Yesterday, I published an article where I counted down my favorite Pokemon games, as preparation for Pokemon Sword and Shield. However, I had to split the article in two because I had a lot to say about each game and I couldn't fit it in just one article.
If you're interested in reading part one, here's a link to it and I hope you enjoy it: link
With that said, let's get on with the list.
4. Pokemon Omega Ruby.
Yup, a Hoenn game followed up by another Hoenn game. What can I say, Generation 3 is very special to me. When this game was announced, I was incredibly excited, even if I couldn't purchase them at the time. I loved RSE and I wanted to see what Gamefreak could improve upon them, especially since X and Y, despite their flaws, introduced a lot of fun mechanics. So, implementing them into Hoenn sounded like an amazing idea. And sure enough, they delivered!
I already talked about what I love about Hoenn, so I'll skip over it. Instead, I'll talk about what Omega Ruby improved on the original.
Firstly, the graphics look amazing! I honestly had my doubts, because I didn't think the bright 2D graphics from the GBA would blend all that well with the 3D engine. But I was proved dead wrong. One of the reasons why they look so good is because of its attention to detail. Small touches were added that made Hoenn come to life and made it even more fun to explore. Around every corner is a small but neat surprise. When you walk around in beach areas, there's a chance that a flock of Wingulls would swoop past. Lots of water Pokemon have unique surfing models, like Sharpedo and Wailmer. badges has pins on the back, making them look like actual badges. When you use items, the items will appear on your avatar. Not only that, but your avatar also interacts with the environment now. You take your shoes off when entering a house, kneeling down to to talk to shorter kids, and sitting when talking to sitting characters.
The best details of all are the ones that contribute to character development. This is where Omega Ruby excels the most. It may look beautiful, but it's visuals only serve to tell the story, which is what the game improved on the best. Small changes to the dialog, character and facial animations contribute to fleshing out the characters and making them feel more real as a result. Made better by new scenes added at the end of the main-game and the post-game to make the inhabitants of Hoenn feel less like a bunch of NPC's and more like real people.
Characters like my in-game rival May who was boring in the original games, has been made into a ditzy air-head who loves collecting Pokemon an wants to make friends with people. Her facial expressions are absolutely adorable and really makes May a lot of fun to watch. Plus, there's this scene at the end where both you and her are walking down the same Route you two fought, where the music and dialog makes it look like they're about to kiss. There wasn't much change in her character,but she was entertaining enough that I didn't mind.
The character whom I think changed the most but was made better is your other rival Wally. As I said earlier, Wally is a unique rival in that he starts out as a weak and meek trainer and we were the ones who had to show him how to catch Pokemon, which is usually the other way around. He felt more like a pupil for you to mentor, only for him to gain the strength and confidence to earn the reputation of your rival. Rather than training to catch up to you, he made strides on his own; even appearing in places like the end of Victory Road before you. He was set up as frail and sickly due to his Asthma, but he didn't have that much of a personality. Thanks to the addition of character and facial animations in the overworld, he got to show a range of emotions. And his dialog changed to showcase how much he grew overtime. Plus, by giving him his own Mega, it shows that this ain't the same frail kid you had to teach. It's also nice interacting with Wally's family member and seeing worry for him.
That's not all, characters like your father Norman and the other Gym Leaders, Team Aqua and Magma, Steven Stone have also been fleshed out and you actually got to care about them. Omega Ruby basically gave the Unova treatment to these guy and I'm all the happier for it.
The motivations of Team Aqua/Magma are also better explained here, which helps frame their actions much better, along with giving each team member a vivid and distinct personality, as well as adding scenes to show how the dynamic of the team functions, this makes both teams more likeable and memorable than before.
Also, I am aware that every single member of Team Aqua had their races switched and became black in the remakes. Normally, I'd be100% against this because changing the race or gender of a character is a lazy and dumb thing to do. But in this case, I let it slide because I think it suits them better and look much cooler.
While I am sad by the absence of a Battle Frontier, the "Delta Episode" was a welcome addition. Not only does it tie in very well into the main story, but also expands the lore of not only Hoenn but the Pokemon world in general.
The character of Zinnia is very fascinating to me. Not only because she has a very striking design and amazing battle theme, but also because how mysterious she is as a character. I also like she even made small cameos disguised as a member of either Team Aqua or Magma during the main-game. She's a member of a Dragon-type specialist clan known as the Draconids, whose main purpose is to call upon Rayquaza when the world is threatened by meteorites, and to protect the lore of the Hoenn region.
The best thing about Zinnia for me is how she expands the lore. When the Devon corporation want to use a portal gun they created to open a portal that would transport the meteorite to a different reality.
Zinnia explains that sending the meteorite that's approaching Earth to a different dimensionis a bad thing to do because there exist other universes and doing this will only bring harm to them. Yes, this confirms that there exists a Pokemon multiverse, where each game is its own universe, following different timelines. It's also been confirmed that there's an alternate timeline where Mega Evolution never existed, which could be the one where Sword and Shield take place in, due to the absence of Megas and Z-Moves, although this is only a speculation.
Another amazing thing about the Delta Episode is that you get to fight and capture Rayquaza, who's the only Pokemon who can Mega Evolve without needing its own specific Mega Stone. After capturing him, you can battle Zinnia and her battle theme is amazing. And after proving your worth to both, you get to ride on Rayquaza, fly into space and destroy the meteorite, which contained Deoxys, that you can also battle and capture. This was one of the most epic moments in Pokemon's history.
There are other great things too. The DexNav is amazing feature that shows silouetes of the Pokemon that live in the area you're currently in. Plus, Pokemon that you want to capture can be seen peeking out of the tall grass, and you can slowly approach it to capture it. Usually, Pokemon that are found this way have strong moves that they wouldn't be able to learn normally at that level. For instance, I stumbled upon a Poochyeana that knew Ice Fang.
The returning features such as Mega Evolution, Pokemon Amie, Super Training all make a return; and while they remained exactly the same way they were in X and Y, they were still amazing features that made things easier.
Another great feature is that after you capture either Latias and Latios, you get an Eon Flute which allows you to call upon one of them, Mega Evolve them and get to fly above Hoenn and see the region from above. This was an amazing experience, especially since you don't need to have them in your party to ride them and can even land on Routes.
Speaking of legendaries, sometimes mirage islands would appear in Hoenn that contain Pokemon you can't normally capture in the region, or even a portal that contains a legendary.
