Pokemon Black Version 2 Review

Despite being plenty of fun and sporting a few new tweaks, Pokemon Black 2 fails to outshine its predecessors.

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The core Pokemon games are notorious for sticking to a tried, tested, and very familiar formula. After all, it's a formula that works, and that people enjoy, and one thing you can never accuse the main entry Pokemon games of is forgetting their roots. Black 2 is pretty much exactly what you'd expect, then. Given that it's the first numbered sequel in the series, it's even less of a version shift than seen in previous games. It's not exactly the same as its predecessor; there have been a number of tweaks, functionally and aesthetically, and the plot's (sort of) new too. The problem is that, despite the additions, a weak plot, poor pacing, and an overabundance of easily-defeated Pokemon mean it's just not as good as the games that came before it.

Most of the initial changes you notice are far from revolutionary. You start in a large city, rather than a small town. You're given a Pokemon by Black/White's Bianca, rather than by a professor. You're given 10 Pokeballs instead of five. For the Pokemon fan, there are plenty of neat little variations to the tried-and-tested formula, and it's pretty clear that for the most part this is who Black 2 is aimed at: Pokemon fans who want another Gen 5 game really quickly.

Other changes include new areas that weren't accessible in the game's predecessors, including a few new towns and cities, as well as redesigned routes, and a few all-new dungeons. The gyms have all been changed, with a few past gym leaders making way for new challengers (including previous pal Cheren). Unfortunately, with the gym redesign the excellent room-spanning puzzles found in Black/White have been scaled back and replaced with unchallenging puzzles that can be solved with minimal effort. Even the most challenging of the gyms are still incredibly simple compared to their previous counterparts, which is disappointing.

The difficulty curve is off too, and it takes a long time before you reach an area where you can catch any decent Pokemon. It's entirely possible to blitz the first few gyms using just Oshawott, Snivy, or Tepig, something the previous games didn't allow, which encouraged better team building. Then, toward the end of the story, there's a vast section spanning a couple of gyms and a couple of plot-related dungeons in which the levels of your opponents' Pokemon barely increase at all. Unless you're training up loads of Pokemon at once, this means that by the time you face your most fearsome foes, you're almost guaranteed to have a few team members that can wipe the floor with them without breaking a sweat.

It's hard to shake the feeling that Black 2 is simply going through the motions. The plot's a direct continuation of the Team Plasma/N storyline, although rather than expanding on any of the concepts, it retreads them. Team Plasma blathers on about liberating Pokemon again, only this time there's no moral debate whatsoever; you and everyone else know they're plain evil, and it feels like they're simply shouting into the wind. At no point does the plot reach the heights it did in Black/White, and it often feels like a postgame quest strung out over an entire adventure. For those who charged through the originals, there's an odd sense of inconsistency as the characters wonder about the existence of legendary dragon Kyurem, a Pokemon that you very likely already caught in the previous game. You can transfer or trade your Black/White team directly into Black 2 from very early on too, so it's entirely possible to defeat Kyurem with Kyurem, which is amusing in the context of the narrative.

There are plenty of functional additions, however, although none are particularly revolutionary. There's a neat minigame in which you get to star in movies, performing Pokemon battles to a script, and a Pokemon World Tournament that lets you compete in tiered championships against gym leaders and champions from all regions and past games. Again, the additions are little more than fan service, but they are nice inclusions nonetheless. There's also the ability to transfer your Black/White save into the game, which unlocks plot flashbacks and special events within Black 2. And for those who missed acquiring Zorua, that Pokemon now appears regularly in the game, as do legendaries from previous gens. Sadly, though, the Gen 5 Kami Trio (Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus) are absent and have to be acquired from Black/White.

Elsewhere, the music has been ably remixed, the battle menus have been slightly redesigned to make them more intuitive to access, and the C-Gear bottom screen is now much better looking and easier to read. There's also an adjustable difficulty level, accessible only after you become a champion, which is a pointless inclusion so late in the game. Perhaps the best change of all, though, is in regard to repels. Once you use a repel, when it runs out, the game asks you if you want to use another. It's a minor change in the grand scheme of things, but it's a welcome one when you're trekking through a cave of low-level Pokemon, which in this game happens a lot.

