By Ishaan . September 27, 2012 . 4:00pm
Pokémon has always had an interesting duality about it. On the one hand, the main Pokémon series of role-playing games has always emphasized customization by encouraging players to form their own unique Pokémon teams and try out different movesets. On the other, the games also make it possible for less invested players to make their way to the end through persistent grinding and sheer brute strength, which is a large part of why they’re so accessible.
Pokémon Black/White 2, the upcoming sequels to Pokémon Black/White, take a slightly different approach. The games call for the player to be a little more tactical and are also more accommodating of players looking to level their way up into the 80s and beyond, once they’ve completed the main story. Additionally, they also give you a bit of an easier time influencing your hidden stats.
For years, an incredibly hardcore community of Pokémon players has invested in exploring the under-the-surface workings of the different games, which centre around hidden stat values known as EVs and IVs. EVs and IVs are invisible stats that influence the visible ones, such as Speed, Special Attack, and so on. Training the best Pokémon you possibly can means making sure it comes with—or obtains—the highest EV and IV stats you can find.
In the past, EV training wasn’t really accommodated or mentioned within the games themselves. In Pokémon Black/White 2, however, this is no longer the case. The upcoming games allow invested Pokémon players more convenient ways to grind to higher levels as well as influence their EV and IV stats. In fact, the move to a more streamlined game has been in effect since the original Black/White, which not only made single-player battles faster, but also made them a bit more of a challenge.
We asked Seth McMahill, Assistant Manager of Product Marketing at Nintendo, who has worked exclusively on Pokémon localization and marketing throughout his career at the company, why the change to accommodate older and more invested fans is being made now.
“That’s a great question,” McMahill replied. “I mean, there’s even areas [in Black/White 2] in Join Avenue that specifically will lower and raise EV values. I actually found that out online, but if you look at Black/White 2, there’s a lot that really relates directly to that. Like the unlimited dungeon, where you can go and continue to level up, fighting Pokémon that are at an equal level to yours, and continue to get experience points.”
McMahill admitted: “Pokémon fans, in the past, always had to deal with what we call ‘grinding the grass,’ where after you get around to beating the Elite 4, it’s like, ‘What we do now? Keep going through that, or go fight in the grass where characters are 20 levels below?’”
He continued: “But this time around, this is a sequel. And all the core fans knew about [EVs and IVs] already. They’ve been talking about it constantly, and it was a big part of Pokémon. And although it was in the undercurrent before as you mentioned, this time we decided, let’s bring it out into the open. Let’s open up the complexity of Pokémon for people who want it.”
McMahill feels that this extends beyond just stats and training, and into the kinds of Pokémon that are included in Pokémon Black/White 2 as well.
“If you look also at all the Pokémon that are included, like non-Unova Pokémon—Mareep’s in there, one of my favourites from Gold/Silver—they really kind of made this one the Pokémon player’s game,” McMahill pointed out. “It’s really aimed at a player of the core series. A fan. Look at Join Avenue, an area where shops open up the more you communicate with other players. There’s the World Tournament, where you can fight old Gym Leaders. Misty’s in there. That takes me back to the Blue version, before I even worked at Nintendo.”
“So, although this game appeals to anybody—obviously, I have to say that, as I work at Nintendo—as a Pokémon fan myself, when I first picked it up and started playing it, I was absolutely blown away. I was like, ‘This game is made for the fans.’ Anybody can play it, but a fan is going to love it, because they’ve opened up all those things.”