Pokémon Black/White Diary Entry 1: Embarking On A New Journey

By Laura . January 7, 2011 . 1:31pm

Welcome to our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black/White, kicking off with this first “diary entry” that touches upon the game’s first hour or so. The purpose of this ongoing series of articles is to provide a well-rounded account of what you can expect from Black/White without spoiling the actual experience for readers, regardless of whether you’re new to the series or a veteran Pokémon trainer. We hope you enjoy it!

 

I tiptoed into Pokémon Black with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was craving for new Pokémon, and our coverage of the new generation games had me excited about a lot of the changes, not the least of which was how they were supposed to feel like starting Pokémon all over again. Tweaks such as being able to use TMs multiple times and no old Pokémon appearing through the game only added to its appeal.

 

On the other, it was still Pokémon. Would it be similar enough to make me feel like it was a Pokémon game, yet different enough to not make me feel like I was playing the same game all over again?

 

Curious to find out, I turned the game on. Instead of taking me straight to the main menu, the game presented me with a short opening in watercolor-based art. I had no idea what was going on, but already it looked like there was going to be a heavier emphasis on story in this game — something to do with an ancient kingdom and its people. By the time the intro ended, I found my interest had risen, both in the story and to see just how different this game would be from its previous incarnations.

 

*******

 

Following the unique (for the series) opening, Pokémon Black starts off much like any other Pokémon game. The professor, Professor Araragi, makes her appearance and introduces you to the world of Pokémon…except there’s also an option to avoid the entire conversation. I suppose the meeting with the Professor herself is one of those points mentioned that makes Pokémon “Pokémon,” but actually listening to the same old introduction once more is optional? Interesting.

 

The game officially kicks off. I find myself presented with some impressive camerawork and a fresh coat of detailing incorporated into the world. In the morning, Mamepato (the pigeon Pokémon) fly up into the sky as they awaken. At night, they’re replaced by Koromori (the fuzzy Psychic bat Pokémon). There’s a breeze blowing either flower petals or brown leaves over the screen, depending on the season. The houses are much more three-dimensional, and the camera changes angles each time you enter a house. Muddy screenshots and videos don’t do the game justice.

 

The camera finally settles on your room with your two friends standing behind you. One’s Cheren, and the other’s Belle. Already, just judging from the short conversation, I can tell that they’re going to be the personalities of this game. Perhaps they’ll act as your voice in the game? They’re dynamically different, so maybe that’s done to present the differing opinions on the events in Black? Cheren is the stern, bookworm type who is ambitious about becoming the best. Belle is the bouncy, bubbly type who just wants to get out of her stuffy home and stifling parents.

 

They urge you to open the gift box lying on the table in your room. Inside it are three balls. Whatever could these be?! Instinctively, I pick one; they take the other two. Next thing you know, it’s your first battle! What the…?! Once I’ve recovered from the surprise, I go through the familiar motions of battle for the very first time in Gen 5.

 

It…isn’t very exciting. After all, Tackle and Tail Whip/Leer don’t make for very exciting moves. But wait! The battle ends, and I’m returned to the setting of my room…which is completely trashed. My mom even comes up and comments on it. The incident serves no real purpose in the story, but it does delve a little deeper than I’m used to, under the bare surface of Pokémon. It’s a breath of fresh air.

 

After the incident, you’re asked to go to the Professor’s house and, right then and there, you receive the new Pokédex. No mini-quest making that requires you to complete an errand; it’s in my hands before I know it. You’re then handed a few Pokéballs and shooed out of the house, already on your way to the first city. I wonder if this no-nonsense feeling is going to persist through the rest of the game?

 

In the first town, Karakusa Town, you get your first glimpse of Team Plasma in the middle of one of their propaganda rallies. Their goal could actually be construed as noble — Release Pokémon! Stop the abuse of Pokémon! — except we all know there’s something off about any Pokémon organization starting with the word “Team.”

 

They march off (once again, with impressive attention to detail), and you’re approached by another boy named N. Apparently, N is concerned about your opinion and, after questioning you, confesses that he can hear the voices of Pokémon. He’s also your third rival. I find myself slightly excited by this prospect, and how he plays into the story.

 

Just a few steps out of the first town, the LiveCaster you received not long ago begins to ring. It’s your mom. The LiveCaster is interesting in that it shows characters’ faces as they speak to you. If you own a Nintendo DSi, you can also use it with the inbuilt camera to talk with your friends.

 

Seeing as how I only have an old DS, though, that option is unavailable to me. Upon summoning me back, “mom” hands me the familiar Running Shoes. I swear, Nintendo lets you suffer without them solely to let you appreciate the fact that you can run once you have them. Unfortunately, you don’t have an “On/off” button like in Heart Gold / Soul Silver.

 

Now that you can run, making your way to the next town is a lot more bearable. Unfortunately, the increased encounter rate hasn’t disappeared between generations. Once I’m there, I find that the gatehouse at the opening of the next town has a scrolling message board that reports the date, weather, and any messages of interest. Maybe this will be of some importance later on?

