Common Sense Media Says: OK for kids 8+

Great installment in strategy and monster collection series.

What Parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pokemon Black 2/Pokemon White 2 is a sequel to the previous installment in the franchise, Pokemon Black/ Pokemon White. This is the first time that there has been a direct sequel in this series. Usually, each new installment has a story that is detached and unrelated to past games, but this one picks up where Pokemon Black/ Pokemon White left off. As with all previous entries, though, the focal point of this game is capturing little creatures in the wild called Pokemon, then raising them to become the strongest creatures in the world. Turn-based battling is a part of making Pokemon strong. Players will be able to use their creatures to not only rise up in the ranks of official Pokemon championships but also use their skills to defeat an evil force and restore peace to the world. The game does offer online components where kids can battle others around the world.

Consumerism:The two different versions of this game are nearly identical, but players need to have both of them (or be able to trade with a friend who has the other version) in order to be able to collect all the Pokemon. In addition, the entire Pokemon franchise has been dominated by various toys and promotions designed to get players to buy more than just the games but also the array of related merchandise that is released alongside the games.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking:Not applicable

Language:Not applicable

Positive messages:Although this game's primary focus is fighting and battling, the message is one of courage, devotion, and fulfilling dreams. As with all previous titles in the Pokemon franchise, this game features the story of young heroes who are able to overcome extreme obstacles and make a difference in the world. The battling is presented in the context of a good-natured competition or as a means of resolving conflict. The Pokemon creatures used in battle cannot die. If they are defeated during a match, they only faint and can be revived at the nearest "Pokemon Center."

Ease of play:Although these games are designed so that even the youngest and newest Pokemon fans can easily pick it up and play, they also appreciate the legacy of the franchise and cater to long-time fans as well. As a result, there are sophisticated nuances in raising Pokemon and training them for battle. Kids use strategy in raising Pokemon to be able to take on the fiercest competitors, but they need not understand all these complex strategies in order to complete the game. There is an ability within the game to switch to "Easy Mode," which makes the opponents less difficult to defeat. This is a good option for novice players.

Positive role models:The role models in this game are the young Pokemon trainers who strive to become the top trainer in the world. Beyond that, though, there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles thanks to the work of the evil Team Plasma, who use Pokemon for nefarious and destructive purposes. Nevertheless, players get to prove that they can achieve anything as long as they set their mind to it.

Privacy & safety:Some privacy concerns. While kids don't need to play this game online, there is a heavy online component offered. Players can battle against online friends, set up an online shop to sell items, or fight against 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.

Sexy Stuff:Not applicable

Violence & scariness:As with other games in this series, players constantly engage in battles with other Pokemon trainers as well as agents of the evil Team Plasma. There is never any violence between humans, and the Pokemon battles are depicted more as a strategic turn-by-turn competition than any sort of gratuitously violent ordeal. The creatures never die. When they are defeated, they faint and can be revived easily at locations throughout the game. In addition, it is mostly the case that Pokemon battles are simply a means of sportsmanlike competition.

What's the story?

POKEMON BLACK 2/POKEMON WHITE 2 are unique in the Pokemon franchise because, for the first time, they are direct sequels of the games that preceded them. Both contain parallel storylines with only minor differences. This game takes place two years after the previous installments in the series, although new players can pick up this game with no difficulty in understanding the story. As has become the norm in this franchise, players take on the role of an aspiring Pokemon trainer whose goal is to rise to the top of the ranks in the well-respected sport of Pokemon battling, while at the same time conquering an evil force that threatens the safety and peace of the entire region.

Is it any good?

Pokemon Black 2/Pokemon White 2 are somewhat formulaic in their presentation. With the franchise now nearly 15 years old, there is nothing exceptionally new or different with the basic structure of the game. The beauty of this series, though, is that the structure continues to work very well. This installment contains a whole cast of new Pokemon with new abilities and powers, as well as features like mini-games and a feature called "Pokestar Studios" that allows players to create movie scenes with their creature companions. There is also a new feature that allows players to create their own shopping mall that grows when players invite online friends to visit. These enhancements help to refresh the experience, but the truth is that the Pokemon franchise epitomizes the adage of "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." This game captures all the same magic as the many titles before it, and the added features and content allow it to be a different experience and an easy recommendation for any fan of the series.