Pokémon Black Version 2, Nintendo DS

Pokémon Black Version 2 is a direct sequel to Pokémon Black Version (and White Version 2 is a direct sequel to White Version), and was released for the Nintendo DS in 2012 by The Pokémon Company. It was again developed by Game Freak, and takes place once more in the Unova region.

The story this time is set two years after the events of Black and White and the criminal organisation Team Plasma have returned as ‘Neo Team Plasma‘, and the player must once again thwart their plans to rule the world.

The first thing you have to do in Black Version 2 is find your friend from the previous game, Bianca, who gives you a Pokémon from a choice of three. Once again: the Pokémon you choose at the beginning alters the game in certain places. Your ‘rival’ this time is a character called Woody who has sworn revenge on Team Plasma for stealing his sister’s Pokémon. Professor Juniper returns to guide you through the process of filling entries in your Pokédex and also to convey exposition at certain points in the story.

Those who’ve played the previous game will be familiar with the menu system; the region map, and the communication device you’re given called the Xtransceiver, which are all pretty much the same as before. The locations you visit initially are different towns in the Unova region, but as the game progresses you’ll also get to re-visit familiar places from Black and White, although many have significant differences due to the passage of time. You’ll also meet familiar characters from the previous game too – like Cheren, who is now a gym leader in Aspertia City – and of course you’ll also meet plenty of new characters too. In fact: one of the great things about this sequel is its familiarity, but with both significant and subtle changes made to it.

As before: the in-game clock follows the actual time, so it’s light if you play during the day and dark if you play at night. The game also follows the seasons, depending on when in the year you’re playing. So if it’s autumn or winter the trees will have brown leaves or no leaves. I played it through winter, spring and summer and noticed various graphical differences in the weather and the flora and fauna, which gives the game a unique atmosphere. Also: a small number of Pokémon are only available during certain seasons, which can make catching them tricky unless you’re prepared to continue playing the game throughout the year (or cheat by changing your clock).

While Black Version 2 is very similar to Black Version on the face of it it does contain a surprising number of enhancements and differences. The game is slightly faster and has better presentation overall; battles seem to be slightly quicker; the graphics are noticeably more detailed (like, for example, the flowing grass patches seen around battling Pokémon, or the puffs of dry ice that can be seen when using automated doors); you can choose which channel to watch on TVs; opponents sometimes miss and crash during attacks (therefore losing them a chunk of their health in the process); you can earn medals for achieving things and display them in a medal case; you’ll also occasionally encounter trainers that will battle you every time you pass them, which is new.

Other significant new features include: the ‘Key System‘ (available after completing the game once, which unlocks new areas and difficulty levels), Hidden Grottoes (that you can find and where you catch special Pokémon), the Pokémon World Tournament (where you battle powerful trainers from previous Pokémon games), Funfest Missions (timed challenge missions made available through the Entralink area), and – most significantly – a new side-game called “Pokéstar Studios“, where you can make Pokémon-based films, impress theatre audiences, gross billions in revenues, and become Pokéfamous as a movie star. Another cool little side-hustle is a feature called ‘Join Avenue‘, where you run a shopping mall and get to create different types of shops and encourage people to visit them, thus boosting their popularity. You could also play minigames with friends using the Xtransciever, but that is unfortunately no longer available due to there being no more Nintendo Wifi service.

Initially I was a bit sceptical about how good or how different this sequel could be – especially as I enjoyed playing Black Version so much – but it turns out that Black Version 2 contains pretty much everything that made the previous game so good, but builds on it significantly. The graphics, sound and presentation in Black Version 2 are a definite step-up from before, with lots of great little touches that have been designed to be noticed. And the sheer amount of content in this game is just staggering. As much as I loved Black and White I’d have to say that these sequels edge them in terms of greatness.

Black and White Version 2 didn’t sell quite as well as the previous two games, but they did manage to shift huge numbers, with combined sales of almost eight million units in their first year of sale alone.

More: Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 on Wikipedia

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