 

This third stop, Sanyou City, contains the first gym. The buildings are even more impressive, now that they’re multi-story. After I’m done exploring, I head straight for my first gym. The gym is in a restaurant-like theme, with an easy questionnaire at each entrance. The puzzle isn’t difficult, but it’s already more interactive than most first gyms in previous games. I enter.

 

*******

Now, let’s talk about the battles. Granted, I’m so early in the game that there are probably several intricacies I’m missing as of this article, but I’ll try to mention what I can. First off, the Pokémon move. I love that they move.

 

It doesn’t matter that the animation makes the Pokémon appear incredibly pixelated because the animation itself is very detailed.

 

For example, after a bit, Tsutaaja (the Grass starter) taps its feet and crosses its arms with that perfectly smug look on its face. If you leave the game alone for a while, you’ll notice the camera moves and pans around. I’m not sure yet if that serves any actual purpose, but it is better than no movement at all in the previous games.

 

Also, for the first time, status effects affect the sprites. When your Pokémon is paralyzed, it turns yellow and moves at half-speed. When your Pokémon is asleep, the Pokémon moves slowly and its eyes close. Poisoned, the Pokémon turns purple. In fact, if your Pokémon is in the red range of HP, it starts moving slowly as well.

 

Another attention to detail? The music. There’s the regular battle music, the trainer music, the rival music, and (later) the gym battle music. But there’s also the Team Plasma music, the N music, the “weakened Pokémon” music that activates when your Pokémon is in the red, and the “last Pokémon” music that plays victoriously when you have one Pokémon left to defeat in the gym. Already so many additions, and I haven’t even gotten five hours into the game.

 

At the end of my first go with Pokémon Black, I find myself loving the effort put into the game. I’m growing fond of the Pokémon too. I never thought I’d start doting on that Minezumi (prairie dog Pokémon) with its crazy-eyes.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. I am eternally grateful that Nintendo and Game Freak decided to offer kanji in addition to hiragana. It makes everything a lot easier to read.

 

2. There was a point at which I wanted to restart my game, but I realized that I couldn’t save over my game! (Unfortunately, this realization hit an hour after I’d started my new file.) Turns out, I have to press a few buttons at the start screen at the same time to completely delete the file. Maybe Game Freak was concerned about siblings accidentally erasing each other’s’ files?

 

3. On another note; whoa. Those Strength rocks are huge. For a change, they actually look like something that you wouldn’t be able to move without help from a Pokémon.


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  • vadde939

    Very hyped for this. Ruby/Sapphire and Diamond/Pearl were such disappointing rehashes imo. But Black/White really seem like a breath of fresh air for the series and a true Pokemon 3. It’s nice to actually be looking forward to a pokemon game again.

  • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

    ZOMG dude, you encounter N so early in the game?! Thats gonna be epic, I wonder if N and Blacks images appear on the screen at once, I love those two to death, N is just so awesome!!! I so can not wait. Oh and Belle too, she makes me giggle.

    Hm I can not wait until March for the game…though knowing like I did with Heartgold…I wont be playing it seriously until a month later with strategy guide in hand and pokdex both digitally awhile later.

    So bird pokemon was the main one seen from the journey from first town to the next town, any bug or normal type pokemon too?

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      First town to next, the wild Pokemon are Yorterri and Minezumi, the dog and the prairie dog. You don’t see Mamepato (pigeon) until quite a bit later, actually, at the same time you get the Electric zebra. It’s just that the pigeon appears out of battles, in the background too, that had me excited (although at the moment, I can’t recall any other such occasion popping out in my mind) =P

      Bug Pokemon appear in the wild for the first time in Yaguruma forest.

    • Ren

      Nope, there’s no special intro to the first battle against N, instead it’s the same intro as the normal trainer, if that what you meant by their faces appearing in the screens. Later battles against him only show his face together with a certain symbol in the intro, that symbol being a(not really) spoiler. But he’s one of the only three trainers in the game who have battle animation, the other two being Cheren and Bel.

      N is a strange character. His theme is mysterious and playful, his battle theme sound like a circus music, he always fights with pokemon from around the area where you battle him and release them after the battle, and the last scene in the game contains him and the most emotional and beautiful music ever, said music even got a special remix in the soudtrack.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE7huxGxwA4

      God, I almost cried in the ending just because of the music.

      • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

        N was my favorite character in the game. I looked forward to meeting him the next time after I just fought him; also felt kind of bad for him (for spoiler reasons). I kind of wish there was a way to meet him post-endgame (or maybe there is and I’m just missing it?!) but I suppose the ending is good as is, if not a little sad.

        • Ren

          Sadly, I don’t think there’s any way to meet him after the ending. He’s gone to another landmass fromwhat bulbapedia said.

