Pokémon White vs Black: Which Game Version should you buy?

My love for Pokémon meant I was always looking forward to the next generational release. With Pokémon Black and White, I was even more excited because of the in-game differences between the two versions. But unlike the simplicity of its name, it wasn’t as simple as black and white when it came to choosing which version to start with. I had to take time and research extensively before settling on one version. Even then, I felt like I was missing out on the other version.

I’ve finally managed to play both versions, giving me better insight into which of the two versions would be better. So, to save you the hassle, in this article, I am going to share with you a detailed comparison of the key differences worth considering. Hopefully, by the end of it, you would be able to make up your mind.

Pokémon White vs Black – How They Compare.

Below is a summary of the main differences we’ll be looking at:




Battle Style

Has more rotation battles than triple battles.

Has more triple battles than rotation battles.


Has a Black city that follows a tech and futuristic design.

Has White Forest that has a rustic design with nature as its main theme.

Exclusive Gym leader

8th Gym leader is Drayden

8th Gym leader is Iris

Box Legendary



Version Exclusive Pokémon

  • Gothita/Gothorita/Gothitelle
  • Houndour/Houndoom
  • Murkrow/Honchkrow
  • Shroomish/Breloom
  • Vullaby/Mandibuzz
  • Weedle/Kakuna/Beedrill
  • Plusle
  • Tornadus
  • Caterpie/Metapod/Butterfree
  • Solosis/Duosion/Reuniclus
  • Misdreavus/Mismagius
  • Paras/Parasect
  • Poochyena/Mightyena
  • Rufflet/Braviary
  • Minun
  • Thundurus

In White Forest

  • Wurmple
  • Wooper
  • Whismur
  • Trapinch
  • Togepi
  • Surskit
  • Starly
  • Slakoth
  • Shinx
  • Seedot
  • Rhyhorn
  • Ralts
  • Porygon
  • Pidgey
  • Oddish
  • Nidoran (Male & Female)
  • Mareep
  • Magnemite
  • Magby
  • Machop
  • Lotad
  • Hoppip
  • Happiny
  • Gastly
  • Elekid
  • Corphish
  • Budew
  • Bellsprout
  • Bagon
  • Azurill
  • Aron
  • Abra

What are the differences between Pokémon White and Black?

Pokémon White vs Black
Pokémon White vs Black. Image source: Nintendo

Now let’s take a deeper look at how the two versions compare. The following are key variations that may just sway your choice on which version to pick:


Both versions have rotation and triple battles, but the black version has more rotation battles and the white version has more triple battles. The choice between the two depends on whether you prefer triple battles or rotation battles.

With rotation battles, you have 3 Pokémon choices and they can only attack one at a time. I thought this was great for leveling up weaker Pokémon, plus it was a different experience from the regular battles I was used to playing in earlier games. However, this battling style requires you to be more strategic as it centers around a lot of mind games, you never know which Pokémon your opponent (especially when fighting AI) will attack with next. I guess you could use the same to your advantage, but you’d still require to be quick. So overall, I thought rotation battles were a bit tricky before you get used to them, and I would definitely not recommend them to a newbie.

On the other hand, triple battles are much like double battles, so it wasn’t hard for me to get the hang of it. Basically, you and your opponent each have three Pokémon, but in this battle style, you can use all three Pokémon to attack at once. Compared to rotation battles, triple battles may not sound as interesting, but I thought they were much easier.

Therefore, I’d have to say, the White version is a better choice concerning the battle styles. It has a total of four triple battles and one rotation battle while Black has four rotation battles and one triple battle.


Again, in both versions, the game takes place in the region, Unova, which is based in New York City. However, there are slight differences in the Post-game city. In the Black version you get Black City while in the White version, you’ll get White Forest.

As the names suggest, Black City follows a techy sci-fi feel with futuristic buildings while White Forest leans towards more of nature, with vast forests and ancient/rustic buildings. But the aesthetic of the city isn’t the only difference there is. In White Forest, I had the opportunity to catch more Pokémon that I didn’t find in the Black version. But, in the Black City, I faced more trainers in battle. Plus, I found that I could train my Pokémon more easily in the Black version.

