By Laura . July 20, 2012 . 3:01pm
Welcome to our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black 2. The purpose of this series of articles is to provide a well-rounded account of what you can expect from Black/White 2 without spoiling the actual experience for readers who intend to play the games themselves. We hope you enjoy it!
Previous Pokémon Black & White 2 Diaries:
The first few areas after my foray at the Driftveil Gym were rather trying, but ultimately lackluster. Route 6 is exactly the same with the same Pokémon, the same route design with its bridges and river and its Deerling-centered research center. The one major difference this time, though, is that you get the HM Surf early, so you can actually explore Mistralton Cave (the cave with all the Axew the first time around) early this time around instead of having to return for it.
So what did I do? Of course I explored it, from top to bottom, but there weren’t any major differences from what I remember (but then again, Mistralton Cave was never a particularly bright or unique moment in my memory). There was an exit leading somewhere else that was blocked, but other than that…
Following that, I reached Chargestone Cave, which was…just as annoying as I remembered it being. Granted, it seems like the random encounters occur much less than before, but it’s still every 10 steps (as opposed to being every 2).
Mistralton City didn’t show much change either, and by this time I was wondering if the game had somehow petered out all of its creative activity early on. Since there was nothing much that’s different… Again…
I’ll now expound on the trainers, which I really do think have developed, in contrast to the areas mentioned above.
First off, there are a few kinds of trainers. Some do the ol’ “Our eyes met, so let’s battle!” Others won’t challenge you unless you talk to them. The Doctors and Nurses are still around, and they’re handy after the fight for a healing. This time around, though, there are also trainers who will challenge you every time you meet them. They aren’t many—thus far I’ve only found one on Route 4 who (fortunately or unfortunately) stands at the mouth of Castelia City—but that means there might be more of her kind.
In addition, there are far more Triple and Rotation battles. They’re not just a gimmick for the multiplayer battles anymore, with only one or two battles in-game. This time, random trainers will go, “Oooh, Triple Battle!” (or some variation of that sentiment) and toss out three Pokéballs, out of the blue. I’ve seen plenty of both Triple and Rotation battles, so unlike with the original Pokémon Black/White, they aren’t confined to one version of the game.
On top of these, there are more double battles with a partner. The first time was with Hugh, and I may have fought with Cheren once or twice, too. This time, a little after the Mistralton Gym, I teamed up with Bianca for a dungeon. These battles are great training sessions and…well, these and the Triple/Rotation battles reminded me about how fun Pokémon battles could be.
It’s like there are three kinds of battles—the grinding battles, the meta-battles with your friends, and then the trainer battles that are tough are just fun and give you a sense of accomplishment after beating them. The fact that the trainers have higher levels and that they actually use items now (Hyper Potions, Full Heals, etc.) makes normal non-Gym Leader battles fun, too. I almost forgot what that was like…
Long aside over, let’s get back to the very-much-unchanged Mistralton City. This time, instead of heading straight for the Gym, you’re actually given the option of exploring the nearby grasses and dungeons first or challenge the Gym. I explored first (there really is nothing to do at the Celestial Tower other than train; it hasn’t changed a bit either), but I went back to the Gym almost immediately after the first dungeon. In addition, after the Gym, you’re given the option to explore again. I wonder how far you can stray before the game grabs you by the collar and drags you back to the story. Probably until the next dungeon (which, if we follow the Pokémon Black/White line of events, would be Twist Mountain).
The Mistralton Gym was actually fun. It reminded me of a battle in Shadow of the Colossus where I had to run and dodge behind different walls to avoid the barrage of energy blasts. This time, there are no energy blasts but strong gusts of wind that blow you all the way back to the start of the Gym (or whatever wall stands behind you) if you get hit and don’t take cover quick enough. The Gym is windy, too, so it was a lot of fun.
The shivering animation the main character does when the wind blows is cute, too. I love little details like that.
After the Gym, though, the game takes a huge departure from the first game. Like I said, I don’t know what happens if you continue wandering around the area, but I chose to continue with the story and took a plane to Yamaji Town, which is all the way to the west of Unova. It’s a skip and a hop (or rather, an enormous cave) away from Undella Town, which is the post-game city in Black/White, where Cynthia resided during the Spring and Summer months.
Yamaji Town itself is rather unremarkable (other than its rather cool background music), but the main attraction is Reverse Mountain, which links Yamaji to Undella. And, man, is Reverse Mountain huge. I suppose the only way I can explain Reverse Mountain’s size is by saying… if you go into one (large, extensive) area, it will have three exits, each of which lead into another large, extensive area, with their own exits. You get the idea.
This is the cave where Bianca fights alongside you, and good thing, too, since, it being a cave and all, encounters are common and the dungeon really is too large at your current level (unless you’ve been grinding) to take on in one go without using a mountain of items. By this time, Prof. Juniper has also given you the Lucky Egg (thank goodness), so it really is like hitting two birds with one stone.
I admittedly haven’t finished exploring the place yet, and it looks like there’s some backstory since Bianca really wants to reach the basement floor, although it doesn’t seem Team Plasma-related.
I’m actually struck by how many of the dungeons are optional. Mistralton Cave, of course, was always optional, but then there’s also the Celestial Tower and an enormous portion of Reverse Mountain now, too. Maybe I’ll have to explore them later, but the point is that, right now, the game gave me the option to explore more or to advance the story without going, “There’s evil happening in that dungeon! Go explore it!” or “This cave is in your way. Trek through it!”
It’s a small choice, but it’s a choice nonetheless, which I feel gives Pokémon Black/White 2 a greater feeling of freedom and exploration.
Food for Thought:
1. Reverse Mountain is different for Black 2 and White 2. Black 2 (the version I’m playing) has the cave filled with quiet, stagnant ponds. White 2 has it filled with boiling magma.
2. I finally found Generation 3 and 4 Pokémon! I am now the proud owner of a Spoink and Skorupi.
Images courtesy The Pokémon Company and Serebii.net.