Review: Pokemon Black and White 2 plays it safe and feels a bit too familiar

Pokemon Black & White Version 2 Image

If you’ve played any other Pokemon game in recent memory, you know the deal. Walk into abnormally tall grass to battle wild Pokemon, either defeat or capture said Pokemon, level them up, defeat gym trainers, rinse and repeat. This formula has made the franchise a huge hit since the original Red and Blue versions, and this game is no exception. Where Black and White 2 are different is where it’s actually the same. Using Unova again adds that sense of repetition as you “explore” the area again. This isn’t an issue if you never played the first Black and White games, but fans of the series will be a little letdown.

Black and White 2

Don’t fear Pokemon fans, Black and White 2 still delivers a great experience on the go. You still have the excellent gameplay, the thrill of leveling up your starting Pokemon and the ones you catch in the wild. The final four is still tough as ever and you will need to be at your best to beat the game. This is a game that can vary on length depending on how you play it. Running through the main story will yield you around 15 hours of gameplay, but the replayability of the game is endless.

Catching all the Pokemon is one of the main draws of the game. This is made easier than ever in Black and White 2 by the added habitat list. This adds the ability to see what area Pokemon you caught – and saw in the wild—were located. Knowing where to go for Pokemon you saw earlier in the game is an excellent feature, especially for those trying to catch the 300 included Pokemon. These 300 expand the five generations of Pokemon and can be caught immediately, unlike Black and White where you had to beat the game to see older Pokemon. I regard the fifth generation (the current set) of Pokemon to be the weakest when it comes to their design, so seeing old, familiar Pokemon was a breath of fresh air. If you enjoyed the Pokemon musicals from the first set of games, you’ll love the movie-making mini game that this game adds. They won't hold you over for long, but serve as a worthwhile distraction.

Pokemon in-game

Overall, Pokemon Black and White 2 feel more like an expansion pack than a new game in the series. If Nintendo was a big player in the DLC market, this game could have easily been an add-on for the original Black and White games. While it’s cool to see the Unova region two years later, it would have been way better to give us a new experience on the 3DS. This isn’t a step forward or a step backward in the series, it feels like a copy / paste job with a few new wrinkles in the story. This wouldn’t have been a problem if this was the typical “Grey Version” that fans were expecting, but this game was marketed as a direct sequel and should be considered as one.

What did you think about Pokemon Black and White 2? Where would you rank it compared to all the other games? Let me know in the comments below.

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