Part II: The Chapters of Unova

For the anniversary of the release of Pokémon Black and White, we continue our tribute to the games. Part II focuses on the main storyline and its synthesis of narrative and gameplay.

The Triple Crown

Team Plasma banners hang gallantly from the ceiling on the topmost floor of the castle, leading the way to the throne room. But Ghetsis blocks your way in. He has no qualms about approaching you, invading your space, forcing you back.

“Welcome,” he says. He calls this castle a “symbol,” one that “means Unova will change.” He explains that N “is accompanied by the legendary Pokémon. He has defeated the Champion. Added to all that, his heart burns with the desire to improve the world. If that’s not what makes a hero, what more do you need?”

But while N’s heart burns with the desire to change the world, your blood boils. Ghetsis still speaks to you as if delivering a speech, as if he can convince you to back down now. You know the extent of Ghetsis’s evil schemes, and you know the extent of his abuse of N. Standing before you is the most repulsive human of all, but you can’t do a thing about it until you can defeat N.

“Now that the stage is set, we can seize people’s minds and hearts. We can bring into being the world that I—no, that Team Plasma—desires more easily than you can imagine!” In addition to the use of the horrendously aggressive word, “seize,” Ghetsis for the third time slips up—and still he corrects himself out of habit. He knows you’re aware of his plan, but thinks so lowly of you that he can appear here before you and deliver these lies, just as he had at the Tubeline Bridge. His hubris is so enormous it could eclipse the sun.

But finally, the lies cease: “We and only we will use Pokémon, and we shall rule the powerless populace! … Go! Onward!” he commands. “Discover whether you have what it takes to be a hero!”

He thinks he knows the answer already, and you must prove him wrong. Not just for people and Pokémon, but for N.

N sits upon his throne. “What I desire is a world for Pokémon, and Pokémon alone. I will separate Pokémon from people, so Pokémon can regain their original power.” He gets up and walks towards the center of the room, and you approach to meet him halfway. The platform you stand on is highly elevated, surrounded by more water. N is disappointed that you have not yet been chosen as a hero by the second legendary dragon, and decrees that you are unfit to defeat him. He calls for his own dragon and it erupts through the walls, annihilating the throne and spreading debris and rubble. Its tail turbine whirs into life and emits so much energy the water that once surrounded you evaporates in an instant. Faced with such an enormous power, what are you to do?

At the appearance of its counterpart, the stone within your bag trembles. At last, your dragon awakens—the counterpart to N’s dragon has considered you may in fact be the hero! It wants to see if you truly stand for the truths or ideals it encompasses. Just as the main showdown against N has been saved for the end of the game, properly elevating it above all other battles, your obtainment of the legendary is intrinsically tied to both the story and your success against Team Plasma and is appropriately saved until this moment. Now, you must battle the dragon and make it your ally. Heroic trumpets and drums suitably herald the arrival of the dragon and, in Black and White‘s musically-inclined fashion, zaps of electricity or roars of flame can be heard depending on which dragon stands before you.

Unlike your present Pokémon from Professor Juniper at the games’ start, you must earn companionship with the remaining legendary dragon. Only then is N finally willing to battle you—two heroes on equal footing, placing their resolve on the line. Through battle, you communicate your feelings and resolve to the dragon, just as battles have come to represent throughout the series. And capturing the Pokémon represents its total acceptance of you. For some, that may be as simple as throwing an Ultra Ball—for others, it may require whittling down its HP and inflicting Sleep or Paralysis. But no matter when or how, you must capture this Pokémon, as that is proof that it has, without a doubt, chosen you as the hero. Drayden emphasized back in Opelucid City that capturing a Pokémon is not entirely indicative of capturing its heart—for the legendary dragon before you, the narrative implication is that it chooses to be captured when it senses your resolve in battle, just as the other dragon appeared before N of its own volition. This battle is driven by story, right as the story is kicking into full throttle.

Once you succeed at capturing the legendary, you’re given a choice: will you add the dragon to your team? At the end of the day, Pokémon is about letting the player play how they like. What matters is that the legendary has chosen you, evidenced by its awakening and subsequent capture. It’s not necessary to use the Pokémon if you would rather stick to your established team. After making your decision, N approaches you. He understands that the dragon “has recognized your power,” meaning you are now officially, undeniably, a hero.

