Gotta catch ’em all

By Chris Trubac

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It was nearly 15 years ago that the first “Pokémon ” games were released in North America for the Nintendo Game Boy console. Offering a captivating role-playing experience, “Pokémon ” quickly found its niche after the release of the beloved “Pokémon  Red Version” and “Pokémon  Blue Version” games.

Today, the global media franchise still produces great handheld role-playing games, offering each player a chance to enter the exciting world of “Pokémon” and become a world-class Pokémon trainer. The latest installments in the series are “Pokémon Black Version 2” and “Pokémon White Version 2.”

The graphics of the games and some of their mechanics have changed a lot since Red and Blue, but the basic premise of each “Pokémon” game remains the same: “GottaCatch ‘Em All!”

One key to the long-lived success of the “Pokémon” games is their ability to appeal to players of all ages. They feature turn-based battles that require strategy but omit graphic violence. This means “Pokémon” is engaging for seasoned lovers of strategy games, but is also appropriate for young children.

“Pokémon Black Version 2” and “White Version 2” follow the events of their successors, “Pokémon  Black Version” and “Pokémon White Version.” They take place on the same fictitious continent of “Unova” and employ the same graphics. However, these new sequels feature a fresh storyline and a host of new characters – including new playable characters, new gym leaders and a new rival.

As in previous “Pokémon” titles, “Black Version 2” and “White Version 2” revolve around capturing often adorable and occasionally ferocious “Pokémon” characters. In the new “Black Version 2” and “White Version 2” games, players are able to catch Pokémon that were previously unavailable in the “Unova” region.

The “Black Version” and “White Version” games did not allow players to capture Pokémon from previous generations until after completing the game’s main storyline. This restriction is not present in the new games, meaning veteran players can enjoy battling with old favorites from previous generations.

Another hallmark of the “Pokémon” games is the main character’s desire to defeat all eight of the region’s powerful gym leaders and become the new Pokémon League Champion. “Black Version 2” and “White Version 2” feature new gym leaders and more advanced gym puzzles. These refinements require players to be sharper than ever in their efforts to reach the prestigious gym leaders.

Veteran players will love the chance to battle gym leaders and Elite Four members from previous generations with the exciting new “Pokémon World Tournament” feature. This is the first time this type of throwback battle opportunity has been included in any “Pokémon” game.

The famous “Pokedex” also receives an update in the form of the innovative “Habitat List,” allowing players to see what types of Pokémon live in different areas. This makes it easier than ever to track down and capture all of the region’s 301 different species of Pokémon  – the largest set of any “Pokémon ” game to date.

There are also fun side-quests in the games that may appeal to younger gamers. Players have the opportunity to create “Pokémon” movies at the grandiose “Pokestar Studios,” or enter their Pokémon  into the glamorous “Pokémon Musical.”

Players who purchase their copy of “Pokémon White Version 2” or “Black Version 2” before Nov. 12 will have the opportunity to obtain the legendary bug Pokémon “Genesect.” The promotion allows players to receive the Pokémon via the “Mystery Gift” feature over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

“Pokémon Black Version 2” and “Pokémon White Version 2” are worthy installments in the “Pokémon” series of role-playing games. They bring careful refinements to a game formula that has worked well for over a decade, ushering a new generation of players into the exciting world of “Pokémon.”

Christopher Trubac can be reached at [email protected]