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Pokemon Black - the $40 way of playing White again.

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, 23rd March 2012 at 01:54 PM (319 Views)
One of the downsides to attempting Pokedex completion on Pokemon White was that I'd put way too much time and effort into doing so that my first rapid run through of White was the only time I got to actually play the game, which meant that I went way to fast past some of the storyline, which considering how interesting the storyline is, was enough to make me always want to play though again.

Well about a month ago I took the plunge and decided to purchase Black - with the impending sequels being my justification to myself for falling for the dual version scheme that GameFreak run. Having two Pokemon fan sisters meant that as a kid I was able to get the third version, so while they bought Red/Blue and Gold/Silver respectively, I got to play Yellow and Crystal. I never got a GameBoy Advance so that's how it stayed until a year or so ago when I bought Sapphire (it's a pain in the arse trying to find a legitimate copy of the GBA games so I settled for Sapphire rather than try to find a legit Emerald) to play on my GameCube's Gameboy Player, which previously served just as a Colosseum (which is still to this date the only game I own for the GameCube). Playing the old Gameboy games on the big screen is also good, though you don't get the fancy borders on the GameCube that you would have got with a Super Gameboy.

Anyway, the takeaway point is that I'd been able to avoid personally buying more than one game from each generation, and even after I bought a DS, I ended up getting only Platinum and SoulSilver when buying the generation I missed from skipping straight to White when I finally decided to get a DS. So a plusle to GameFreak for managing to get my money and a minun for the lack of multiple saves like every other RPG in human history has!

My playthough of White took my usual Pokemon approach, fire, grass, water, flying, electric and something. The something slot is usually my only real big decision when playing Pokemon games, usually Rock or Dark depending on what's available. To that ends, my 'first game clear' team on White was my starter Emboar (M lv49), Leavanny (F lv49), Seismitoad (M lv46), Unfezant (M lv42), the forced Zekrom (lv55) replacing my Zebstrika and the 'something' ended up being Excadrill. So it does the job, but it is far from the most creative team.

So when playing Black I decided to try and take a slightly different approach. Firstly, I followed the advice that one of the NPCs gives you and decided to keep my team to three Pokemon for the first few Gyms. I started with Oshawott (M) and got the free Pansear (F) to defeat the first Gym and then caught a Sawk to help win in the second Gym. After that it was a Tynamo (F) in Chargestone Cave and finally a Druddigon (M) in Dragonspiral Tower, which wasn't really planned, but something I decided to catch after noticing how strong a wild one was. I was originally planning on getting a Cryogonal as my anti-Dragon tactic Pokemon (usually I'd teach my water type an Ice move, but nothing seemed to come available for Samurott) - but never stumbled upon a wild one (being near impossible to find outside of winter helps).

I made a begrudging capture of a Tranquill to use Fly rather than walk back to the Desert Resort, but put it back in the PC once I was done rather than train it up, with me battling the Elite Four with just the five Pokemon with the spot saved for Reshiram. I don't think it made all that much difference, my battle tactics had to change slightly for battles where I didn't have a direct type advantage, I probably missed having a flying type more than anything and the poor movesets of Tynamo and Pansear were annoying, I waited until getting Thunderbolt and Crunch respectively to do the evolutions, but even then I had to rely a bit heavily on Fire Blast with Simisage, I really don't like having 5PP moves, but with the lack of strength on the other moves it was probably worth it.

Another thing I did differently was playing as Hilda rather than Hilbert. I don't think it makes any real difference to the storyline, and it's horribly stereotypic how you get a pink bag and love hearts on the C-Gear, but I suppose until you're given the amount of gender options you are given here on Bulbagarden, you'll be stuck with those clichés. I suppose it makes the scene with N on the Ferris wheel mean something slightly different at best.

After getting a good chance to pay attention to the storyline (though I still mashed through out of impulse occasionally), the sort of stuff I talked about when talking about White, in relation to Colosseum while I was supposed to be reviewing Pokemon Ranger holds true. It annoys me how your actions and bonds with the Pokemon in the game make absolutely no impact on the truth vs ideals issue - and Black's no different to White in that respect. I hope the sequels do something.

It took me nine days for the game completion and I'm at 18:44 play time after spending a little bit of time looking at Black City, which is a bit faster than I finished White, but not considerably. I've yet to do the post game story for Black, but I might reset again and play through with Snivy before doing that, especially as I don't exactly fancy doing the levelling up needed to make up the 20 level jump after the Elite Four. Presumably when Team Plasma's castle rose up it rained Rare Candy.

One thing I noticed while paying attention to the storyline, is just how little development the Gym leaders actually get in game. No wonder the Anime goes to odd lengths to develop characters, like making Skyla do 'air battles', because when the game characters just say 'You've made it this far, lets battle' then you can't really complain when they have to make stuff up to get an episode out of these characters. Also, Bianca in the Anime seems to be more cohesive than in the games - when you get the same scene about her supposedly being forced to go home in the game, but then have her later decide to just follow the Professor around, it doesn't mean as much as if she went on to develop her battle skills like she is in the show. That said, the N storyline just needs to make it into the show, somehow and sometime, it is too good not to be expanded further.

So what has playing Black taught me - well it's nice to be able to replay the main storyline. The differences between the two games don't really justify buying both in and of themselves, though I chose White initially because of White Forest, but ended up just trading most of those across from the other games I have or getting them in the Dream World. I don't think I'll go out of my way to capture different types, especially as I still ended up getting Fire, Water and Electric and was inconvenienced by the lack of a Flying type. Sawk was good, but considering how choosing Tepig solves both the Fire type moveset issue and gets me a Fighting type, and how on balance Leavanny's Bug secondary type and Seismitoad's Ground secondary type are more flexible than Snivy/Oshawott means even ignoring how Tepig's my favourite of the Gen V starters, I'll be picking Tepig in the future (unless I replay Black) provided the sequels still use the same starters.

However, limiting myself to a lower number of Pokemon earlier on made me spend far less time levelling up, which is nice. Having the slight level advantage also made up for not having the full six when it came to harder battles. Having a slight bit more HP to survive bigger hits is better than having a 6th Pokemon and just have it sit there while you Revive and Super Potion your way back in to battle.

Overall, the fifth generation games are great. Sure it annoys me they remove features you know they will bring back (like something to have repeat battles, though Big/Small Court help) and that they dropped walking Pokemon from HGSS, but the storyline is good, especially when you pay attention to it, and playing it again gives you more understanding of just why we're getting sequels for these games, because there's a lot to work off.

On Black specifically, it's hardly the worst way of spending the money. Petrol for example, petrol is much less fun than Pokemon Black.

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