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Black and White follow the trends set up by previous games in the series. Two player characters (one male and one female) travel a new region, Unova, on their Pokémon journeys. This region is inhabited by various Pokémon, and unlike before, none of those available prior to Generation V can be obtained before defeating the Elite Four. The first of the new Pokémon to be featured in these games, Zorua and Zoroark, were revealed on February 10, 2010 in CoroCoro magazine, and the starter Pokémon were revealed in May.
The games' names were revealed on the official Japanese Pokémon website on April 9, and scans from the subsequent issue of the magazine were leaked on April 10. These scans revealed some of the graphical enhancements that are featured in these games. There is a higher level of 3D graphics than in previous games, as shown in some shots of the overworld. Initial sprites could be seen for Zorua, Zoroark, and the player characters.
In addition to the improved graphics, a number of aesthetic changes have been made from previous generations, including an altered battle scene containing fully animated Pokémon battle sprites as well as a dynamic camera that changes focus to highlight specific parts of the battle. Also, when talking to people, speech balloons for dialog will appear over people's heads, rather than as simply a dialog box.
Black and White are compatible with all five Generation IV games through use of the Poké Transfer—unlike Pal Park, items cannot be held by Pokémon being sent over. Pokémon can be sent from Generation III games, as well, by transfer through Generation IV. The games also have the capability of connecting to the Internet.
The game starts in Nuvema Town in the player's room with Cheren, a childhood friend. Professor Juniper has left a gift box for the two and Bianca, another one of the player's friends, who arrives a little later. The box contains three Pokémon that the player can choose from. After the selection, Bianca will request a battle. When the battle is over, the room becomes cluttered due to the battle. Cheren heals both the player's and Bianca's Pokémon, and begins a battle with the player as well. If the player loses to Cheren, he will gloat about his victory. The three then go downstairs, and Cheren and Bianca will leave the house while the player's mother will heal the Pokémon.
The player visits Bianca's house, where she and her father are having an argument about her going on a Pokémon journey. Bianca storms out of the house, and the player follows her to Professor Juniper's lab, where Cheren has been waiting. In the lab, Professor Juniper will give the player a chance to nickname the selected starter Pokémon, and give each of the three a Pokédex. Upon leaving the lab, they will be greeted by the player's mother, who will hand everyone a Town Map.
From then on, the player will set off on adventures through the Unova region. Along the way, the player will battle eight Gym Leaders, while trying to complete the Pokédex. After managing to obtain all eight badges, the player will head to the Pokémon League to battle the Elite Four and the Champion.
However, the adventure did not go as expected as the evil Team Plasma will be encountered along the way to the Pokémon League. The player will encounter N, the leader of the evil organization. One of the Seven Sages, Ghetsis, has a different goal than their leader. The player must thwart the plans of those two and save the Unova region from being destroyed.
However, unlike previous games, the player will not be battling the Champion of the Unova region when after first defeating the Elite Four; instead, N is battled. After defeating him, he promises not to separate the world of humans from the world of Pokémon.
After defeating N and Ghetsis, however, the game is not over, as there are further activities to be done, such as capturing the other legendary Pokémon in the game, re-battle the Elite Four and battle the champion, Alder, and finding the Seven Sages who are in various parts of the Unova region.
Black and White returns features present in previous generations, such as day, time, abilities and the split between Physical and Special moves. Certain ones, however, such as Pokémon following their Trainers and the Battle Frontier, have been left out.
The C-Gear allows players to use certain multiplayer functions while anywhere in the game world. These functions vary with the type of communication used: wireless, Wi-Fi and infrared. The C-Gear is similar to the Pokétch in that it fills the bottom screen, but its applications are much different.
On the C-Gear, as well as in battle, the current time is displayed in 12-hour format, however, at the hours of 12:00 AM and PM, the hour displays as 0, rather than 12, as a 24-hour clock, such as that on the DS and in the Generation IV games, would display midnight.
Pokémon Global Link
The Pokémon Global Link is a multiplayer feature that makes use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and is the equivalent of the fourth generation GTS. In addition to providing the features of the GTS, it allows players to upload their save files to the Pokémon Global Link website to access the Pokémon Dream World. Players can also go to the Pokémon Center to enter Random Matchup where they can battle a random person also connected to Random Matchup. The Global Link is also the place where players can download exclusive content including C-Gear and Pokédex skins.
Pokémon Dream World
The Pokémon Dream World is a special feature of Black and White which is operated via an Internet website, Pokémon-GL.com. The Dream World allows players to send a Pokémon to the Internet to obtain items and meet other Pokémon, making the website in a way such that it is a Generation V analog to the Pokéwalker.
Many Pokémon that are found here are not found in the Unova region, and would otherwise have to be migrated from a Generation IV game to be used. All of the Pokémon available here are given Dream World-exclusive Hidden Abilities that their species cannot have by normal means.
