Welcome to our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black 2, kicking off with this first diary entry. The purpose of this ongoing 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, regardless of whether you’re new to the series or a veteran Pokémon trainer. We hope you enjoy it!
My first day on a Pokémon journey through the world of Pokémon Black 2. The first few minutes passed by in a whirl, kind of like when you cram all the packing you have to do into a single day before you’re shipped off to college.
Starter Pokémon? Check. (I chose Snivy.)
Pokédex, Livecaster, Town Map? Check.
Running Shoes? Check.
Potions and Pokéballs? Check, and check. (This actually felt more like having relatives shove food and snacks into your arms just as you’re heading out the door even though you could’ve bought them outside your dorm with just a five minute walk. You get so much from so many different people!)
And then comes the obligatory “This is how you catch Pokémon” and “This is the town,” although many of the other tutorials and explanations come with the option to skip them. All in all, my first steps outside Aspertia City came very quickly and smoothly.
Aspertia City is actually very large for a starting city. It contains its own Center and Shop, as well as the first gym (that is closed at the start of the game). When I received the Town Map, I opened it and checked for its location. It’s actually southwest of what I’ll call mainland Unova to denote the setting of the first game. It seems like ship travel will be a major focus in this game, since that’s the only way you can reach the rest of Unova. There are also lines drawn over a river and mountain, which may be alternate paths that you can travel down in the future.
Exploring the city may take a while, especially with the size of the city and without your Running Shoes, so I decide to head over to Belle the first moment I could to start on my journey. It’s kind of refreshing, not getting your Pokémon from a professor in the beginning of the game, and Belle definitely has more personality. On a side note, I think the animation when she gives you the Pokémon is impressive.
Incidentally, your future rival and best friend (default name: Hiyuu) is very excited to get started on his journey, too. He isn’t originally set to travel, but after some convincing, Hiyuu convinces everyone that he’s ready to journey as well. He has a rather forceful, aggressive personality, but he definitely cares for his Pokémon (almost to the point of obsession). I can’t wait to see what his role in the game will be.
My first steps outside town are rather lackluster. Patrat and Purrloins make up the population of Route 19—standard beginner fare. However, not much time passes before I reach another town and the farm beyond it.
I really like the farm. For some reason, the swaying lavender(?) makes it seem very idyllic, and then there’s the little Mareep running around. Yes, Mareep. Seeing them, I get excited about old Pokémon appearing again and about training a completely different team than I’ve done before (in Black and White and in other previous generations).
Lo and behold, the first Pokémon I find is Azurill, followed closely by Mareep and Sunkern. In the original Pokemon Black, I had purposely held off from training any Pokémon that wasn’t introduced in the current generation because it felt like they were “intruding” on the world of Unova.
However, in this game, it feels more like care was taken to introduce Pokémon such that they match with their surroundings and the culture of the areas. They feel more integrated. I’m not sure if this will be consistent going forward, but it was a nice feeling.
Hiyuu and you team up to find a lost Herdier in the farm, but in doing so you immediately meet one of the remnants of Team Plasma…this time dressed in black rather than white. Laughably, she tosses you a TM to distract you as she makes her escape. (But I only wanted to thank her!)
It looks like there will be a lot more interaction between Hiyuu and you, and there were already a few incidents when he follows you around, so maybe there will be double battles with him in the future? Either way, after your first encounter with the antagonists of the game, you receive news that the gym leader back in the starting city has arrived. Back we go! The backtracking isn’t bad, and ledges make it so that the return trip has minimal random encounters.
Speaking of battles, I really like how even the ordinary Trainer battle starts off with character animation. The animations aren’t even a second long, but it makes them feel more alive (before, only important trainers got the special treatment, like N or the Gym Leaders).
The gym leader for Aspertia City is a rookie and new to his job (perhaps that’s why his AI was pretty bad? I am allowed wishful thinking, haha), but he’s a familiar and welcome face. The first battle isn’t hard at all, given the right strategies, although I can see how the battle could have immediately turned south had I acted differently. (I’m glad I raised my Azurill!)
With my first Badge, I’m ready to continue on my journey to Route 20 and Virbank City, where it looks like there’ll be a new Gym and a boat to take me to Castelia.
Food for Thought:
1. You’re given a Medal Box where you can store medals that you get from reaching certain achievements and for playing through the game. There are 200 in all.
2. Hiyuu and the main character’s interaction reminds me of Green and Red’s, but with slight but very important differences. I wonder if it’s just a coincidence (or my imagination)?
3. Cheren, the poor guy, was handed a whole new set of Pokémon to begin his Gym career with. I bet he misses his old team.
Note that we’re playing the Japanese version of Black 2, so the English names for some cities and characters aren’t available yet. We’ll use English names wherever possible, but in other places, we’ll have to use the original Japanese names.