Monday, March 21, 2011

5 things I didn't like about Pokemon Black/White

Pokemon Black and White, to me, are some of the most exciting and fresh Pokemon games in recent years. It gets everything right in the main story mode right up until you beat the Champion (which is a very long way off), from the complete walling-off of all 493 old Pokemon, to the more dynamic battle scenes, to the changes in the metagame, and good villain design, for once. Ugly Pokemon? I don't think so- aside from one or two duds I actually love the entire roster in Gen 5. Never have I been so excited to train them all as I do now. On the surface, and to most players, this is the definition of a perfect Pokemon game.

If you're the type to delve very deep however, you might find more than one thing to nitpick on in Pokemon B/W, which will almost always be rectified by the 'third game'. A few elements which I didn't like in the game:

5) Gear Station isn't all that exciting

It's a great avenue for competitive AI battle, and you get single, double, tag and even Wi-Fi modes. But there just isn't enough to motivate players to battle on and on other than to buy TMs and items. The one single flaw of infinite use TMs manifests itself here- what are you going to save the BP for once you buy all the TMs? Also, what happened to all the great things Battle Frontier introduced in Gen 4? Granted, it was also in the 'third game', Platinum, but unless Nintendo are holding the exciting modes back from us, I don't see any other reason why there wouldn't be things like rental Pokemon battles or roulette battles, which are my personal favorites. There's just not enough to do in the Gear Station. Still, much better than the Battle Tower in Pokemon D/P and the awful one in Pokemon R/S.

4) Pokemon Musical?

The Pokemon Contests in R/S and then the modified contests in D/P were solid diversions and could potentially sap hours of your time if you really get into it. Your reward come in the form of Ribbons, which were pointless, but at least you get something out of it! Then Pokeathlon in HG/SS, which was even better. The first time touch-screen minigames were implemented in the main line RPGs, and a great job they did, as all 10 games were fun. For your troubles you got actual useful items like PP Ups, apricorns and evolution stones! Then comes this rubbish, where you do nothing but dress your Pokemon up and watch them dance on stage. Aside from a few touch-screen prompts, which you only do once or twice for the whole performance, all you do is. Sit. And. Watch. Your rewards for dressing your Pokemon in pointless accessories is...even more pointless accessories. Hurray. Nintendo, I hope you're listening.

3) Smaller, more linear overworld

I understand that this was done on purpose to cut down on cumbersome exploration time and the beyond-annoying wild Pokemon encounters, but to be honest I actually miss going on epic quests to routes and mountain ranges that are bigger, taller and with more varied terrain. Especially in Sinnoh, where most of the routes, even the shortest ones, are at least twice as long as the biggest route in Unova. This could be solved easily though, by having short routes for the main quest, but long, meandering ones with a billion trainer battles and stuff after the Elite Four is over and done with.

2) Half the cities serve no purpose

Seriously, a lot of the cities and towns in Unova are just there for window dressing. Opelucid City is useless once you beat the eighth Gym Leader and the triple/rotation battle house is not a saving grace as the Pokemon there are unevolved and under-leveled. Iccirus City is a pretty sight in winter, and there actually secrets that are only accessible during that season, but no other post-game function after you beat the seventh Gym. Lacunosa Town tells an interesting story about Kyurem's legend, but is otherwise a junk town that could have been so much more. Undella Town is another gimmick showing off the seasonal changes, with people showing up only during the summer. There's Cynthia though, so it's not all bad. I remember the post-E4 cities in Sinnoh...Battle Area, Resort Area and Survival Area. There were actually things to do in each, especially in Platinum version. Unova's cities are just so...meh. The only ones really worth revisiting over and over are Striaton (for the breeding center), Castelia (Royal Unova, Massage Lady and Game Freak) and Nimbasa (everything else).

1) No option to rebattle trainers

This is Pokemon B/W's biggest mistake. Did Nintendo think we didn't like battling Trainers anymore? What happened to the Vs. Seeker? What happened to any gadget allowing us to schedule rematches with AI trainers? Without it you're left with the 16 daily fights in Nimbasa's two stadiums (which, I emphasize, are not enough), Royal Unova, and the goddamn Elite Four. Do they realize not everyone likes to whale on the Elite Four over and over again because they're the only people where you can get decent Exp. Points from? This is the dumbest decision they have ever made. Even if there are no Gym Leader rematches, it's a minor oversight compared to not being able to rebattle anyone at all. Blasphemy, I say. The third game has some serious fixing to do.

And that's my two cents. It's still a great, great game, but those who play deeper may find themselves with a less-than-sweet aftertaste. There's just not enough of B/W for major players to really sink in.

I'll be taking a more positive look at Pokemon B/W sometime soon, so watch this space~
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