For most of the past month, one thing has dominated the attention of my students: Pokémon Black 2 / White 2. Everyone was going to get it; everyone was planning which pokémon to choose. This was fine by me. I managed to put together an entire lesson based on the grammar construction "going to + (action)" and this game. Of course, it always helps to know the source material, which is why I got my own copy of Pokémon White 2 last Saturday. Normally I don't go for the "new and improved" editions of recent Pokémon titles, but Nintendo promised that this would be a continuation, not a retooling. Still, it was understood that there was going to be a lot of rehashed material.
"It seems that the events of two years past are still having ... repercussions all over."
The developers were kind enough to start things off in a completely new corner of Unova, at least. I had to go through three towns, a farm, and two gym battles before I set foot in familiar territory. My starting lineup was completely different as well. In the two years since the first B/W games, a lot of varmints have migrated into Unova, which is why Prof. Juniper has asked an old college friend to loan out her only child (i.e. me) to travel all over and survey local pokémon populations. I even got a Snivy and a spiffy Pokédex for my troubles.
For the record, I chose the female protagonist. After looking the two over, I came to the conclusion that in any other game I'd have thought the male protagonist was a girl anyway (seriously, the hair...), so I might as well say no to gender ambiguity and choose the girl with the Sailor Moon hairdo instead.
The Pokédex has one of my favorite add-ons so far. I can now scroll through a list of visited areas and see what species are known to live there. It even tells me when the list for that area is complete.
There are a few other additions to mention. The old towns visited so far all have a few changes, including an expanded sewer to explore under Castelia, a hidden park where wild Eevee roam, a strip mall on the way to Nimbasa (I've been appointed general manager by grand fiat), and the World Tournament Center in Driftveil, where the cold storage center used to be. There's also a long, underground route connecting two cities and the castle ruins in the desert that wasn't there the first time around. Finally, there's PokéWood, a cinematic wonderland. I've already starred in an episode of Unova's most popular superhero serial drama. Got rave reviews, too. I'm booked to do a kaijuu epic next.
Everywhere I go, though, I find Team Plasma. More specifically, two Team Plasmas. It seems that the events of two years past are still having political and criminal repercussions all over. Also, everyone agrees that the weather is a little chilly for this time of year...
Direct sequels such as this are pretty rare for the Pokémon franchise. It's mostly the same cast, mostly the same locales, mostly the same critters. Except for the plot, it's mostly the same game. Anyone who'd been playing the series for this long probably won't mind, though. There's enough that's new in terms of plot and area redesign to keep it feeling fresh for just a while longer.