Welcome to the last and final entry of our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black/White (Japanese version). It’s been a long, extremely fun ride, but we’re finally at the end. We hope you enjoyed reading this column as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
According to an interview with the brains behind the series, Pokémon is ultimately a game about communication. After all, there’s only so many hours you can spend on the game without being bored to death of the same training routine over and over again (who out there has memorized all of the HeartGold/SoulSilver Elite Four roster and the exact order they come out? *raises hand*) without having someone who also plays Pokémon to compete with.
For the longest time, I couldn’t really explore these aspects of the game, since having only one copy of the game really puts a damper on the “sharing” business (I owned the Japanese version of Black well before the English releases). Luckily, I eventually managed to get my hands on a (borrowed) copy of Pokémon White as well as another DS for some experimenting on my own, so here’s a quick round-up of features we’ve yet to discuss.
One of the main questions many people have is probably, “What about my old Pokémon team?! I can’t live without them!!” While I personally don’t really feel this way (I’ve already expounded in my previous diary about how “Old generation Pokémon should stay in old generations!” no matter how unreasonable that is), I do plan to transfer over the shiny legendary dogs and Celebi.
In general, you can only transfer over old Pokémon post-game. The Poké Transfer Lab, home to the Poké Transfer, functions like the Pal Park from previous generations. It’s found on one of the eastern routes which can’t be accessed until after you’ve beaten the Elite Four the first time. After talking to the scientists inside (who bounce around excitedly at the prospect of finally having a lab rat), they unlock the ability to do a one-way transfer from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum and Heart Gold/Soul Silver games.
The Poké Transfer works through a DS Download Play minigame. Once you’ve installed the minigame, it allows you to transfer six Pokémon at a time, sans attached items, from your box over to the minigame. Once you’ve completed the game, those six are transferred to your box in Black/White almost immediately, and you can redo the whole thing without delay. Extremely convenient, eh?
The minigame is sort of like…an odd version of Duck Hunt. The Pokémon you want to transfer bounce around on the top screen, and on the bottom you have an odd Pokéball-crossbow device whose string you pull back using the touchpad. The objective is to smack a Pokémon with a Pokéball. Sometimes, the Pokémon don’t to run out into the open and hide behind the numerous bushes, at which point you need to smack the bush to startle them out. Sometimes, there are small smoky puffs that stun all the Pokémon onscreen.
The game is really easy, even with the imposed time limit, so there’s no real worries about not being able to transfer one of your favorite Pokémon over.
As for the event-specific legendary Pokémon, it’s possible to transfer them over to Black/White prior to finishing the game. A feature called “The Relocater” also functions through DS Download play, but it pulls Pokémon through without the worry of finishing a minigame. Upon being transferred over, the shiny dogs unlock Zoroark, while Celebi invites a Zorua out to play.
I originally thought, based off the Iwata Asks for Pokémon Black/White, that the DS would be linking up to another solely through the Infrared (IR), and you’d have to keep the two pointed at each other to stay linked. Thank God this was a misunderstanding; it’s much more convenient than that.
First, you have to use the IR to sense the Friend Code of the other game, which really only takes about ten seconds at the most. There’s no more going into the items list and searching for your code there; the game does it automatically for you and exchanges the information instantly.
Then, you can either battle or trade. No matter which you choose, you first have to point the DSes together for them to sense each other — they must have been Friend Coded previously — and voila, a wireless connection is established! Now you can go wherever you want in the room and the connection won’t break.
I know we’ve all heard about how you can battle and trade from anywhere in the game. No longer is this restricted to the Pokémon Centers. In addition, you can trade directly from the box, making everything go so much faster. However, what really surprised me was the sheer speed with which this is done. Players of previous generations would remember that trading was a thirty-second long wait as a Pokéball traveled slowly up into the sky to a slow “dum duh dum duh” playing in the background. The music stays the same, but the trading for all six Pokémon in my party for Black/White took the same amount of time it took to trade two in another generation. In battles, there is a much shorter waiting time as the games transfer data to each other, and the fights run much smoother.
