February 12 2013 by Dathen Boccabella
Pokémon Black and White took players into the all-new Unova region where the series both underwent some change while also remaining mostly the same. Black and White marked the beginning of Generation V on the Nintendo DS, meaning that it was the first time two generations had graced one console. That made it more apparent than ever that some additional change would necessary.
To an extent, Black and White spiced up the Pokémon formula with new battle formats—in triple and rotation battles—as well as an increased focus on storyline. Overall, however, Pokémon Black and White remained the same with the eight-gym format and the same battle system we’ve known for decades.
More than anything, Black and White proved that the Pokémon formula remains strong even after all of these years. With almost 15 million copies sold, Nintendo and Game Freak decided to capitalize by rushing out some quick sequels. Instead of the Generation III remakes that many fans expected, they got a more original quest in Black and White 2, which served as an extension of the originals' story. Were these sequels truly worth it, or were they just a cheap ploy at cash?
Black and White 2 would have been extremely cheap and easy games to develop. They reused the characters and locales of the Unova region, with enough new people to meet and locations to explore to make the game feel fresh—to a degree. With both new and renovated gyms from the original, the whole experience didn’t feel entirely like a cheap rehash; it only half felt like that.
The storyline involving N, Ghetsis and Team Plasma in the original titles was arguably the best plot of the series, which left fans wanting a little more. Black and White 2 provided that little more, because although the story was lacking compared to its predecessors, it also delivered with some moral depth and appearances from favorites such as N, Ghetsis and Bianca.
While not necessarily the full meal that the originals were, the sequels provided enough of a dessert to make the journey worth it. Seeing the same region two years after the original quest was a new feeling for the franchise. Despite not being on Black and White’s level, the sequels were packed full of fan service, nods, references and nostalgic memories of the originals.
Beyond the story and exploration of Unova remains the classic Pokémon battle-system which, for many fans, is all the game requires to satisfy. As a gamer and Pokémon fan, I can say the sequels were worth it. Sure, they may be lazy and a cash grab, but they were a successful cash grab.
With nearly eight million copies sold, people are buying the sequels and they are enjoying them. As a Pokémon experience that fans enjoy, who really cares if it was a grab for cash? When you consider the whole franchise with movies, anime, merchandise, playing cards and all the rest, cash grabbing is kind of Game Freak’s specialty, but as long as the fans are happy, why does it matter? Money makes the world go around, and it makes Game Freak thrive. The sequels were a win for business and a win for fans.
Generally speaking, Pokémon games are always worth it if you're into the genre, but there are two potential reasons as to why the sequels may seem unjustified, or at least less desirable. The first reason is if their development was to delay the next generation on the 3DS. However; that concern is not valid as Black and White 2 would hardly have taken any time at all, which is proven by Generation VI coming worldwide later this very year.
The second downside to the direct sequels is more valid. Black and White 2 means that fans are unlikely to see Generation III Hoenn remakes, at least not in this generation anyway. The Nintendo DS has contained every other Pokémon region. It launched the Sinnoh and Unova regions and revisited Kanto and Johto in HeartGold and Soulsilver. With Hoenn on the list the DS would have been the ultimate Pokémon console.
Perhaps we will never see Hoenn remakes, or more likely, we could see them on the 3DS in Generation VI. Given that the 3DS can play all DS games, even if the Generation III Hoenn titles were released on the eShop, then all six generations would be playable on the 3DS. The Hoenn region classics Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald deserve to be reborn on a modern platform.
Even with missing Hoenn remakes, at least in the immediate future, Pokémon Black and White 2 were definitely worth it. For those who shrug them off as cheap rehashes for money and criticize them obviously forget that Hoenn remakes would also be cheap rehashes.
If people decide to ignore these sequels for that very reason then it is them who is actually missing out. If you’re a fan of the series, then the sequels are just another enjoyable gaming experience.
When you appropriately consider Black and White 2 more as extensions or as add-ons of the original Black and White, as opposed to individual games, then they are even better. Critics can say what they want about Game Freak’s cash grabbing, but so long as they keep their quality level high, who really cares?