Unova Region

Pokémon Black And White 2: It’s All About Perception

The newest iteration of Pokémon games have been out for some time now, and despite the usual bloated sales figures, there have been some mixed reviews for Black 2 and White 2. The overall Metacritic score for the pair of games is sitting at a respectable 80%, but that’s still a moderate decline from the 87% of the original Black and White titles.

There are many claiming that these sequels are less enjoyable than their predecessors, and not worth your time. Is this really the case? Are the games themselves inferior? When playing Black 2 and White 2, it really all comes down to how you perceive the games. Read on to find out if the latest Pokémon adventures are worth the buy.

The main issue that a lot of people take with Black 2 and White 2 is the lack of drastic change. As sequels to the original Black and White, these games take place in the same region two years later. For longtime fans of the series, this draws immediate parallels to Gold and Silver. Set a few years after Red and Blue, Gold and Silver allowed you to revisit the Kanto region as a new character, and it was a very nostalgic experience to see how things had changed.

The difference here is that Gold and Silver first made you traverse the Johto region, collecting the 8 badges and defeating the Elite Four, before you could return. Having a new region to explore and fall in love with made the game fresh and new, and upon returning to Kanto, it made the nostalgia that much sweeter. In Black 2 and White 2, although some new areas have been added, you start out in Unova, just as with the previous games. You even have the same three options to choose from for your first Pokémon. For this reason, it feels less like nostalgia and more like a rehash created by lazy developers.

Does this in itself make it a less enjoyable game? Certainly not. I would argue that when comparing the original Black and White to their sequels, the sequels are significantly improved. Black 2 and White 2 have more new, unique features added in, an expanded Unova region with more areas to explore, and a much, much larger Pokédex.

While there’s a lot of controversy over the subject, and no one view can really be indisputably declared better than any other, a lot of people were dissatisfied with the lineup of 5th Generation Pokémon. Myself among them, many people believed that they were a significant step down from the quality of Pokémon we’ve come to expect from previous generations. Every new Pokémon game has some creatures that not everyone likes, but Black and White seemed to have more than the average.

That in itself wouldn’t be too big of an issue, but for some reason the developers chose to make these new Pokémon the only Pokémon available to catch in the game. In previous games, while it was always fun to try and catch all the new Pokémon and discover which ones were your favorites, there’s a simple joy in catching your trusty Pokémon from a previous game. That feeling just wasn’t there in Black and White, but Black 2 and White 2 have returned to normalcy by offering you the chance to catch Pokémon from all previous generations.

As standalone games, Black 2 and White 2 are better than their prequels in multiple ways. So why the criticism and mixed reviews? It all comes down to how people perceive the games. A lot of people expected these games to be a fresh new chapter in the Pokémon franchise, and in reality, they really aren’t. They feel more like an expansion.

Since the very beginning, it’s been a constant that a year or two after a pair of Pokémon games release, a third game in the generation is unveiled. This third title changes and expands the storyline to make it more complete, adds in new events and special features, and sometimes gives you new areas to explore. In reality, they are not unlike Black 2 and White 2, yet they receive high praise. Although these expansion games don’t sell as well as their originals, they still always eclipse the 5 million sales mark with ease, and few people criticize their lack of extreme change.

This is because people know what to expect when they buy games like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum. These games are just upgrades over games they already have, and yet millions of people still want them, and few people come away dissatisfied. They know what they’re getting into when they buy an expansion game, and they’re happy with it regardless of how redundant it may seem.

The reason why some consumers and reviewers are lukewarm on Black 2 and White 2 is that they’re expecting the change from Red and Blue to Gold and Silver when they should be expecting the change from Red and Blue to Yellow. What Game Freak is doing with Black 2 and White 2 is not unlike what they’ve done with every other generation. The only difference is this time the games are officially sequels, and not just an expansion, and they are marketed as such.

This has caused many to adapt a false perception that these games are going to be something completely new. For this reason, Black 2 and White 2’s sales numbers will likely be closer to that of a new game as opposed to the sales of an expansion game. This works out favorably for Game Freak, as they’re doing the same amount of work they do with an expansion game, but making significantly more money. It’s a win for the company, but at the cost of some of their consumers feeling that they have been ripped off.

So if you’re on the fence about buying the latest Pokémon adventures, figure out what your expectations are. If you enjoyed Black and White and would be happy with a bigger, better version with more features, areas to explore, and Pokémon to catch, Black 2 and White 2 are a great buy. If you perceive them as an expansion game in the same vein as Platinum, you’ll love them. If you’re looking for a whole new Pokémon adventure, then you’ll probably want to pass on these and wait for the next true generation of Pokémon games.