As a first for the Pokemon series, despite having very similar names, both Pokemon Black and White Version 2 are actually direct sequels to last year's Pokemon Black and White games – with entirely new stories, new features, and more. Set some two years after the events of the previous game, many things have changed – Gym leaders have come and gone, new places have popped up, and a new rival has entered the picture. To top things off, there's also a new legendary Pokemon - the insanely powerful legendary ice-dragon Pokemon Kyruem – who's potentially frozen half of the Unova region in the process, if the screenshots are anything to go by.
Each game will get it's own version of Kyruem, with Black 2 getting Black Kyruem, who knows the move Freeze Shock, while White 2 getting White Kyruem and the move Ice Burn. If you've played the first versions of Black and White, you may recognise Kyruem as the third Pokemon of the trio of legendaries, so it's not quite a new Pokemon you'll be getting - just different forms of an already existing one, although we're not really ones to complain.
But despite its new story, new Pokemon, and jigged about region, the actual gameplay remains mostly untouched, meaning even if you've never played a Pokemon game before, you'll still have to trouble learning the ropes. Starting out from the scenic Aspertia City, you'll start off by choosing a starter Pokemon from the same line-up as before - the happy fire pig Tepig, depressed water-type Oshawott, and smug grass Pokemon Snivy. From there, it'll be up to you to stalk around the long grass as you discover new Pokemon, battle them, and try to capture them, in order to complete your dual goals of catching every type of Pokemon in the land, along with defeating the gym leaders found in each town. With the same accessible turn-based gameplay letting you and your opponent take it in turns to choose moves, Pokemon's always been more about (fairly simple) strategy than lightning fast reactions - and that remains true here.
But as we all know, a Pokemon game's only really as good as the Pokemon it's got in it, which is why we're particularly excited now that Nintendo have revealed the Unova Pokedex for the region has a whopping 300 Pokemon in it, compared to the 155 in the original Pokemon Black and White games. Seemingly, the two years that have passed since the original game has resulted in a massive influx of old favourites like Arcanine, Lapras and probably Pikachu making their homes in Unova, letting you start catching old favourites from the get go - although we'd imagine a handful of new creatures will appear too. And if you're looking for tips about which Pokemon you should keep an eye out for, we've got a few suggestions too - why not check out our guide to Pokemon Black and White's cutest Pokemon?
Pokemon Black and White Version 2 also brings with it a couple of new features, including the Pokemon World Tournament – a special event that lets you battle various trainers, both past and present. New trainers can be downloaded via Wi-Fi on a regular basis, with old favourites like Brock, Misty and Lt. Surge, as well as head of Team Rocket, Giovanni making an appearance – so we're kind of hoping for TV bad guys Jessie and James too, if only for the comedy value.
Rounding off the new features for Version 2 is a new building called PokeWood - a Pokemon take on Hollywood, where you'll be able to make your own Pokemon themed films. Much like the musicals and contests of the previous games, it's a nice little diversion from the main quest, where you get to act out a part in a selection of scenarios. Standing in front of a green screen, you get to start a battle with your co-star, choosing a set of scripted options to decide the course of the movie, as well as which moves to use, before you bask in the glory of a finished product, and presumably see your name in lights.
As with it's predecessor Pokemon Black/White Version 2 will be on the good old DS, and, like (almost) every other DS game, will also be playable on the 3DS – although we'd imagine it'll probably be the swansong on Nintendo's now ageing handheld, before everything moves across to the 3DS. If you are lucky enough to own a 3DS, you'll actually be able to download a few extra games/applications from the eShop that'll help in your Pokedex completing quest, in the form of in the form of Pokedex 3D Pro, a fully-fledged Pokedex with a wealth of information on the 600+ Pokemon from the entire series, and Pokemon Dream Radar, which uses the Augmented Reality functions of the 3DS to let you catch rare and unusual Pokemon that can then be transferred to the DS game.
With a release date beyond a vague "2012" yet to be announced, we're not entirely sure when we'll be able to get our hands on the latest installment of Pokemon goodness - but you can be assured we're counting down the days. As soon as we hear any more information, we'll be sure to let you know - but until then, you'll have to excuse us, while we go back to finishing our Pokedex, and catching those last few Pokemon.