Beyond that, this is the same Pokemon you've played many times before. Black 2's biggest downfall is that, despite the tweaks, it's worse than the original Black/White. The plot's not as good, and will be largely meaningless to new players. The progression isn't as natural or as exciting this time around. The gyms are functional, instead of feeling like epic challenges. Black 2 is a game for those who have already played Black/White thoroughly and are after more, but there's a nagging sensation that it's all too soon and that it's pushing fans' goodwill to the limits.

When it comes down to it, though, Pokemon Black 2 is--well--Pokemon. It still has the same excellent battle system and the same charm; it's still chock-full of things to do; and there are still hundreds and hundreds of Pokemon to catch, train, and battle with. Plus, there's loads of postgame content and plenty of optional activities too. But there's no escaping the fact that the Pokemon formula is wearing thin now, and it's clearly time for a change. Black 2 tries to cash in on fans eager for more, and just highlights how derivative the franchise has become.

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The Good
Training and battling are as enjoyable as always
Fun optional activities
Plenty of in-game Pokemon to catch spanning all gens
The Bad
An incredibly weak plot, even for Pokemon
Some of the layout changes are for the worse
You've played better versions of this before
An overabundance of low-level Pokemon make the game too easy
6.5
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
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0 comments
Sniggih
Sniggih

This review isn't fully accurate though. The legendary Trio can be caught in the game if you know what to do. Its the same Pokemon formula but the game should have got a higher review than 6.5.

Angel2836
Angel2836

The reviewer did not take in to effect that you have the possibility of using dream radar with black 2 and white 2 and with that you can get a Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus that is yours and not traded. I like the fact that you can use the dream radar to get them it is so much easier and you can get so much more pokemon that way.

PraiseMS
PraiseMS

This review is semi-accurate, the problem is you make it seem like its a bad game and it's not. It's just as solid as every other pokemon game for the past 14 years. The storyline isn't even that weak considering the original pokemon games storyline was garbage in comparison. Most people who play pokemon don't usually care about the story. They just want to make a team and fuck shit up on their way to the E4. 

Think of the fanbase: 
Children 7-11 : Don't really follow the story in-game only play cause they like the cartoon/anime.
Teens 12-17: Think they are good at the game, only want to catch them all and make a team of what they "think" are the best pokemon to play against friends. Thinks the story is decent, but not the reason they like the game.
Adults 18-37: Playing it for nostalgia and to see how much the game has changed. Most haven't played in a few gens and think all the new stuff is either good or bad. The other 15% play competitively and don't give a damn about the "storyline".

These were direct sequels not enhancements or remakes, the first of their kind in the pokemon series and I think Gamefreak did a good job overall. It's hard to tell a different story in an environment that you've already used, because people already know what to kind of expect. Think of how meh Kanto felt in Gold/Silver.  

With that said I think you were too biased in this review, based on how you felt about the series. A good reviewer isn't supposed to do that. Like Black and White these games should have gotten a 7.5 minimum (since they are practically the same games).


mirage_so3
mirage_so3

Too be honest. What has pokemon really done new in like the last 10 years? Only real change I ever noticed was at one point they let you start using two pokemon to battle occasionally. My problem is the newer games keep making someone pop up every few steps to tell you what to do. Walk into a new town old man being mugged, runs over to 10 year old girl, "Please fight off the muggers!" Try to go to a new gym, your "friend," who shows up every 10 minutes, has a fight with her dad about not wanting his TEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER to travel the world alone, and I'm like, what do I care?

gamebuyer22
gamebuyer22

Good to see a reviewer not praise yet another rehashed Pokemon game. I wonder if Nintendo fans even realize that the  Pokemon  games are a ripoff of Robotrek for Snes.

salvucci91
salvucci91

lol Weak plot? I'm beginning to think the GameSpot is more for the Bro community than the Gamer community.

axelgarcia1
axelgarcia1

hmm maybe they should have stuck with making Pokemon Gray?

Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

In other news, the changed the looks of the comments!

pcgeekmaniac
pcgeekmaniac

This is a bad review. IGN gave it 9.5 / 10 and it deserved that.Don't know why Gamespot gave it such a bad review. Well IGN did the same with I Am Alive.

externalpower
externalpower

Finally this silly series gets the review it deserves.

