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Pokemon Black and White Version 2 – Nintendo’s Least Creative Names? March 5, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Nintendo, Nintendo DS Hardware, Pokemon.
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Nintendo has announced the next versions of the ever popular Pokemon franchise on their handheld game system.  They are to be, giving them their official names, Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2.  These two titles will be out in Japan by the summer and in Europe and North America some time in the fall.

More black and white Pokemon

This sort of breaks the pattern of Pokemon game releases that have gone before it.

Over the years, a pattern has evolved that Nintedo will release a pair of games, like Diamond and Pearl, each of which has some Pokemon not available on the other.  This is to encourage, depending on your level of cynicism, playing and trading with friends, buying both damn versions of the game, or boosting the sales of those cheat add-ons which some no doubt believe Nintendo secretly funds.

Then, in a year or so, Nintendo will launch a single, slightly revised version of the the two games, Pokemon Platinum in this example, which has all of the Pokemon from both Diamond and Pearl, so you can feel like a schnook for playing through both of the original games AND the new one.  Pokemon Emerald and Crystal were also examples of this sort of update.

And then Nintendo goes back to remake an older version of the game.  HeartGold and SoulSilver were remakes of Gold and Silver.  Remakes always get that modifier in the name it seems.  FireRed and LeafGreen were further examples of that.

Then, finally, Nintendo gets around to knocking out a new version of the game, which is where new Pokemon get introduced (and I have to think this is the tough part, putting together a batch of 150 new Pokemon that are balanced and useful and don’t seriously offend any cultures that buy a lot of these games) in a new land.

So really, while there have been about 20 Pokemon games (not the spin-offs, the classic Pokemon role playing games), there are only really five settings in which they take place and, honestly, one damn story played out over and over again, a young boy/girl sets out to defeat some oddly dressed bad guys and become the reigning champion in a world obsessed by Pokemon.

And while I sound cynical, the system has worked.  I have the games on the shelf to prove it, and the sales numbers do not lie.  Any year a classic Pokemon RPG title gets released, it is on the top 20 list for game sales that year, and often the next year as well.

So it is always a bit surprising when a company like Nintendo, which has been living off Mario for 30 years and Pokemon for the last 15, deviates from their traditional path, especially when such deviations often fail. (Compare Mario Party 8 sales to Wii Party… Mario Party with Miis versus Mario… and well, they are not that far apart actually, but Nintendo is still going back to tradition and Mario Party 9 will be the next version.)

I was expecting that single wrap up title to come out, to combine all of the Pokemon in Black and White with a name like… well, Gray isn’t a great plan I guess… maybe Pokemon Checkerboard?

Instead, we are getting two rework games with the continuation of exclusivity of Pokemon between the two and what have to be the worst name choices ever in the main Pokemon game line.  Version 2?  Really?

And even the main Pokemon in the game, the legendaries that you play through the whole game to catch, are on the lame name bandwagon.  Rather that two distinct yet unpronounceable names, we have Black Kyurem and White Kyurem.  And they appear to be basically the same Pokemon with just a different color scheme and a slightly different accessory kit.

There is not much out there… at least not in English… about the Black and White Version 2 story or new features that might get introduced, but at a high level it feels like the Pokemon team is running out of ideas.

I know, complaining that the latest two games feel repetitive when the whole series is, quite frankly, the same game retold nearly 20 times is silly, but it is like they aren’t even giving us the fig leaf so that we can pretend that this is something new.

In the end Nintendo will have to do more than merely crank up the repetitive dial another notch in order to keep this from being a best seller.  There are a lot of people out there who are mad for Pokemon.

And a new release will mean launch events and special downloads and all sorts of thing that I will no doubt participate in over the spring and summer.

And when fall comes, I am sure we will buy a copy of each game.  Because that is the way it works.

Comments»

1. Stina - March 5, 2012

I was wondering too why Nintendo didn’t come up with a more creative name for the new Pokemon games coming out. I think the names Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 are pretty boring. But, perhaps it was because they couldn’t think of anything better? They are sort of running out of colours. (Although, they haven’t made a pokemon purple and pink yet! Not that I think that would sell.) I think a better idea would be for them to do gemstone names again, just different ones.

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2. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 5, 2012

Yes, with the all of art, history, and science to inspire and influence, Version 2 seems like a “we couldn’t come to a consensus” result.

Not only could they have gone back to minerals, gems, and elements, but there is a whole set of things within the Pokemon franchise they could have used. I think we could all imagine a release of Pokemon Psychic or Pokemon Steel, where the legendary at the end of the game embodies the powers and becomes the ultimate expression of that type.