Much as I love Omega Ruby, it still has problems. Mainly that it's much easier than the originals. Why is that a problem? Because it lacks a sense of challenge. Every time you beat someone, it's usually because you were over-leveled, your opponents had bad strategies, you powered your way through, etc. Not helped by the fact that legendary Pokemon such as Latios and Latias are simply given to you and can be used against the Elite 4 in the main-game. However, what hurt these games the most is the lack of the Battle Frontier from Emerald. This made fans angry, because this was an amazing feature that they dropped entirely so it would be easier for kids to complete the game. I personally didn't mind this because I was never that interested in them to begin with, but I still feel bad for others who wanted to re-explore it.
But even if it's made easier, I still had a blast and I think this is the definitive Hoenn experience. From the massively improved story, to the amazing graphics and feature, to the amazing OST that sounds better than it ever did before, to the expansion of the lore and so many others. I even caught a shiny Tentacool while fishing, which is the first time I ever encountered a legitimate shiny in the wild. I caught it of course, and it was great.
3. Pokemon Sun and Ultra Sun.
Yeah, we have our first tie on this list, and it won't be the last. Usually, I only include the version that I preferred, but I feel these two game complete each other and leaving out one would ignore the great things about the other that made the Alolan adventure so great.
These games mean a lot to me, because Pokemon Sun was the very first game I got to play on the 3DS. Long story short, I ordered a New 3DS XL for Christmas, which already had 5 games installed on them, including Sun and Moon. I received it on December 29th of 2016, and it changed my life. For the first time, I got to play a legitimate Pokemon game on a handheld console. To say that I was happy would be an understatement.
As games meant to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, they did a wonderful job with it. From giving older Pokemon new forms through regional variants, to having your avatar be native to Kanto who moved to Alola, reappearing characters like Colress and Grimsley from Unova, Red and Blue from Kanto, to references to characters like Bill, etc.
My favorite thing about Sun/Ultra Sun is the story. This has got to be the best story in a Pokemon game since Black and White.
One of the best aspects of this story is the plot revolving around the Aether Foundation, specifically the stuff revolving around Lusamine and her family. Let's go over them individually.
Lilie has got to be one of my favorite characters in Pokemon. She starts out as this timid and meek girl who's influenced by the abusive and manipulative behavior of her mother. However, not wanting to see Cosmog hurt by her mother and having fed up with it, she decides to take Cosmog and escape.
As you progress over the course of the game, Lille also grows into a more powerful and confident person. Lille was an abuse victim who gained the courage to face her abuser, who was also her mother.
In Sun, after Lusamine is defeated, Lillie decides to take her mother to Kanto and is never seen. In Ultra Sun, it's her brother who leaves for Kanto and she stays in order to fix her relationship with her mother. She even decides to take on the island challenge and even battle does battles herself, which she originally despised.
Gladion is an interesting rival. Unlike his sister Lillie who was too afraid to against her mother, Gladion rebelled against her. A rather creepy thing about him is that every time you battle with him, he's seen holding his hand in pain like he's camping or something. This could indicate that Lusamine or Aether scientists experimented on him, damaging his body. Eventually, he would escape and steal a Type:Null, a Pokemon he could relate to, and joins Team Skull.
A neat thing about him is that he also constrasts your other rival, Hau. A problems with X and Y is that all of your rivals were friendly towards you, thus had very little in terms of clashing ideals and personalities. Here, these two create an interesting contrast, making their interaction much more engaging
I also really like how you slowly gain his respect and even gives you one of the remaining Type:Nulls as a gift after you become Champion. Also, in Ultra Sun, he's the one who leaves for Kanto to become stronger, instead of Lillie.
Lusamine has got to be one of the best villains in Pokemon. As the very first female main villain, they did a great job with her. She's presented as this loving and caring being who wants to save the Pokemon, when in reality she's an abusive psychopath who has no love for her children or any other human for that matter. Unlike other villains whose motivations were based on trying to make a batter world or out of greed and want for ultimate power, her motives were fueled by the loss of her husband (Spoilers, he's still alive.), made worse by Nihilego's neurotoxins poisoning her mind.
In Pokemon Sun, she's completely unsympathetic; lacking any sort of love for her children or respect for anyone. She even disowns them and calls them "ugly". When Lillie talks about how close they were and then you compare it to her current version, you can see how far-gone she is.
There's this one quote from hers, that really stuck out to me:
"Terrible? Me? How am I different from any Pokemon Trainer, like your little “friend” there? What do you do with a Pokemon you can’t use? You remove it from your party, as you please."
This broke my heart after after realizing how many Pokemon are in my PC box.
Your final battle with her is very unique. Not only are you battling her in Nihilego's home dimension, but she allowed it to fuse with her, creating this human/Ultra Beast hybrid. This was a very interesting fight, although I would've preferred if you get to fight her instead of her powered-up Pokemon.
In Ultra Sun, she's relatively the same but is made more sympathetic. Unlike in Sun, where she just wants to be left alone with her Ultra Beasts, here she's deluded herself into believing that she's the only one who can save all the Pokemon in Alola from Necrozma.
Another thing that makes Lusamine so great is that she's the first main villain in a Pokemon game since Archie and Maxie, to have a change of heart. It happens at the end of the main story for both games, though for different reasons. After you defeat her in Sun, Solgaleo purges all of the toxins from her mind and returns to her old self. In a very emotional cutscene, she even compliments how beautiful Lillie has become, before passing out. In Ultra Sun, it's Necrozma who purges the toxins from her mind when she and Guzma have their asses handed to them. She is berated by Lillie and comes to the realization of what an awful person she's been the whole time and admits that Lillie had every right to take Cosmog away. She decides to dedicate herself to helping both the people and Pokemon of Alola and is even seen waving goodbye to her son when he leaves for Kanto.
Just a side note, for a woman who's 41+ years old she looks damn fine!
Their family dynamic is the heart and soul of Alola's story. You come to care about these people and understand where they're coming from, creating a compelling and emotional story, showcasing how far Pokemon has come when it comes to storytelling in their games.
Another neat thing about Alola is that you get to fight two evil teams: The Aether Foundation and Team Skull. The Aether foundation is interesting because you're lead to believe that Team Skull are the main villains of Alola, when in reality it was the organization who's main goal is to preserve Pokemon and improve the lives of others. This is another great thing about Alola's story, because nothing is what it seems and at the end, and everything will make sense once you put the pieces together.
