Any entry in the Pokémon series is always laced with hype, and for good reason. While some entries in the series have been more lackluster than others, Pokémon Black and White 2 did not fail to meet expectations. Gold and Silver are the only other direct sequels in the Pokémon series, but Pokémon Black and White 2 rivals the amount of content it has (excluding, of course, the new Pokémon). Later additions within the same generation–such as Pokémon Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum–come nowhere near as close to complete as these two sequels do. BW2 are their own stand-alone games, and unlike its predecessors, it does not make the original versions irrelevant. They have different content, different plots, and an all-around different feel. That said, time to get started with the actual review.
This paragraph will have a few spoilers. The plot has an incredible amount of content, and there’s so much to do that it’s easy to forget the gym battles and the elite four entirely. The New Team Plasma attempts to use Kyurem to freeze over Unova, and also seeks out the two legendary mascots of the first games in order to secure their plan’s success. Combining Kyurem with its respective legendary dragon (Reshiram in White 2, and Zekrom in Black 2) is disappointingly unimportant. For the quality of its flashy cut scenes and dramatic entrance, its exit is very swift. While many of the character qualities show a noticeable improvement compared to the other games, your rival seems to have little to no character development over the story and inexplicably focuses on his sister’s Purloin while the entire world is at risk. The musketeer trio also throw themselves at you as you walk through the world, and other than their ability to somehow summon the antagonist, they have little relevance to the plot. That said, the game is meant for children, so of course the plot would have a few problems. It’s still ridiculously fun to play through, and that’s what matters.
The gameplay itself is more difficult than its predecessors–I often found myself underleveled by 5-10 levels compared to wild Pokémon and trainers. However, this is by no means a fault–adding challenge to the game is something fans have been wanting for years, and they should get it. This brings me to the worst part about Black 2 and White 2–their easy and challenge modes. These modes are only unlocked by defeating the game, and only one mode is unlocked in each (Challenge Mode in Black 2 and Easy Mode in White 2). It’s true that you can transfer the keys to other games, but there’s a significant flaw in this system–you can’t actually play through the game in Challenge Mode or Easy Mode the first time you play, unless you actually know someone who’s beaten the game.
Along with that, restarting the game erases your key, so if you want to play through with Challenge Mode, you have to find someone else, transfer your key to their game, restart your game, and then transfer the key back. It’s ridiculous. The same system could have worked if you have one key from the beginning of the game–it encourages friends to start at the same time and trade keys right away. That said, if you are on the fence about which version to get, definitely get Black 2. While I personally prefer White 2 since it has a volcano area and since I originally played White, Black 2 has many more exclusive Pokémon and access to the much more desirable Challenge Mode key (even if you do have to beat the game to get it).
Leaving those flaws behind us, there were many amazing aspects to the game. Every area received a noticeable upgrade, and all of the new areas were meticulously crafted. Game Freak definitely pushed their artists, designers, and coders to the limit with the new features available in the game, and even the revisited music was delightful. It was a little strange that the gym next to the seashore had…freshwater lilies in it…but otherwise the new gym improvements gave even the old gym leaders a new feel. The Champion theme and Elessa challenge theme seemed a little out of place, but the rest of the music really made the game. Despite its similarity to contests and the Pokéathlon, Pokéwood was surprisingly fun, and gives the player something to explore post-game. Along with that, the achievements–er, medals–add something new to collect throughout the game.
Pokémon Black and White 2 are amazing and easily comparable to the main series entries rather than the follow-up games within the same generation, such as Emerald and Crystal. It has an extensive plot, many more Pokémon to catch, and a completely new feel. It takes a long time to even encounter an old area, and even then, there are new secrets waiting everywhere. I will only mark its score down because of the ridiculous Challenge/Easy mode key decision and clear version discrepancy. While the review might seem nit-picky, it was an amazing game, and something I’ll be playing through again quite soon. It’s one of the best entries in the Pokémon series, and unlike Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum, it is not a game that fans want to miss.