Friday, September 24, 2010

Pokemon White- First impressions

Written by pikaby

Okay, I have the import, I've played at least seven hours, and I'm ready to say what I think about this new Pokemon game. B/W is supposed to be 'a fresh start' for the series. It may sound like a gimmick, but spend half an hour in B/W and you realize that even though the core gameplay remains exactly the same, it couldn't be any more detached from the rest of the series.

Killed off all their darlings

B/W is wall-to-wall new Pokemon. Not even series staples like Pikachu, Zubat, Magikarp, Geodude or Tentacool were spared. No creature you see in the new Isshu region will have any connection with all 493 Pokemon of old (though new, similar Pokemon have been made to fill in important roles, like Tabunne to replace Chansey's nursing role). It may not sound like much, but having all-new Pokemon really does give you a feeling like you're starting all over again, catching every Pokemon you find, leveling them up just to see when they evolve or learn a new move. With each passing generation we've gotten sick of it purely because at least half the Pokemon we play with every region are old Pokemon we've seen before, to the point of absolute disgust. Here, it's like you're a new Trainer.

Easier to even out, harder to pull ahead

Pokemon has always encouraged training one team evenly, but no matter how hard Nintendo makes it to train Pokemon, the system has always been circumvented by gorging one Pokemon full of EXP(experience points) and breezing through the entire game. To make sure people don't spoil their own fun this time around, an advanced EXP gaining system was introduced. If your Pokemon's level is lower than the opponent's, bonus EXP is given out. If it is higher, it gets less EXP than it should. This makes things a little harder as it's difficult to face a Gym Leader with a level advantage due to the decreasing EXP gain per level for your Pokemon, unless you grind like hell. In a way, it's fun, as you can finally have a 6-Pokemon team that advances together with each other, and for once, a reasonable amount of challenge facing tough bosses.

Strict habitats

Unlike most other regions, Pokemon in Isshu, with the exception of the most common ones, will only be catchable in one or two routes each. A good thing indeed, as it ensures you always have something new to try and catch when you advance to a new route, instead of going to a new route and having to contend with ten old monsters just to get to a new one.

Impatient rares

As we advance through each new Pokemon game, there's one interesting fact about us- we're becoming less and less willing to spend time running away from a billion common wild Pokemon just to find one rare Pokemon. I don't know how many times I've tried to find one and after two hours of doing nothing but running away, became skeptical about the rare 'mon even existing on that route. Now, patches of grass and water will shake and bubble randomly, which is a sign that a rare Pokemon is there. Sound easy? The probability of that happening is still low. But, at least you don't have to worry about purposely going into the grass to look for rare Pokemon anymore. It's more convenient.

Look at the levels rise!

Route 1 Pokemon are typically, level 2 and 3. By route 2, wild Pokemon will be level 5 at the most, and 7 at route 3. But in Isshu, the wild Pokemon are batshit insane. By Route 2 in Isshu, you already start encountering wild Pokemon at level 7 on average, and it quickly approaches double digits after the first Gym. What have they been smoking?

Status effects -2 annoyance

Poison no longer inflicts damage on your Pokemon while you're walking in the field. Confuse status has been made rarer, and not spammed by every second Pokemon you find in the wild, which is very, very welcome. The local bat Pokemon, Koromori, hasn't even tried to Supersonic me yet. Not even once. This is GREAT! Zubat has a worthy successor.

Large and in charge

The one city that's been in the news since the very beginning was Hiun City, which turns out to be the spot of the 3rd Gym Leader. As by god, is it big. It sounds like Nintendo is just giving us an attraction to play with, but when I got lost trying to find the Hiun City Gym (no, seriously. SERIOUSLY), you know Pokemon has transcended their high water mark in terms of city design and largeness. Now THIS  is a city, not those stupid 'four houses in a square' microscopic things pretending to be cities. Even regular-sized cities have been sized up, with the smallest one, Karakusa Town, averaging the size of Goldenrod City in Johto (which was the largest city in the region, and speaks volumes of how big Pokemon has gotten with progress).

Pokemon White has had me completely gobsmacked from the beginning, from the different, gorgeous visuals, to the dynamic battle scenes, to the upgraded level of challenge, to the fantastic music, to the classic, unmatched core gameplay, which can remain unchanged for decades to come and still manage to feel fresh, something which cannot be said of many other games. Can't wait to play more!
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