Team Skull is a very unique evil team, because they're not an organization bent on world domination or changing the universe, but rather a group of hooligans who were once trainers that failed the Island Challenge and acted like a family of outcasts. That's why they call admin Plumeria the "big sister" of the group. Because they're not meant to be taken as seriously as other evil teams from the past, a lot of the jokes that come from them are very hilarious. I especially love it when you invade their HQ, you can enter one of their rooms where two female grunts are arguing about how one of them stole the other one's panties. One of them points out that she had her name written on it, only for the other grunt to tell her that it doesn't matter because they're all named "grunt" anyway. Meta jokes like this are always appreciated, plus it adds a bit of realism to their dynamic.
Their leader Guzma is also very interesting. Unlike guys like Giovanni or Ghetsis, he was a guy who gave home to societies rejects and "losers" where they united like a family cause they all understood one another. They all look up to him not out of fear or merely common evil mindset but because he is a true boss who took them all in and saw them not as losers but as allies.
Him using bug types fits into this as well. Bugs are often rejected and the type ain't exactly seen as strong. But he made bugs a threat and showed their power.
He also has a pretty sad backstory, as he not only failed the Island Challenge in the past, but also felt unappreciated. When you go visit his old house and enter his room, there are several Silver and Bronze trophies on one of this shelves. It's revealed that the only reason why he worked for Lusamine is because she was the only person who acknowledged his strength as a trainer, presumably before the accident. As a result, he vowed loyalty towards her.
He also has a change of heart in the end and disbands Team Skull, although he still has his old stubborn attitude and stays true to his ideals. I also love the evil boss of this game steps in during the Rainbow Rocket arc.
The story of Sun and Ultra Sun, while staying relatively the same, still have differences between them. Sun's story is more coherent and more focus is given on Lille and the relation she has with her family. Whereas Ultra Sun doesn't really show it and focuses more on explaining the lore.
Ultra Sun features the Ultra Recon Squad, humanoid aliens from a different dimension whose home's light was devoured by Necrozma. They have traveled to our world, so they could inform everyone and try to find a way to put an end to Necrozma. They don't do much in terms of the story except offer exposition in regard to Necrozma, while also getting to battle them. While they're not the most interesting of characters, they still have a few quirks to make them memorable. Like how they try to do the Alola greeting, but do it in a very robotic way. I also like how they give you a Poipole after you beat Necrozma.
Your other rival Hau is also very interesting. While he does fill-in the role of the friendly rival, he didn't just stop midway like May did in the original Ruby and Sapphire or because you became the Champion. He kept going and is STILL set on surpassing you in strength. He's all you rivals from X and Y done right. Not to mention, despite choosing the starter that's weak to the one you chose, he's no pushover.
Another neat detail is that he chooses the starter that had to disadvantage to the one you picked and even has a Pikachu that he evolves into Alolan Raichu, indicating that maybe you're meant to be the sassy rival and him the main character.
When it comes to the post-game's story, they differ a lot. In Sun, you had to help the returning Looker and Frontier Brain Annabelle from Pokemon Emerald to hunt down and capture Ultra Beasts that are scattered around Alola. I like this mission, mostly because it expands the lore. Remember when I talked about the Pokemon multiverse? Annabelle here is from the same universe as Pokemon Emerald, or the non-Mega universe. And the only reason she's here is because she's a "Faller". A "Faller" is a person who got sucked into an Ultra Wormhole and got transported somewhere else. The main character and Looker are Fallers as well. Because she was sucked into a different universe, she lost most of her memory. I find this to be a really neat way to tie the new game's universe to the old one, making them feel more connected.
In Ultra Sun, the Aether Foundation is taken over by Team Rainbow Rocket, an alternate universe version of Team Rocket who succeeded in their goals and now have aspirations on conquering as many universes as possible with the help of the Ultra Beasts. Not only that, but Team RR is joined by the bosses of all the previous evil teams: Giovanni, Archie, Maxie, Cyrus, Ghetsis and Lysander all make a return here and you have to battle them one by one. These aren't the same ones you faced in the past, but rather alternate universe versions of them who actually succeeded in their goals. Evident by the fact that Archie and Maxie of Team Aqua and Magma respectively don't have their ORAS designs. Many people took issue with this as they're not the originals, but I didn't mind it because their personalities and characteristics remained the same, so it was still satisfying to battle all of them. Made better by the fact that they each have one of the mascot legendaries on their teams. Plus, you're aided by Guzma, former boss of Team Skull, and Colress, former second in command of Neo Team Plasma. I also love how Lillie actually helps out and even battles alongside you.
Now that I finished talking about the story, let's talk about something else.
I freaking LOVE the Alola region! It has got to be in my top 3 favorite regions. Not only does it have a diverse landscape you can explore, but it's separated into 4 different islands that have their own unique personalities and places to explore. Making each island feel like its own mini-region. Plus, being based on Hawaii, they did a damn good job representing Polynesian culture. From the people, to the food, to how each location looks, etc.
Alola is also very unique, as Gyms are nowhere to be seen. Instead, it's taken up by the Island Challenge and trials. These work similarly to what Ash had to do to earn a badge during the Orange Isalnd saga. Essentially, each island has its own fair-share of trial captains who give you a challenge to complete. After you succeeded in completing the challenge, you get to fight against a Totem Pokemon, which is a Pokemon of much bigger size than a regular variant of that same Pokemon, is given a boost to one of its stats, and can use an S.O.S call to summons allies to aid it during battle.
I also love how, instead of getting badges, you're given Z-Rings, which you can use on your Pokemon. Plus, these are a lot more challenging, which I'm thankful for.
I also love how in Alola, your adventure marks the very fist Pokemon League in the region and how you become this regions first champion.
This Generation's mechanics are Z-Moves; giant, over-the-top finishing moves that your Pokemon can use if it has the right type of move. It works like this: there are several Z-Crystals, most of which are based around the 18 types. If you're Pokemon knows a move of a certain type, then they can use the Z-Move that shares that typing. For example, a Salamence that knows Flamethower can use the Firium Z and the move that comes with it.
Character costumization makes a return and all the better for it. I understand why they were removed in ORAS, but I'm thankful that at least it made a return here.
When it comes to the graphics, the games are a massive improvement on Gen 6. It kept all the incredible details from ORAS and used them to their full potential here. For example, enemy trainers now use different Pokeballs like the Ultraball or Duskball, instead of just using the regular Pokeball. For example, during the Rainbow Rocket arc in the post-game, every boss had a Masterball for all of their Pokemon.
