Developers: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo, ThePokémon Company
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Release Date: JP: September 18, 2010, NA: March 6, 2011, EU: March 4, 2011
Pokémon Black Version and White Version (ポケットモンスターブラック・ホワイト Poketto Monsutā Burakku Howaito, "Pocket Monsters: Black & White") are role-playing games developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. They are the first installments in the fifth generation of the Pokémon series of role-playing games. First released in Japan on September 18, 2010, they were later released in Europe on March 4, 2011, in North America on March 6, 2011 and Australia on March 10, 2011.
Similar to previous installments of the series, the two games follow the journey of a young Pokémon trainer through the region of Unova, as they train Pokémon used to compete against other trainers, while thwarting the schemes of the criminal organization Team Plasma. Black and White introduce over 150 brand-new Pokémon to the franchise, as well as many new features, including a seasonal cycle, fully animated Pokémon sprites and triple battles. Both titles are independent of each other, but feature largely the same plot, and while both can be played separately, trading Pokémon between both of the games is necessary in order to complete the games' Pokédex.
Upon their release, Black and White received positive reviews; critics praised the advancements in gameplay, as well as several of the new Pokémon introduced. Reviews, however, were divided on some of the character designs, and some critics felt that the games did not innovate as much as expected. Nevertheless, the games were commercial successes; prior to the games' Japanese release, Black and White sold one million consumer pre-orders and sold five million copies as of January 2011, making it one of the best selling DS games to date. Sequels to Pokémon Black and White, named Pokémon Black Version 2 and White Version 2 are set for a release in Japan for the Nintendo DS in June 2012, with third quarter releases in North America and Europe. [Source]
Black and White are set in the Unova region, a continental mass located far away from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh. Unlike the previous regions which were based on locations in Japan, Unova is modeled after New York City, an idea developed by game director Junichi Masuda when he visited the city for the launch of Diamond and Pearl. One particular example of this is Castelia City, which served as the region's central metropolis and had such inspirations as its "Brooklyn Bridge-style suspension bridge" and its "huge skyscrapers". Masuda also wanted to convey a "feeling of communities" in Castelia's streets. Unova is host to large urban areas, a harbor, an airport, an amusement park, several bridges, and several mountain ranges. In addition to a diversity of new landscapes, the Unova region is also home to a diversity of people who vary in skin tone and occupation. The region's Japanese name "Isshu" (イッシュ) is derived from the Japanese words tashu (多種, meaning "many kinds") and isshu (一種, meaning "one kind"); the many kinds of people and Pokémon seen up close look like only one kind of life from afar.
Like previous Pokémon games, Black and White's gameplay is linear; the main events occur in a fixed order. The protagonist of Pokémon Black and White is a teenager who sets out on a journey through Unova to become the Pokémon master. At the beginning of the games, the player chooses either Snivy, Tepig, or Oshawott as their first Pokémon as a gift from Professor Juniper. The protagonist's friends, Cheren and Bianca, are also rivals and are Pokémon Trainers who occasionally battle the player. The player's primary goal is to obtain the eight Gym Badges of Unova and ultimately challenge the Elite Four of the Pokémon League, and its Champion, to win the game.
In addition to the standard gameplay, the player will also have to defeat the games' main antagonist Team Plasma, a group whose uniform is modeled after the Knights Templar, but who claims that Pokémon are oppressed by mankind and seeks for a means to liberate them. Team Plasma is led by N, a young man who was brought up alongside Pokémon and sees them as friends rather than tools for sport. Throughout the game, the player has some encounters with N, who claims that by capturing one of the legendary Dragon Pokémon of Unova and defeating the Pokémon Champion Alder, he will be recognized as Unova's hero and will be able to convince the humans to part with their Pokémon. Depending on the game version, N will capture the Deep Black Pokémon Zekrom in Black while he will capture the Vast White Pokémon Reshiram in White. After the player defeats the Elite Four and enters the Champion's chamber, he or she finds that N has defeated Alder and has become the newest Pokémon Champion. Soon after, he summons a large castle that surrounds the Pokémon League, challenging the player to find him to take part in one final battle. When the player finally reaches him, Reshiram in Black or Zekrom in White appears before the player, and the player must capture the legendary Pokémon before challenging N. After his defeat, N laments the possibility that his ideals are mistaken, as Ghetsis intrudes and angrily reveals that his true intentions were to use N to ensure that only he would be the only human left with control over Pokémon and use them to rule the world. In his rage, Ghetsis challenges the player to battle. After Ghetsis's defeat, he is arrested, allowing Alder to resume his position as the Pokémon Champion of the Unova region. N then thanks the player for helping realize his mistake about the nature of the relationship between people and their Pokémon before leaving the castle on his captured Dragon Pokémon to a far off land.
