Just when I thought Game Freak was about to release another slog-fest through the Pokémon world, they go and give us Black and White versions, and these two are by far the most groundbreaking entries in the series. The old tried-and-true mechanics are still alive and well, fire water and grass starters, eight gyms, beat the Elite Four and become the Champion. But at the same time so many things are different that it feels like a complete re-imagining of the series (which, as I heard, it was meant to be). No old 'mons will be showing up around the Isshu region until the post-game, which is fine because this generation brought the largest number of new creatures yet! Some may criticize the design choices of many newcomers but I guarantee they will grow on you. I looked at Zuruggu and Koromori as incredibly ugly, but they soon weaseled their way into my team and my heart (quite literally with Koromori's evolution). A myriad of new and improved features awaits series veterans, such as infinite-use T Ms, wild double battles, new battle types (triple and rotational), and a whole new dimension of strategy that will be unleashed with the eventual release of Dream World Pokémon, who possess alternate abilities compared to their normal versions. As if that weren't enough, the game itself is more polished than any before it. Despite not being fluently versed in Japanese, the dialogue and new characters are enough to tell me that the story is more than an excuse to catch critters this time. It also helps that the soundtrack is universally loved: from the incredibly catchy wild battle theme to the mysterious theme of new character N I guarantee at least one song will worm its way into your thoughts. Even the little things in battle, such as idle sprites and dynamic camera angles, are really nice touches that show the lengths that Game Freak stretched to curb the stagnation of the series. In my honest opinion? The best Pokémon game yet. My only complaint is that I'll never get any work done if I keep playing! I will be anxiously awaiting the English release to experience the new land of Isshu all over again!
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