Character models no longer have chibi designs and actually have realistic proportions.
The layout of battles have changed as well. This time, the circles that appear underneath the Pokemon when they're sent out are gone. On top of that, the opposing trainer is shown right behind their Pokemon. Originally, I thought this detail was pointless, but now I appreciate it more because it's meant to be symbolic of the fact that your Pokemon aren't the only ones who are battling.
Besides the island challenge, there are other great things to do as well. In Sun, you're tasked with collecting all 100 cells of Zygarde in order to get a Zygarde with the ability to turn into his complete form. In Ultra Sun, you get to collect 100 stickers that are scattered around Alola, and in return you get Totem Sized Pokemon that you can use.
There's also the Rotom Dex, which is a Rotom that took residence in your Pokedex and actually talks to you. In Ultra Sun, they gave it the power to lend us power-ups whenever you do the Roto-Loto on him. These power-ups can help raise the Exp. or money you receive, for instance.
Am amazing feature is the introduction of Ride Pokemon. As you progress through the story, you're given special Pokemon that you can summon from out of nowhere that replace HMs, which I am so thankful for! HM's were a pain, especially because you couldn't delete them. But now, it's as easy as calling upon a ride Pokemon to do all the dirty work. Tauros can help you progress faster and break rocks along the way, Stoutland can sniff-out hidden items, Charizard can fly you anywhere in the Alola region to even the Poke Pelago, Lapras can help you surf on water, etc.
Another great feature is the PokePelago. Originally, every time you captured a Pokemon, they're sent to a PC box where they're converted into data and stored in case you need them. With the PokePelago, however, certain Pokemon that you catch are transported to these small, tropical islands where they can relax, plant and harvest berries, train and level up, or go mining and come back with items that you can use. It makes the Pokemon feel more alive as a result. Plus, this place is run by the amnesiac Mohn, Lusamine's husband. He even makes an appearance at Aether Paradise in Ultra Sun after you battled Gladion to defend your title as champion, where another emotional scene happens when Lusamine is confronted by the husband whom she presumed dead.
The soundtrack is of course amazing, being a mixture of Hawaiian music, ethereal sounding music, rock, rap etc. There's a diverse variety of different types of music, which it awesome. My favorite track is without a doubt Ultra Necroma's theme song.
I also really like the introduction of Ultra Beasts, which are Pokemon from a different dimension. They have powers that are comparable to that of Legendary Pokemon. Plus, the introduction of a new life-form that exists in the Pokemon world expands on this world works, making it feel even bigger than before.
I love how in Ultra Sun you get to ride on the Solgaleo's back and travel to different universes where you can catch different legendaries, Pokemon that aren't available in the Alola region, shinies and Ultra Beasts. Only this time, you get to see how these new beasts live in their worlds. It's similar to how you can catch legendaries in ORAS, but done batter here.
The idea of Alolan forms/regional variants has got to be one of the best concepts ever introduced in Pokemon. Like Mega Evolution, it gives new life to Pokemon from the past that not many people loved and actually made them more useful, or at least gave their own spin on it. Like with Gastodon in Gen 4, because these Pokemon lived under the conditions of this region have evolved and adapted in a different way.
When you look at the regional variants, you can see how different habitats can lead to different lifestyles. Alolan Grimer and Muk represent how a diet can have a major influence on these Pokemon. Or because Alolan Vulpix and Sandshrew were forced to live in a cold environment, they had no choice but do adapt and change from their original typing to ice. These two were made to showcase how these Pokemon survived. However, when you look at Alolan Eggsecutor is much longer than a regular one because Alola's sunlight is much stronger. It's believed that this is the original form of Eggsecutor and that the shorter ones aren't living in their natural habitats. These environmental changes play a big role in representing the themes of the Alola games, and that's "life".
The Alola region is all about life and the various forms of life, and molding them into the game's mechanics is what makes them so great. There are many things these games did right to take advantage of theme theme. Such as the way it tackled characterization, plot, new life form and the concept of trials, and how all these things revolve around the theme of life. Life is influenced by friendship, family, tradition, meeting new people and facing new challenges.
These games aren't without problems, though...
Like X and Y, it introduced a pretty small amount of new Pokemon and it's getting really annoying.
The tutorial in the beginning where a character shows you how to catch a Pokemon is really annoying and tedious, especially since veteran players like myself already know how to catch Pokemon. It should have the option to choose to skip it and not be forced to sit through it.
The handholding throughout the game is really annoying as well. because of the more complex story, the gameplay is more leniear than ever. Made worse by unskipable cutscenes that get more and more tedious. I didn't mind this because I was genuinely invested in the plot, but again, we should have the option to skip it if we want to.
While the graphics are great, the Pokemon still have still animations during battle. Not helped by the fact that your avatar, always has this goofy smile on its face, even if the scene is serious. This is very annoying, as it makes you avatar feel like a lifeless puppet.
The lack of a national dex is also really upsetting.
This next issue has more to do with Ultra Sun's story, and it's about how it handled Lusamine. While I love both versions of Lusamine, I would've preffered if we were shown her more scummy side in Ultra Sun, as well as how she was berated by Lillie. It's sweet that we're shown how much of a better person she became, but I preffered her Sun version a little bit more beause of how creepy and disturbing she was, whereas in Ultra Sun she felt a but neutered. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that Ultra Sun's story focused more on the Ultra Recon Squad and Necrozma. But doing so removes what made the original Sun's story more emotional and compelling. As I said, the relationship between these family members was the heart and soul of Sun's story, and leavign a good chunk of it out to explore the lore better is a shame.
That's why I clumped these two together, because they basically complete each other. Sun has a more conceise and emotional main story, but Ultra Sun had better gameplay and post-game.
These games aren't perfect, but that's because this is the most ambitious Gamefreak has been in a long time. It took so many risks and most of them payed off really well. Alola has a special place to me, not just because they're anniversary games. From the story of the games, to how I got them and what it meant to me. I love these games to death.
2. Pokemon HeartGold.
Easily considered by many to be the best Pokemon games of all time and for good reason.
Let's talk about my history regarding this game. Back in March of 2014, I discovered the magic of emulators and ROMs. Through trial and error, I managed to install a Nintendo DS emulator on my laptop, as well as three games: HeartGold, Platinum and White 2. Later, I'd also download Black.
