Woohoo! Tenth installment! Let's do a review of Pokemon!
To be honest there were TWO reviews I wanted to look at. One of them, however, has been removed from the site entirely, because it was posted mere days after Pokémon
Black's Japanese release and consisted of nothing but It's the Same, so It Sucks
complaints (These are common for this franchise, oddly people never whine this much about Dragon Quest
) by someone who had likely not even played the game. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I barely remember specifics. Should've saved it, d'oh!
So we're left with this one...honestly does Pokemon NEED an MMO, do you think? What would be the point?
Chances are, the primary reason you clicked this review is because of how odd you found the title to be. Bear with me, we'll get there.
Well you know what, you're right. There's already a bad taste in my mouth.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you I didn't enjoy Pokemon Black. I did. It was pleasant. It was enjoyable. It was the most fun I've had with a Pokemon game since the first generation, and I'll readily admit that my enjoyment of the first generation may be clouded by nostalgia goggles. Pokemon Black really was the most fun Pokemon game I've played in years.
Then that's it. There's nothing more that needs to be said. 10/10. The game is worth playing. End of review?...Nope, this is just the beginning!
However, my low rating comes from the fact that I can't shake the feeling that I wasn't having fun playing Pokemon Black, but rather I was having fun in spite of Pokemon Black.
How can you have fun IN SPITE of a game? I guess if the game was made to be annoying, but Game Freak
wouldn't do that. (I hope)
It felt like I was deriving enjoyment from things that were far, far outside of the way the game was begging me to play it. I felt like a four-year-old whose father was trying to show me all the gadgets and gizmos behind my new toy while I was perfectly content to just play with the box.
Except it doesn't matter how you have fun with the game, or how they intended you to enjoy it. It's like Oblivion
. You can do the quests, or slaughter an entire city. I had fun either way, and I doubt Bethesda wanted me to kill everyone.
The reason for this is simple. Pokemon Black tries its darnedest, its hardest, to be a social game. It places such an enormous focus on the social aspects of gameplay that it's impossible to play without being distracted by them.
I'm sorry. WHAT?
Gone are the days when there was an area of the Pokemon Center that handled trades and battles with out individuals;
now, the entire game tries to consistently keep you aware of friends' activities. The game even devotes one entire screen of the DS to its networking capabilities, and there's no way to change that — even if you've never used the game's networking, the bottom screen still stubbornly demands to be used for the game's "C-Gear" rather than allowing the user to permanently turn it into a menu screen, Item Finder
, or whatever else. This is coupled with countless (literally, I lost count) of different multiplayer gameplay modes, each fairly complicated to understand and start up.
Yeah......the C-Gear.......which you can turn off at any time...
Pokemon Black throws its social side down the player's throats whether the player likes it or not. And to be honest, that, on its own, is not an inherently bad thing. Social games are the current trend. People want to connect with other real people. MM Os
are more popular now than they've ever been. So you'd think that Pokemon Black's focus on this would be a good thing.
This is no longer a review. He's going to spend the whole damn thing bitching about one thing that bugs him. When I play this game my eyes are on one single screen 99% of the time. I don't know what he's whining about nor do I care.
OF COURSE IT IS YOU FUCKING RETARD, WHY DO YOU THINK THERE'S TWO VERSIONS OF IT! FUCK!
All this word vomit is to say a simple idea: Game Freak, if you want to make a social Pokemon game, make one. But don't just create another cookie-cutter instantiation of the same old concepts and ideas, then pour a healthy dose of multiplayer options on top. Build a multiplayer game, don't build a single-player game and make it multiplayer after the fact.
You want a game with shit multiplayer fucking up a single-player game? Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
. In my opinion.
But no, multiplayer in Pokemon is not "after the fact", you raise Pokemon alone then fight with them online or with friends. The game is built around multiplayer entirely - and you don't even NEED to do anything multiplayer at all if you don't want to, and you can still have fun, as you just demonstrated!
But here's the problem. Pokemon games, more than any other game series I've played, attempt to create a real, vibrant world in which a storyline takes place. Most games craft a storyline and create a world around it, but the essence of the Pokemon series it that you're supposed to believe that this world really, legitimately exists, and that you're just a participant in it.