After Team Plasma's defeat, Looker arrives in Unova and tasks the player with finding the remaining Sages of Team Plasma, so they can be brought to justice. The player can also challenge the Elite Four once again, and challenge Alder, ultimately becoming the Unova region's new Pokémon Champion. The player also gains access to the eastern portion of Unova, which contains Pokémon from the previous games in the series, as well as access to an area unique to each game version: the ultra-metropolitan Black City, home to powerful Pokémon trainers, and the White Forest, home to humans and Pokémon living in harmony. Cynthia, a former Champion of the Sinnoh region, is also found in this area of the game and can be challenged. A non-player character named after Shigeki Morimoto, a Game Freak programmer, creature designer, and the director of the HeartGold and SoulSilver games, can also be found in the game and the player can battle him. [Source]
Pokémon Black and White are role-playing video games with adventure elements, presented in a third-person, overhead perspective. There are three basic screens: an overworld, in which the player navigates the main character; a battle screen; and the menu, in which the player configures their party, items, or gameplay settings. The player begins the game with a single Pokémon, and is able to capture more using Poké Balls.
When the player encounters a wild Pokémon or is challenged by a trainer to a battle, the screen switches to a turn-based battle screen where the Pokémon fight. During battle, the player may fight, use an item, switch the active Pokémon, or flee (however the player is not permitted to flee a battle against another trainer). All Pokémon have hit points (HP); when a Pokémon's HP is reduced to zero, it faints and cannot battle until it is revived. If an opposing Pokémon faints, then all of the player's Pokémon who participated in defeating it receive experience points. After accumulating enough experience points, it may level up. A Pokémon's level affects its battle statistics, and some Pokémon will evolve upon reaching a certain level threshold.
The graphics were further improved from previous games, and include more cutscenes. When talking to people, the dialog box has been changed to speech balloons, which appear over other characters' heads, allowing more than one character to speak at once. In addition to this aesthetic change, Japanese players will be given an option to switch to having kanji appear on screen, rather than just hiragana and katakana. During battles, the sprites of the Pokémon are fully animated and the camera changes position to highlight specific parts of the battle.
In addition to the day and night cycle first introduced in the Gold and Silver games, Black and White introduces a seasonal cycle, with the seasons advancing every month, cycling every four, rather than being linked to the actual calendar. Outside areas appear differently depending on the season, such as changing of leaves in autumn or snow on the ground in winter. Certain areas are only accessible during certain seasons, and different Pokémon can be found in the wild in winter where others are encountered in the other seasons. In addition to these features, the Pokémon Deerling and Sawsbuck were designed to change their physical appearance along with the seasons of the game.
There are two new battle mechanics in Black and White: Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. In Triple Battles, both teams must send out three Pokémon at once. The Pokémon that can be targeted by any specific attack is dependent on the position of the Pokémon in the line up; Pokémon on the left or right sides can only target the Pokémon directly opposite of them and the two Pokémon in the center position on both sides, while Pokémon in the center can target all Pokémon in the field. Positions can be changed, but this uses up the player's turn. In Rotation Battles, both sides send out three Pokémon at once, again, but instead of a three-on-three match as seen in Triple Battles, it is a one-on-one match where the Pokémon in the front can be switched with either of the two other Pokémon sent out without using up a turn. Depending on the game version, one of these two new battle types will be found in greater quantity than the other, with Black having more Rotation Battles than Triple Battles, and vice versa in White. Related introductions are the Combination Moves; the starter Pokémon from any game can be taught one of the three moves that can be used in combination with each other to produce more powerful attacks. Another battle mechanic is found in the wild, where differently colored and styled tall grass enable Double Battles against wild Pokémon.
