Roundtable: Is Pokemon Black and White 2 a Good Idea?
Game Freak chose to announce a direct sequel to Pokémon Black and White. They also chose to keep the title on the DS, which has ruffled more than a few feathers. Obviously, I get it. The DS install base is huge, Pokémon is a cash-cow and Black and White 2 will be a guaranteed success. Still, Nintendo and Game Freak missed a unique opportunity to further strengthen the 3DS over its Sony competitor.
If Black and White 2 was exclusively for the 3DS, then consoles would have sold like hotcakes. How many people would have finally committed to the 3DS and dashed to their nearest game store to buy a 3DS just for Pokémon? How many kids would have nagged their parents to get the special edition Pokémon 3DS (that may still come out)? A Snorlax-ton! I do not know if any of this would have happened but I would be willingly to wager my fair share of Meowths that I would have been right.
There is a larger technical issue, which is creating new 3D character models for all 500+ Pokémon. 3D Pokémon models for Black and White were completed with the release of the Pokédex feature on the 3DS. Even with those done, there are four games worth of Pokémon to build. Given Game Freak’s attention to detail, the models would be great but would require a significant amount of time and money. Nintendo has a set deadline for Black and White 2‘s release date and may not be prepared to push it back to allow such arduous work to be finished. Maybe the plan is to release this game as the final hurrah for the DS and then release a true 3DS Pokémon title a year after the Black and White 2 release. Perhaps Game Freak has some special features exclusive for the 3DS. I would not be surprised if they announced enhanced features for the 3DS version.
It would be a stroke of genius if Game Freak was able to augment the 3DS version to utilize the system features to their fullest as well as offer a fully comprehensive DS title. That may be the case. The problem is that information on Black and White 2 is scarce, so nobody really knows conclusive details on the distinct version. I expect Nintendo will detail facets of Black and White 2 in the coming months. Until then, I will be laying back getting my Emboar on.
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Pokémon is a series that’s very ingrained in its traditional formula. Fans and critics alike have been urging Game Freak to change up the games since they were first released. However, when Pokémon Black and White were released, the fan response was split between those who enjoyed the new “western” feel of the game and its new features such as animated cut scenes, triple battles, and the much enjoyed Dream World. However, because Black and White were developed by a different team than HeartGold and SoulSilver, Black and White was seen as a step back by some. The lack of a Pokémon following you or the much loved Pokewalker caused some backlash against Black and White.
That’s primarily the reason that I think that a direct sequel would overall be a good idea for Pokémon. On the one hand, Black and White made significant leaps in terms of gameplay and graphics. Battle animations were made fluid and constant with each and every Pokémon being in constant motion. A sequel would serve as grounds to further expand upon the biggest Pokémon roster update of all time. Several areas in the game were also experimentation grounds for some interesting new camera angles. For example, anyone who has played Black or White and reached Castelia City or Skyarrow Bridge has seen the new perspectives and game mechanics that Game Freak has begun incorporating.
On the other hand, Black and White was such a departure from typical Pokémon games that some fans resisted the changes that generation V introduced. The new Pokémon have been under intense scrutiny from new and long-time fans alike. Some say that their design has become lazier and less inspired. Personally however, I feel as though if generation V and generation I were switched, players would be complaining about classic Pokémon like Koffing or Exeggutor.
In the end, though, Pokémon Black and White were a serious update on the original Pokemon formula, and I think Game Freak is already pushing the envelope with the first games. Making Black and White 2 as opposed to a Gray version would be a good idea, making the games feel like their own story continuation instead of a filler game with some minor changes. What makes it better is that Black and White 2 are going to be a DS exclusive. This keeps Pokémon fans content while the 3DS picks up steam so that the 3DS core Pokémon game debut (which will come) would be an entirely new experience.
A lot of people accuse Pokemon of becoming stagnant. To a degree, that’s true. Fundamentally, it is the same game as it has always been. It’s a series about catchin’ all the Pokemon, beating the bad guys, and paving the way to glory through being the Very Best™. There’s a difference, though, from game-to-game. It’s subtle but definitely present. See, Pokemon has been growing up as the series progressed.
Each generation has a theme, each more mature than the last. The first two generations were introspective, with a game about exploration and going one’s own path. The third generation–the awkward teenage years of Pokemon–explored the way that the world can change around a person and how choosing to keep things the same is a valid choice as well. In the fourth generation, it was about evolution and how the relationships between people can mature and change as they grow, even if they’re fundamentally the same.
Maintaining the theme of each generation being more and more mature, Black and White are games about how a person defends their ideology. To Inception that idea, it’s about how conflict can arise over a person’s ideology, even if they believe in fundamentally the same things as other people. A direct sequel to this would allow not only a deeper look to the theme but an expansion of that.
More than that, it’s something that the series has never really done before. Anyone who claims the series is stagnating is a hippogriff if they chastise the series for trying something new. As for putting it on the DS, it does make a certain amount of sense. Doing a new thing for the series is a risk, so if it were on the 3DS, which has sold fewer units than the DS, that would be an even riskier road. As a 3DS owner, however, I’d definitely love to see these sequels on there.
Overall, I’d say that yes, Pokemon Black and White 2 is a good idea.