Yeah. A real world with a living trash bag and a living ice cream cone monster thing...
But the plot that the game sends the player through betrays this world, and results in the need for a suspension of disbelief that is so high that it's nearly impossible to get past it, killing the game's immersion. I don't want to spoil anything specific to Pokemon Black, so I'll speak generally: every Pokemon game has some enormous legendary Pokemon to catch. Yet we're really supposed to believe our player is sending out 10-foot-tall dragons to squash Caterpies? And that somehow a 20-foot-tall stone snake is able to battle in the ocean?
You're complaining about Gameplay and Story Segregation
which is inevitable no matter what you do. And you know? I just can't believe it. Someone complained about Gameplay and Story Segregation
. People thought it was weird when they didn't just use a Phoenix Down on Aeris.
But it's not like that ruined the whole plot! This is FICTION! Realism isn't needed here!
Now, I understand those things are nitpicky, but they're more representations of the underlying issue at play. In most plot-based games, when you reach a certain level of competency, it comes with a certain stage of progression through the world you reside in. Of course it makes sense that your characters are completely overpowered, they've reached some legendary location or distant city or something. But because Pokemon also attempts to contextualize its story within a very vibrant world, that plot loses a lot of its luster. It just doesn't make sense that the player can conquer the gyms, become the best trainer in the world, and yet still go unrecognized by the general populous. The game creates a plot for the player and a world for the player, but the plot and the world themselves do not interact.
Amazing. And people thought the plot was cool this time around.
All these issues come into play even before considering my main complaint about what makes the plot lose its logic: the multiplayer aspect. Like most recently Pokemon games, Pokemon Black & White come with version-specific exclusive legendary Pokemon. I hop online and trade with my friends for three copies of a legendary one-of-a-king Pokemon and bring them into battle with that legendary Pokemon in my own game. What? How does that even make sense? Now, don't get me wrong — I'm not saying the ability to trade is bad. What I'm saying is that the trading facilities introduce circumstances that make absolutely no sense in the context of the game itself. That destroys a lot of the immersion of the game, and becomes especially notable at a time when the game is attempting to elevate its plot.
Oh I get it, you're one of those idiots who care about "immersion" and shit. Fine then, I can play that game. Hey. You like Earthbound
? Think it's the best game ever?! Nobody ever notices your ESP! Nobody ever notices an alien invasion, or recognizes your deeds! What a horrible game! We're seriously supposed to believe praying kills the cosmic destroyer?! How can robots eat to heal?! What a horrible game! ...come to think of it, how can a robot smoke?
The multiple versions of the game also sabotage the plot in a different way. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but as with Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald, Pokemon Black & White retain slightly significant differences in their plot. The overall journey is the same, but there are some important details that have changed. When you play a game with a story, you expect there to be some underlying "canon" to the story — even though your individual experience may differ, there is a "canon" ending to the story. But in Pokemon Black & White, what's the canon story? What really happened? They tell different and mutually exclusive stories — which one are we supposed to believe? While the plot focus comes across as positive, elements like this betray it. If this were simply the story of a trainer conquering eight gyms and the Elite 4, there would be no need for canon. But so long as their is a game-defined plot involved, the question remains unanswered.
So far I have seen several paragraphs of bitching about Fridge Logic
and canon bullshit. WHO CARES! JUST ENJOY THE GAME! You had fun, so that's really all there is to it!
Overall, Pokemon Black misses the point when it comes to the plot: plots are meant to tell cohesive, logical, immersive stories. This one doesn't.
How cute, he thinks he knows what a story SHOULD be like. Remember, if your story makes no logical sense, it's shit! Makes me want Sheogorath to rain dogs on fire from the planes of Oblivion on this asshole's head. We STILL have not seen any complaints about anything but Fridge Logic
As mentioned before, part of this is because for the majority of the game, one entire screen of the Nintendo DS is devoted to the multiplayer networking tool, dubbed "C-Gear". It sits on the bottom screen, even when it's been turned off.
Except DURING BATTLE.