“Hold on. Your Pokémon are hurt.” He restores your team to full health. “There is no triumph to be gained in battling a weakened opponent.” N’s respect for you continues even now, taking the opportunity to turn a fair gameplay element—healing your team before this climactic battle—into one that serves a purpose for N’s consistent characterization.

But once your team is patched up, the moment of truth arrives. N expresses his intent as the fated battle begins: “Now, I will create the future I desire! I shall sweep you before me!”

N’s first Pokémon is his dragon. Since it’s been by N’s side already, it’s a few levels above your own. He always starts with its signature move, and if players retaliate with their own, the move’s power is amplified. From here on out, it’s pure adrenaline as you face against the new Champion, with a variant of his battle theme utilizing a ticking clock and beating heart to indicate the high stakes. Recall Iris’s words back in Opelucid City: “If people work with Pokémon in the right way, we don’t have to worry anymore about the world being destroyed.”

Your battle at home was filled with novice mistakes that led to the destruction of your room. Two tiny starter Pokémon—”So little, but so strong!” as noted by Bianca—held enough power to trash their surroundings. But by the time you had claimed the Insect Badge, your knowledge had grown by spending time with your Pokémon, and you were able to face Bianca in an indoor battle without damaging the vicinity. As Cheren said on Route 10, you’re stronger now, and it’s not because you have all eight badges, but because of the Pokémon and people you’ve met along the way after leaving home—your metaphorical cave.

Now you stand before N. At your sides are the legendary founders of Unova—dragons with the power to raze the very region they created. The two of you, with your steadfast convictions and prowess as Trainers—strong enough to best the challenges of the Pokémon League, making you both the strongest Trainers of the region—have the skills necessary to battle “in the right way,” such that does not beget destruction.

But the fate of people and Pokémon is still on the line.

For the first time, N’s Pokémon aren’t from nearby, recently-caught by himself, but rare, evolved Pokémon such as Vanilluxe and the restored fossils Archeops and Carracosta—likely provided to him by Ghetsis. Zoroark, a Pokémon the player can’t obtain themselves unless they attended real-world events, disguises itself as N’s final team member, a Klinklang. Although it’s surely not the same as the Klink he partnered with in Chargestone Cave, this is the only instance of N using a Pokémon of the same evolutionary family more than once. It may not have been his decision, but considering his love of formulas and the Chargestone Cave itself, he surely loves this gear-like companion just as much as any other Pokémon he’s crossed paths with.

“My last friend… Please share your courage with me!” he cries out as you back him into a corner. “Is the world going to choose you […] and not me?!”

It is inevitable. You must dethrone the king.

My dragon] and I were beaten,” N says after a long pause. “Your feelings… They were stronger than mine, it seems… [The two dragons]… Each of them choosing a different hero… Is that even possible? Two heroes living at the same time— one that pursues truth and one that pursues ideals. … Could they both be right? I don’t know,” he questions. He ponders a bit, then comes to a conclusion: “It’s not by rejecting different ideas, but by accepting different ideas that the world creates a chemical reaction. This is truly the formula for changing the world.”

At last it seems N understands, although his loss is crushing all the same. But there’s no time to celebrate your victory or comfort N. Unlike after your first-ever battles with Bianca and Cheren, your mother isn’t here to offer her support and clean up after you.

Instead, Ghetsis approaches, intent on cleaning up the mess N made of his plan.

“After all of that, do you think you’re still worthy of sharing the name Harmonia with me?” he demands. “You good-for-nothing-boy!” Ghetsis slowly closes in on N as he explains that everything that has occurred was his own doing, for his own benefit. Soon, he is right in N’s face. “After saying you had to put your beliefs on the line and battle to see which one chosen by the legendary Pokémon was the true hero… You lost to an ordinary Trainer! There is such a thing as being too stupid! Add it up, and you are nothing more than a warped, defective boy who knows nothing but Pokémon…”

N says nothing, and Ghetsis turns to you. For the first time, he refers to you by name without any additional manipulative titles. “I never would have thought the legendary Pokémon would choose a Trainer like you! It caught me completely off guard. This doesn’t change my goal. My plans have not been disturbed! In order to rule this world utterly, in order to manipulate the hearts of people who know nothing, I will have N be the king of Team Plasma. But, for that to work, you— since you know the truth— You must be eliminated!”

Before Ghetsis can do anything, however, Cheren and Alder arrive on the scene. “Rule the world??” Cheren asks incredulously. “Wasn’t Team Plasma’s goal to liberate Pokémon?”

