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Can we catch ‘em all?: Generation V

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On playing the games, one is immediately struck with the ''newness'' of these titles. In some ways, {{bp|Generation V}} is a disruptive force, one that challenges and discards a rather large number of previous expectations. Perhaps the most radical decision was found in {{bp|Pokémon Black and White Versions|Pokémon Black and White}}. Previous {{bp|core series}} titles included a mixture of old and new Pokémon in their roster, blending fan expectations for new creativity with a desire to preserve the nostalgia of older favorites. {{bp|Pokémon Black and White Versions|Pokémon Black and White}} were the first to discard all previously seen Pokémon entirely, instead building an entirely new roster to collect. In one interview, {{bp|Junichi Masuda}} explained the rational behind the decision was “to level the playing field so that when they all start playing the game, none of them will know what’s strong or who has what moves.”<ref> http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/03/02/struggling-with-pokemon </ref>
 
This decision is far more symbolic than merely an appeal to players. In {{bp|Generation IV}}, Nintendo representatives saw {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}} as a way to communicate across generations. These remakes were meant to symbolize a passing of the torch from the players that came before to the players of today.<ref> http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/ds/pokemon/0/5</ref> In {{bp|Generation V}}, there is no longer an attempt to speak to that past. Erasing any trace of previous Pokémon in many ways divorces {{bp|Pokémon Black and White Versions|Pokémon Black and White}} from the shared past of the {{bp|core series}}. Some argue that this is not entirely the case, as Pokémon from {{bp|Generation IV}} do eventually become accessible with the {{bp|Poké Transfer}} feature. However, this feature only becomes available once the main storyline completed and grants the player no strategic advantage. It is merely an afterthought to catching them all, if the player so chooses.
 
The decision to include an entirely new set of Pokémon, and to limit access to older Pokémon, does not grant newer players an advantage over older ones. What this decision accomplishes is a removal of the last advantage older players hold over newer ones. In essence, these titles signal that catering content to older fans is no longer a priority, and that is a radical departure from the past.
Another significant aspect of newness can be found in the introduction of sequels to the franchise. Prior to {{bp|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 Versions|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2}}, all titles followed the same general patterns. Third titles such as {{bp|Pokémon Crystal Versions|Pokémon Crystal}} or {{bp|Pokémon Emerald Versions|Pokémon Emerald}} were constructed as versions of their respective generation’s original paired titles. As such, players came to expect similar gameplay between versions, though elements were often added to entice the player to purchase the third title.
 
With {{bp|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 Versions|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2}}, those expectations quickly fell away. Press and advertisement materials repeatedly noted that these titles were sequels. This altered how players approached the titles. Stand-alone games are often constructed so that a beginner with no prior experience with the game is able to progress without significant difficulty. In a sequel, the player is expected to approach the title with some prior knowledge of gameplay and how to progress. The result is that gameplay elements that were previously included in each core series title were no longer required. For example, players would first encounter a {{bp|Pokémon Center}} in the second city of each game rather than the first. In {{bp|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 Versions|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2}}, there is a {{bp|Pokémon Center}} in the first city. According to {{bp|Takao Unno}}, this was deliberately intended for new players to “learn about the gameworld and do so in a short period of time, so the story moves along smoothly as well.”<ref> http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/ds/pokemon-black2-white2/0/2</ref> Sequels require prior knowledge, therefore {{bp|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 Versions|Pokémon Black 2 and White 2}} chose to do away with old traditions of gameplay and acclimate new players as quickly as possible, once again bridging the gap between older players and new.
 
Finally, the introduction of {{bp|Unova Link}} is a radical departure from structure by making explicit the connections between the first and second set of releases in {{bp|Generation V}}. Previously, the links between the first set of paired releases and the third title are not spelled out. All three titles are merely versions of the same narrative. More importantly, the titles are all ''independent'' of one another. {{bp|Version-exclusive Pokémon}} rosters do link different versions for the purposes of {{bp|catch ‘em all|catching ‘em all}}, but there are no narrative links between each title. It is not necessary to complete one title in a generation to access features in another.