroCoro, which are, in the following order of the pictures, Kibago (Dragon), Koromori (Psychic/Flying), Minezumi (Normal), Gochiruzeru (Psychic), Rankurusu (Psychic), Wooguru (Normal/Flying), and Musharna (Psychic). Gochiruzeru and Rankurusu are the first version-exclusive regular Pokemon, with Gochiruzeru in Black and Rankurusu in White. Musharna is Munna's evolution, and is used to access an important online component (more on that later).
One more revealed just today is the legendary Pokemon Victini, which you can see in the blog post just below this one.
Other Pokemon that don't have official art or any information yet:
I won't go into details of the new abilities and attacks for each of them though, but just watch this battle video montage. Most of them are shown off here.
Next is how differently it plays from the rest of the Pokemon games.
Watched the battle montages? Then you already know it's far better than before (though the lag worries me a bit), with shifting camera angles (finally!), moving Pokemon sprites, somewhat quicker attack animations for multiple-hit moves, ability names displayed on-screen, and the music changing when your Pokemon reaches critical HP. Aesthetic changes aside the core of the battling system hasn't changed one bit, but the surprising addition of 3-on-3 battles jigs things up a bit.
More than just being a 2-on-2 with one extra Pokemon in the fray, in this extended battle mode the position of all three of your Pokemon are factored in. Pokemon on the left are too far away to hit the opponent on the right, for example. They can only hit Pokemon on the left and middle side of the opponent's team. Pokemon in the middle however can hit anyone they want. Further tactics include a Move command to swap your Pokemon around for strategic purposes.
The biggest change of all in Pokemon Black/White is connections between games. Whether it's local wireless or Wi-fi, B/W did a good job of increasing the number of ways for Pokefans to get together (and to confuse the lot of us). It's quite complex to explain, so I'll break it down.
Given to you by Makomo, Professor Araragi's friend, the C Gear has options for local wireless, Wi-fi and infrared connections. You can obtain and view Trainers' profiles through it by passing by their DSes (this is done by infrared), but what else can it do that the Pal Pad/local wireless mode can't? Or maybe every last mode is in this little gadget, in which case this is just a matter of convenience than anything else? Still a mystery to me.
Exclusive to the DSi/DSiLL, this uses the inner camera of the DSi for live video chat (in addition to normal voice chat), while you're in the usual Wi-Fi lobby. Well that's the first time its being used as a webcam. In-game characters may also use this to chat with you too. You can also go all Jigglypuff on your mates and doodle all over their faces on the touch screen.
DSes can connect with each other through infrared signals, like the Game Boy Color used to in its time. It's more advanced now, and infrared signals can be used to set up quick battles (up to 4 players) or trades directly from your PC Box when you're in a hurry. You can also register Friend Codes directly using this feature. No more punching in 16 numbers and names when you can do this! (you'd have to be in the same room for this though, registering Wi-fi Friend Codes is still as troublesome as ever). Whether or not this replaces the local wireless mode's Union Room is yet to be seen.
In addition to the usual Wi-Fi options, you can now battle random Trainers (and of course, access the GTS) in the Pokemon Center. A long overdue addition and a good alternative to Friend Codes.
The building in the centre of the Isshu map. If you're there and you use the High Link feature on the C Gear (wait, do you have to be there, or can you use the High Link on the C Gear anywhere you want? So confusing), you'll be able to travel to another player's (admittedly color-drained) world and travel with them together. No one knows what real purpose it serves yet, since it's definitely not the Sinnoh Underground thing.
Pokemon Global Link
The most interesting gimmick of B/W's Wi-Fi modes is this one. If you have a Musharna and obtain its Dream Smoke you can use this to send one of your Pokemon to a 'Dream World' where they have their own room and can play minigames together. This is done on the PC, not on the DS. Yep, you send them online like you do for GTS, only now it's more tangible than ever. Pokemon you befriend in the Dream World can then be caught in Isshu, which otherwise wouldn't be there at all. Interesting? Yep.
Oh, and you can send your Pokemon through the C Gear...geez, what can and can't it do? It seems like it's connected to every Wi-Fi and wireless feature in the game, and yet you don't really need it to access everything. Oh well guess we'll find out once the game comes out
And that's everything we know about Black/White up to this point. It's a lot of info to digest. Hope I made it easier for all of you!