in Review

Living in Perfect Harmony

Pokémon White Version

Right before the Nintendo 3DS came out (remember that?) another big Nintendo product was released in America: the latest Pokemon games. Pokemon Black and White versions bring the series into its official fifth generation and feature the most changes the series has seen yet. But is that enough, or has Pokemon become too stagnant for its own good?

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: you wake up one day and find out its finally time for you to go see the local professor to get your own Pokedex and your first Pokemon. You venture out into the world, battling your way through eight Pokemon gyms to earn badges so you can go challenge the Elite Four and the reigning Pokemon champion. But your real motivation is to catch all the Pokemon in the world, because, uh, that would be cool, I guess.

The story of Pokemon White Version does change from the traditional campaign in some interesting ways. You have two rivals now, both lifelong friends of yours that always encourage you and even work with you on a few occasions. The evil group you keep running into is the most interesting aspect about this game, they’re basically the Pokemon version of PETA, who say its wrong that people capture Pokemon and make them fight. I’m glad someone finally said that, but the main characters never take Team Plasma and their cause seriously, since that would ruin playing the game.

This game features 150 new Pokemon, you won’t see a single familiar face until you’ve completed the main story. That’s cool, I guess. Graphically, the game looks the same, maybe a little better, since Pokemon sprites are now animated and the game uses some limited 3D effects. Nothing groundbreaking. What is groundbreaking is that TMs are now infinite use, a welcome change. With brand new Pokemon to catch and easy ways to fix any mistakes you make while leveling them, this is a great game for wannabe Pokemon trainers to hop on.

But I can’t help but feel like Pokemon needs to do something really different. This is the same basic game I played like 13 years ago. Hopefully when Pokemon makes the leap to the 3DS, or the Wii 2, Nintendo will take that opportunity to profoundly change the franchise. In the meantime, this is still a great game for anyone looking for that Pokemon experience they’ve always enjoyed.