And even if we accept that they needed to stick with black and white because this is the all-too-soon remake of Black and White, they had an established pattern of using modifiers, as with LeafGreen or SoulSilver.

Granted, black is…well… a bit dark in meanings. But I think they could come up with something. Pokemon LicoriceBlack and DivinityWhite?

Still, they probably could have called it “More Damn Pokemon” and had a top seller as long as they stuck with the traditions of the game.

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3. michael vincent - March 5, 2012

Hi! I definitely see your point. My only issue is that there are a lot of things we don’t know about the game(s) right now. Yes, it’s going to be named Pokemon Black and White 2 and that there will be White and Black Kyurem who are going to be the mascots of the game. Other than those things, there are a lot of stuff that we don’t know.

Actually, Pokemon Black and White 2 were like a complete reboot of the series (I think somehow you felt something fresh about them when you played them, and since you said you have the games in your shelves, then I guess you know what I mean.) If we are not going to call them a reboot, we can say that there are a lot of things that got updated – the aesthetics, 3 on 3 battle, a major plot point involving N, the gym leaders having some more contribution in the story (other than getting defeated :) ) – All those things are new, but I guess you are right in the sense that the goal of Pokemon games remains the same – winning the badges, defeating the elite 4, and the champion. In a way, we can say the story is repetitive but in another way, Black and White don’t feel that way too.

So with Black and White 2, the mystery is why they called it that way. Perhaps they thought the overhauls don’t warrant a new monicker? Perhaps it’ll be like the (Ultimate) Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 wherein the game got upgraded big time that making all those upgrades just mere DLCs will be pointless?

What if they call the new games some other things instead of just adding the number “2?” Do you think the initial reactions will change? Maybe, but when the game(s) come(s) out, then perhaps people will boldly say, “It’s just part 2 of Black and White.” – which means the idea stays the same and not naming them Black and White 2 will be pointless. One thing though is that there are people right now who felt the same thing as us, that the game might actually hurt the Nintendo 3DS, or even the entire Pokemon series as a whole. You’ve said it right when you said Pokemon are always bestsellers, they should do this right or else, the series may suffer a complete fan turnaround.

Whooh. This has gotten so long. Sorry! I hope this is okay >.<

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4. SynCaine - March 5, 2012

Still no real Wii Pokemon game.

Y u no want my money Nintendo?

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5. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 5, 2012

Still not anything but Nintendo handheld Pokemon RPG games. Nintendo clearly believes, and may be right, that the Pokemon RPG franchise drives DS sales. (And drove GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance in the past.)

Somebody put a bogus version of Pokemon Yellow up on the iTunes App Store and it jumped to the top of the charts. Clearly there is demand outside of the DS crowd.

Nintendo however is used to being in control of the hardware, allowing it to put the squeeze on software devs. The desire to stay tightly in control (no doubt influenced by how they have treated their devs) means they’ll never let it go as just software, and I suspect that even internally the DS group doesn’t want their bread and butter in the hands of their co-workers on the Wii team.

Or such is my speculation, but I’ve seen worse in big companies.

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6. Aufero - March 6, 2012

I last played Pokemon (blue) in 1999, when I was laid up for a week with meningitis. The drugs, photophobia, and 103 degree fever gave it a hallucinatory quality I haven’t tried to replicate by playing any of the later versions.

Let’s just say I’m almost certain there wasn’t a paisleyzard.

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7. SynCaine - March 6, 2012

I saw that iPhone app. I don’t get how Apple let that through, and it’s crazy that people will drop money that quickly without reading a single review (literally every review says the game is a scam).

Makes me wonder what the point of designing a real game is, when you likely make a lot more money pretending to make something.

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8. Wilhelm Arcturus - March 6, 2012

@SynCaine – Well, Apple… like Amazon.com or I Can Haz Cheezburger… takes the point of view that they are not there to enforce copyrights. They have a group that screens apps for a set criteria, and “totally ripping off Nintendo” isn’t on the list.

Still, I know somebody in the screening group and had to send them a “really?” message.

And I am going to guess that nobody made much money from that app, as I am sure that Apple doesn’t pay in real time. Of all of the music industry practices I am sure they stuck with, I am sure that paying out royalties no more often than once a month was on the list. People who bought the app can get a refund… if they know how.

@Aufero – I had a similar experience with the EVE Online sound track. I had it on in my headphones while I had a high fever and entered a state of semi-hallucination. I still get flash backs when I hear certain songs.

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