The Entralink is a new feature in Pokémon Black and White which allows contact with other players over local wireless. It is a multiplayer area in central Unova; Pokémon obtained in the Pokémon Dream World can be caught here. In combination with the C-Gear, it is possible to travel through Unova with other players and battle, trade and perform various multiplayer sidequests.
Pokémon Contests, which have been present since Generation III, are replaced by the Pokémon Musicals. Similar to the Super Contests in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, Trainers have to dress up their Pokémon with different accessories. The Pokémon will then compete by dancing on the theater stage with the other entrants. They are held in Nimbasa City.
Much like Generation II introduced a system of time, Generation V features a system of seasons. Seasons change every month, which cycles thrice for each year. With it comes aesthetic changes in the region, as well as some changes with the Pokémon found in the wild. Additionally, Deerling and its evolution Sawsbuck change forms every season. Some areas can only be accessed in certain seasons.
While already featured in previous games, Pokémon sprites in Black and White remain animated throughout the battle. Additionally, full back sprites are now present in the games. Some, but not all, Pokémon use animated versions of their Generation IV sprites. All Trainers, on the other hand, with the exception of Bianca, Cheren and N, return to sprites with no animations.
Whereas in previous games, the music was the same during entire battles (other than when the player's Pokémon has less than ¼ health remaining), in Generation V, things such as battle music may change with the situation. For example, when battling a Gym Leader's last Pokémon, the music changes to a remix of the main theme. The warning sound heard when a Pokémon has less than ¼ of its maximum HP remaining has also been remixed into its own music. "Rare" Pokémon also get their own theme. Although this isn't technically new, the seasons change the music in certain places as well, though these changes are mostly the instruments heard. This is similar to the day/night cycle in Generation IV.
In a triple battle, three Pokémon on each side are sent out at once. There are restrictions as to which Pokémon can attack which opponent. The Pokémon in the middle can attack all three on the other side, but the ones on either side cannot attack the Pokémon on the far side of the opposite end. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, through the use of moves such as Acrobatics. The Pokémon Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour were introduced to showcase this new feature. The position of each Pokémon can be changed during the battle; however, a turn will be used up.
Rotation battles are similar to triple battles in that three Pokémon in each team are sent onto each side; however, they are sent out onto a circular platform. The platform can be rotated a third of the way around without wasting a turn. The Pokémon which is in the third of the circle facing the opponent is the one currently active. Strategy revolves around predicting which Pokémon the opponent will switch to and switching to the appropriate Pokémon on the player's side.
Pokémon Black and White brings back the traditional eight Gyms, but with it a total of eleven Gym Leaders. They are Cilan, Chili and Cress (Grass, Fire and Water, respectively), Lenora (Normal), Burgh (Bug), Elesa (Electric), Clay (Ground), Skyla (Flying), Brycen (Ice), and Drayden and Iris (Dragon). Cilan, Chili or Cress are battled if the player has chosen the Water-type, Grass-type or Fire-type starter Pokémon, respectively. Drayden is battled in Pokémon Black while Iris is battled in Pokémon White.
Unlike previous games, the Elite Four can be battled in any order. After battling all four, a path to the Champion is unlocked. The Elite Four members are Shauntal (Ghost), Grimsley (Dark), Caitlin (Psychic) and Marshal (Fighting). However, the player is not able to battle the Champion before defeating Team Plasma. Later, after defeating them in a rematch, the player will face Champion Alder, who uses a variety of types. It should be noted that Caitlin is the same person present in the Battle Castle who was alongside her butler Darach in Generation IV.
Black and White bring a total of 156 new Pokémon, bringing the overall total to 649 from the 493 present in Generation IV. While some new Pokémon may have similarities to previously introduced Pokémon, none of the new Pokémon are related by evolution to any of the 493 introduced previously.
The first Pokémon to be revealed were Zoroark and Zorua, who were both featured in Zoroark: Master of Illusions. Unlike previous generations, no other new Pokémon were featured in the main anime prior to the games' release.
Black and White are able to connect with all fourth generation main series games. Pokémon from Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver are able to be traded forward to these games using the Poké Transfer. Like the transfer available in Pal Park, Pokémon sent to Black and White cannot be returned to their original games. Some event Pokémon released in Generation IV have the ability to unlock more events in Generation V: specific Raikou, Entei, Suicune and Celebi, transferrable via an exclusive method called the Relocator, unlock Zorua and Zoroark. Likewise, the Lock Capsule transferred from Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver yields TM95 (Snarl), but this event has yet to take place.
Black and White also have the ability to connect to the Internet, accessing the Pokémon Dream World; Pokémon acquired in this manner are obtained in the Entralink forest. Although the game cartridges contain infrared technology similar to that used in HeartGold and SoulSilver, Black and White are unable to connect with the Pokéwalker.
Gaming magazine Famitsu has given Pokémon Black and White Versions perfect scores. The reviewers were highly impressed with the fresh approach that the game has taken, from the graphics to the new features to the diversity of the Pokémon. The reviewers were also impressed by the Wi-Fi and PC features.