So yeah, Pokemon is great.

Pokemon Black and White has occasionally been described as a reboot of the series, which is both accurate and not. On the one hand, anyone who is looking for a complete turnover of the series’s gameplay is going to be disappointed, as it’s still “pick Fire/Water/Grass, go get eight badges, take down villainous Team Whatever, become Champion”.

On the other hand, though, the game really does play like the designers sat down with all the previous games and, whenever they came across something annoying, asked themselves “Do we really need this annoying thing? If not, why not just, you know, take it out?”

And so they did. Not completely — it wouldn’t be a Pokemon game if it wasn’t annoying you at least a little — but with one exception it’s a lot more of a smoother play now, with many of the little stumbling blocks and aggravations of earlier games being eliminated or removed. HM-focused world design making HM slaves an absolute necessity? Gone. Single-use TMs means you get powerful items but can’t use them? No more. Experience curve makes experimenting with new Pokemon difficult and risky? Not now. Older Pokemon stealing the spotlight from the newer models? Nope. More elaborate attack animations making for longer battles? We’ve shortened them, and allowed multiple things to trigger simultaneously when possible.

The one exception, of course, is the encounter rate, which is ludicrously high. Like, “fight every three or four steps” high. Yeah, I know, that’s what Repels are for, but… I want to see some wild Pokemon, you know? Just not thirty in the time it takes to go down a hallway. I also seem to have pretty bad luck with regards to abilities — it took me forever to find a Regenerator Mienfoo last night. I eventually pulled out a Liepard from my PC and started Faking Out everything in order to weed out the Inner Focus Mienfoos… this is after I accidentally raised a Sand Rush Herdier and had to catch and raise another one (which fortunately took less time than it would have in previous Gens due to the experience curve, but still).

I’ve got seven Badges so far, and five of my six Pokemon are set. I’m still undecided as to what the sixth should be… I’ve been catching everything I run across out of hope that one of them would catch my fancy and demand to be added to the team. I would have raised a polar bear, but a cursory glance at various online databases reveals it learns nothing good, so eh.

We’ll see how it goes!

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