I played HeartGold first because of how much praise it got. I had a ton of fun with it, however, due to the messed-up level-scalling that the developpers decided to keep, the games were harder than necesarry. Because all the Pokemon you face during your adventure have low levels and give low Exp. my Pokemon were under-leveled, whereas Gym Leaders, Elite Four members, Lance and Red were WAY too overlevled. When I said that after getting all 16 badges, all my Pokemon were between levels 50 to 60, whereas Red had Pokemon in their 80's, that story applied here. Because of this, I decided to quit the game and played Black instead.
About the game, there's quite a lot to talk about. Everythign you can imagine in this game got a massive improvement.
The story here, while staying relatively the same, is told much better as new characters such as Lyra or the new Team Rocket admins are added, as well new cutscenes that develop the characters like Silver much better. The kimono girls are also given a much larger role here. In the orignal, there were 5 girls who lived in Ecruteak city and all dressed in kimonos and each used an Eeveelution, but all you did was battle them when you're in the city and that's it. Here, you encounter each of them several times throughout the story, as you help them out. By helping them out, you're essentially being tested. And by proving that you're a selfless person with a courageus heart who cares for others, you're seen as worthy enough to encounter and battle Ho-Oh.
Team Rocket are also far more interesting as an ex-evil organization that's stuggling to exist and stayrelevent without its leader, than they ever were as a functioning one, and there's even anice balance between the focus that's given to stopping Team Rocket and your journey.
Like FireRed and OmegaRuby, this game tells the story of the original game, while using the engine of the generation it was released in. In this case, it combines the best elements of the original three Johto games, with the engine and mechanics of Pokemon Platinum, creating an amazing looking, feeling and sounding experience. It took the best elements of Gen 2 and amplified them to a million.
For a game that's on the Nintendo DS, it looks and sounds incredible.
One small detail for example is the fact that you can hear the sound your footsteps make whenever you walk or run. Speaing of running, the menu option is always readily available to you in the bottom scream, which saves up time whenever you want to use something. Plus, there's a new "Run" button, that if you press it, then you always have your running shoes "On" and you can run whenever you go, without needing to hold down the B button every time. I'm sad that this feature never saw a return, because it makes the games more convenient.
Places like Gyms also had a massive overhaul and all look amazing.
The best thing about this is the ability for one of your Pokemon to walk outside of its Pokeball and following around you, which it clearly took from Yellow. Only this time, any Pokemon you want can walk behind you if you place it as the first Pokemon in your party. This was an amazing feature that to this day hasn't been revisted since (*cough* Let's go Pikachu/Eevee *cough*). It allowed you to get closer to your Pokemon, plus, because this feature isn't limited to your starter only, it makes every Pokemon you catch and decide to use feel equally special and appreciated.
To compliment this feature, Gamefreak also included the Pokewalker with the game. For those of you who don't know, a Pokewalker is a small, Pokeball shaped device that you can transfer one of you Pokemon on, put it on your belt or in your pocket, and you can walk around with it like you do in the games. Again, an incredible feature...that sadly I never got to experience because I played both this game and SouSilver on an Emulator and had zero way of walking with my Pokemon.
While not a lot of things changed, the game did expand on the mythology of the Johto region and even the Pokemon world itself. Events such as the Celebi event where you and Lyra are transported back to the past by Celebi, right when Giovanni left his son Silver, and when we're transported to right where Giovanni was hiding and was preparing to rejoin Team Rocket when they invaded the Goldenrod radio tower. This was amazing. One showed how Silver became the cruel person he was, whie the other is apretty trippy experience because the reason why Giovanni didn't show up when you saved Goldenrod from Team Rocket is because he was busy fighting you. Yeah, time travel stories, while not my favorites, can lead to interesting moments like this.
I also love the event where you receive an Arceus and by taing it to the Ruins of Alph, you're transported to a faraway, cold place where you meet Cynthia, who was exploting the Sinjoh Ruins. There, you can choose which one of the Creation Trio you want, as Arceus creates an egg, that hathes into one of the members. Not only was this epic, but it also expanded on the lore. There's a Pokedex entry where it states that Arceus has a 1000 arms, when that's false. However, because you took it to the Ruins of Alph, where you can catch Unows, and they're even seen during the cutscene where Arceus creates the egg, it's assumed that its 1000 arms were the Unown.
The Sinjoh ruins are also interesting, as the name is a combination between "Sinnoh" and "Johto", suggesting that the people of these two regions created these ruins to honor their god, Arceus. It also makes sense, since both regions put heavy emphasis on mythology.
One small detail in regard to things such as the Bug Catching Contest is that it only happens on certain days such as Saturdays. A lot of people complained about it, however, I really like this concept because it adds a bit of realism to it. After all, events like this would happen infrenquently in real life as well, so it adds on making Johto feel more fleshed-out and real as a result.
A new side-activity you can do is the Pokeathlon. Basically, it's a Olympics like side game where you test out your Pokemon in games that mirror the Olympics. It's probably my favorite side-activity, because I love watching the Olympics and seeing my Pokemon partake in such activities is a joy to watch. Plus, it's a lot more fun than contests ever were.
The sheer amount of content you can do in this game is insane. From capturing Pokemon, even Lugia from SoulSilver which is insane, capturing legendaries, exploring both regions, the Pokeathlon, events, etc.
Some other great updates include: giving us a better Safari Zone where you can actually catch a legitimate Larvitar, giving Red a Lapras instead of Espeon that he had originally, changing up the teams of the Elite Four and Lance during your rematch with them, the inclusion of Double Battles from Gen 3, giving the stand-in Team Rocket leader actual names, making Kanto more memorable as there's more to do than just stopping a rouge Team Rocket member, and there's better pacing.
The Battle Frontier from Platinum also makes a return here instead of the Battle Tower from Crystal. Like I said, I was never particularly fond of this place, but I'm still happy that Gamefreak went out of their way to include it, which to a lot of fans, adds to the replay value.
The OST from Gen 2 is also updated and is still amazing. I also love how it added new tracks, such as theme songs for both Ho-Oh and Lugia, both of which sound incredible. There's even a small device that changes the music to that of the Cameboy Color version, which is much appreciated.
To better fit it in to the Pokemon timeline, characters from Gen 3 like Champion Steven Stone from Hoenn, and Gen 4 like Gym leader Crasher Wake all make an appearance in this game, which is a really nice way to connect the story to the Pokemon world.
However, these games are not without problems.
