My Wish List for Black and White 2

So, Game Freak have thrown us a curve ball.  There is to be no “third game” to the Black and White series as is traditional (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum) but rather a “Black Version 2” and a “White Version 2.”  I hope they know what they’re- oh, who am I kidding, of course they don’t but I hope it works anyway.  In hindsight this makes perfect sense.  The theme of dualism is so ubiquitous in Black and White that the standard pattern of “games 1 and 2 are identical, then game 3 has a whole ton of flashy extras” would have just broken the whole thing.  I never would have seen it coming, because the very idea of Game Freak breaking such a long-established formula is all but inconceivable, but nonetheless, here we are.  Despite being labelled as sequels, my suspicion is that these games will still follow the pattern of Yellow, Crystal and so on (essentially the same game but with cool new stuff added), just with more emphasis on continuation of the story past the point where it ends in Black and White.  So, what can we expect to see out of the sequels and what do I most want to see?

(If you’re not familiar with the story of Black and White, you should probably skim my entries on Team Plasma and Kyurem before reading this)

My first wish is just plain overoptimistic and it’s totally never going to happen but I’m putting it out there anyway: I wish for Black 2 and White 2 to be released as downloadable add-ons to Black and White, and priced as an expansion set.  I don’t know whether this is even possible with the current technology used by the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and I don’t know whether Nintendo would care to do any such thing even if it were, but I’m wishing anyway because I CAN DREAM, DAMNIT!

 Art of White Kyurem, by Ken Sugimori; copyright Nintendo 'n' stuff.

The weekend’s big reveal included artwork of the new games’ two mascots: two alternate forms of Kyurem, a Black Kyurem who looks like a fusion of Kyurem and Zekrom, and a White Kyurem who looks like a fusion of Kyurem and Reshiram.  These two are the mascots of the games of the same colour – contrast Reshiram and Zekrom, who were the mascots of the games of the opposite colour – which suggests to me that N is going to be partnered with each of these two Pokémon on their respective games, as he was paired with Zekrom on Black and Reshiram on White.  Now, this is the big one.  My other wishes are unimportant in comparison to this: I wish for Kyurem to take his place in the story in a way that makes sense.  I can only speculate as to what his role is actually going to be, and I won’t hazard a guess as to how well it will work.  I can talk about how I would do it, though – and what is this blog for if not to FEED MY MASSIVE EGO?  Here’s my version.

After Ghetsis escapes from prison with the help of the Shadow Triad, he travels to Kyurem’s lair in the Giant Chasm and takes control of the dragon.  He then lures N and his dragon partner there.  When N’s dragon confronts Kyurem, it is absorbed into the ice dragon (working off the speculation that Kyurem is the ‘shell’ of the original dragon who split into Reshiram and Zekrom), which makes Kyurem far more powerful, but also causes Ghetsis to lose control of it.  Reshiram and Zekrom represent powerful opposed forces, and Kyurem can’t handle having one of them inside itself without being balanced by the other, so it goes berserk, threatening to freeze all of Unova in an endless winter.  You and N then have to work together to find and subdue Kyurem – and defeat Ghetsis – to save the region.  In the end, your dragon partner is absorbed into Kyurem as well, bringing it back into balance and creating some kind of epic, glorious ultimate form – but only for an instant, during which Kyurem sets right all the damage it has done before releasing both dragons again.  Once you’ve caught Kyurem, you can fuse it with your dragon temporarily whenever you want, to access its more powerful form.

On the topic of Kyurem, I wish for Freeze Shock and Ice Burn not to suck.  These attacks are two absurdly powerful Ice attacks (one with a chance to paralyze, one with a chance to burn) that exist in the coding of Black and White but can’t be learned by anything.  They’re obviously intended to be the signature moves of Kyurem’s two new forms, but as written they’re pretty terrible because they have a charge-up turn, like Sky Attack or Solarbeam, which allows ample time to switch in a Pokémon that doesn’t care about Ice attacks (Walrein, anyone?) to take the hit, or just use Protect or Substitute if you happen to have them.  Reshiram and Zekrom enjoy awesome signature moves, Blue Flare and Bolt Strike, which are nearly as powerful as Freeze Shock and Ice Burn without any of this charge-up nonsense.  Assuming the attacks won’t just be completely rewritten for Black 2 and White 2, I think the most intuitive way to work with these would be to say that the charging turn is ignored during Hail, the way Solarbeam’s is in bright sunlight, and then give Kyurem’s new forms the Snow Warning ability so they create Hail by switching in (seeing as Kyurem wouldn’t be able to do much with an ability analogous to Reshiram’s Turboblaze and Zekrom’s Teravolt anyway).  Sounds dangerously powerful, but bear in mind that other Pokémon with weather-changing abilities, like Kyogre, could switch in, take away Kyurem’s Hail, and force it to sit there charging its attack while they plot revenge.

