So, I’ve finally gotten around to playing White 2, in tandem with my best friend Jim, who’s playing Black 2. We have both studiously avoided any spoilers up until this point, and are meeting these games with fresh eyes. This entry, and those that will follow it, are the results of our experiences as we flail madly through the games, smiting all who stand in our way. So, without further ado…
Bright lights! Loud noises! Dragons! Protagonists striking their most badass poses! Starter Pokémon! Villains! Douchebag whom I assume is the rival! Eccentric scientist with a book! MORE DRAGONS! COBALION! TERRAKION! VIRIZION! DRAAAAGON!
…yeah, it’s the opening cutscene. Honestly I feel Pokémon’s opening cutscenes are not really as good as they have been or could be; I think they peaked in the second and third generations. The Diamond and Pearl one was, quite blatantly, “LOOK AT ME I’M 3D LOOKATMELOOKATME I AM USING THE DS’S GRAPHICAL CAPABILITIES TO A FAR GREATER EXTENT THAN THE GAME ITSELF EVER WILL,” while the Black and White one was totally cryptic and very difficult to understand until after completing the game, but did manage to give away what ought to have been one of the games’ more important twists (the fact that N is allied with Team Plasma). This is just a generic montage of stuff that’s clearly going to be important in the game, and I don’t know whether I even care. Moving right along.
We quickly rush through all the usual awkwardness of Professor Juniper meeting you and needing help to decide whether she’s looking at a boy or a girl. I, at Jim’s insistence, am a girl (apparently we need to see whether anything happens differently for a female player, and he thought of it first, the little bastard), which means that I am the illegitimate love child of Mickey Mouse and Princess Leia, and he is a kid who styles his hair after a bushel of wheat. Professor Juniper introduces us to our lifelong friend (I guess?), Hugh, an aggressive-looking spiky-haired fellow, and gives the traditional “Pokémon are wondrous creatures, journey, exploration, growth, battle, partnership, aren’t Pokémon great?” spiel, before promptly buggering off out of our lives. Her influence persists, though, since she immediately contacts our mother (for the purposes of this commentary I will assume we are brother and sister, not that it’s likely to matter) and tells her that we are to receive our first Pokémon. When mother dear asks us, we protest that we don’t want Pokémon, have no idea what a Pokédex is, and certainly have no wish to go on a journey to complete one, but our pleas are, of course, in vain – mother is a forceful woman, and pressures us into accepting Professor Juniper’s assignment. Our contact, Bianca (oh, lord, that Bianca?) is here already, and we need to find her! With an exaggerated, synchronised sigh, we leave the house and- wait, where the hell are we?
This… doesn’t look like Nuvema Town. Er… in fact, this doesn’t look like any city in Unova. How did we get here and what is going on? Juniper? Is this you? Have we been drugged? CURSE YOU, JUNIPER!
Before we can get over our disorientation, we meet our friend Hugh and his little sister. Hugh already has a Pokémon, and is excited that we’re getting ours because he’s sick of having no other trainers around to battle and needs a travelling companion he can trust. His sister comments that she hopes we’ll take good care of our Pokémon when we get them, to which Hugh just… sort of looks at her coldly, says “yeah…” and gets right back to what he was saying before. Oo…kaay… Upon further investigation, we quickly conclude that Hugh is a very strange and possibly dangerous boy. His mother, when questioned, expresses a hope that we’ll keep Hugh on the right path and stop him from getting trouble… since he’s… “the sort of person who lets his rage build up inside him.” His father, perhaps even more alarmingly, mentions that “his goal is…” and then just… sort of… trails off ominously. Uh… Hughie, dear… don’t take this the wrong way, but… has anyone ever told you that anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering? Just, um… just FYI.
With Hugh in tow, we explore the town and learn that we are in Aspertia City, a town somewhere out the ass end of nowhere in south-eastern Unova, a part of the region that wasn’t accessible two years ago in Black and White. Unlike every other starting location in the games’ history, Aspertia City boasts a fully-functional Pokémon Centre, a fairly large population, and a Pokémon Trainers’ School (though this latter building is presently closed). Jim and I eventually find Bianca, the klutzy lunatic rival character of Black and White, perched atop Aspertia City’s high observation platform. Bianca presses our starter Pokémon into our hands – for Jim, a Snivy named Ulfric, and for me, an Oshawott whom I name Jaime. She also thrusts a Pokédex at each of us, and gives one to Hugh for good measure, because the more expensive technology she hands out to random teenagers, the better. Hugh immediately challenges us to a battle with his egg-raised starter Pokémon (as you might imagine, Jim sees a Tepig and I see a Snivy). Once Hugh has been suitably trounced, he dashes off to begin his adventure while Bianca drags us down to the Pokémon Centre and gives us the standard lecture on what an awesome place it is, along with a gift of ten Pokéballs – previous games give you five, enough to fill out a party; Bianca is clearly either anxious to get this show on the road or extremely pessimistic about our capture skills. Possibly both. Mother, a dutiful sort, appears and hands us pairs of running shoes, while Hugh’s sister gives us our Town Maps, along with a spare for Hugh himself, when we find him. With all of that out of the way, all we need to do is learn how to catch Pokémon… from, of all people, Bianca, the most scatterbrained Pokémon trainer in recorded history (but at least she arguably knows what she’s doing, in contrast to the caffeinated octogenarian who teaches trainers the same skill in Viridian City)… and set off for the next town!
Only… it looks like we have another familiar face to groan at first.