  • Pichi

    On the Food for Thought, Gamefreak always made sure to do that so that siblings won’t do such a thing. I know that was apparent in the forth Generation games.

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      I honestly don’t remember about the Diamond/Pearl games, but I had someone check and yeah, it was present in Heart Gold/Soul Silver. I never had a reason to check for save protection though, seeing as how siblings stealing my DS has never been a problem for me, and I jealously retain my save file even if I don’t play it anymore. I’m guessing something happened to you? =P

      • Pichi

        Never had to worry about it, but did read how plenty of people wanted to start over and complained about not saving or whatever. So helpful people pointed the solution and reasons why GF did so and the proper way of deleting your save file.

        I ran into some save file problems though in older Gens! Thankfully not sibling related!

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    I remember when my lil bro once deleted my save file… *sniff*

    • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

      Omg people clicked the like button on this?! Do you guys find my suffering funny!? xD
      i hope you guys are just sympathising with me :0 .The “me” of the past didnt laught when that happened! lol… oh i guess the past “me” should be mad with the present “me” because im laughting at myself, but at least i think the past “me” could enjoy the game at the end, even if from there on he would keep my lil brother away from memory cards always.

      …Why am i talking to myself?! What is wrong with me?! IS THIS THE SIDE EFFECTS OF BEING A UNIVERSITY’S STUDED SURROUNDED BY TESTS EVERY WEEK?!

      Anyway, im still not sure if i should get this game… i feel tempted mainly because of the browser thing :P
      *Turns on psp* yaaay zenonia on psp, cool >:D!

      • Exkaiser

        “IS THIS THE SIDE EFFECTS OF BEING A UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT SURROUNDED BY TESTS EVERY WEEK?!”
        Yes.

    • Joanna

      lol. My cousin did that to my Pokemon Blue as well. That was the last time I lent out my games. xD

      My little brother also deleted my save file for DQ3 (GBC), but he did it by accident (he was 4-5 at the time…so he had no idea what he was doing). It didn’t help that I only had post-game left…I still haven’t touch the game since that time, took so long to finish it and I haven’t felt up to the challenge yet, especially considering how many unopened games I have lying around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1303147481 Justin Ampadu-Kwakye

    Awesome preview! There will inevitably be a Pokemon 3DS, but in the mean time I’ll grab a copy of Pokemon White with a 3DS =D

    I’m so glad Ninetendo/Game Freak are actually evolving the series…FINALLY!! ;D

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/JCKKFWPSVYOMU6HP6YHDG265XE Gordy Sqrl

    After plunging headlong back into Pokemon Fandom with a playthrough of Fire Red, I am totally ready to GET HYPE about Pokemon once more. Black/White seems like it’s a big sweeping “Okay, all this stuff you guys have been saying for the last several years? We used that to tune the gameplay. Please, enjoy.” from Game Freak.

    I am always willing to play a retuned sequel or three.

  • PrinceHeir

    i haven’t played a pokemon game since crystal, but i am eager to try the new one :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexander-Groce/100000039461956 Alexander Groce

    I was initially under the impression that this was just another “Pokemon game”, but you have changed my mind. I am anxious to try it out.

  • Caligula

    …They took out the on/off button for the running shoes? This is crushing news.

    • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

      Hey! I was looking for a way to reply you and i finally found a post you made where i can answer lol -.-. About Jeanne D’ Arc :P, yeah i was just assuming it follows the original story, and i know that she dies at the end of her story… And i don’t really like those kind of endings haha xD so i though it would just made me mad to play it until the end.
      But if what you say is truth and she does not die at the end, then i will surely play it when i have the chance, thanks a lot for your opinion.

      • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

        Dude you worked really hard, just to say “thank you, if that’s the case I for sure will play it sooner or later”. Hats off :P

        • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

          Lol you are giving me too much credit haha xD, this really made me laught xD

      • Joanna

        It’s actually really neat how Level 5 dealt with that historical fact. It happens (the burning at the stake of Jeanne D’Arc) yet she doesn’t die. I won’t spoil anything else. (I watched a playthrough and I would buy Jeanne D’Arc if I ever get a PSP. It looked like a really fun game to play).

  • Suicunesol

    I think I should mention that in HGSS there was a new mechanic that changed the wild encounter rate depending on whether you ran or walked. If you walked, the encounter rate would fall dramatically (such that if you’re lucky you can walk through an area without any encounters at all.) And if you ran, the encounter rate would increase. It basically rewarded people who walk. (But most people wouldn’t know since they always run.)

    This mechanic was taken out in BW, though. But I thought I should say it.

  • Joanna

    A very nice write up, thank you Laura. (I’m late to the party, but I still wanted to thank you for it.)

    I was pretty fine with the standard pokemon formula, enjoyed it for what it was, but I’m excited for these changes. Whatever makes the pokemon games better is a-ok by me~

    I’ll probably be viewing the Professor’s introduction for old time’s sake as well. :)

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