GameReviewGuru
GameReviewGuru

I agree that Black and White 2's story was really weak. But the amount of features, move tutors, PWT, and more Pokemon available in the wild (wild Riolu? Come on, that's awesome, isn't it???) make this game at least a 7 out of 10. 6.5 is for Mario. That is nothing but a cloned series that has been cloned so often it has genetic disorders.

mrzisawesome
mrzisawesome

The backgrounds used in the Pokestar studios minigames should have been used in the actual battle system.

Calvin079
Calvin079

About time. Too late though; they should've said this 2 generations ago...

Pogj
Pogj

I deffinetly agree with what this reviewer is saying. I was very disapointed when i finished Black 2, because it was so anticlimatic. Black was just soooo epic, and the story line was the best pokemon storyline out there. It went away from the normal formula sort of, and it actually inticed me to be intrested in the story. Black 2 however just made me want to stop playing out of sheer boredom. I mean i still loved fighting with the pokemon and all that, but in terms of plot, i'd have to say it has the worest pokemon plot of all the pokemon games. The main thing that I really enjoyed about Black 2 was the new music in the new cities. It seems very improved from previous games. Which basically brings me to the conclusion that the main positive thing about this game was asthetic changes. The trainers now do a little movement pose when you meet them (that may have happened in Black, but i didnt notice it), some of the attacks have backgrounds now, and the music seems greatly improved. Other than that though, it's overall worse than the original Black which kind of disappoints me since they set themselves up for an overly epic sequal and all.

Impstar
Impstar

Dang, some of the stuff being thrown around here is pretty nasty.  I'm not going to single out people (though there are people I would single out) to hopefully avoid more arguments, but PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINIONS.  And something even more shocking: PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO HAVING OPINIONS ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S OPINIONS.  It is, however, bad form to use that to insult people.  

 

But simply stating you disagree with someone does not mean you cannot listen to other's opinions, or your a fanboy, or whatever; it just means you disagree with them.  Some people posting here are more hostile than others, but enough insults from the hostiles makes everyone nasty.  Throwing around words that were honestly never used before, or opinions that have no basis on reality aren't productive at all.  If you disagree with someone or don't like what their saying, say it, don't insult them.

 

It really makes people look very immature.

penpusher
penpusher

Ahh I love pokemon, but I think I'll start ignoring the main series now. Its an unfortunate, but true fact that pokemon has stuck so rigidly to the same old formula for so long now, that its at risk of just becoming stale. For me black/white was when that happened.

 

The series is need of a serious overhaul. And I mean a real and proper overhaul, not just have pokemon bounce around a bit and call it animation, and then attach a poor plot to it.

N_SixtyFour
N_SixtyFour

I know this is unrelated question to this review but since there is so many people posting here, I would like to ask a question.

 

I'm on the fence on buying 3ds xl, not that i don't like it but worried when i do buy it nintendo might release a new version of 3ds xl just like when i bought the original 3ds :/

 

What do you guys think?

riccardo90
riccardo90

april fools? this game is amazing, period.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

I'll more than willing to admit that Pokemon games (main titles, at least) are more or less the same game with slightly updated mechanics and/or a few new things. However, I don't hear these things said about titles likes Call of Duty, Madden, or the like from critics.

 

Let's not beat around the bush: Pokemon and Call of Duty follow a similar approach to sequels, yet only one of them gets critical acclaim year in and year out.

mirage_so3
mirage_so3

Plus I keep wanting to tell all the trainers that "No my pokemon aren't my friends, I beat my pokemon"

mirage_so3
mirage_so3

@SaltyMeatballs Pokemon Diamond: 8.5, Pokemon Sapphire: 8.1, Pokemon Heart Gold: 8.0, Pokemon Leaf Green: 8.4 I somehow fail to see your point.

rushiosan
rushiosan

 @GameReviewGuru Story is really an important factor on a game? Well, not for me. All I do, everytime, is smashing the A button as hard as I can to skip dialog boxes. That's for every game. Later, if I like the game enough to feel curious about its storyline, either I go to its wikia (most part of RPGs has one) or I play it again just to read stuff. Anyway, that rarely happens. The only games I cared enough about storyline were those from Final Fantasy series (specialli III, IV, IX, X and XIII), Chrono Trigger / Cross and Zeldas. I appreciate all the effort put on this department by game developers, but it's a completely useless point in my opinion. A bad story certainly cannot make a bad game in terms of gameplay - and gameplay is the main point of any game, isn't it??

rushiosan
rushiosan

 @Pogj Are we really making "storyline" a consistent point to review a game? Seriously? Man, this is not a book or a movie, where storyline is far more important to determine its quality than anything else, but in a game, the three points you should care the most are: 1- gameplay; 2- graphics; 3- sound. The rest is completely useless. Where in the world NES' Megaman 1-6 needed story to be a good game? It just had enough quality and variety on gameplay and that's it. The story, in my opinion, just matters to those who want a more detailed experience, the overall product cannot be disqualified just because it had a "bad plot"...

