By Laura . August 19, 2012 . 4:30pm
Welcome to the last post of 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 remnants of Team Plasma have fallen, the Elite Four and Champion have been defeated, and now you’re back home. However, your journey is far from over, as all the barriers have finally been removed from the routes and the entire map is free for you to explore.
On the main circle of Unova cities, we have Icirrus and Black City (or White Forest) left untouched as well as the dungeons surrounding them. Down south past Sky Arrow Bridge are the rest of the towns that were the starting point for Pokémon Black & White. I would say that all these areas are optional, but since this is post-game, the word becomes moot.
Tons of trainers inhabit the “new” areas, and they’re at about the same level as the trainers were post-game in the original Black/White, too. However, this time I was up to par and on level with them, such that I didn’t have to struggle with Pokémon that were ten levels lower (ironic, since this was what happened early in the game) than my opponents. The transition from pre-Elite Four to post-Elite Four was extremely smooth, level-wise.
In addition to new trainers easy and tough (Sigh. I suffered my first defeat in this game at the hands of one…), there are the familiar faces who are so strong that fighting them over and over again would probably satisfy all your training needs up to level 80, which is I think the highest of any previous generation. Included in this are characters ranging from Cheren and Bianca to Adec and his grandson. Cynthia’s still around, and the now-retired Gym Leaders from Striaton City (the three brothers) are also up for some battling, although not of the usual Single Battle style.
There certainly is no shortage of things to do, between the exploring and the battling. Legendaries also abound and, much to the joy of some and frustration of others, it seems like some of them have their old catch rate back. I almost ran out of Balls to use before finally nailing Mespirit with a Timer Ball.
For returning fans, the post-game exploration may feel lackluster since the old areas are exactly the same as they used to be. The only difference now is the significantly stronger Pokémon fauna inhabiting the areas (Nuvema Town is now overrun with Watchog and Herdier) and the flood of Trainers waiting for your every misstep.
That is best taken at your own pace, and there isn’t much of note to mention either, though, so I’m going to instead indulge in the two areas I’d neglected to have fun with earlier in-game: the PokéStar Studios and the Pokémon World Tournament. I covered the former a bit in one of our previous diaries, but the movies work like this: you’re given a script to follow and you can check that in the menu. Each turn, you follow the script as best as you can with Rental Pokémon specific to that scenario. Your goal is to achieve the desired end scenario and to choose the ad lib phrases you think best fit the situation.
It’s actually much less restricting than it sounds. You don’t have to follow the script (you won’t lose points) turn by turn, but the script generally provides hints on your opponent’s moves that turn and a general feel for the pacing. You could also try for the “strange ending” (which is basically the bad ending). Failing the scenario can actually be hard at times unless you use your own Pokémon, which you can do after you’ve finished a scenario once with the Rentals.
Rentals come with a very specific set of moves tailored to the movie script’s needs, and the way you use them isn’t always clear. In fact, I enjoyed playing through the movies so much precisely because it was like a puzzle, but with battles, timing, and the occasional dash of luck. The first few scenarios in a series aren’t hard, but by the time I got to the last one, I was resetting the game again and again to try to get the right ending.
For example, what’s the best way to beat an opponent with a hard-hitting “Pokémon” (it’s actually a movie prop) with Night Shade, a Zoroark with Flamethrower and a Focus Sash, and a Mandibuzz with U-turn when you only have two Lucario—one whose main moves are Endure and Reversal and another with Force Palm and Swords Dance—and you have to do so in 15 turns? In addition, everyone’s a few levels higher than you.
Fun factor aside, there aren’t many rewards for completing the movies. (Unfortunately, the proceedings don’t get piped into your account) It is nice that you have a growing crowd of fans in the Theater and can get a bronze statue of yourself, though, and the movies can be downright hilarious. Plus, I just like the thought of my character becoming a movie star. This side quest appeals to me far more than the Pokémon Contests and even the Triathlon from previous generations.
The Pokémon World Tournament (PWT), on the other hand, is both hard and rife with rewards. There are the normal Tournaments, where you can play with different gimmicks like exchanging Pokémon with your opponent before the start of battle or using Rentals only but then there are the new battles unlocked only after you’ve defeated the Elite Four once. These battles include matches with the old Gym Leaders as well as the Champions from all the previous games—including retired ones, so Giovanni’s back, as are both of Generation 3’s Champions (Steven and Wallace).
Needless to say, they are all very hard. You can challenge them on either Single, Double, Triple, or Rotation battles. Personally, I’ve taken a liking to Triple battles, so I’ve been trying to challenge them using that formation, but it seems their Pokémon have movesets that can handle any situation…
Upon winning, you get BP (Battle Points) like in the Battle Tower of old, but my favorite part, and perhaps one of the cheaper parts, of the PWT is that you don’t have the added pressure of Survival matches. In other words, the amount of BP you earn doesn’t carry over each Tournament you win, but you earn a moderate amount each time. (I remember in Battle Tower, you could either cash in your BP at the end or invest them in the next round of battles, and if you lose after you’ve invested your BP, you lose everything?)
The BP can be used to buy the standard Battle Tournament fare like vitamins or training items. They can also be used to purchase previously standard TMs in Black & White like Hidden Power and Brick Break.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Pokémon Black 2, since this is the first direct sequel in the main games, but about the only factor that plays up to that is the plot, the setting, and the inclusion of Triple and Rotation battles. While I wasn’t very moved by the story—it has its grand moments, it is more of an “aftermath” than a standalone, and Hugh seemed shallow to me—it was nice seeing the returning faces. I especially liked the vague mentions of the protagonist from the first game.
However, what makes this game more than “just a sequel” is that not only is all of this solidified (more areas are included and expanded, more trainers use Triple / Rotation battles, etc.), but also, everything else, from the distribution of Pokémon, the different areas to explore, and the side content, is completely intent on making Pokémon Black 2 the “all-comprehensive Pokémon game” that’s learned from previous games’ strengths and weaknesses.
In addition, Pokémon Black 2 seems to take certain pains to bring more strategy into battling. There’s the level imbalance early in the game (that I’ve talked plenty about) that forces you to think about your moves in lieu of brute-forcing your way just by using simple Type weaknesses, but then there’s also the broaching of the topic of the underlying aspects of training, such as the shop in Join Avenue where you can directly increase different EVs. Vitamins are also in extreme abundance, more so than in any previous game I’ve played.
On top of this, I was assaulted by nostalgia early on because certain factors seem tailored to have a distinct Generation 1 feel, such as all the Pokémon appearing early in the game and Hugh’s general feel. I really enjoyed the subtle design decisions that call out to fans who’ve been with the series a long time while streamlining different aspects of the gameplay in the meantime. My favorite aspects of this game, on top of what I just mentioned, have to be the heavier emphasis on strategy and the PokéStar Studios.
Food for thought:
1. If you use your own Pokémon in the movies and complete the scenario successfully, they get a new animation when they pop out of the Pokéball.
2. There are many more components to the game, post-game or not, that I haven’t covered. These include many returning places from Unova like the Abyssal Ruins or Royal Unova, but also the Fes missions and the Global Link. Pokémon certainly has no dearth of material to play around with.
3. In the PWT, you get remixed versions of original theme for the Gym Leaders’ fights. Sadly, I prefer the original, but I like the effort that went into the music. I also liked watching the animations to the previously-still sprites.
And with that, we come to the end of our Pokémon Diary series for Pokémon Black/White 2. We hope you found it illuminating and enjoyable to read. Pokémon Black/White will be released in North America on October 7th in North America and on October 12th in Europe.
Images sourced from Serebii.net.