I'd not played Pokemon since the glory days of Blue, Yellow (which was the same game thanks for taking my pocket money gamefreak) and Silver. I loved those games when I was about 10 or whatever. Buying Pokemon Black was a purely nostalgic move, Its ok to like Pokemon as an adult now in the same way its ok to like Mario because a generation has recently grown up into adulthood with Pokemon. My generation.
In the years I'd been away from the franchise I expected there was no way it wouldn't have been improved upon and a more enhanced experience. The reviews were glowing and friends of mine were already enjoying the experience. Everything seemed Goldeen* and I was ready to take a Chancy*.
I was relieved to see that the Pokemon were not the only thing that had evolved as battle system had changed. Other than the normal '1 on 1 kill the other guys pets' I grew up with you could now 2 on 2 or (my favourite) Rotate 3 pokemon during battle. This was excellent but there wasn't nearly enough of this.
The first few towns were completely immersive. I'd liberated Victini from his Lighthouse time prison and we were now best buds kicking Team Galaxy about and crushing their dreams. The first thing that stood out to me is that Black/White is much more narrative driven than its 2 tone pixel Predecessors. This time there's 2 competitive cohorts, phonecalls to supporting cast and a rival bent upon a political mission. More depth.
After getting to the airport town all of this seemed to have fallen away almost completely. We were back to finding the same pokemons again and agin and agen in the grass and I'd realised I'd danced this dance before many years ago. Black began to feel less like nostalgia and more like regression. I didn't play it after that. It was boring.
I'm sure there's a great pay off to Black and that my expectations for something new (which were actually met to a very limited extent) were a little too lofty. It was Pokemon by the book, not Pokemon trying to be something new or different.
As soon as the grind set in I lost interest, I don't care enough to put that much of my life into the tall grass roulette and crucially, Pokemon is not meant for me anyway anymore.
It is disappointing to grow old. Itís disappointing that some things you liked as a child remain the same and remain great albeit not in the way you now think of as 'great'. Some franchises don't age in the same way others do and while the gameplay of brands ( for the sake of case study; nintendo ones) such as Zelda and Mario will appeal universally, others like pokemon and animal crossing don't necessarily.
Itís strange that we live in a time where a lot of our popular culture is geared towards nostalgia; fashion trends that are pointedly rehashed from styles of former decades.
Music across all the main genres also borrows heavily from more inventively intrepid eras. All the blockbusters are comic book superheroes of a bygone heyday, adaptations of old Saturday morning cartoons and even god damn board games now. This year's big Oscar winner was a silent movie in black and white.
Itís this zeitgiest of nostalgia which drew me and many other adults to Pokemon Black/White. Itís a fantastic game. At least I would find it a fantastic game if i was 10. To me it's dissapointing to see how formulaic it has remained after all these years. Like all the Tetris and Pacman incarnations. But it's a formula that works. To its indended demographic who will play it with fresh perspective; it would be fantastic.
Obviously, many people love it and I agree with the positive reviews but I can't like you Pokemon. I've evolved.
Pokemon Black/White.DS. (Black version reviewed).
*copyright Nintendo/GameFreak. All unsolicited usages of pokemon character names punishable by "fainting" (execution).