“That was just a convenient lie that I needed to create Team Plasma,” Ghetsis says, something you’re already far too aware of, although others such as Alder could only guess at this truth up until now. “Use your head. What’s to be gained from letting go of useful things like Pokémon? Certainly, manipulating Pokémon helps people expand their possibilities. That much, I can agree with. So it naturally follows that only I should be able to use Pokémon!”

Alder calls Ghetsis foolish, but Ghetsis pays it no mind. “You can say whatever you want. A Pokémon, even if it’s revered as a deity, is still just a Pokémon.” Ghetsis directs his next words at you: “So what if [the dragon] chose you! That doesn’t mean you’re a threat. Come on! Now you’ll face ME in battle! I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you’ve lost all hope!”

N, finally able to speak again, calls out to you. His feelings reach through to you, and your team is fully healed. It is finally time to put a stop to Ghetsis once and for all.

After Ghetsis’s defeat, he blithers madly about his “perfect” plans. Alder takes the opportunity to ask N, “Now, N… Do you still think Pokémon and people should be separated?”

N turns, ashamed. Ghetsis uses the chance to berate N further. “Since I couldn’t become the hero and obtain the legendary Pokémon myself… I prepared someone for that purpose—N! He’s nothing more than a freak without a human heart. Do you think you’re going to get through to a warped person like that?!”

Even at the hands of defeat, Ghetsis attempts to manipulate you, to convince you that N is beyond saving. But it doesn’t work. “Alder, it’s a waste of valuable time listening to him ramble on,” Cheren says, surprisingly defending N. “[Ghetsis] is the one without a human heart!”

Alder agrees, and ignores Ghetsis’s words, speaking directly—and only—to N. “N… I’m sure you have much to think about. I know you were not pursuing [your goals] because of Ghetsis’s manipulation, but because your heart was truly inspired. That is why you were able to meet the legendary Pokémon!”

“But…I have no right to be the hero!” N replies, distraught by his loss, by his revelation that he was not entirely right.

“Is that so?” Alder wonders. “What you and the legendary Pokémon are going to do from now on… That’s important, wouldn’t you say?”

N shakes his head in frustration. “Acting like you understand… Up till now, we’ve been fighting each other over our beliefs! Yet, despite that… Why?!”

Gone is the Alder calling N’s beliefs “worthless,” and instead stands a man who recognizes N’s convictions were pure. Strength is the ability to help those in need, and N, his manipulation at the hand of Ghetsis now clear, was simply in need of help. And just as N had deduced after his defeat, both heroes were “right”—not just you, but N and his goal of bettering the world for Pokémon, who are indeed put in danger by the likes of people such as Ghetsis.

“N,” Alder continues, “even if we don’t understand each other, that’s not a reason to reject each other. There are two sides to any argument. Is there one point of view that has all the answers? Give it some thought.”

Without giving Ghetsis the chance to get any last words in, Alder and Cheren apprehend him and take him away. And just as Cheren stayed behind with Alder earlier, now you may remain with N as your two allies continue to help in ways only they can. When they are completely gone, N continues to fumble with his thoughts until he’s finally ready to speak again. “I want to talk to you about something,” he says. And for the first time, instead of him approaching you, you approach him.

A delicate piano tune plays as you walk alongside N. He shares with you all his feelings—how confused he was to see Pokémon who loved people, and how his meeting with you changed his worldview. He walks with you up the platform. Where there once was a throne, there is now a gaping hole into the outside world. He walks up to the edge, and you follow tentatively. N looks out into the light of the outside. “The Champion has forgiven me, and… What I should do now is something I’ll have to decide for myself.” He sends out his dragon and turns to you.

“You said you have a dream… That dream… Make it come true! Make your wonderful dream a reality, and it will become your truth!”

“Wonderful dreams and ideals give you the power to change the world!”

“If anyone can, it’s you! Well, then…”

The piano stops. N takes a deep breath.


The screen cuts away. The final dichotomy of the game—the gentle piano leading into an epic, triumphant theme as the credits roll.

N, who has learned his wrongdoings and must now discover what he must do. He and his dragon fly off, but to where?

You, who have saved the world from Ghetsis but still have your whole life ahead of you. There is still much of Unova left to explore—where will you go?

The only place for you both to go is onward, to your own futures.