The level-scaling is still an absolute mess and it was the sole-reason I quit playing this game. The only way I get to finish this game properly is if I use a cheat code to get infinite Rare Candies, and I'm sorry, but if I'm forced to cheat in order to progress through the game, then that's a problem.
Also, I hate the fact that they made the cutscene where Giovanni leaves his son, event-only. As the only way to watch it and to battle Giovanni is to do an event where you get a Celebi transports you back in time. I know that this was made into an event to coincide with the then recently released Celebi/Zoroak movie, but still. It's amazing moment that shows why Silver's the way he is, and to those who never got to experience this won't get all that makes Silver such a compelling character.
But aside from that, HeartGold is a nigh perfect game. It has everything that fans of Pokemon and of good games would want in the franchise. It incorporates the best elements of the previous games before it and even includes features that haven't been used since, making it stand out and feel more unique. This games does everything that a remake should do, which is the reason why it's the best out of all the remakes so far. It improves on the original games, while including so many great new things that turn it into something that most fans want to see again in the future. To many fans, this was the peak that GameFreak has reached. What it lacks in a complex story like Alola or Unova, it makes up for it with amazing gameplay and a memorable adventure that you yourself are in control of. However, it's still not my all-time favorite. For that honor belongs to...
1. Pokemon Black and Black 2.
Back in 2011, my love for Pokemon started to dwindle because I thought Generation 4 will the end of the series. Mostly because half of the Pokemon introduced were evolutions and pre-evolutions of older Pokemon, making it feel like a final end to the series.
That's when I accidentally discovered the Generation 5 Pokemon, the Unova region, the Gym Leaders, games, and anime, and I was blown away by it! After years of seeing Generation 4 related stuff made the series grow stale in my eyes, and Generation 5 reinvograted my love and interest in Pokemon.
These games will always be special to me as a result. Combined with what I'm about to tell you in regards to these games, and you'll see why I love it so much.
Much like Sun, Ultra Sun and Omega Ruby, Black puts heavy emphasis on its story. It's what I love about these games the most and one of the reasons why this generation is so special. Gamefrak tried and failed with Gen 4, and they improved with Gen 5.
What makes the story of Generation 5 so great is not only do the characters feel real and are really compelling, but because of its heavy emphasis on the conflict between truth vs ideals.
For starters, let's talk about Team Plasma. Out of any villain team, Team Plasma has got to be my favorite. Their goal is to convince people that humans and Pokemon should live separate from one-another, since all we do with Pokemon is capturing them from their natural habitat, presumably brainwash them with the Pokeballs and force them to find in brutal battles against each other. When in reality, most of Team Plasma are comprised of hypocrites who never cared about it and simply want people to release their Pokemon, so Team Plasma will be the only ones left with them and they can easily take over the Unova region, and probably soon enough the world itself.
You may think that this is lazy writing because they address a real issue that this franchise was criticized for, only for the game to forsake it at the end. I, however, see it as a meta commentary on the people who criticized the games for this reason. Groups like Peta and SJWs present themselves as these virtuous people who talk about real-life social problems and try to convince people to do something about it, when in reality they're a bunch of scumbags who don't really care about it and simply use it as a way to gain more power, money and attention. That's how I see Team Plasma. Especially since there's a cutscene where two grunts are kicking a Munna, which is very similar to how a few years ago a bunch of crazy SJWs attacked and beat-up a black homeless woman because she defended Trump.
Besides, in Black 2 we meet some old Team Plasma grunts who are still wearing their knight-like uniforms and actually believed in what they said. People like these also exist in real life.
Plus, they return as badass terrorists in Black 2, this time dressing up as pirate ninjas who even have an awesome flying pirate ship that can shoot out a giant freeze ray.
The themes of idealism vs realism is still prevalent in the story, as several characters express their views about what Pokemon mean to them outside of battling. As companions, as pets, as partners, or even accessories to some people.
N has got to be my favorite character in all of Pokemon and I'll explain why.
N is compelling because he's set up as the leader/king of Team Plasma, but unlike Ghetsis who merely wanted world domination, N genuinely believed that he was doing good and wanted to do good. He was an orphaned child who was raised among the Pokemon, so he understood their language. Ghetsis saw the opportunity and adopted N, raising him as his son while at the same time preparing him to become king of not only Team Plasma but also the world. In reality, he took advantage of him as he was merely a tool for him to further his goals. N was shown only injured Pokemon, which is what fueled his desire to help Pokemon, as well as his dislike for most humans and battling. While he does battle you several times, even using the Pokemon that can be found in the surrounding area to test you out and see what your Pokemon say about you. However, after you battle him he releases the Pokemon that aided him in battle, however they express displeasure and sadness for having to leave N, which only adds to his conflicting ideals.
He's also never truly antagonistic towards you. He doesn't hate humans, but merely wants Pokemon to have better lives. At several points, his ideals are challenged when he sees the growing relationship between you and your Pokemon. It goes against how he was raised, but he's not overly stubborn to question whether or not the path he chose is the right one.
Another great thing about him is his design, as he's meant to resemble a main Pokemon hero that you normally use as your avatar. He even has a hat to match the look. But unlike completing the Pokedex, something that he despises conceptually, N is a hero in that he wants to save the lives of the Pokemon and hopefully both humans and Pokemon will live better lives in the future.
An interesting detail regarding him is that his text boxes move much faster than everyone else's, which is meant to indicate that he speaks much quicker and is a social outcast.
When you battle him during the climax of the main-story with your own dragon, you don't just have a Pokemon battle, but a clashing of ideals. This is reinforced by the fact that Reshiram represents realism, whereas Zekrom represents idealism. Whichever one you and N pick determine the basis of your goals and beliefs, making for a more complex story.
Personally, I always thought that Reshiram was the dragon you were supposed to get in the story, and I'm not just speaking out of bias because Reshiram is my favorite of the two. But rather because N has ideals about creating a better world and believes that humans and Pokemon should be separated. When in reality, humans and Pokemon are companions who support and help each other out, thus evolving in our own way.
After you beat him and it's revealed that everything he believed in was a lie, that's a heartbreaking moment for him and presumably the player as well. N is forced to re-examine everything he believed about the world. In the end, N flies off on his dragon and explores the world to create new ideals that he can live by, or to find the truth. Before he blasts off, he tells you that both ideals and truth are equally valid, because in this confusing world of ours there's never a clear answer and people should stick by what they believe in to make sense of it. He tells you that if you have a dream, you should strive to make a reality and it will become your truth...in Black, at least. In White, he tells you that your dreams and ideals can give you the power to change the world and to create the world that you dreamed of.
