Sunday, 18 September 2016

Pokemon Generation 5: What many dub as the racist games

You know, using that as the title, it reminds me of one line used in the intro song for the first Black and White anime season, "It's not always Black and White". How fitting when you see some of the more bat crap crazy ideas currently getting attention.

Continuing from where we were in February, and because no one I know thinks they can be unbiased when talking about this generation, this one's going to be a written review. No one but yours truly for this, as we tackle Pokemon Black Version, Pokemon White Version, and the direct sequels Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 (which I'll be referring to as Black, White, Black 2 and White 2 for the remainder of this review).

The major thing Gen 5 brought to the table was more of a focus on story. In Black and White, the new team known as Team Plasma are trying to convince trainers to give up their Pokemon, as it is, to them, animal cruelty (which they do themselves, but I digress). Oh and don't worry, the PETA comparisons are intentional. Turns out, the reason they were doing it because their leader Ghetsis, actually wants to take over the world, but uses a trainer called N as something akin to a sock puppet to do it. The story is about a conflict in Truth and Ideals, bringing one thing into the franchise which has been getting stronger as the games go on, seeing Pokemon more as equals, rather then tools. You're destined to use the power of one of the legendary dragons of Unova, Reshiram if you picked Black, or Zekrom if you picked White, with N getting the other of the two Dragons. I admit I do like this focus on story more so then the adventure. Its simple for young kids, while adding a breath of fresh air to the games. My only complaint is that they don't go all the way with it in the end.

As for Black 2 and White 2, set some time after the events of the first two games, Ghetsis forms Neo Team Plasma, a team which is a bit more blunt with their tactics, and chooses to kidnap Kyurem to freeze the entire Unova region, eventually kidnapping N's Dragon to fuse it with Kyurem, as either Black Kyurem, or White Kyurem. Granted, there is still world building like a thread about your rival trying to get back his sister's Purrloin, but as you can see, the story's a bit lighter then its predecessor. I personally don't mind these stories, just that they are a bit more forgettable, due to me not really being invested in Ghetsis's plans.

Gameplay's exactly the same as all the Pokemon games, but a few things have been brought in. The first being Triple and Rotation battles. Triple battles, are exactly as they say, you send 3 Pokemon out instead of one or two... and that's it. Rotation battles on the other hand are a bit more interesting. Like with Triple battles, 3 Pokemon per side are out at the same time, but only one per side can attack per turn. What you can do is rotate the Pokemon that are out on the field in the same turn to attack, so there is more strategy to it, which I do appreciate. Shame it gets next to no time in the spotlight, and I genuinely don't even know if you can do it in gen 6. I forget if it is a thing, but if it is, it is so rare. Black and White also did something no other generation did, and forced you to use all new pokemon, no Pokemon from the last four generations appeared in the main story, if you wanted them, your best bet at the time was to transfer them in the post game, using two DS's and a ridiculously awkward mini game. This was dropped for the sequels. Other noteworthy features include PokeSkype... I mean the Xtransceiver, which I've genuinly never used as when I was playing these games, I had a DS Lite. You can apparently use the DSi's cameras to video chat with other players though, which is something? Other things that felt tacked on were the Entralink, which let players move between other peoples games, though not much could be done in them, and the Dream World which you can now no longer access, but it was bringing Pokemon online to do mini games on your browser. Yay? Black 2 and White 2 also added in an achievement system, and a feature to the Pokedex that let you better see what Pokemon you were missing in areas, which would later be refined on in ORAS.

One flaw I have with Gen 5 is that I struggle to think of reasons to go back to it. I never really want to go back to it, and apart of it is the characters. I don't care about characters like my three rivals split between the games. Bianca's a clutz, Cheren's a jerk, but not in the compelling way, and Hugh's really only a rival in name. This is a problem I have with the rivals in X and Y too and to a certain extent ORAS, but at least ORAS has better animation... and the more probable reason being nostalgia, I can't help it, but to me, they were still charming. Here, they're kinda bland. Gen 5 was, encase you couldn't tell, the start of the "Your rival in name only" trend, as the rivals became less and less of the kinds of jerks you want to see put in their place like Blue, Silver, Brendan (according to CJ, I always thought may was charming) and Barry. When I think of a Rival, I think of someone I'm still trying to beat. I'm fine with getting along with them, but I still want to be in some sort of competition with them, that is what a Rival is. N was an actual rival in Black and White, Bianca, Cheren and Hugh, aren't.

A lot of the new pokemon do feel like the "totally not..." kinds of pokemon. Purloin: Totally not Meowth (especially now with the Alolan formes), Pidove: Totally not Pidgey. Klink and Magnemite, Trubish and Grimer, ect ect. That being said, I do like a lot of the designs like the Snivy family, Oshawott family, Zorua and Zoroark, Vanilite, Trubish (not Garbador), the legendary pokemon, especially Meloetta, and more. There are some to like, just that there are others from the other generations I like a lot more. I do like that they did force you at one point to use the Unova pokemon, as it did make me more experimental.

Overall, Gen 5's ok. It is very binary in terms of opinions, ironic considering that lyric from before. Most seem to either love the games, putting them up as some of their favorites, others seem to really hate it, like Marcus and CJ. Marissa's never played Gen 5. Visually, I think its actually weaker then Gen 4, the generation up next. But, I did like the Seasons that are unique to gen 5, something I want to see them bring back... among other features from other generations, like the game corner, Battle frontier, PWT (from Black 2 and White 2, basically a tournament where you can face gym leaders and champions from all five regions up to then), following Pokemon, and potentially more depending on what you can do in Sun and Moon. For now, farewell, for I need to break some bricks for the next review, of LEGO Dimensions.

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