About 35 hours to complete the main story.
Content Warning: This game is rated E and is as clean as every other Pokemon game. Very family friendly.
Pokemon Black/White released in 2011. After the meh games of Diamond/Pearl/Platinum and then the super awesome HeartGold/SoulSilver remakes, Game Freak decided to mix it up a bit. They attempted many new things and were clearly confident in what they had here. Thankfully, they were right to be so.
Wow! Game Freak actually put together a decent story. Finally a coherent plot that extends beyond the bland evil team of the game wanting to take over the world. Team Plasma (they made themselves actually memorable and I did not need to Google their name) has decided they are going to take Pokemon from unworthy owners.
This time you are a teenager and not some punk kid. Well, still a punk kid who doesn’t talk, but you get the point. Team Plasma has decided that Pokemon need to be set free from mankind’s oppression. They make good points and none of them get addressed as you just simply battle the team and defeat them handily. It all starts out promising and ends with, “Wait, what?”
Gameplay remains largely unchanged from previous titles. Are you given a level five Pokemon and told to go fill a Pokedex? Check. Only have a mother and no father? Of course. Have a rival? Come on now, you know these games only give you friends. Luckily, they still randomly battle you. However, they suck up way too much when you beat them. Have to defeat the eight gym leaders and then the Elite 4? Yes. Actually, you need to beat the Elite 4 twice to finish the main story. I will explain that later.
Black/White really made the game more difficult than previous entries. Part of that difficulty curve was not including any Pokemon from the previous generations in the series. This forced you to learn about and get well acquainted with new Pokemon. Some did not like this from what I have seen, but I did.
Normally Pokemon fans, including me, like to play the games and re-catch the Pokemon we already know and love. Forcing me to learn all new Pokemon challenged me as I had to learn a new batch of Pokemon once again and form my perfect team. On the downside of this difficulty curve, I had to grind for four hours before challenging the Elite 4 a second time. This inflated my play time to a near thirty-five hours. Realistically, it should have taken me thirty-one hours to complete all the content with the grinding aside. This is still a step up over the previous games (aside from HeartGold/SoulSilver) as they did not come close to thirty hours.
One out of a couple of improvements included in this installment is a season system. It added another layer of depth to catching Pokemon. Fortunately, it goes by the game’s clock and not our real life calendar. Triple battles and rotation battles are introduced. Triple battles are straight up three on three while rotation is three on three but only one at a time. Neither are used that much despite both being pretty great.
My real disappointment in Black/White was White Forest (I played Pokemon White). It was a feature on the back of the game box yet it was pointless. The game explained nothing about it and it came across as, “Who cares?” I did watch footage of Black City from Pokemon Black and that was equally as pointless as White Forest.
Another thing I greatly appreciated was how the game was on a new engine. Not a fancy GBA engine like Platinum, but on an engine that was clearly made for the DS. Castelia City is a wonder to see in a Pokemon game. It is based on New York City and it is massive. Your first time in the bustling city will leave you awe struck and feeling lost. The walk down Skyarrow bridge shows that Game Freak can make a graphically impressive title. Of course we know that from Pokemon X/Y, but this was two years before that. The presentation is nearly flawless. Menu systems are easy to navigate with the touch screen or with the d-pad. The sprites are also fully animated in battle and it was about time for that.
Once again the music here is top notch. How this is possible in an annualized series is beyond me, but who cares how it is done? I did have a tough time deciding whether the trainer battle music or gym leader music was better. I ended up deciding that the trainer battle music was superior due to its very catchy beginning.
I must say that Pokemon Black/White is my second favorite game of all the core Pokemon games. Red/Blue and its remake used to hold that spot but Black/White just has so much to do and the difficulty is perfect. An actual attempt is made at a story and the presentation is turned up a notch. This game would have been even better than HeartGold/SoulSilver had it included a second region. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the title.
+ Difficulty is turned up a notch.
+ Graphically impressive on the DS.
+ New ideas are actually good. (Triple battles, rotation battles, and seasons)
+ Forces you to only use Pokemon from Generation 5.
+ That trainer battle music.
+ The main story starts out strong.
- The story ends without answering the questions it brings up.