For me at least, the announcement of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 came as quite a surprise. Pokemon has always been a series that’s released its sequels as stand-alone game duos and trios with features unique from each other. Outside of some of the side games like Pokemon Stadium, there have been no direct sequels to a Pokemon game. It’s quite a surprise to see that change all of a sudden, and it’s interesting to think about. How might Black and White 2 differ from other main series Pokemon titles? Why were they sequels as opposed to a new set of games? Could this affect the series moving forward, and if so, how?
Of course, little to nothing has been announced about the games, so there is really only one major thing we know about them… that they’re sequels to existing Pokemon games. The first thing this brings to mind is the naming scheme of the series. The first set of Pokemon games were all colors: Red, Blue (Green in Japan,) and Yellow. After that, you had metals: Gold and Silver, although they immediately broke the theme of metals with the third game in that set, Crystal. Since then, Pokemon games are always titled with elements, minerals, or colors, often choosing two that are opposites or counterparts, or that are at least commonly seen as such — Rubies and Sapphires aren’t actually opposites, after all!
I’ve seen some fans on forums claim that sooner or later they’re going to run out of colors and elements and will have to start doing something new, but I don’t think that’s true. Nintendo will always be able to find some pair of concepts or elements that are perceived as opposites. That said, perhaps that argument is now moot, as we now have Black and White 2.
Could this be a sign of things to come, indicating that the naming scheme of the older games may now be gone and we’ll be moving toward sequels and maybe even a new naming scheme entirely, foregoing the duos and trios of counterparts in favor of more traditional titles and sequels? Maybe. After all, if there was one thing that set the original Black and White the most apart from its predecessors, it was the storyline.
Pokemon Black and Pokemon White both had had more elaborate of a storyline than previous Pokemon games. While this is an element that has been building for a while, it definitely reached a new level in these two games, and it’s interesting because this makes Black and White less similar to the monster-collecting RPGs that have made up the Pokemon series since it began, and a little more like traditional plot-driven JRPGs. Could this be the entire reason for Black 2 and White 2? To continue the plot?
I find it unlikely that Nintendo will do away with having at least two counterpart games for each generation, and they’re certainly never going to do away with the monster collecting, but I don’t exactly see them reducing the storyline elements, either, and I actually see them doing more and more with this. It’s possible that this could mean that Nintendo is going to move more towards the Final Fantasy series format for the Pokemon games, which is to have sequels with most of the same themes and similar gameplay, but to have self-contained plots. Occasionally they will have sequels to continue the storyline or ideas present in a specific game.
So, moving forward, will we have more of these sequel games? I think we definitely will. Think about it… The more story-driven you make the plot of the game, the more that each game will be set apart from the others in the series. You make your game more unique, but also a lot more compelling. Giving it more storyline and a more complete world does a lot to make the game a lot bigger, a lot more complex and interesting, and it means fans will show a lot more interest in specific entries in the franchise. No longer will it only be about the gameplay, which is usually expanded on and improved with every generation. It won’t be as much about the individual Pokemon generations either, which aren’t that crucial anyway as every new Pokemon game contains all the Pokemon that came before. No, fans will still love the series for these things, but when it comes down to individual games, they will begin to favor the games for the world and storyline, the things that will truly set the games apart from each other.
And of course, as fans begin to especially favor specific Pokemon games for their worlds and plots, they will grow more attached to those worlds and want to revisit them. That means fans will replay the games more, but it also means that they’ll want to see more in new games. Sequels that expand on the world or area, the story, the characters, and the themes, will happen more and more, especially for the really popular entries in the franchise.
Whether this prediction turns out to be true of course still depends on the reasons Black 2 and White 2 are being made, but I definitely think they’re being made because of the story. What other reason would Nintendo have to make a direct sequel other than to capitalize on the themes and story? After all, the other elements of the series are already carried on between new games with the usual format. Seeing “Black Kyurem” and “White Kyurem”, mysterious variations of an existing Pokemon from Black and White, only supports my conclusion that Nintendo’s reasons are story and world based.
So that leaves one more question then: What are Black 2 and White 2 going to do for their Pokemon? Outside of the spinoffs and remakes, every new set of games in the Pokemon series has introduced an entirely new generation of Pokemon. What will that mean for sequels like these?
Well, in this case specifically, I’d say we’re definitely not going to see a new generation of Pokemon. Yes we have already seen a handful of new additions, but I think that’s to be expected with a sequel, especially if they’re new legendary Pokemon. Whether we see a few new additions or not is irrelevant; Black 2 and White 2 are almost definitely going to be treated virtually the same as the Pokemon remakes are, and will contain no new Pokemon except some expansions on Generation V.
As for future Pokemon sequel games — if I’m right about that becoming a recurring theme of course — I imagine that they will not typically have new Pokemon generations either, but will be like the sequels and contain all current Pokemon. If they made a game, then made another new game before making a sequel to the first one, then the sequel would likely have the new Pokemon from the second game. That’s how I imagine it would go, anyway.
So that’s all I can glean from what little we know about Pokemon Black 2 and White 2. Obviously this is all speculation. We know next to nothing about the games, and even when they’re in our hands, we won’t immediately know if Nintendo’s plan for the future follows my expectations… or even if they have much of a plan for the future at all. This is definitely a wait and see case. In the meantime I will continue to speculate, and I’m sure many others will be doing the same. Do you think Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 are interesting, and that they could mark a change in the series? If so, what do you think that change might be? It’ll be interesting to find out.