I had the opportunity to briefly play Pokémon Black for an hour today. It was in Japanese, and because my Japanese isn't as good as it should be, I had someone watching over my shoulder giving me the gist of what the text said. That was a little frustrating and possibly put me off a bit too much going in.
**Please note that I only played for an hour, and my experience with the game is far too limited to be taken as review or a complete analysis.**
Like every Pokémon game the professor can't seem to tell if you're a boy or a girl, and doesn't know your name. Some professor, huh? The boy and girl sprites in this game are very different from the past in the fact that they look more mature than the 12 or 13 year olds we have always played as. At least I hope that the girl in the torn-up denim short-shorts isn't that young.
My first thoughts while playing were, "Wow, this is really well animated for a Pokémon game." The game even sets the season according to your clock settings. Then came time to pick my starter… We've all seen these goofy misfits before, but I must show you again for effect.
The words that came out of my mouth were something along the lines of, "I really have no idea who to pick. They're all equally mediocre." So I took to the internet to find out what the evolutions looked like, only to find these;
The grass final evolution isn't too bad, but it just didn't strike me as something I'd want to use. The fire looks like he's wearing a knitted sweater, so he was knocked out of the race. The water actually looks kind of cool, so I went with it. I could tolerate playing as an otter for that.
After obtaining my starter, it was time for my first battles. In this installment, you have two lifelong friends as your "rival" characters, so they're not really rivals. The battle system is the same as every other game, of course, with a new layout for use on the touchpad. I like the new layout: it's very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. The battle animations are pretty cool too. The camera angle even shifts from Pokémon to Pokémon. But as cool as the animations are, they began to wear on me. The battles felt like they lasted forever. Now I'm sure there's a way to change the animation in the options to make things a bit speedier, but I didn't feel like wasting my time with it due to the need for translation.
After battling, it was nearly nonstop dialogue, and all the walking in between dialogues. This went on for quite awhile. I'm honestly not sure if it really was as drawn out as it felt, but either way there was a lot. Once it finally stopped, I got to briefly venture out on my own to catch a few Pokémon and do some level grinding. The first Pokémon I encountered is obviously the Ratatta of this installment, and it looked like Alvin the Chipmunk if he were in a hardcore band. My next encounter, a Boston Terrier. There are no words to describe my emotions at that time, so I won't even try.
Moving onward, I made it to the next town where the Professor gave me a little tour of the Pokémon Center/Pokémon Mart/Wifi Center. The combining of the three is fantastic. I love the one-stop-shopping and have always wanted it since I started playing Pokémon as a child. Major props to the developer that thought of that, I want to shake his hand.
Shortly after leaving the Pokémon Center you encounter the "Team Rocket" equivalent. Not sure what the actual English name will be for them, but they remind me of PETA. They want to Liberate the Pokémon from their trainers. I found that hilarious. That concluded my hour.
I honestly feel a bit confused about my opinion of the game. I like the new features and feel, but so far I am not digging the new Pokémon. I will definitely be buying the game when it's released in North America and playing through at least once. I feel that it will be worth buying because this game is a precursor to what Nintendo and Game Freak have in store for us in the future. I only hope the next generation's Pokémon will be mind-blowing instead of 'meh'. Though I must admit, I would be fine with there not being any more new additions. 649 is more than enough!