Pokémon Black and White DS Review


I still remember the day; October 21, 1998. It is my eighth birthday and I have $40 worth of Toys-R-Us bucks. My mom took me to pick it up and I remember staring with excitement as the employee used his keys to unlock the sliding glass and hand me my own copy of Pokémon Blue. Similar feelings reappeared when I went to pick up my copy of Pokémon Black on its release date(and a few days later when I returned to get Pokémon White).

But don’t let me lead you on; this isn’t your same Game Boy Pokémon game. This is the fifth installment of the popular Nintendo franchise and the second line of Pokémon games to land on the DS. Bulbasaur is now replaced with Snivy, Pidgey with Pidove, and Muk with Garbodor(is that…a bunch of garbage?!) But all in all, the new members of the Poké-family fit in nicely; offering a brilliant take of a basic Pokemon method while adding new elements to competitive and regular in-game play. A new generation of Pokémon means not only new Pokémon, but new moves as well. Some old favorites now have the ability to be a completely viable party member. For example, Cloyster gains the move Shell Smash; which lowers a Pokémon’s defense and special defense stat while raising its Attack, Special Attack, and Speed.

Pokemon Black & White ScreenshotThe story in Pokémon Black/White strays from the generic stories of old, the “I want to be the very best like no one ever was and I’ll stop Team while I do it.” In this region, the Unova region, there are three friends who begin a Pokémon journey. Your character is the silent boy or girl who is friends with Cheren, a young boy who doesn’t know what he wants from a Pokémon journey and Bianca, who wants to prove that she truly is strong in her own right. For the most part, your character will travel by himself. But your friends will show up quite often around towns/paths and ask for a Pokémon battle. Early in their journey, the trio meets up with a mysterious green-haired fellow by the name of ‘N’. N, along with the equally mysterious Team Plasma, who’s goals are to release Pokémon from the grasp of human trainers. Along the way the trio encounter the gym leaders, who act as a support group for our heroes not only in conversation but in the plot as well.

An obvious change to the Poke-realm is the enhanced graphics. Not only were the towns modeled after real cities in New York (Castelia City=Manhattan), but the Pokémon in and out of battle now have animated movement. The towns and Pokémon battles both add a renewed sense of nostalgia; as this is the first Pokémon game with skyscrapers that tower above you and Pokémon that actually move and don’t look like images fighting. While sometimes the Pokémon movement is a little grainy, it’s barely noticeable unless you stare intently at it. The grain was definitely more noticeable on the DSi XL than it was on a DS Lite, suggesting that the game plays slightly better on a smaller-screen DS.

The audio for Pokémon Black and White stays true to it’s predecessors; offering great tunes to listen to while you stroll around a populated town or to inspire you during a tough battle. The tunes range from poppy and catchy to dark and mysterious; giving a musical range unheard in not only older Pokemon titles but a lot of DS titles.

No, this isn’t the same Pokémon that brought us memorable moments and equally memorable Pokémon that we’ve learned to love.But the core elements of Red/Blue are implemented in this game, as well as all previous generation titles. It can be a bit repetitive, pressing ‘A’ over and over again, listening to sometimes random NPCs go on and on about nothing, random battles, etc. But this is game play Pokémon fans have learned to love, and the basic RPG elements of turn-based battling and item use are still extremely prevalent in Black and White. Overall, I’d have to recommend this game to anyone with a DS and especially RPG fans. And if you’ve ever played a Pokémon game and had fun building a team and battling trainers then this is a game you definitely have to play.

Over all, this is the basic Pokémon game play intertwined with the most visually pleasing Nintendo DS graphics to date. While some Pokémon like Trubbish and Vanilluxe look downright ridiculous, the new Pokémon are a welcome addition to the existing ones and the addition of reusable TM’s makes the leveling process far less tedious. The story keeps the player’s interest with plot twists and character development, and you get a bike pretty early! Definitely a plus in any Pokémon game.

GGC Score: 9 out of 10
Click to purchase Pokémon Black Version
Click to purchase Pokémon White Version

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