Two years later, he returns in Black 2 to assist you and to put an end to his adoptive father's plans once and for all.
It's here where his character, the themes and message of the Gen 5 games are made stronger. When N resurfaces to stop Ghetsis, he explained that in his absence, he learned that humans, Pokemon and battles are an important formula that creates a meaningful change in the world. And that even though there are downsides, they're an important part in making the world a better place. This gets a little bit more balanced by the argument posed by the first game. N, the only human who can actually communicate with Pokemon has heard from them directly that there's value in working with humans and battling alongside them. For example, how Silver from Johto grew to become a better person because of the journey he spent with his Pokemon.
N isn't the only compelling character in the game.
The actual main villain, Ghetsis is up there with Lusamine and Cyrus as one of the best villains in Pokemon. While Ghetsis may at as your stereotypical villain with aspirations for world-domination, the existence of N actually makes him more palatable. N acts a contrast/counter-balance to Ghetsis. N is a sympathetic character who truly believes in what Team Plasma says and wants. Whereas Ghetsis is a man believes himself to be a superior being to everybody else, to the point that he believes that he's the only one worthy of using Pokemon.
He was also a genius. He almost succeeded in tricking an entire region into releasing all of their Pokemon so he could rule as the unchallenged king. He lied to his adopted son and manipulated him into acquiring the legendary Pokemon to insure his victory. He was truly a monster who cared nothing for others.
Another scary thing about Ghetsis is that his signature Pokemon is a Hydreigon that knows the move Frustration. For those of you who don't know, Frustration is a move that has maximum power if the Pokemon that has this move hates its trainer. Meaning that he abused his own Pokemon to the point that it hates him.
He's just so…apathetic and vile. The true definiton of a manipulator and a sociopath. Once you get past the charm and charisma and his kingly air, he's chilling once you see him for what he really is. Lusamine may have been creepy, but at least she was under the infuence of the neurotxins and wasn't thinking straight. But Ghetsis is a complete monster, more beastly than ANY Pokemon in the series.
Your two rivals in the first Black and White, Bianca and Cheren are also great and pobably the best rivals next to Silver.
Like N and Ghetsis these two really only work as parralels to one another, but because they're both there they work phenominally well. Going with the theme of Black and White, Cheren represents ideals an Bianca represents truth.
Bianca is very honest with herself and introspective enough to realize what she's capable of, vs what she isn't. Meanwhile Cheren is idealisitc and despite loosing to you several times, he continues to strive further in order to become stongerand one day surpass you. Becase of their beliefs, they took very different paths in life, but still ended up happy in the end. With Bianca beoming professor Juniper's assistant, and Cheren becoming a Gym Leader in Black 2 and White 2.
Another neat thing about them is they're the best friends of the main character. But unlike the other ones who fill that role, these two strike the perfect balance. The fact that they're best friends makes the Unova region feel like home and give you a sense of comunity there. And the fact that there's only two of them means they can each develop on their own, and have their own dreams and aspirations.
In Black 2 and White 2, they get a resolution and continue to guide the player. Instead of comrades, they're now mentors and teach the player, helping them out in their journey. This shows how much they've grown since the first game.
One of the best aspectsof Unova's story is how it developped the Gym Leaders. In the past, Gym Leaders were nothing more than bosses for you to defeat in order to progress further. Here, however, they're written as actual characters. They help out the hero sveral times during the story and serve an important role that showcases who they are as people. Such as when Elesa convinces Bianca's father that his daughter will be fine, especiallysince this adventure can be a learning experience for her to become stronger.
Another great thing about them is that each of them have lives and jobs outside of the Gym. Brycen's an actor, Drayden's a major, Skyla is a pilot, Elesa's a supermodel, etc. But what makes it better is that there are certain secret cutscenes that you can access that showcases what these guys have been up to between Black and Black 2. These humanizes character who otherwise should've been simple obstacles.
Alder is one of my favorite champions. While not one of the strongest champions, he makes up for it by being an incredibly kind and warm-hearted individual.
When he was younger, his first Pokémon sadly passed away. But regardless, he is constantly cheerful and positive. Unlike most champions, he didn't win the title, he was appointed to it because of his love for Pokémon, his humbleness and his respect for others. He is highly philosophical, and as I said, free-spirited, constantly roaming around Unova to experience everything around him. Even asking Cheren about his motives and what he plans to do after he succeeds at becoming champion.
In Black 2 and White 2, he has lost his champion title to Iris, and spends his time teaching children about Pokémon and how wonderful they are.
One last character I want to talk about is Colress from Black 2. He's a sientist who took over as temporary leader of Team Plasma. What makes him interesting is that he's not really evil. His loyalties lie with who has the right answer, not the person giving the orders. He's a man of science who wants to bring out the full potential in Pokemon, by any means necesarry. Whether it be merciless and using brute force, or working together as compnions with Pokemon, all he wants is the most efficient method. After defeating him, he decides to quit Team Plasma and leaves Ghetsis todeal with you himself. He's very mysterious, especially with his return in Alola years later. We don'tknow why he has those motives and what he plans to do with that information, but that's part of his intrigue.
Now that we got th story out of the way, let's talk about something else.
I'm gonna be honest, Unova is my favorite region out of all of them. it's the first region to no be based on a location from Japan and is instead based on the New York, Metropolitan area. As a result, Unova is filled to the BRIM with references to Amerian culture. You've got sport stadiums, Pokemon broadway musicals, Pokestar studios which is obviously based on Hollywood, lots of bridges, ariports, cities with skyscrappers and backalies, appartment buildings, amusement parks, subways, expensive looking suburuban areas, and many more. It's mostly becauseof my bias and love for American culture. While I'm not an American, I freaking love U.S. culture and seeing it be represented in a Pokemon game is a joy to watch. Unova is filled with so much personality as a result. Chargestone ave has got to be one of my favorite locations in any Pokemon cave. There are several exotic locations that have a ertain mysticism to them, making Unova feel like a fusion between the modern culture of America spliced together with the magic of medieval Europe.
In Black 2, they added new areas to the Unova region. Unlike the previous game where you start in the western part of Unova, in the sequels you start in the eastern part of the region. Your town even has a Gym, in which you can challenge Cheren. There's also Virbank city, which I can't hep but think was named after Burbank.
What's also amazing is that obstacles where you have to use HM's are very rare, so Unova is a much less aggrevating region to explore.