Getting back to story elements for a moment, there’s one big thing that I’d like added to the plot of these games: I wish for Team Rocket to show up (or an equivalent Pokémon gangster faction; Team Rocket have the advantage of familiarity and popularity, but would be difficult to justify since Black and White are set, pretty unambiguously, after the events of Gold and Silver).  I think it’s very unlikely this will actually happen, but I think it would work very well.  The reason I want Team Rocket involved, not as the main villains, but as the antagonists of a side-plot about halfway through the main storyline, is that I think the events of a Team Rocket storyline would provide a brilliant opportunity to showcase N’s character.  N is theoretically the bad guy in Black and White, but it stands to reason that he would hate Team Rocket more than anyone else on the planet, and would probably be happy to work with you to grind their operations in Unova into the dust.  He could probably rope some Team Plasma grunts into helping him with that, too, which could give us a closer look at the differences between his motives and theirs – and possibly give N himself a closer look as well, which would have to be interesting… even more so if Ghetsis became involved; how he would react to Team Rocket is something of a complicated question since he would probably profess a very different attitude towards them than the one he actually held.  N is something of an anti-villain in Black and White, with Ghetsis as the real but hidden antagonist, and I’d like to see that explored further in the sequels; this side-plot would do just that.

 Art of Black Kyurem, by Michaelangelo Buonarotti.  Nah, I'm just kidding; this one's Sugimori too.

I wish for the plot to continue in the eastern parts of Unova, with events and stories for Village Bridge, Lacunosa Town and Undella Town.  In Black and White these towns are kinda just… there; they add very little to the games other than to make the world look bigger.  I think it’s reasonable to assume that this will happen as part of the process of tying up the loose ends Game Freak left for themselves in Black and White when Ghetsis escaped.  I’m less hopeful for Anville Town, the hick town out in the middle of nowhere that you can only reach by train (seriously, you can’t even Fly there), not that you’d ever want to anyway because all you can do there is swap items for other items, and even that only on weekends.  I think it would be fun to look at the role of Pokémon trainers in society by having the player take an active role in helping to build up and expand Anville Town, helping the settlement to spread into the wilderness while protecting wild Pokémon from the impacts of the town’s growth, as a kind of mediator between civilisation and nature.  If I do say so myself, this would fit the themes of the game rather nicely, since civilisation/nature is one of the major dualities Black and White focus on, particularly through the version-exclusive areas of Black City and White Forest, but also through N’s desire to separate the natural world of Pokémon from the civilised world of humanity.  Where N supports total segregation of the two, we’re clearly supposed to support bringing them into harmony, so it would be beneficial, I think, to have quests that involve the player actively doing that.

Aside from story stuff, we can probably expect a lot of cool new toys in Black 2 and White 2: Emerald and Platinum set a precedent here, each adding multiple new move tutors to expand the options available to many Pokémon, as well as unveiling new Battle Frontier facilities where players could test their skills battling under unusual rules.  I’d put good money on both of these showing up in the sequels, but I’d particularly like to wish for is an expansion of the latter concept.  Before now, facilities like the Battle Factory (where players must choose from a selection of rental Pokémon) or Battle Pike (where you must cope with random events that help or hinder your Pokémon) are restricted to single-player and co-operative multi-player modes; what I would want to stick in if I were designing Black 2 and White 2 is the option to impose similar unconventional battle conditions and rule-sets on battles against friends and other players.  Not that these facilities aren’t challenging – they are – but the AI really isn’t all that good, and losses tend to come because it’s inevitable in Pokémon that you will sometimes lose just because you were unlucky.  When you’re playing against other people, you learn to accept that and move on, but in battle facilities it becomes frustrating because the game only cares about the length of your winning streaks, not your overall performance.  A single, full battle against an opponent of human intelligence would be a more interesting test of your ability to operate under unusual conditions than battles with a hundred of the relatively uninspired AI trainers (at least one of whom is bound to get lucky with some Brightpowder or a Focus Band or something).

Finally, I’d be really tickled if it turned out that Game Freak had been reading my blog all this time and decided to take my advice on improving the Pokémon from my Top Ten list.

Hey, no harm in wishing, right?

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