Pokémon White

Pokémon White is one of the two generation five Pokémon games for the Nintendo DS. If you’re curious as to what the Pokémon series is about, be sure to check out my review of Pokémon Blue. Once again it’s the standard stuff to expect. You battle Pokémon, catch them, train them, try to collect them all, try to collect the eight gym badges, and attempt to become the Pokémon League champion. I’m a bit shaky on the changes for this game because I skipped generation four and went straight to five, so please forgive me for not knowing what was new and what was carried over in that respect. To keep this from being too inaccurate in that regard, I’ll be comparing it more to the first three generations of Pokémon instead. I hope you still find the information useful.

Pokémon White seems to be more story-based than the previous games. It’s more about building relationships with your Pokémon and developing the characters than about simply battling, catching, and winning. There’s a lot of people giving you opinions and trying to make you think about your choices. The best part of this is how early on you meet up with Team Plasma, a group that is trying to liberate Pokémon from people. They make some good points about how humans abuse Pokémon for their own needs and dare to ask the question… is catching Pokémon bad? It’s very interesting because it actually made ME think about the way this world works. Maybe catching Pokémon and forcing them to fight IS wrong. And that kind of deeper thinking being introduced was one of the things that sold me on the idea of the game. There’s also tons of new Pokémon here in the new region, and when you play through the main game you’ll only have access to all-new Pokémon instead of integrating old ones into the mix, which I also loved. It felt so new and refreshing. It felt like I was going on a totally new journey with nothing but new things to discover just like I did when I first played my first Pokémon game. There are some pretty pixelated visuals. The attack animations are neat, along with the moving sprites giving battles some more life. And the 3D settings of places are impressive to see in what I’ve been used to as a solely 2D experience. Most of the gyms have fun little gimmicks to do for exploring them. This time around you can progress through the main game without using any HMs. Also TMs can be used infinitely now. The story of the game unfolds in a nice way, building up as you go along. Characters develop and stakes get higher as you progress. Team Plasma is trying to resurrect the the legendary dragons to recreate the world with Pokémon and humans being separated. The whole time you’re constantly torn between wanting to save the world the way it exists now and letting it be changed to free the Pokémon. It makes for a very gripping experience. Also it’s very appropriate that saving the world actually takes the spotlight this time around, putting your aspirations of being a Pokémon master on the back burner. Beyond that main story, which ends after you resolve that wordwide conflict, you then can start the endgame, which is fairly lengthy. At this point you’re fighting stronger trainers, catching other special Pokémon, finding Pokémon from previous generations, finding the scattered remains of Team Plasma across the world, and using your HMs, and trying to finally beat the Pokémon League.

As much as I respect Pokémon White, I do have problems with it. In general it just feels slow. I understand they want to introduce you to the world and the basics slowly as well as getting you to understand the new features of the game, but if you’ve ever played a Pokémon game before then the first hour or so of the game is just tedious. You don’t get into the real meat and potatoes of the game until later. The animations for trainers coming into battles and throwing Pokémon and then the Pokémon having their own animations for entering and attacking… everything just adds up to making the battles take longer than they need to be, pretty as they may be. The longer dialogue scenes, longer battles, and labyrinths of the game just make it move at a pace that’s a tad slow for my taste. The endgame comes after the story parts and picks the pace up for a while, but comes to a grinding slowdown when you’re stuck doing just that, grinding. You’ll need to fight lots of trainers and wild Pokémon to be able to beat the now mysteriously much more powerful versions of the elite four trainers. Also, you did technically beat the Pokémon League champion for the story so… shouldn’t you be the champion already? Isn’t that how it generally works? It honestly became too tedious for me to bother after hours of it, which is sad. The story itself starts off in a promising manner, but as it goes on you find out it’s more about world domination than helping Pokémon, which is disappointing. You don’t have any real control over the story either. You don’t get to choose what you believe. Instead, the game just pushes the opinion on you that the world of Pokémon works fine the way it is… which… really takes the steam out of the whole interesting plot point. The introduction of previous Pokémon later on is also a bummer for me because I was really liking the idea that this game was an isolated experience from the others. I’m also not a big fan of stories in my games anyway, so that’s more of a personal problem, but I also didn’t really care about any of the characters either. Oh, and there are Pokémon talent shows where you dress up your Pokémon in whatever you’d like and put it on stage alongside others to see which one dances the best and… this side game is so weird, creepy, and pointless that I can’t call it good thing. Although seeing my Pignite sprite on stage dancing around out of nowhere was pretty damn funny.

Pokémon White is a game that I really respect. The main story part of the game might be slow going, and the endgame might be tedious, but I still really liked how new and fresh it all felt. The places and Pokémon were fun to see, and learning what everything is along the way really made me enjoy the experience. The biggest downside is that, because of the story-heavy nature, you’ll be more bored by the pacing for consecutive playthroughs. It’s definitely an experience worth having, especially for big Pokémon fans. If you’re looking for a fresh experience that won’t ruin your childhood by bastardizing the Pokémon you know and love, check out Pokémon White. Also, I know I didn’t mention the internet connectivity but at this point that no longer works so I didn’t get to use it anyway. It didn’t seem important. I think this is a fitting end to my journeys in the world of Pokémon. Farewell.

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