"Don't you think you're a little old to be playing that?" asked my wife as I ripped into the case containing a new copy of the awkwardly titled Pokemon White Version 2.
"It's one of the great ironies of my adult life that I spend time playing kiddies' games, and it's so I can give reliable recommendations to budget-conscious families in this time of financial uncertainty," is what I should have said.
What I actually said was: "No, you don't understand! It's a really good game that's all strategic and challenging and stuff, or at least it was when I last played it, 10 years ago."
It's been that long since I played Pokemon Red Version and I've been pleased to discover that the elements that propelled the virtual bug-chasing and trading series into the gaming pantheon are all still present and apparently free from tampering.
I was able to play this new version as well as I ever did with Red despite taking a decade-long breather. For those who are new or lacking long memories, there are tutorial missions and some rather deep layers of supplementary information to help along the way.
The plot is straightforward and simple. With its sister title, Black Version 2, this game takes place in the New Yorkish region of Unova, where a young Pokemon trainer must catch 'em all and be the best. Your character is aided by well-meaning eggheads, professionals, and adventurers, and bothered by a gang of Pokemon thieves. So those bits haven't changed either. No complaints here: the other blockbuster roleplaying series to make its money from an ain't broke, don't fix approach is Final Fantasy.
For 2012, the graphics are primitive, but the animation is smooth and occasionally even mesmerising. The sonic experience is pleasant enough, though I might be a little old for the music box. I'll confess to having turned the sound down in order to hear my own choice in music instead. Gripe over.
Overall, what you get is a near perfect evolution of the challenging little beast that hatched on the Game Boy long ago.
The battle mechanics are still perfect, the various fight and mission scenarios make reasonably good sense, and the urge to go out and fight or trade your way to a full collection of 300 Pokemon is hard to suppress.
Just like its forebear, Pokemon White Version 2 is a really good game that's all strategic and challenging and stuff.
Platform: Nintendo DS