February 27th marks the 25 year anniversary since the release of the original Pokemon games in Japan, Pokemon Red and Green. Suffice to say the franchise has taken the world by storm, selling millions of copies every year and attracting an ever growing and loyal fanbase.
Pokemon games have had the same basic formula since their inception, with little changing between generations to add more flavour to the experience. Even the most recent offerings, Pokemon Sword and Shield were criticised at launch for how little they did to stand out from the previous seven generations that have come and gone over the decades. Most Pokemon fans, myself included, appreciate the formula and aren’t necessarily bothered with the idea of change, but sometimes certain games in the series will try to distinguish themselves from those who came before.
I have played all the Pokemon games multiple times (except the generation 8 games so far but I’m getting there!) and today I want to talk about the generation that seems to get the toughest time: Generation 5, consisting of Pokemon Black, Black 2, White and White 2.
I’ll just come out and say it, Pokemon Black 2 is my favourite Pokemon (and Nintendo!) game of all time, while Pokemon White is the entry I enjoyed the least. It has been almost a decade since I last played either of the original Black and White games but I distinctly remember disliking essentially everything about them, particularly Team Plasma, except for their theme music. The gameplay wasn’t much fun either as the difficulty had taken an unwelcome jump, as had the frequency in wild Pokemon encounters and the number of times a tough fight would be sprung upon you out of nowhere that you would likely be unprepared for.
Assisted by their extended map over the original, Black and White 2 are long, so long in fact that not only will it take 15 to 25 hours to reach the Elite Four (with minimal grinding) but they require a further 6 to 8 hours to polish off their endgame and explore the new areas unlocked after the story. The map of the Unova region is huge, interesting and stuffed to the gills with rival trainers whose Pokemon pose enough of a challenge to be fun adversaries without them rolling over at the first sign of trouble. I have played through Black 2 four times, each time discovering a new favourite team to use as the Pokemon local to the region are one of the best bunches added in a generation.
I used each of the starters across my first three runs, settling on Tepig as my favourite of the trio as its final form, Emboar, is overwhelmingly powerful. I do have to concede however, that its concept is a little boring with it being the third consecutive Fire starter in a row to receive Fighting as its secondary typing when evolving.
While the first Black and White games jumped straight in with annoying difficulty spikes right off the bat, Black and White 2 gradually build the strength of opponents as you travel the world defeating Gym Leaders and facing the Elite Four. This has the double benefit of raising the stakes at the end of a 20+ hour adventure, and dramatically increasing the level of player satisfaction when they eventually topple the Champion awaiting them at the end.
Pokemon Black and White 2 are currently exclusive to Nintendo 3DS, but I hope that the heavily rumoured imminent announcement of Diamond and Pearl remakes for the Switch means that a generation 5 remake is also on the cards for the future.
Thank you for reading, and let me know in the comments what your favourite Pokemon game of all time is and (if applicable) how many times you have played through it? I’ll be back here again next week and so I will speak to you then!