Pokemon Black Version/White Version

Common Sense Media says

Intriguing story has slew of online features.

Age(i)

2
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7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There’s always been something a little troubling about Pokemon’s basic concept: Humans capture wild Pokemon and make them fight each other. In this story, the developers tackle the issue head on, with Team Plasma -- “villains” whose goal is to liberate the Pokemon. The protagonists argue that Pokemon are happier with their human owners and develop loving bonds with them. Neither side is specifically stated to be wrong, but Team Plasma comes across as villains because they use questionable tactics to achieve their goals.

Positive role models

While the heroes are on the side of keeping the Pokemon (rather than setting them free), they talk repeatedly about the importance of caring for their Pokemon, seeing to their needs, making sure they are happy, etc. They truly want to get across the message that humans must treat their animals with kindness.

Ease of play

It feels like there’s more to keep track of here than ever before in a Pokemon game; however, all the various rules and strategies are explained quite clearly through the course of the story.

Violence & scariness

As in most previous Pokemon games, fighting is depicted in unrealistic, turn-by-turn strategic battles. Some of the moves have violent names, like “Bite,” “Scratch,” and “Incinerate,” but you’ll never see one Pokemon touch another. With some of the moves, you will see water or fire rise up around the Pokemon, but damage is still only depicted by a health meter going down. Losing Pokemon “faint.” No one dies.




Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The game is sold in two versions, Black and White, and both contain the same storyline, but each has one exclusive Pokemon monster that the other doesn’t. Each version also has one exclusive area to explore: Black has an urban city and White has a lush forest. By releasing these games at the same time, they tempt kids to own both.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pokemon Black Version and Pokemon White Version are nearly identical games with the exception of one exclusive character and one world-area in each. There is a morally challenging plot, in which one side argues that Pokemon monsters should be liberated from their human owners and the other argues that the creatures are better off and happier with their human friends. But most importantly, parents need to be aware that there is an online component to the game, which allows players to compete with random players (but without chatting with them). For those using a DSi, it also allows video chat among up to four people, though only with registered friends.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

The plot to POKEMON BLACK VERSION (and POKEMON WHITE VERSION) is more morally ambiguous than most (in a thought-provoking way). This time, there's a group called Team Plasma that wants to liberate the Pokemon creatures from what they call human oppression. You play on the side of the Pokemon trainers, who believe in building loving relationships between humans and Pokemon creatures. But rather than simply state their case, Team Plasma starts using dirty tactics to “win” people's Pokemon away from them. In addition to the long story mode, kids can play online battles, chat with registered friends, and trade Pokemon with online friends.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Pokemon Black Version/White Version is possibly the deepest, most feature-filled Pokemon game to date. In addition to its intriguing storyline, it also introduces changing seasons (with different monsters that appear in each), three-way battles, and a slew of modes for online or wireless multiplayer action. There are over 150 never-before-seen Pokemon in the game, and those new species are the only ones you'll encounter until you've finished the main story – making Black/White much more appealing to veterans of the Pokemon franchise. But you can also download your Pokemon from previous games into Black or White. And newcomers can easily slide into the game with nice clear tutorials that are neatly inserted into the story. This newest Pokemon is not just a retread, but a nice build upon the series.

Online interaction: While kids don't need to play this game online, there is a heavy online component offered. Players can battle against online friends, or, for the first time, random players from around the world. If they have a DSi with a camera, they can engage in video chat as well, though only with registered friends. Still, Common Sense Media recommends caution for any game involving live chat. Kids can connect wirelessly to trade Pokemon, and they can also enter an online Dreamworld to play special mini-games and meet (and copy the save files of) other players’ Pokemon.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the issues brought up in the game’s storyline. Even if you agree with the animal-liberation goal of Team Plasma, do you agree with their tactics? In what ways can a person support a good cause in a bad way? What do you think would be better ways for Team Plasma to go about its mission?

  • Parents can also use this game as a entry point for talking about online safety. Who should and should not qualify as a person you would register as an online “friend?” What are the possible problems with live chat, especially video chat? How can kids safeguard themselves against these problems?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Price:$34.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:March 6, 2011
Genre:Adventure
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence (Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi)

This review of Pokemon Black Version/White Version was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old October 4, 2014
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

I loved it!

I chose Snivy, and now i have a L.V. 91 Superior and i think this game is totally appropriate.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Kid, 11 years old April 6, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Haha, loved it.

The whole plot of this game is battling. So if your kids don't like battling games, then don't get them this. I loved the 3D graphics. Nintendo always does a great job. (Animal Crossing is the best though) Its the same as the others. Battle til you beat the game. But this time, there's a team called Plasma. (Is that how you spell it? I haven't played this game for a while) They have a young king, who believes Pokemon cannot be with trainers. Because they're ''abused'' or ''used'' wrong. Which they're not. He always tells the player ''Your pokemon love you!'' But still wants to ''save'' the world. But you start off with a starter Pokemon. (Water, Grass, Fire) And, I think you know the story. You do have a legendary battle with N (The king of team Plasma). Once again, it's a thinking game. Should you use that move? Should you catch that pokemon? You must keep a budget on money. Oh, now doesn't this make it more fun? But I give it a buy.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old May 2, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Plasma? More like PETA.

This Pokemon game goes all the way back to the basics. Hence the name "Black and White", N sees every thing in black and white, and I don't mean that he's color blind, he sees everything as either "Good" or "Bad", which I guess is the way most little kids see it too. N is (I think) a TEENAGER and portrayed as the villain for most of the game but he just wants to protect the Pokemon, and Plasma was really more like a PETA group gone wild. The earlier Pokemon games were all named after jewels and precious metals ever since Kanto (which were colors), but as said earlier GameFreak wanted to go back to the basics, thus Black and White. The hero, Cheren, Bianca, and the scientists are all great role models, and you get a bunch of good and sappy morals. But, compared to earlier games Black and White are very dark, and hard, so it's more for older, more experienced gamers. By the way, if you want to be able to play in White Forest or Black City, you better get there within 10 real world days of starting the save file, or everyone will be gone.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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