The Pokémon series is one of the most popular videogame franchises of all time. For many it was the reason to buy a Gameboy or DS in the first place and each new release in the main series ends up a bestseller. Yet, despite continued popularity, many longtime fans feel that the franchise had gotten stale.
There are a number of reasons for this, the multiple re-releases of old games, the hardly distinguishable storylines, and the somewhat antiquated gameplay. Pokémon has always been popular with the younger audience but has always contained many hardcore RPG elements. Level-grinding your Pokémon, acquiring certain items, and back-tracking throughout large maps was necessary to complete your adventure.
Pokémon White is fresh new start for the series. The game’s developer, Game Freak, made improvements and tweaks to the gameplay, storyline, graphics, sound, and multiplayer. It is like they took every criticism of the series and addressed it without changing the core experience. The changes add up to the most enjoyable Pokémon experience since the first game.
The setup is still predictable. You are a young, brand new trainer leaving your small town to collect Pokémon and become a champion. This time instead of one main frenemy you now have two friends, a boy named Cheren and girl named Bianca. Unlike the original childhood “friend” Gary, Cheren and Bianca are actually friendly to you.
Team Rocket and Team Galactic have been replaced by Team Plasma as the overall worldwide baddies. Unlike Team Rocket and Team Galactic, Team Plasma is fighting for Pokémon rights. They believe that the Pokémon should be allowed to roam free and that trainers mistreat them by placing them in pokeballs. But their motives may not be as pure as they seem.
While the story is not ground-breaking or elegant, it is nice that the developers finally acknowledge some of the criticisms leveled against the franchise. Pokémon is basically cock-fighting and children really should not be allowed to roam parentless just because they have a pet with them. The story does not offer more than rationalizations to these issues but they are rationalizations that are believable in the game world.
The tried-and-true Pokémon gameplay formula has not been re-invented here. At the beginning of the game you choose a starter Pokémon out of three possible choices. As you explore a world region you search for Pokémon to catch, other trainers to battle, and of course Team Plasma.