Pokemon Black Version Review for DS

Platform: DS Check Price
Pokemon Black Version screenshot
Pokemon Black Version screenshot

The core gameplay remains largely the same - collecting and battling Pokémon - but there are numerous refinements that make the fifth generation of games the most in-depth so far. Firstly, it's much faster to level up your squad. The Lucky Egg, a new item, boosts the rate of growth in the same fashion as a traded Pokémon. This also works in tandem with a rare critter called Audino, who yields enormous amounts of experience should you find one.

Make no mistake though, this is still the hardcore experience older fans are after. As soon as you beat the main game, enemies jump up 20-odd levels. If (like me) you decide to take on the Elite Four for a second time, you'll be squaring off against opponents whose levels soar into the 70s, as well as an additional two Pokémon in each squad. Rigorous training regimes are just as important here as they've always been.

Ultimately it's the little things that make Black and White superior titles to their predecessors. The Pokémart has now merged with the Pokémon Centre, meaning you can do all your healing, shopping and organising in one handy location. There are also nurses and doctors loitering many of the tougher routes in the game, so you don't have to rely on backtracking or wasting hundreds of items to safely reach the next town. Gyms are more entertaining, cleverly designed with lifts, cannons and jelly doors (yup, doors made of jelly) to make reaching the leader that much more of a challenge. Two Pokémon can now appear at once in the wild, too, making doubles battles a more frequent occurrence.

Then there's the C-Gear. Similar to the Pokétch from Diamond and Pearl, this gadget resides on the bottom screen, offering a host of connectivity and social features. Infra-red support allows you to battle and trade with a friend immediately, simply using the combatants that happen to be in your squad at that time. You can of course use the wireless modes for a more traditional battling experience, but IR allows interaction with other players without having to be at a Pokémon centre. What's more interesting is Pass By Mode, which scans for nearby trainers using WiFi. Data is shared amongst players, with their position showing in real-time on your screen. From here you can request a battle, trade or simply exchange pleasantries. It's worth pointing out that I was unable to test Street Pass and the other WiFi functions first hand, as there's nobody with a copy of the game currently wandering the streets of Croydon.

If you have a DSi you can also make use of the Xransceiver, which allows up to four players locally - or one over WiFi - to video-chat as they play. This could well be the first interesting use of the DSi camera since the console launched. On top of all this, there's also the Dream World available through a Global Link website (the EU version should be live shortly), allowing you to interact with your Pokémon when you're away from your DS.

At time of writing, I’ve invested a total of 35 hours into Pokémon Black. My Pokédex currently reads 276, I’ve caught three legendaries, and, oh yeah, I'm the Pokémon champion. I've barely scratched the surface, however. Once the credits roll, the real game begins. Your Pokédex is upgraded with a national mode, increasing the number of entries to a flabbergasting 645. Another three towns are opened up, as well numerous caves, shrines and forests that were previously inaccessible. The Transfer Machine becomes available, too, permitting transfer of Pokémon from previous games. There’s even a whole new story arc to tackle as you help out a rather amusing police officer hunt down the Team Plasma's rogue Seven Sages.

After Pokémon SoulSilver I thought developer Game Freak needed to do something with the classic formula. The series needed to evolve, I japed. Sadly, that hasn’t happened. For all its added features and refinements, Black and White still rigidly follows the tried and tested formula. The leaps and bounds folks like me have been hankering after will have to wait until the inevitable 3DS version. Until then, however, rest assured in the knowledge that Black and White are damn fine games; the best the series has to offer.

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User Comments

Joshua55's Avatar

Joshua55

I wanted to say thank you for posting such a great review, it really helped me make up my mind about buying this game, cheers :D
Posted 17:36 on 09 March 2011
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

Exclusive footage of Pearson dancing with a Pokémon at the Black & White launch party last night...

YouTube Video
Posted 11:22 on 04 March 2011
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

He he, my brothers and I never were good at sharing so it was always a case of waiting for the other to finish with it.

I've only just started SoulSilver and am yet to play Pearl or Dragon Quest IX (they're all my sister's) so I can probably wait for Black/White.
Posted 00:19 on 27 February 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ chelskiboy247

Yeh I can see that being a real pain, and it would be helpful to have backup saves as well for when things go tragically wrong. Nintendo have always said that Pokémon is a very personal experience, so it's like having something that is completely yours, and not shared with anyone. Also, I wouldn't let ANYONE near my Pokémon carts for fear of them deleting saves or just losing them.

But that's where you buy Black AND White AND a new (3)DS so you can trade and battle! I'd say it wasn't quite worth it, but all I've played on my DS Lite since I got it is about 250 hours of Pokémon. Oh, and Professor Layton.
Posted 23:25 on 26 February 2011
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

I see what you're saying, it's just annoying when there's more than one of us who wants to play it.
Posted 22:44 on 26 February 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ chelskiboy247

That would change everything. It would more or less negate the need for trading back and forth between friends, which would suck. Also, I think the games are made from the perspective that you start a journey once, and that's it. If you 'complete' the game, you don't start again, you carry on collecting Pokémon.
Posted 22:33 on 26 February 2011
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

Damnation.

Thanks for the quick reply though!
Posted 22:11 on 26 February 2011
Jamin's Avatar

Jamin

Nup, still just the one I'm afraid.
Posted 21:31 on 26 February 2011
chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

Do these versions have multiple save files? I remember the single save slot being very frustrating before and it's about time they did to be honest.
Posted 20:48 on 26 February 2011
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Absolutely fantastic review.
Shame I no longer have a DS though :/
Posted 21:32 on 14 February 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ Ghost5

WHAT! How do I miss this stuff! Cheers though.

D':
Posted 16:49 on 14 February 2011
Ghost5's Avatar

Ghost5

Just a reminder that you can go and collect your shiny Entei this week from Mystery Gift on D/P/Pt/HG/SS and transfer it to B/W to unlock a special Pokemon you cant get otherwise ;)

Shiny Suicune is next weeks Shiny.

Raikou was last week.
Posted 16:48 on 14 February 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ Jamin

Because I'm not done catching Legendaries yet and still haven't beaten the Elite 4 for the second time =( In Pearl I need to catch Regigas, but that means going back to Ruby/Sapphire and catching Regice and the other two!

Yeaahhh I'll probably never get round to that :P
Posted 16:42 on 14 February 2011
Jamin's Avatar

Jamin

Played Black. And yup, aside from different Pokémon, there's two unique areas to each game: Black City, and White Forest. You can recruit people to come to these areas, gradually fleshing it out with life.

@Woffls, why would you want to be able to trade BACK to SoulSilver? Surely just keep all your Pokémon on Black/White once they're there? And I'll happily cap my team to whatever level you guys want. I had to cap my Lvl 100 team at 50 for the championships, putting to waste many hours of hard training :(
Posted 16:37 on 14 February 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Woffls

Judging by his performance in the CHampionships, you have little to worry about!

Quote:
Two Pokémon can now appearance at once in the wild,
Sorry, but I had to point this out. It is the only negative I can find in the review, though. But don't you feel that it was a bit pointless? Everybody who is going to buy this game already knows that they are, regardless of what score you popped onto the end. I would like to know which version you played, as the two have different regions in them this time around, or so I hear. And, yes, I would definitely be up for a battle!
Posted 16:29 on 14 February 2011

Game Stats

9
Out of 10
Pokemon Black Version
  • New animations and cutscenes
  • C-Gear offers incredible social features
  • 645+ Pokémon
  • Same old formula
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 04/03/2011
Platform: DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 1,009 110
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