Saturday, June 29, 2013
Top 10 Games of the Seventh Generation Consoles - #5: Pokémon Black and Pokémon White
Over the years, Game Freak has done quite a bit of experimenting with the Pokémon series, between the core entries and the side games/spinoffs. While still a six-member party RPG game, the inclusion of dual types and special abilities provided a new dynamic to strategies players would adopt. However, the Generation IV titles Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum were less well-received by many in the Pokémon community following their release, due to a number of factors including a lack of balance in the representation of the then-seventeen types, as well as some new evolutions of pre-existing Pokémon that some fans considered entirely unnecessary.
Thus, the Generation V games known as Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version saw Game Freak perform a sort of balancing act between the new and the old. The fundamentals of the game were retained, and many familiar tasks were streamlined to better utilize the DS’ hardware. Trading was no longer handled through the Pokémon Centers – rather any player could access the ‘trade’ and ‘battle’ options on a whim via the handheld’s lower screen and interact accordingly with a friend/opponent nearby. The simple act of combining the Pokémon Center and PokéMart into a single building proved to be a giant time-saver.
Meanwhile, the one-hundred and fifty Pokémon players could catch in Black and White were all new, with access to Pokémon from previous generations being restricted (outside of trading) until the sizeable post-game section. The types were carefully chosen to create a near-perfect balance. Though some generation V Pokémon were perhaps more ideal to certain players than others, the fully evolved form of each Pokémon had a practical use and could serve to complement a party well. The Elite Four put up a solid challenge, and the concept of having the antagonistic Team Plasma’s desire be the liberation of Pokémon from their owners/partners made for a strikingly original and entertaining spin on an old classic - one that was mildly more thought-provoking than the plans laid out by previous baddies who wished to drown/dry up the world or mess with the time-space continuum. Everything Game Freak implemented in Black and White, they did so with good reason, and the games stand out as what I would consider to be among the best in the series as a result. There’s a decent degree of challenge, though the game allows for a great range of freedom with selecting party members and strategies. Above all else, Pokémon Black and White are just plain fun to play.