Anonymous asks:

Is it just me, or do Pokemon Black and White seem like they were intended to be a lot longer? Many Pokemon in the game reach their final stages well after they’d be useful (like Bisharp, Braviary, Hydreigon etc) and the ending sequence feels so rushed, with N’s castle popping up out of nowhere, and you catching your dragon in the very last scene. I know it’s a weird time to be talking about Black and White, but it’s always felt so odd…

Well, that is the only generation so far that included a direct sequel to its main title.  Purely as a practical reality of development cycles, Game Freak must have decided that they were going to do Black and White 2 as sequels long before Black and White were actually released, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if they had originally planned a more typical “Grey version” – Black and White with some extra bells and whistles – and changed course only when they realised there was too much material that wouldn’t fit in the initial release.  So it’s plausible that there was something unusual about the writing process in Generation V that could be responsible for that truncated feeling you’re sensing.

The evolutions, I think, are something quite different – I think the designers were deliberately taking a novel approach to assigning evolution levels in that generation.  A lot of previous games had their wild Pokémon cap out at fairly low levels relative to the trainers in the same areas, but Black and White have them continue to scale into the very late game.  In the interests of gameplay flow, it’s best not to have those Pokémon evolve immediately after you would catch them, and it would also be frustrating (as well as a bit counter to the kind of gameplay they want for the Pokédex quest) to catch the evolved forms and have to hatch the basic Pokémon from eggs.  The result is that evolutionary levels are based on the principle of being 10-15 levels above the point where you would probably first catch them, rather than being close to those of similar Pokémon in earlier generations.  I think the addition of the Eviolite in that generation suggests that they were aware they were doing something unusual with evolution levels and needed to make an adjustment for it to smooth out the single player balance (Chansey’s competitive renaissance and subsequent overshadowing of her own evolved form was probably not something they anticipated).  Purely by way of contrast, you could look at what they did with Larvitar in the original Gold and Silver – appearing at level 15 in an area otherwise populated by Pokémon in the 40s, so that the evolutions to Pupitar and Tyranitar don’t feel too rapid and effortless.  If they’d tried to get by on just that trick in Black and White, the more aggressive level scaling would have left too many gaps to fill.  It also doesn’t help that in earlier games they could populate areas with higher level and evolved forms of Pokémon from previous generations, which don’t exist in Black and White.  So it feels weird, but I think it’s actually an inevitable consequence of some higher level design choices that happened in those games.

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