I really loved the way this system was implemented in Black/White. Not only is it convenient — which seems to be the sub-theme for this generation — but it’s also lightning fast in comparison to the previous generations.
I admittedly do not know much about the High Link or the Global Link; the first requires more than just two participants for the full experience, whereas I can’t compete in the second one since I haven’t studied the strategy in this game at all so far. I do know that the High Link is connected through the local wireless, and connected players play missions together that give each other prizes.
The Global Link allows you to fight players from all over the world (ideally, but not yet) through Single, Double, Triple, Rotation, and Shooter battles. The last one is just a modification of the Triple Battle; normally you’re only allowed 3 Pokémon, but with Shooter battles, you’re allowed six. To participate, you connect over the Wi-Fi, talk to one of the ladies in the Pokémon Center, and the Global Link will automatically set up a random match.
The Global Link feature isn’t up yet for worldwide connectivity, however; Nintendo has it scheduled for a March 30th launch. Once it’s up, Global Link will also allow you to upload your save file to the Internet, and access downloadable content such as backgrounds for your Pokédex and new music for the Pokémon musical. You’ll also be able to check your scores online for each of the battle types, and for your total.
I did, however, try out the Dream World with my dear Pendora (giant centipede-millipede Pokémon). Of all the features in Pokémon, I feel this was the most inconvenient. Transferring the data through Wi-Fi took a while, but that’s to be expected. Once in, you can go to different areas to meet wild Pokémon who just want to play. Together, you play a minigame, and if you win, you automatically befriend that Pokémon, allowing you to move it to your collection.
This is simple enough, and the minigames are actually fun. What really bothered me was the limit placed in the number of transfers.
If I remember correctly, you can only bring one Pokémon over from an exploration trip at a time. After you’ve transferred the Pokémon, you can’t visit the Dream Isle again for another 24 hours. You can stock up on friend Pokémon, but you can only transfer them one at a time back to your DS game through the High Link Forest (where it’s kind of like Pal Park in that it’s an automatic capture). After this happens, you have to wait 24 hours before you can visit the Dream World again. In addition to this, you can only stay in the Dream World for an hour a day.
I suppose the restrictions are necessary, though, considering how powerful and unusual the Pokémon you get there are. While the species are just like those you’d find anywhere, their special abilities are unique to the Dream World. A Ninetails with Drought is bound to throw a monkey wrench in many people’s battle strategies. I haven’t even begun thinking about how different the battle strategies are going to be for this generation, but it’s an exciting prospect.
In addition to befriending and capturing Pokémon, you can also grow berries and decorate your home. The latter is sort of like a throwback to the underground bases in Diamond/Pearl and serves no practical purpose in terms of gameplay. The berries, however, do: you can either use them as currency in the Dream World (to buy furniture for your room, among other things) or you can transfer them back to the main game…one at a time.
New routes and berries are always being unlocked the more you play in the Dream World. Your activities are recorded using a points system, and the more points you get, the more goodies get unlocked. I’m not particularly happy with the restrictions to the Dream World, which is a place I find to be potentially fun, but I can understand why they were put in place.
It’s been a fun time writing these diary entries for everyone, but all things must come to an end, sadly. There are still more aspects of Pokémon Black/White I haven’t explored, such as the Battle Subway or Royal Unova, or even the Underwater Ruins, but I don’t think they’re very different from what we’ve already seen in previous generations.
Overall, however, there’s still a lot more to explore in Pokémon, and I think Black/White did an excellent job of making the whole experience easier and more fun for us. I love playing this game — so much so that I fully embrace the idea of a region with only the new Pokémon — and I hope those of you who play it will enjoy it just as much as I did.
Food for Thought:
According to the Pokémon Black/White soundtrack title list, fighting the champion of the Global Link actually comes with a different battle theme too.
You can also download skins for your C-Gear from the Global Link. The latest that were released in Japan are a commemorative set of the Kanto Starters (Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard). This offer is unfortunately only for a limited time — until April 25th.
Out of the changes made to Black/White, I think my favorites are the multiple usages of the TMs and the improved speed of the battle system, in that order. What about you?