So, I’d say, in terms of location both versions tie. It’s a matter of what you prefer doing when you play Pokémon. If you are more interested in catching Pokémon then definitely go for the White version. But if you prefer battling and training, then the Black version is the best choice.

Gym Leaders

Pokémon White, Black
Pokémon white versionImage source: Nintendo

Usually, in every Pokémon game, you have to face a total of 8 gym leaders. In most of the earlier releases, the gym leaders in each version were similar, with little to no disparity. This is more so the same for Pokémon Black and White, that is except for the 8th gym leader who you’ll encounter in Opelucid City.

In the Black version, the gym leader you’ll face is Drayden who specializes in Dragon-type Pokémon. He also happens to be the mayor of Opelucid City. In the White version, however, while Drayden is still the mayor, the 8th gym leader you’ll face is Iris, who also specializes in Dragon-type Pokémon. Seeing as they specialize in the same thing, their teams are identical. I didn’t see much of a difference in fighting both.

In the end, both versions tie in terms of the exclusive gym leader. It’s up to your preference whether you want to battle Drayden or Iris, although I thought it was pretty cool battling the Mayor of Opelucid City.

Box Legendries

As with all generational releases, one of the main and significant differences between versions is the Legendary Pokémon at the core of the story. Each version has its own exclusive legendary that you can capture. Pokémon Black and White is no different. In the black version, the exclusive Pokémon is Reshiram while in the white version, you’ll get Zekrom.

In contrast to the names of the versions, Reshiram is all-white, despite being in the black version and Zekrom is all-black despite being in the white version. In terms of design, I thought Reshiram had a much cooler design. But that aside, and despite what some people would say, I believe Reshiram is a much better option compared to Zekrom. While both their stats add up to 680, Reshiram has better stats in special attack and special defense. Its type combination of fire and dragon also adds more value by giving it better coverage and allowing it to do more damage than Zekrom.

So, I would say, the Black version has better a better legend, both in terms of design and skill.

Version Exclusive Legendary

Pokémon White vs Black
Pokémon black version. Image source: Nintendo

Lastly, another classic difference between Pokémon versions is the type of Pokémon you can catch that is exclusive to each version. Pokémon Black and White also come with a list of exclusives that may help you decide on your preferred versions based on the Pokémon you want to capture. In such a case the choice is simple, just go with the version that has most of your preferred Pokémon as exclusives.

But one thing to note is that unlike in other generational releases, Black and White don’t come with an equal number of exclusive Pokémon. I found that on top of the 20 or so version exclusives you could get in both, White had about 32 extra exclusives you could capture when you got to the White Forest.

As such, White would be the better version to go for if you want a larger selection of version exclusives. That way you’d have more Pokémon to trade with other players.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Pokémon White or Black

When it boils down to it, I felt that deciding on Pokémon Black or White, largely depended on preference. For example, if you prefer playing the game to catch and train Pokémon, and don’t mind the nature or rustic theme of the White version, then that should be the choice to go for. Alternatively, if you are more interested in the battles and prefer a techy and futuristic team, then the Black version is perfect for you.

You should also stop to consider the battle styles. As I mentioned earlier, the black version has more rotation battles that in my opinion require seasoned players. Therefore, if you are new to the Pokémon game, you should probably settle for the White version first which has more or the regular Triple Battles.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon White or Black?

Both Black and White versions seemed to be popular, however, a slight number of players/fans seemed to prefer Pokémon White, probably because it had a larger selection of exclusive Pokémon.

Is Pokémon White more successful than Pokémon Black?

No, Pokémon Black was more successful than the White version, in terms of sales, but only by a slight margin. The Black version sold 2.89 million units on average while the White version sold 2.63 million units on average.

Which one was released first Pokémon White or Black?

Both Pokémon Black and White were released simultaneously on the same date. In Japan, it came out on September 18, 2010, but was released worldwide later on March 2011, at varying dates depending on the continent.

How many hours does it take to finish Pokémon White and Black?

If you focus on the main objectives of the game, it should take you about 32 hours ad 30 minutes to complete the game. However, if you strive to explore every aspect of the game that could take you 160 hours to fully complete the game.

Which one has the best starter between Pokémon White and Black?

Both versions offer the same choice of starters. But your best bet in each version would be to start with Tepig. Being a Fire-fighting type means it has some of the most damaging moves making it the best choice for the main story.

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