The Pokemon series has continued for years in more or less the same fashion. You play a kid who gets his/her first Pokemon and embarks on a quest to defeat the Elite Four and the Champion. Along the way, you catch new Pokemon and battle others in a traditional turn-based RPG format. And while there’s a story, it usually doesn’t go much beyond battles with bad guys who want to use Pokemon for criminal purposes.
That’s where Pokemon Black and White stand out from the rest of the series.
When I started up Pokemon White for the first time and watched the introductory scene, I immediately grabbed the box to make sure I’d really put in a Pokemon game. The intro looked like something from an actual, story-driven JRPG!
Not only does this Pokemon generation have a more in-depth story than the previous games, but it’s well-written. Team Plasma is the most complex of all the villainous teams in the series to date. Their philosophy is that capturing Pokemon and having them battle one another is cruel, and they want to free Pokemon. Of course, not everyone in Team Plasma is genuinely that altruistic – but many are.
Pokemon White also has some of the most memorable characters in the series. Of particular note is N, a young man who can speak to Pokemon. He has a unique outlook on life, and his path will cross yours many times throughout the game.
Aside from the story, it’s a basic Pokemon experience. However, until you beat the Elite Four, you’ll only be able to catch new Pokemon introduced for this generation, not any of the previous ones. This gives it a fresh feeling, and makes this one of the best places for a newcomer to enter the series.
A few new features have been added, as well, such as a seasonal cycle. The season changes each month, and while it’s largely aesthetic, a few changes affect gameplay (such as items in areas only accessible with the help of a snowbank). Two new types of battles have also been introduced, which also makes the experience feel fresher.
Of all the games in the Pokemon series, Pokemon White is one of the easiest for me to recommend. Not only is accessible to beginners, with tried-and-true Pokemon gameplay, but it also takes a story-driven approach for the first time. It isn’t often I warn people to avoid spoilers for a Pokemon game, but when it comes to the events of Pokemon White, I do.
There are some great moments and fantastic characters, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Pokemon.