Review: Pokémon Black and White 2

When Pokémon Black and White were released two years ago they were, in many ways, a new step for Game Freak and the Pokémon franchise in general.  Out went all the old Pokémon (up until a point in the story) and instead the focus was on the brand new ones.  Several other elements helped refresh the franchise and undoubtedly rejuvenate it in the mind of fans who were beginning to get tired of the same old routine.

Black and White 2 provide another first for the franchise; the first time a direct sequel to one of the RPG games has been made.  Whereas we've previously received 'variation sequels', such as Yellow, Crystal or Platinum that largely offer the same experiences, this time Game Freak has offered us a fully-fledged sequel.  This review will focus primarily on what is new to the series, as the heart of the game is the same as its predecessors, and given how popular and beloved they are it is fair to say that in this case familiarity is by no means a negative. 

Set two years after Pokémon Black and White, the game follows on from the story of the original, taking place in the same region and featuring many elements of the previous game.  Many of the locations you visit will be the same, but with new aspects opened, natural changes having occurred and enough variation to make it feel familiar yet new.

Anyone who has played the originals can use Memory Link to have the two-year gap filled in for you, with the amount shown based on how far through Black or White you got.  For anyone else the storyline is referenced, although at the end of the day it is a Pokémon game and they're hardly the most complex narratives (nor, we imagine, the main selling point of the games).

Pokémon Black and White 2As well as making references to Black and White, fans of the franchise will be delighted to hear that your favourite Pokémon from previous games are ready to capture from the get-go.  Long-term fans who have favourites dating back to ten years ago will be pleased to be able to capture them, although that does mean caves full of Zubats are back to haunt you.

This isn't the only reference to the past however.  A rather large nod back to the franchise's history lies in the Pokémon World Tournament, a place where you can battle all previous gym leaders in the franchise's history.  This is only opened when you complete the main quest, but it certainly provides a good reason to work your way through the story.  Anyone who has played the previous games will take delight in battling the gym leaders once again and it goes to show just how much of a history Pokémon has ammased.  Unfortunately you get given items and rewards for participating, rather than experience points, but it's a fun and challenging trip down memory lane.

That story isn't exactly groundbreaking, and at times you want to be able to shout "shut up and let me battle!". but Game Freak has, thankfully, slimmed down some of the introductory elements that proved cumbersome to anyone who had previously played any of the games.  In Pokémon Black and White 2, new players can catch up while seasoned gamers aren't left to bash the A button frantically in the hopes things will speed up.  Overall the game is streamlined, although there are times when loading is hidden behind stylised transitions that look nice at first but get boring the 100th time you've seen it.

The core mechanic, that of collecting and battling, remains in tact and as tight as ever.  As the series has grown so too has the complexity, but it still remains accessible if you just want to catch Pokémon that look cute, cool or your preferred adjective of choice, and then battle them furiously.  It is difficult to criticise the gameplay of the series at this point as Game Freak has had enough time to perfect it.  

Pokémon Black and White 2Of course the franchise would have dried up if they hadn't introduced new ideas and elements, and they do so again in Black and White 2.  Some are interesting and useful, such as the Pokédex Habitat feature, while others are purely useful for mindless distraction such as the Movie Studio, which allows you to create short films of battles and have them rated by audiences.  Of course other side quests introduced in previous games, such as the ability to decorate your Pokémon remain, but the heart of these titles thankfully still lies in the battling and collecting of Pokémon.

Game Freak has introduced a medal system, a reward system for achieving certain pre-defined goals in the game that is becoming increasingly popular.  It is one of numerous side quests that do little to add to the game, but provide a welcome respite as you make your way through the game.  You will be presented with medals, and hints about how to get more, by a large gentleman that pops up in the Pokémon Centre whenever you've achieved a new one. 

An interesting new addition is the Joint Avenue, a shopping mall entrusted to you (because what would make a great business owner than a child on a Pokémon quest?) that grows and expand the more you connect with other gamers.  This shopping mall offers the chance to buy items you wouldn't be able to get elsewhere, providing a good incentive to connect with your friends.

There are lots of little new touches, including new puzzles you must solve before meeting the gym leader, new Pokémon in locations and adjustments to the overall storyline.  The little touches help to provide a rounded-out experience, rather than just the original with a few new elements bolted on.

Pokémon Black and White 2Overall Black and White 2 provides enough new features to make it worth picking up.  The whole game may inspire a feeling of 'been there, done that' if you've played Black or White recently, but at least it feels fresher than most of the 'variation sequels'.

Most people that buy it will probably be fans of the franchise, those who buy any game that comes out, and their loyalty will be rewarded with Pokémon Black and White 2.  Whether you enjoy the altered storyline or just want an excuse to try and catch 'em all again, Black and White 2 offers an enjoyable experience for all fans.

This is likely to be the last 2D Pokémon game, unless Game Freak surprise us all, and what a way to end.  Game Freak has provided a gameplay formula that has been fine-tuned with enough new aspects to prevent it feeling like a cash in, Black and White 2 is bound to please fans and new gamers alike.  

N-Europe Final Verdict

Game Freak must be commended for providing a healthy mix of new and old. Players new and old will find something to enjoy in Pokémon Black and White 2 and the game proves that "if it isn't broke, don't fix it". This may well be the last 2D Pokémon game and if it is, what a way to go!

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Another fantastic Pokémon adventure
Enough new aspects to feel fresh
Perfect blend between the new and old


Sometimes feels slow
Slow start for old players (although faster than in previous games)

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