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“Pokemon Black” Brings Decent Changes To The Series

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On March 6, 2011 Pokémon Black and Pokémon White were released for the Nintendo DS. Having played the games in the Pokémon series since I was seven, I made it a point to preorder Pokémon Black so I would have the opportunity to play the next generation of Pokémon games, which is now known as the fifth generation or Generation V.

This being said, there are differences between the Black and White versions of the game. Certain Pokémon are available in one and not the other, especially the legendary Pokémon. As I only bought Black, I’m therefore reviewing this version. In addition to this, I have yet to beat the game, having only defeated the gym leader in Castelia City. Those who have played or are still playing the game know that this means that I have defeated three gym leaders, which is not very far.

I admit, I was hesitant to play Black. As I mentioned before, I’ve been playing Pokémon since Red and Blue came out and still believe that the Generation I Pokémon are far better than any in the following generations. Playing with this new generation of Pokémon meant I would be encountering Pokémon that I had never thought of before. I was unsure of how powerful the new Pokémon would be, in my personal opinion, the Pokémon from Generation II on do not seem to meet the standards that Generation I set.

The Pokémon themselves, from what I can tell, seem to be about the same as the Pokémon from Generations II-IV. Out of the three starters, I chose Tepig, the fire Pokémon. So far I am pleased with his fire attacks, but his fighting attacks leave something to be desired. As a fire/fighting Pokémon, Tepig and his evolved forms use both fire attacks and fighting attacks.

Pokémon Black brings a new feature to the series. Players of the series know that Pokémon are caught in wild grass, but there are now two different colors of grass. When a player walks into a light shade of grass, they can encounter a wild Pokémon. Walking into darker shades of grass means there is a chance the player gets into a battle with not one, but two wild Pokémon. If this is the case, the first two Pokémon in the player’s party will fight the Pokémon.

I find it interesting that the PokéMarts and PokéCenters are now in one building. PokéMarts are near the entrance to PokéCenters, which makes it easier for players to heal their pokémon and to purchase various healing items.

The music changes a bit throughout the game, especially the battle music in particular. For instance, the music will change to a different melody when a Pokémon’s health points fall to a critical level. When the Pokémon is healed again and the health points are restored, the music changes back. The music for battling gym leaders is different than the music for a regular battle, but when the player starts to challenge the final Pokémon, the music changes to the iconic Pokémon theme that can be found on the title screen for Generation I games.

A new feature in Black is that the game is affected by the seasons, as regulated by the system clock on the DS. Changes are made obvious by the grass colour and can affect battle situatuions, as hail will take points from the Pokémon’s health points when they are in battle when the player is playing in the winter months.

One change that I was very disappointed about was the  fact that the Pokédex no longer enables the search option that allows players to search for specific Pokémon. I used the search option a lot when I was playing Platinum and still do while I play HeartGold. This was very helpful when I wanted a quick answer as to where a Pokémon could be found, as I could quickly narrow the results. The only to find Pokémon in the Pokédex is to go through the entire list of Pokémon. This takes a while, as there are well over a hundred Pokémon in the fifth generation.

As hesitant as I was to play Pokémon Black, I find it to be a very enjoyable game so far. Hopefully future games will continue to improve as the series is being played by older players so that they will want to play the games in the series that they have played since their childhood.