Lynx_7
Lynx_7

 @Pogj Worst pokemon plot? Have you actually replayed Red/Blue or Gold/Silver? As much as I love those games their plot was almost nonexistent, specially R/B. I actually think BW2's presentation of it's plot was one of the best of the franchise.

Pogj
Pogj

I mean with how good Black was, i seriously thought Pokemon was going to start having more and more amazing games. But Black 2 disproves this theory :/

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat  He's right, it was a deeply flawed game. I really liked it despite the flaws, and my rating reflected this (note: my rating wasn't based on a review, and holy crap, I must have left that rating last decade some time.) I was giving my opinion. He was reviewing it. You clearly still haven't figured out the difference yet. And no, me calling certain reviewers incompetent doesn't mean I can't take other people's opinions. A review is not an opinion piece, it's a review. Saying things like "it's just not as good as the games that came before it" is an opinion, not a review. It's you that can't stand other people's opinions. I think the quality of reviews on this site sucks. You hate that, and feel the need to impose your point of view upon me. Unfortunately you've failed to make a single relevant point. I've not run out of arguments. I've made one single argument that you're having a massive problem getting your head around.

 

Also, you shouldn't quote something that nobody has said. It's misleading. I never said that Gerstmann was proven-objective. I said he'd "nailed the art of a truly objective, informed, and non-bias review" based on the fact that he absolutely hated some games that he wrote good reviews for, and could separate his opinion from his assessment of the game.

typeRseries
typeRseries

 @N_SixtyFour The original screen size is a joke. You should trade in your old 3ds for a 3ds xl while it still has good value. I had a vita so I was only gonna get a 3ds if it had a bigger screen and it happened.

shafe-man
shafe-man

 @N_SixtyFour Why would you want an XL if you already have the original? There's literally no difference besides the size of the screen, so unless you're just buying the next thing, a revised 3DS shouldn't matter to you. In other words, if a big screen is that important to you a new 3DS shouldn't matter; if you care enough that you'd buy a third 3DS just because it's newer, skip the XL.

warriorking789
warriorking789

 @Yomigaeru The critics who haven't been paid by Activision say exactly that. Anyone who doesn't just blindly buy the call of duty games because there is guns and explosions (which I hope is still a large proportion of gamers) see that each game is indeed very derivative of the one that came before it.

 

However, that's not much of a way to defend the Pokemon franchise. You're basically saying 'well yes Pokemon is the same game recycled over and over yet they keep making money of them, but it's OK because another game series is the same.' If people don't like this lazy way of making games then don't buy Pokemon or Call of duty games, but a crappy game is a crappy game; regardless of whether there is another that is just as crap.

evanw1097
evanw1097

@mirage_so3 @SaltyMeatballs mirage is right i love pokemon to death and I think they are amazing but you can't give a 9 to a game that for the most part is exactly the same and is not overly innovative. i would've given this game a 5 it was a waste of money.

mirage_so3
mirage_so3

@rushiosan @GameReviewGuru Not seen that way by everyone I'm afraid. Some people need a reason to continue through a game, a compelling story makes you just have to know what's coming next and makes you want to play the game more to find out.

skelly1331
skelly1331

@rushiosan @Pogj I think storyline's pretty important. I'd put it as gameplay is the most important, then storyline, and then graphics/sound. Games such as mario demonstrate that you can have a great game without much of a story but most of the time you need a story to draw in the player and keep the game from feeling shallow. There have been games I've played where the gameplay is ok/good but the story sucks and they get boring quick. There are also games where storyline is pretty much the most important thing like in Heavy Rain and that was really fun. And I think the art direction in the game is a lot more important than graphics as I still play ps2 games sometimes and compared to the ps3 the graphics suck, but there are a lot of ps2 games that are better than some of the ps3 ones. 

dwdwdw6
dwdwdw6

Theres a limit to how much you can embarass yourself >_>

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

 @warriorking789 Agreed. Pokemon has essentially been the same since day one, and the only reason I tolerate it (ie keep buying the games) is because I find them enjoyable. I imagine it can be said for some Call of Duty loyalists as well.

