Welcome to our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black 2. 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. We hope you enjoy it!
Virbank City is a dank factory town that reminded me of one of those cities rich in smoke and lacking in green—ironic, given its name. The city itself is kind of empty, but I did like the choice of Pokémon near the factory to the south of the city, as it contained some classic factory Pokémon from generation 1—Koffing and Magnemite. Wandering around a bit more netted me a nice surprise in the form of a Growlithe, too.
I really like the Pokémon selection in Black 2 thus far, although I’m noticing a heavy bias for the monsters from generations 1 and 2. For some reason, though, the game also seems harder than the original Black/White.
Perhaps I’m not concentrating grinding as much as I usually do, but all the lackey trainers in the Virbank Gym were at least 2-3 levels higher than me, and Roxie herself (the Gym leader) was 6, which is a stark contrast to the previous game where I was always on par or perhaps even higher level than the Gym Leaders without much effort at all.
For me, one of the aspects discouraging me from training was that most of the Pokémon that appeared either caused status effects upon contact (Mareep’s Static ability, Magby’s Flame Body ability), had attacks with status effects (Poison attacks from Magby and Koffing, especially), or had a grudge against my poor starting Pokémon. Snivy does not have an easy time with the relatively large number of Bug, Flying, Poison, and Fire Pokémon appearing in the wild at this time, not at all.
After Roxie’s Gym and its rather repetitive background music, I was more or less dragged into what has to be the most amusing and slapstick “contest” I’ve encountered thus far—the PokéStar Studios, a movie filming company.
The first thing I had to do upon entering the studio was watch the default movie, and … my… The only thought running through my head was, “And … I have to do this too…? I don’t think I can live with the embarrassment…”
After trying it out, though, I found it amazingly fun despite having to use the rental Pokémon at the time. The instructions are almost self-explanatory (and the game doesn’t give you any until after your first trial). All you have to do read the script and follow its directions. You’re also offered one chance to choose a line to say. The correct choice depends on the script and the director’s comments, and by making the best one given the situation, you can make the audience rate your movie higher.
I like how they incorporated battle into the movies, but I am also looking forward to being allowed to use my own Pokémon in the movie. I wonder if this means you’ll also have to train Pokémon with special move sets to counter all possible script scenarios? Either way, I look forward to expanding my future career as a movie star as the game continues.
After that and my first battles against the new Team Plasma (complete with fancy remixed soundtracks), it was time to make my way over to Castelia.
The first glimpse of Castelia I saw was just as impressive as the view from Sky Arrow Bridge in the first game. This time, though, you’re approaching by boat and the view of the yellow-lighted windows climbing like a ladder up to the sky is quite a sight.
Unfortunately, the inside of Castelia is almost the same as before. Some people have moved around, the ice cream shop’s finally been opened, Liberty Island can be accessed at any time, and Sky Arrow Bridge is now closed for “renovations”. However, the linear string of people moving up and down the streets remains the same, as well as the fairly sparse scattering of businessmen wandering the main street, too.
However, the one change I really liked is the dungeon in Castelia City—rather, the sewers underneath Castellia. It’s such a classic RPG dungeon, yet one that has never appeared in Pokémon, that I really enjoyed wandering through the dripping wet sewer pipes. Again, the Pokémon occupying this habitat fit the setting—Rattata, Zubat, and Grimer—but they appear with the constancy of Geodudes and Zubat in caves of old, which was admittedly a bit miffing. At least they don’t poison and paralyze me every step of the way.
What made the experience better, though, was the opportunity to team up with your rival, Hugh.
This was completely optional (Hugh offers you a choice when you enter the sewers), but like in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, he heals up your Pokémon after every battle, so I took this opportunity to boost everyone’s levels up a little.
Flushing Team Plasma out of the sewers brings you fact to face with the big bad of the game for the first time as well, and he’s … a different kind of enemy, it feels like. Corless, the man with the blue ring in his hair, is actually kind of charming rather than antagonistic. But then again, N (does he really count as an antagonist?) was the same, so we’ll see what his role in the story will be. The battle with him later is actually optional.
Before that, though, there’s Burgh, the Gym leader of Castella to worry about. Despite my little grinding fest in the sewers, I was still under-leveled, but given my Pokémon team’s typing, I didn’t worry too much. By this time, I had plenty of Pokémon to counter his types.
His Gym is designed after a honeycomb motif. Instead, it chooses to use cocoons—approach one of the silk balls and you’ll get sucked up and down along the string extending from the top of the cocoon to the next level. I really liked the strange, almost trippy music in the gym and the details like the small flakes floating around all the time (I almost felt like I was going to get an allergy).
The battle was hard—not really challenging, but not particularly easy because of the level difference—but I won the Insect Badge without much ado. This game really seems to focus more on strategy than on plain old grinding and leveling.
It already feels like they’ve changed the flavor of Pokémon Black & White quite a bit.
From what I’ve glimpsed, the desert that had been so desolate and, dare I say, tedious and boring in the first game have now been filled with buildings (Remember the construction sites?). Different Pokémon and different plot aside, it looks like there’s been a lot of urban development as well. The strategy to in-game battling has also been different thus far. It’s as though the game is trying its hardest to distinguish itself from its predecessor.
Food for Thought:
1. Is it just me or are some of the Pokémon’s animations different? I don’t remember Servine running during his in Pokémon Black & White…
2. My favorite trainer animations thus far are the Scientist’s evil chuckle and the Businessman staggering with his suitcase.
3. The Pokédex has a very nice function now. It allows locating Pokémon that you’ve seen at least once by location. This way, you can see if you’ve captured all the Pokémon available in an area as you’re journeying.
6. I wonder when Pokémon from generations 3 and 4 will start appearing…?
5. With the season now Autumn, it should be possible to reach some previously unreachable Pokéballs as the ground gets covered with leaves.
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. Some English names sourced from Serebii.net.