Pros: Elite four is tougher, Story is more involved, Smooth gameplay, Extremely fun
Cons: Ugly, unimaginative new pokemon, Forgettable music, Boring towns/cities, Slight graphical errors
Well since the days of gold, silver, and crystal versions many fans including myself have been thinking that Pokemon would never get any better. Ruby and Sapphire were letdowns, diamond and pearl were pretty much losses...then I bought Pokemon black. Now the thing that might turn people off about this game is the saying with most Nintendo games 'haven't I seen this before?' For once, no.
The core game-play is the same, you're a young new Pokemon trainer without a father who goes on an adventure of a lifetime. 8 badges, tons of dialogue, new Pokemon, and some baddies to cause trouble. But fans love that, it makes the series what it is, so if it aint broke don't fix it. But what is very different...well...let's take this one at a time. The first thing everyone notices about this game, things are a lot bigger and more epic. Epic meaning grand and more swift and easy to find cool. And bigger meaning..literally bigger. The tows..or shall i say the cities (because really that's all there is, no towns really) have enormous buildings! Finally there are some skyscrapers and bridges SO so many bridges! The city with the most potential however is lackluster due to the fact that most of the buildings are inaccessible and there's really not a lot of walking area. It's mostly for show. The second thing fans of the series will notice is..where are the old Pokemon? That's right, until the ending segments of the game, you will only find new Pokemon. 157 to be exact, it's like a when you first got blue or red version, no more zubats or geodudes in caves, and no more magikarp on your old rod (which doesn't exists in this one).
Every battle is like an adventure in itself, you never know what Pokemon you'll find next! ....but sometimes the Pokemon you do find..are just downright awful. Some Pokemon are just plain ugly, and it makes me think that maybe some older Pokemon would have been appreciated! That's not to say all new Pokemon are unwanted, some of them are the coolest in the series! (still awaiting my silver-back gorilla Pokemon..) But there are enough bad ones to make you cringe. But bad Pokemon aside the main focus in this game is actually the story.
This time around you'll be fighting Team plasma..and no key cards to pick up or headquarters to invade..these guys are smart, and they really show that villians in these games can actually have a purpose other than to be annoying. These guys have a very well thought out plot point, in fact the entire plot is based around them, they're nothing to sneeze at either. I can't give away any spoilers but trust me, these guys mean business.
Aside from major differences there are minor things like new triple and rotation battles, which might I add are very cool. There's also a revamped battle sequence in which Pokemon move at all times, moves are done a bit better, and the camera is shifted back a little more. The only bad thing is your own Pokemon are close to the camera, which means zoom in which also means very..very..pixilated. The extra effort of redoing the sprites would be much appreciated so they aren't just sized up from their pokedex sprite.
Something I've found very uncommon in Pokemon games that I did find in this one are that fact that the towns...and the music..are terrible. Each city you visit is more boring than the next, there's nothing interesting about them and I find a lot of them to be extremely cluttered and hard to look at. The music is very forgettable especially one particular western theme town. One thing I did find problematic are the tiles in the game. What are tiles? Well see, with games that involve sprites and 2d objects, everything needs to be created with a tile set. Say the trainers head fills up 1 tile, his body another tile. This is used to give even distribution throughout an environment. But with so much 3d space in this game, the tiles got messed up. There are some places you think you can get through, but can't. Some places you think you wouldn't be able to squeeze by..but can. Just because the 3d boundaries clash a tiny bit with the 2d tiles. It's a slight problem that doesn't get in the way but can be confusing.
Game play and story get a big thumbs up for me but, environments and musical score get a big fat thumbs down. But honestly, those things didn't take me away from the actual game, it was fun! I really enjoyed it more so than the past 2 generations (excluding the remakes). I can honestly say that of all the Pokemon games this is my..let's say third favorite, following blue/red, then gold/silver.
Graphics are about the same, with a slight camera shift to show the tall buildings and everything, and camera pans and zooms are very nice. Game play is smoother and faster than before. Although the tiles in the game need to be worked on..big time. Most of the musical score is awful, with a few very good tunes here and there. And new sound effects are a nice touch. Everything is presented crisply and quick, so newcomers will know exactly whats going on. And the game is long (no surprise there), 40+ hours of pure story mode and if you 'wanna be a master' ..it might take well over 100 hours.
If you are a fan of the series, be sure to get this game! It really is showing fans like me that Pokemon can be pulled back from the brink. And if you're a newcomer then..honestly i suggest blue version but this is a great start as well. I rate Pokemon games pretty hard..I don't give in easily when it comes to a beloved franchise. But the truth is I give this game an 8.5 out of 10, minus points for bad Pokemon and music really...I mean Pokemon has been known for it's memorable tunes and creative creatures, but this one is lacking.