StevenMckinnis
StevenMckinnis

@salvucci91 No, I hate CoD. And I am a fan of the Pokemon games. I felt like this review was the only accurate one for this particular game.

cloudropis
cloudropis

@rushiosan  Never said it was particularly good :)) I generally stay away from this big websites for reviews.

rushiosan
rushiosan

@cloudropis @pcgeekmaniac And GameSpot always gives high scores to FPS games from more powerful consoles over other genres, while they don't even review Wii/DS games anymore. How reliable is that?

dwdwdw6
dwdwdw6

Please man stop feeding him to prevent this crapfest :/.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat Nothing sanctimonious about me. No flaming in that post either. You don't know the meaning of the word. If you knew the meaning or hypocrisy, however, we might get somewhere.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat ...But I have. Either your memory or reading comprehension has failed you yet again. This comes as no surprise to me though.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat Shows just how bad your reading and memory is if you can't remember my perfectly legitimate complaints regarding the reviews and content on this site. You're doing all the whining. It upset you so badly that I said something against your beloved Gamespot that you're still here trying to score whatever points you can against me to make yourself feel better. I see you've searched the comments for other people who don't like the reviews too so that you can try and argue with them about it. It's pathetic. Why don't you go and write one of your own boring reviews instead? I'm sure all 3 of the people that read your reviews would rather you do that then waste your time trying to change my mind.

 

The last part of your comment doesn't make any sense.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat  I criticised the game reviews, you criticised me for criticising game reviews. What's worse?

 

By the way, it's not irony, it's hypocrisy. You know, doing the very thing that you rebuke others for doing.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat I don't even expect you to understand what I said, and it's no surprise to me that more than one person has confronted you with similar comments. It's very obvious that you're full of crap, and apparently not just to me.

 

Weren't you also making jabs at other people's activity on this site?

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat Nothing vain about it. I don't have an overly high opinion of myself. I just have a very low opinion of people like you. You should spend less time on this website and more time doing something productive (getting a job would be a great start.) You've wasted a lot of time writing reviews that nobody reads and people's negative opinions of this site bother you so much that you get all upset and start picking on them for it. The result? You've wasted a lot of time and made a fool of yourself in the process.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat You're mistaking me destroying you and you running out of responses for me running out of arguments. Try harder next time you pick on someone. You'll need to, because if they're as smart as me they'll make you look foolish with almost no effort.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat You've already forgotten that you started this? I stated my opinion. You're the one that had a problem with me stating my opinion and told me to keep quiet. And now look at the result - you've been completely embarrassed and owned. Anyone reading this will agree with me - you're a pathetic hypocrite.

 

"how ever that can be possible" It doesn't take much mental capacity to figure that out. If you say that a word means something other than what it means, you are disagreeing with the English language definition of it. Look up the definition of "review" and then look up the definition of "opinion". See any similarities? No, you don't.

 

No mention of selective arguments here either. That's you imagining things again. You do that a lot it seems. Barely anyone reads your long-winded, boring game reviews, yet you still post them. I guess you have an imaginary audience too. Or no job and no social life. I'm guessing it's a combination of all three.

jellyman68
jellyman68

 @Gelugon_baat You disagree with the English language then, as "review" has a distinct definition.

 

It's a shame your "rather vivid memory" didn't retain the post you made a month ago, saying "I prefer reviews that are more like product descriptions than opinion pieces myself." I don't think you know what you think. You just pick arguments when the moment seems fit. It's a huge waste of time.

Pokemon Black/White Version 2 More Info

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  • First Released
    • DS
    Pokemon Black Version 2 brings players back to the Unova region, two years after the events of the original Pokemon Black Version game where you can explore new areas, discover gyms with new leaders and see how everything has changed in the last two years.
    7.9
    Average User RatingOut of 464 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Pokemon Black/White Version 2
    Developed by:
    Game Freak
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence