Thanks to their continued rise in sophistication and popularity the release of a video game can now be considered a cultural event, with the big franchises attracting bigger sales number with each shiny new instalment.
There are few bigger gaming franchises going today than Pokémon. First hitting UK shores in October 1999 the series has racked up sales totalling in the millions in Britain alone in the intervening thirteen years. Those sales are set to see another spike on Friday October 12th when Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 hit the shelves of the nation's gaming stores.
The basics of the game remain unchanged. Battle, defeat and enslave a variety of creatures (the eponymous Pokémon) and use them to prove your superiority against other in-game trainers. You will periodically face gym leaders, who essentially function as bosses, to prove your mettle, gaining a badge as proof of your victory (and toughness). Get all eight badges and you'll head off to face the Elite Four and the champion, the best Pokémon trainers in the game (theoretically).
These games function as sequels to the phenomenally popular Pokémon Black and White which were released last April. You once again travel around the country (or possibly continent, it's never really clear) of Unova only now there are a whopping 301 Pokémon to collect as opposed to the 150 or so you could get when you first visited Unova.
Those who completed Pokémon Black and White will be able to sync cartridges with the new games (using just one console) to experience some exclusive content. This includes battles against returning characters and your character from the first cart being name-dropped as one tough hombre who stopped an evil plot for world domination.
World domination? Yes, world domination! There was an evil gang known as Team Plasma in the first game and they're back to be thwarted a second time in these new games. They provide the titles with their very light plot. It's not fantastic but it keeps you moving and stops the game being an endless cycle of animal fights with no meaning.
Unova has undergone a few changes since it first appeared. A new area has opened up in the southwest, which is where you'll begin your journey, and there are new towns over in the east. The first is the dusty hamlet of Yamaji Town and the second is the seaside Seigaiha Town, the latter of which is home to a new water type gym. There are new trainers and new routes to experience too, all of which helps to vary the games considerably from their predecessors.
One of the best features of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 is the Pokémon World Tournament. This sees you facing off with the game's gym leaders and other significant characters after besting them during the course of the main game. More impressively it also allows you to tackle gym leaders, Elite Four members and champions from previous games. It's a great treat for long-term fans to be able to battle the likes of Brock, Pryce, Steven Stone, and Winona again, all with fancy new Pokémon teams.
The games will be available first thing on Friday October 12th from Game, HMV and any other games retailer you can think of. They are a must for fans and will also prove great value for money for any fans of role-playing games. Prepare to have your free time gobbled up by the Unova region once again.