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 Dusk After Unova’s Newest Dawn

Any content in a Pokémon game that isn’t available before the credits roll is generally referred to as “post-game” content. Your first post-game surprise is a visit from Sinnoh’s Looker. He’s searching for the remaining Team Plasma Sages who have scattered themselves across the region. In your attempts to seek them out, you’ll return to familiar locales as well as all-new places, as you can now access the entire eastern half of the region. If you tackle this post-game content based on route number, you’ll find yourself heading east from Opelucid City onto Route 11. Here you’ll find that Unova has opened up in more ways than just welcoming Looker and allowing access to extra locations. The very first Trainer you encounter on this route, a Backpacker, speaks French and has Croagunk, a Pokémon not from Unova but from Sinnoh, on his team. A nearby Ranger boasts a team of Rapidash, Cacturne, and Mantine, each from a different region. In addition to gaining access to new places and new Pokémon faces, all of these teammates are leveled in the mid-sixties—these Trainers aren’t messing around.

Despite this, the route music is calming, a reprieve from the calamity you’ve just put an end to. The challenge continues so players don’t grow bored by underleveled opponents, but the stakes aren’t nearly as high as they once were. A Ranger in an RV says there’s a lot of “nothing” here, but this multi-tiered route is truthfully quite the adventure, continuing the same extent of stellar level design found during your primary travels.

Route 11 and 12 are connected by both a bridge and a town—Village Bridge, a 200-year-old structure that people have built houses upon. An example of humanity living in harmony with nature, this settlement has wild Pokémon encounters in tall grass as well as in the water, undisturbed by the houses that were built by people rather than Pokémon. There are also some Trainers to battle outdoors, making Village Bridge function as both a route and town simultaneously.

But perhaps its most iconic feature is its layered music track. Now that your main journey has come to an end and the main characters’ arcs have wrapped up, you understand better than ever the importance of growing through opening yourself up to the perspectives of others. And what better way to begin the process than by reaching out and listening to what others have to say? Here, doing just that will lead you to discover four different musicians throughout the community. Each will add a layer to the bridge’s calm but suspiciously empty music. A guitarist, beatboxer, harmonicist, and vocalist unify their different skills into a track that’s as stirring as it is soothing.

Village Bridge is made accessible after your struggles have come to an end to astutely showcase how narrative and mechanics unify within Black and White. With the most parts to any dynamic music track in the games, Village Bridge’s theme brilliantly encompasses both how your own actions have a direct effect the world around you, as well as how the actions of those around you affect your experience—one of the most poignant executions of Black and White‘s themes as mechanics. In addition, Village Bridge incorporates the games’ dichotomies in subtle yet influential ways. It’s the unification of both settlement and nature. People and Pokémon work and live together in harmony—Pokémon that are both captured by Trainers as well as those still in the wild. And the bridge’s song utilizes traditional enka vocals spiced up by modern beatboxing. This otherwise minor area serves to enhance Black and White‘s themes while giving players wonderful places to explore even after they have put an end to Team Plasma’s schemes. Rather than taking shortcuts because the credits have rolled, the settlements of eastern Unova are just as brimming as their main-story counterparts. Dusk may have fallen on the main adventure, but there’s still more to discover as you press onward into the dawn.