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Robooted 'Pokemon' the best of all

March 14, 2011

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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PokemonPlaying through a multitude of games every single year, journalists and gamers really appreciate when something is done right. So many games are rushed to market so often that when a developer doesn't cut corners and creates a mountain of work for themselves with the goal of producing something newer and something better, you have to give credit where credit is due.

The folks at Game Freak, we are not worthy.

There is a reason why after all these years, the latest in the Pokemon game franchise - 'Pokemon Black Version' and 'Pokemon White Version' - sold approximately 1 million copies the first day they went on sale. It isn't just the frenzied and dedicated fan base or the legions of new Pokemon trainers stumbling upon the franchise for the very first time.

Gamers recognize a job done well.

PokemonGame Freak's deconstructed their Pokemon engine then put it back together with a whole host of fixes, enhancements and all-new features. It is no wonder the entire project took a total of four years and a team of 70 people to complete. The result is the most polished, most mature and best Pokemon game ever made.

'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version' is much more serious - well, as serious as a game about feisty imaginary creatures can be - and much more complex as well. Although the experience begins the same, the game takes a grand left turn once you have selected your chosen starter Pokemon from the slick Grass-type Snivy, Tepig, the hog wild Fire-type and Oshawott, the cute Water-type. As you battle gym leaders, win badges, discover secrets and level up your Pokemon, you are shadowed by new villains: Team Plasma, who claim to want nothing more than to free all Pokemon from their oppressive trainers. Even though their hearts seem to be in the right place, you cannot help but to question their methods. This new breed of clandestine Pokemon villain is curious to observe and challenge.

PokemonThe Unova region you are exploring is dominated by urban settings. Various sprawling metropolises are connected to one another via roads, tunnels, walkways and pathways. The lush forests Pokemon fans are used to traveling through on their adventures are just patches or pockets here and there. The cities though are ingeniously themed. Each has their own personality. There is a sports city dominated by shiny, domed stadiums. There is an arty city filled with Soho-like warehouses. There is a high-tech city with scientists and doctors scrambling around in white lab coats. There has never been a Pokemon region more meticulously comprehensive and more exciting to explore than Unova.

What makes the adventure phase so much better is that the graphics have received a monumental makeover. There is no need to wait for a Nintendo 3DS to experience Pokemon in the third dimension. 'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version' puts polygonal graphics to work like nobody's business. Some of the scenes are just break-taking such as when you walk along a raised pathway and then a expansive suspension bridge as you travel from one city to another. The battle animations have been reinvigorated as well with improved effects and slicker creature movements, characterizations.

PokemonSpeaking of creatures, you won't find Pikachu, Charmander or Squirtle running around the Unova region. 'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version' are populated with 153 entirely brand new Pokemon. What that means is that every player will be faced with the same learning curve, an intentional twist designed by Game Freak to level the playing field between old, new players.

Anyone who has ever thrown a Pokeball knows that the real core of any Pokemon game is the ability to battle and trade with your friends. The Global Trade Station where you can interact with players from all over the world and the easy to integrate and access infra red capabilities of the DS and DSI make it easier to connect with other players. Multiplayer is as it should be, simple, direct and effortless to manage. It was a breeze to operate and participate in.

PokemonFor lack of a better term 'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version' represent an inventive reboot of the series. Being respectful of the roots and hallmarks of the Pokemon games, Game Freak has made some much needed upgrades to the series and have achieved what they had hoped to do: lure back lapsed Pokemon fans as well as appeal to a market of older gamers. 'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version' has surpassed 'Emerald' as the premiere Pokemon release. You may have caught them all before but never, ever like this.

Editor's Note: What is the difference between the Black and White releases? Each has some variants on the same Pokemon (such as name, colour, abilities) and each has a special area to explode that is unique to the edition.


Pokemon'Pokemon BlackVersion' and 'Pokemon White Version'
Format: Nintendo DS, DSi
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:
Rating: 9 / 10


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