It’s official, Pokemon Black and White 2 will be hitting the shelves in North America on October 7th, 2012. If you’re a Pokemon fanatic, you should easily be all manner of excited for this upcoming hot release. If you’re only a casual Pokemon gamer however, or if you have fallen out of favour with the core Pokemon series games over the last few years, then this article is for you. Make no mistake, these upcoming titles will be the most technically accomplished, most feature-filled, best connected, and all-round most fulfilling Pokemon experience ever to grace a Nintendo handheld. As I’ve pointed out in a previous article, the first Black/White games raised the bar in terms of what the series can deliver. The developer Game Freak has spent an additional year fine-tuning and expanding their product, and will no doubt raise the bar yet again. While some people will bitterly complain that they could have been spending that time on more important projects (like 6th Gen Pokemon for 3DS, harumph!), they instead chose to milk a little more out of the geriatric Nintendo DS. Regardless, if you’re not interested in either of these upcoming titles, you should be, and I’ll tell you why.
#1 – A True Sequel
The core Pokemon RPG series hasn’t had a true sequel since Gold and Silver picked up two years after Team Rocket was disbanded in Red/Blue. Many gamers and fans alike still regard Gold/Silver as their favourites. True sequels are a precious rarity in this series and in case you don’t already know, Black/White 2 is not simply a rehash of the same campaign with a refreshed colour palette like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum all were. The campaign in Black/White 2 takes place two years after the previous games with a brand new story and both old and new characters. Early impressions out of Japan indicate that the story is more interesting and substantial as well, but I won’t spoil it for you. Benefiting from being a true sequel, Pokemon Black/White 2 should feel both familiar and fresh, while allowing the gamer to explore a new narrative in the Pokemon canon, plus it’ll be fun to see where all of your rivals and foes have ended up since your first romp through the Unova region.
#2 – The Japanese Trailer
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In an unexpected turn of events, an extended anime trailer was released in Japan to promote the release of these games. The anime trailer depicts some of the situations that you will encounter during the course of your Pokemon journey, in a decidedly epic fashion. Better yet, nobody from the tired anime series makes an appearance. Nope, the surprisingly stunning trailer contains more anime awesomeness in a mere 5 minutes than the anime series has had in 15 seasons combined. Take a minute to check it out now, and if that doesn’t get you pumped up, I doubt anything will.
#3 – Achievements
This is perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Did you do a double-take when you read the headline? Pokemon is finally joining the 21st century by offering up a medal system that works just like achievements/trophies you enjoy on your home consoles. The medals attach to your trainer card and will be visible to others when you trade or go online. You can get medals for all sorts of random stuff like taking a certain number of steps, catching certain legendary Pokemon, finding hidden items, and all sorts of other miscellaneous achievements. Unfortunately, Nintendo has failed to embrace achievements in most of their games, which makes this revelation all the more spectacular. Medals aren’t very useful other than for bragging rights, but this is another great example of how the developer is really trying to reach out to more mature modern gamers.
#4 – New areas
The great feature about Black/White 2 is that there are so many new places to explore in the Unova region. If you thought Unova was already packed with content, then get ready for more. There are several new routes, new towns, new tunnels, and also new gyms that have never been seen before. You’ll see the changes immediately, as your character starts off in a brand new town in a previously uncharted corner of Unova. From there you will both retread familiar ground and explore new environments on your way to becoming the Pokemon master. A quick look at the new town map reveals that the navigable size of Unova has increased by about a quarter in my estimation. The sheer scale of this expansion has never been done before in the series, and highlights an already impressive list of features presented in these games.
#5 – Waiting for Generation 6
Based on the anecdotal history of past Pokemon game releases, it is likely that the highly anticipated 6th generation of the series will not be ready for release on the 3DS for at least another 2 years. It is probably going to be at least a full year before we see any information whatsoever about them. So, if the first four reasons to play Black/White 2 didn’t get you as excited as I am, then perhaps you would buy this game for no other reason than for the prognostication that you will have to languish for two more years of your short life before you can get your grimy hands on the next core series Pokemon game. Can you really wait that long before getting the itch to play Pokemon again?
And there you have the 5 reasons why you should be excited about October 7th. Remember that Black/White 2 are proper Pokemon games and not some Mystery Dungeon, Pokemon Ranger, or pathetic PokePark spinoff. Maybe you’ll even see me online and I could trade you my level 100 shiny Victini. Not a chance!
[Ed. note: Pumped for Pokemon Black & White 2 now? See my list of 5 Reasons You Should Not Look Forward to Pokemon Black/White 2 for the other side of the story.]