After recently completing the main story line of Pokémon White I’ve fully formed my opinion of the popular franchise’s fifth generation. Black and White’s setup fits the mold of all Pokémon games from the past, but as always, the creators at GameFreak added a new twist to lively up the long-running series. Although not as strong as HeartGold and SoulSilver, the latest offering’s only main flaw is the new Pokémon that are introduced.
Some of the designs are just lazy. Pokémon are generally based off of animals, mythical beasts, and sometimes other objects, but it bothers me when one is modeled after a double scoop ice cream cone. That’s just stupid. Also, when Pokémon start to resemble the real-life creature they were based on, it gets weird. Herdier looks exactly like a purebred dog. It doesn’t feel right to electrocute a puppy. I encounter him in the wild so often that I need to make sure I’m not playing Nintendogs from time to time. The artists must be running out of ideas, because some of the newer Pocket Monsters are strikingly similar to ones from Generation I and II. Bouffalant is simply Tauros with an afro. Beartic is Ursaring covered in snow and Sawsbuck is a preppy Stantler.
That considerable annoyance aside, there are many additions that make this game fantastic. Technical Machines are now reusable, which means that you can outfit all your Pokémon with the best attacks possible. The only problem is that the strongest TM’s aren’t available until the Elite Four is beaten for the first time. Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, and Earthquake all fall into this category. Another plus for most Pokémon fans is that the Hidden Machine surf is hardly needed at all for the initial playthrough, and its use is also minimal during post-game. I have a problem with HM’s, though. Why can they be used outside of battle if the Pokémon has fainted? Obviously it’s to make sure that the player doesn’t get irretrievably stuck on an island or in the middle of a water-locked meadow, but still, there isn’t much logic to it. How do I get my incapacitated Gyarados to swim me across a lake? Do I use its limb as a buoy and gradually float over to the other side?
The only other complaint I have is about legendary Pokémon. Yes, I still think that there are far too many, but that’s not what it’s about this time. The abundant mythical beasts are just too easy to catch. Kyurem, the equivalent of Giratina or Rayquaza in the new generation, is a joke. To catch it, I used one Ultraball. One. Mewtwo, in the original game, broke away from over 60 of my capture attempts. His legendary equal only took one. Boring.
Overall, though, Black and White are fantastic games with a lot of other new features that I didn’t touch on. The C-gear, for example, gives the player access to international Pokémon trainers available to trade and battle at any time. Generation V has its shortcomings but is still one of the strongest in the series.