Pokémon White owns me. Since this seemingly harmless game landed in my letterbox for review, I’ve been unexpectedly obsessed; frenzy has set in – I just can’t stop catching wild Pokémon and battling rival trainers. This one isn’t just for the kids, folks.
Still going strong after five generations, Pokémon White (and its near identical twin counterpart Pokémon Black) doesn’t deviate much from the tried-and-tested pokéformula. However, there’s enough good stuff to keep even the most ardent of fans occupied, and attract new ones too.
Your mission is to pad out the ‘Pokédex’. The what? This is basically a Pokémon encyclopedia that’s filled by battling and capturing the wee pocket monsters. Along the way you’ll fight ‘Team Plasma’, a cult-like army supposedly campaigning for Pokémon liberation. Bet you hadn’t considered that keeping Pokémon in captivity is wrong, huh? I should mention that humour abounds, and a moral conscience is an interesting addition to this otherwise simplistic series.
Gameplay is where White really shines, largely because of its gripping battle format. Which Pokémon will serve you best in a fight? The lightning-powered pony, the sand-throwing kitty, or the petulant pigeon for instance? Strategy is the name of the game; from managing your six-critter battle crew to picking the most suitable fighter and moves. The more you battle, the more moves your team has at its disposal (though you’ll have to pick and choose which to keep since you’re limited to four apiece). Sitting at 40 hours plus, even after the storyline concludes, White inspires a neurotic passion for Pokémon combat (and collection) and thus scores highly on the longevity scale.
Did I mention that the game is filled with all-new Pokémon? Yep, you’ll find ‘em when adventuring through the equally new landscape. If that isn’t enough to get devoted fans salivating, then perhaps the online enhancements are; link with other players using infrared or wi-fi to battle, make trades (without purchasing both the Black and White versions, this is actually the only way to gather all the members of the huge Pokémon family) and play the new rhythm-based mini game ‘Feeling Check’. ‘Pass By’, a cool feature that pillages stats (so you can get training tips) from passing players is also worth a mention. Then there’s the game’s changing seasons, more advanced camera angles, and the addition of triple team battles to look forward to.
Though a little pixelated and retro in parts, the graphics have undergone a refresh in the all-important battle scenes; the Pokémon are now animated and have come to life, and about time, too. As for the soundtrack, it’s suitably catchy and cute, and after all, isn’t that what the Pokémon legacy is all about?