A new Pokémon capture mechanic was also introduced in these games, referred to as "phenomena" in supplementary materials. Occasionally, the player can find rustling patches of grass and rippling water. If the player enters the tile that featured the phenomenon (or uses the fishing rod on the tile), they can encounter either a rare Pokémon, a Pokémon more common in the other game version, or the highest evolutionary form of a Pokémon that can normally be found in the area. This method is the only way to capture Pokémon such as Audino, Emolga, and Alomomola. In addition to these, dust clouds in caves and the shadows of flying Pokémon on certain bridges can also be entered to either find a rare item or encounter Drilbur, Excadrill, Ducklett, or Swanna, none of which can be found in the wild otherwise.
In addition to the standard battling and Gym challenges, the player can compete in Pokémon Musicals, a side-game similar to the Pokémon Contests of previous games; the Battle Subway, similar to the Battle Towers and Battle Frontiers of previous games; and on the Royal Unova, a cruise ship that the player can ride daily and fight various trainers aboard to win otherwise rare items.
Connectivity to other devices
The C-Gear (Cギア Shī Gia) is a new mechanic that replaces the Pokétch on the Nintendo DS's second screen. It allows the player to control the various wireless capabilities of Black and White. These include connecting to other players through infrared communication (battling, trading, friend codes, and the "Feeling Check" function), wireless communications with friends in the Xtranciever video chat or access to the Entralink to transfer content from the Pokémon Dream World, connecting to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to sync with the Pokémon Global Link servers, and the new Pass By mode which allows the game to communicate with other games through infrared (IR) when not being played.
The Feeling Check (フィーリングチェック Fīringu Chekku) function tests the compatibility between two players, awarding them with one of two items depending on the level of compatibility. The Pass By feature is another side game in which the player answers various survey questions, and depending on how many other games are interacted with, the players receive an item. Another new feature is Random Matchup, where the player can battle a random other player. When playing against other players online or in IR battles, a new mechanic called the Wonder Launcher allows for items to be used in battle to heal or improve the status of the players' Pokémon.
To transfer Pokémon from the older games, Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver versions to the new games, Black and White, two features have been placed in Black and White. For normal transfer, the Poké Transfer feature is available after completion of the main storyline. Unlike the Pal Park feature that was in the previous games, the Poké Transfer is a mini-game in which after six Pokémon are transferred, the player uses the touch screen to launch Poké Balls at the transferred Pokémon which are moving about on the top screen to catch them within a time limit. Another feature called the Relocator is used to transfer the Pokémon given away in promotions for the Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions film so the player can activate the special events to obtain the rare Pokémon Zorua and Zoroark. Unlike the Poké Transfer, this function is available before the main game is completed.
Unique to Black and White is the Pokémon Dream World, a game mechanic that is dependent on the official Pokémon Global Link website. In this, the player can befriend Pokémon not normally obtainable in gameplay with unique abilities, which are later captured in an area known as the Entralink. This is done after syncing the game back with the Dream World, in a mechanic similar to the Pokéwalker used in HeartGold and SoulSilver. The player can also maintain a house in the Dream World that other players can visit as well as grow berries. In addition to allowing players access to Pokémon acquired in the Dream World, the Entralink also enables players to interact with each other and perform side games which award points that can be traded for "powers" that improve normal gameplay, such as increasing experience, improving capture rate, or lowering prices of items in Poké Marts. [Source]
Official website: http://www.pokemonblackwhite.com/
Edited by Anaron, 28 February 2012 - 10:58.