When it comes to the graphics, Generation 5 looks incredible. You can tell that they took everythign great about the Gen 4 games and updated them to a million. Character sprites are larger and have more personality to them. Not only that, but there was a heavy emphasis put on 3D models. From cities like Castelia and Opelucid which all look fantastic. Not only that but the graphics make the region of Unova feel much larger and epic. What's even better is that Pokemon are now fully animated when entering battle and they all look incredible! Each and every Pokemon is filled with so mcuh personality thanks to how they're animated. There's even a small but noticible detail and that's the fact that the eyes of the Pokemon actually close when they've fallen asleep, which remained a staple ever since.
These games took advantage of the Nintendo DS' graphical capabilities and used it to its full potential, creating one of the most beautiful looking games in the franchise.
Speaking of beauty, another great feature is the introduction of different seasons. Depending in which season you play these games, it will be that season in the game as well. All four seasons look gorgeous and each of them is filled with so much charm and atmosphere. What's also neat is that there's this Pokemon named "Deerling" and its evolution "Sawsbuck" that changes its appearance depending on what season there is at the moment.
There are also areas that you can't reach unless a certain season is present, which is a problem but not enough to ruin it.
Gen 5 also introduced the idea of double wild battles. Unlike S.O.S. Battles where the wild Pokemon that attacks you calls for help and it's a one on two match, this time it's a two on two making catpturing Pokemon more challeing, but also fun. There are these darker patches of tall grass, from which two wild Pokemon can emerge at the same time, instead of two. You don't know what pair is going to come out and ou have to be careful.
There's also this Pokemon named Audino that appears inrustling grass. By making it faint, your Pokemon gain double the Exp, it should'vereceived. Combining it with the Lucky Egg, which is a Held Item that does the same, and you get four times the amount of Exp.
Speaking of battling, two new forms of battling have been introuced: Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. Triple Battles is like Double Battles, only instead of two Pokemon you send out three. Rotation Battles on the other hand work differently. You send out three Pokemon, except only one of them can battle, and you change it out with one of the other two sent out by rotating it to the one you chose. I personally really like these two and would want to see more of.
I forgot to mention that battling has become much faster, especialy compared to the Generation before it. The Pokemon are all given fully anmated sprites that look amazing. The camera moves around offering new perspectives about the battefield. And when your Pokemon's HP is in the red zone, instead of having to listen to that obnoxious beep sound, you get this intense, heart-pounding track. Plus, in Black 2 and White 2, when first entering battle, the opposing trainers are now animated as well.
This is the peak of 2D Pokemon battling.
I also really love the Unova Pokemon. A lot of people hated on them, but it was these Pokemon that made me fall in love with the franchise again and for good reason. This is the generation that introduced the most amount of new Pokemon, at 156, with no evolution or pre-evolution to Pokemon from Gens 1-4. unova felt so unique by comparison, like a soft-reboot of the franchise, or that thse Pokemon exist in their own world, isolated from everyone else. Pokemon Like Hydreigon, Volcarona and Haxorus all look amazing, and Pokemon like Vanilluxe and Garbodor aren't as bad as people make them out to be, as they're both based on parts of American culture, specifically from New York.
A lot of people compleined that you can't use older Pokemon until you get the National Dex. I personally didn't mind it because you're given over 150 new Pokemon to use, so we should test out these new guys before resorting to the old ones. I really miss it when a new Generation introduced over 100 new Pokemon, so Unova will always be special to me.
Black 2 and White 2 fixed this by making older Pokemon available, making the Unova dex the largest choose from in any Pokemon game. There are so many awesome Pokemon available to choose from.
One thing I'm incredibly thankful for is that Gen 5 also made TMs reusable. Meaning that I no longer have to worry about wasting a useful move on a Pokemon that I was going to replace anyway. Plus, I love collecting TM's.
What's also neat is that menu options are so much faster now. Now I no longer need to reopen my bag touse a Repel or a Potion. All Ineed to do is answer yes and a new Repel is used.
These games also have my favorite version of the Dowsing Machine, an item that helps out find hidden items. All you need to do is follow the arrows and presto! I never have this thing off.
The manu is sadly overtaken by the CGear, which you're asked if you want to activate it whenever you boot up the game. It's a bit annoying but not entirely entrusive. Back when Nintendo Ds Wi-f was still alive and well, this device was used to set-up Wi-fi battles and trade much easier. You can also use the infa-red of the CGear to set-up battles with a nearby pleayer who also has their DS out.
Sadly, because the Ds Wi-fi service is gone forever, I can't really use it, nor could I because I played it on an emulator.
This also prevents players from using the Dream World. Back then, you were able to transfer your Pokemon to this otherwordly place called the "Dream World". It was precursur to Poke Pelago. Your Pokemon could collect items for your adventure, capture Pokemon with Hidden Abillities, grow berries, etc. Unfortunately, this feature is as a dead as disco.
Black and White is also the first game to feature a female professor, as well as black trainers and characters like Lenora and Iris. The previous four gens before it didn't feature any because they were based on regions from Japan. Unova was based on New York, where people of African descent are much more common, so it would make sense to include them.
Another amazing thing about Black 2 is the introdcution of the Pokemon World Tournament, where Gym Leaders and hampions from older games and across the Pokemon World gather in this one place to determine who's the world's strongest trainer. As usual, you gain Battle Points based on your performance and you can exchange them for held items. Quite frankly I preffer this over the Battle Frontier.
Not only that, but there's also a lot of love for Shiny Dragons in Black 2 and White 2. After you've completed the Unova Pokedex, you an access a hidden grotto that has a Shiny Haxorus in it. After after you defeat Alder's son, you get a Shiny Gible if you play Black 2 or a Shiny Dratiny if you play White 2.
Generation 5 isn't without problems though.
The post-game of Black and White is a lot of fun, espeically since you get to explore a new part of Unova where oucan capture Pokemon from older generations. Plus, you get to help out Looker again to look for the remaning six sages who are scattered across Unova. You get to visit Black City or White Forest, depending on which version you play, capture legendaries and even battle Cynthia in her Summer house in Undella town. The main problem with this post-game is how over-leveled the Pokemon your enemies use, as well as Pokemon you encounter in the wild. Your Pokemon are in their 50's, whereas these guys are in their 60's. This is the same problem I criticized Johto for and I don't like seeing it return here.
In Black 2 and White 2, the main-story, while having some highlights, is much weaker than the original.