Now again, don't get me wrong. That's not a bad thing. Multiplayer games are great. But if you're going to make it a multiplayer game, make it a multiplayer game! Don't make it a single-player game that keeps nagging you to go play online.
It doesn't nag you to go online. That's Face Book
I have to stare at or navigate around the multiplayer crap when I'm trying to navigate through a cave, but then when I actually want to participate in multiplayer, I have to go to some specific place in the single player game. What? How does that make sense? Did I have to fly to a particular planet in Star Fox
64 in order to allow my friends to player? Of course not — so why do I have to do so here?
Just - just - ...uh..... "allow my friends to player"
The idea of trading Pokemon to get them to evolve has always grated on me a little bit, but I let that slide. But in Pokemon Black, there is a city where, unless you beat the game under specific conditions, you basically cannot access unless you connect to multiplayer. There's nothing there. It's empty. And yet, this city was the main reason I chose Pokemon Black over Pokemon White. But because I don't know anyone else who players Pokemon (yes, that's right boys and girls, this requires someone actually physically near you, not over Wi-Fi, to unlock), I miss out on a portion of the game content. Who the hell decided that was a good idea?
You gain access to this area when you beat the game. Making it post-game material. Furthermore, it has a shop and encounters with stuff not native to your region.
And on top of all that, the multiplayer interface itself is absolutely terrible. For a game that focuses so much on social connection, you would think there would be a somewhat easy interface to use to engage with others. No. There's still the oddly differentiated Pokemon Center rooms,
Which consists of rooms for the Union Room, Wireless Battles, and Online Interactions
different types of trading and battling, the annoying Friend Code system,
These are bad things?
Here, there's such a ridiculous series of loops to jump through that I can't imagine why any newcomer would even want to learn.
Um...wow. You want to battle someone, go to the battle room. SO COMPLEX I DON'T GET IT.
In the old Pokemon games, if I didn't want to play multiplayer, I didn't go to the second floor of the Pokemon Center: problem solved.
DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER!
And even if you're able to get past all that, you still have to deal with the extremely pretentious online community Pokemon has developed. Wait, you're asking a question about an in-game trainer? Get out, noob.
Tch. Don't blame the game for the community. I never dabbled in the dark arts of multiplayer, is it really this bad, viewers?
The game over-focuses on the multiplayer on top of the single-player game, so why don't they just make it a multiplayer game from the outset? As it is, Game Freak appears to consistently nudge Pokemon Black more and more in the direction of being an MMO by making the multiplayer elements more and more pervasive, but until they move all-in with this direction, the game is going to continue to have this obnoxiously split identity that sabotages both sides of it.
People said the same thing about The Elder Scrolls
. "Why isn't this an MMO?!" Well let's think, maybe the dev team would rather not deal with paying for servers, hire community moderators, nor would they enjoy dealing with a bunch of 6-year-olds whining about everything that they think is a bug but is just their idiocy. I know I certainly wouldn't. Do you know how hard it would be to make an MMO?! I don't, but it LOOKS hard. Why does Pokémon
even NEED an MMO in the first place?
Admittedly this hasn't been your standard review.
If viewed solely for its own merits, Pokemon Black is certainly an improvement on its predecessors.
There you have it! Vote 10/10 and move on!
But it's become very hard to analyze Pokemon games solely for their own merits. Game Freak found a formula for a game that will sell, and they keep releasing new versions of it. They're not branching out, they're not taking risks, and they're not moving the franchise toward its full potential. And unfortunately, so long as games like Pokemon Black — which, while fun, don't really give us anything we haven't seen before — continue to sell, there's little chance we'll see any major progress in the franchise in the near future.
So, what, you think Pokemon's full potential lies in a shitty MMO? Is that it? Why make such a big change? Would that really work? I don't like MM Os
, they usually involve too much grinding.
I don't get it. I don't get why it's possible for someone to enjoy a game but still dislike it for the stupidest reasons. Reminds me of one community
that called Castlevania: Harmony of Despair
shit for recycling graphics, even though they had fun with it. What the hell. They're GAMES, people! Come on!