Pokemon is a series seventeen years in the making, and shows no signs of slowing down. Pokemon X & Y marks the series’ first entry on the Nintendo 3DS and also the first fully 3D title. However, does this pair act as a (mega) evolution, or as a minor stepping stone for what might potentially come?
Pokemon X & Y tells a familiar tale that Pokemon fans have grown up enjoying – a young boy/girl moves into a new town, makes some friends and rivals, picks a starter Pokemon and goes out on a 15-hour long journey to become the champion. Along the way, your character and friends will come across an evil team that has some secret motive involving kidnapping Pokemon, items or anything of the sort. In short, the formula pretty much remains the same. I do, however, have to give cred to Game Freak for creating rival characters I actually enjoyed accompanying me on my journey. Serena was flat out awesome, Shauna felt like an adorably annoying little sister, Trevor grew to become an interesting character and Tierno was…peculiar.
What struck me was the lackluster antagonist team in X and Y. Opposed to Team Plasma’s genius motive, Team Flare seems incredibly bare, seeking something so incredibly minimal, that tension is hardly ever built up when facing against admins and leaders of the team. Towards the end, their motives become a bit clearer, but even then they fail to live up the previous entry’s genius antagonistic team.
Gameplay is where Pokemon has shone for years, and Game Freak has played it safe for most of recent generations. This time, however, a sizable overhaul has taken place. For starters, a new type has been introduced to the mix – the Fairy type. The Fairy type adds a whole new method of strategy, forcing players to think more in developing a team for a type that’s weaknesses are rarer to find. The addition of the Fairy type also helps fix a balancing issue faced with the overly powerful Dragon types. Along with this new type, the addition of Mega Evolutions add something new to the mix. Players are given a Mega Evolution stone for a certain Pokemon and can utilize it in battle. However, other than looking really impressive – especially with the 3D turned up – Mega Evolutions hardly add any depth or strategy to battles. While certain Mega Evolutions may change the Pokemon’s type, your move set will most likely have a clear focus based on the standard type. So yes, Mega Charizard X looks bad ass, but it’s unfortunate that’s all it’s pretty much good for.
Character customization is a huge plus for the series, something I’ve been barking over for generation upon generation. Before the game is even started, players are offered three options to their base character design. After that, players are given the option to customize them as they choose. What appeared to be something basic eventually grew to become something incredibly robust. Clothing shops are located in almost every city, allowing for players to dress their character as they please. Plus, players can trim and color their character’s hair to better suit their unique style. Become stylish enough, and players can shop in Lumiouse City’s boutique for expensive and luxurious clothing options. Plaid shirts? Yeah, they exist here. These luxurious clothes also have their benefits, offering discounts at certain shops, such as the Mega Evolution stone vendor.
A new type of battle was also introduced, known simply as Sky Battles. While these aren’t as innovative as the triple and rotation battles, they certainly change things up on the strategic end. Having a team composed of Pokemon only capable of flight can put a limit on what players are capable of. For example, having only two flying types can be hard to fend off a trainer with four, one being an Emolga (flying/electric).
Pokemon X and Y also add numerous ways to interact with your Pokemon, the first being Pokemon Amie. Pokemon Amie gives the players varying options of interaction, ranging from feeding your Pokemon, petting them or playing mini games with them. These all build up a stronger bond with your Pokemon, affecting how they act in battle. While the process can become tedious, it certainly is worth the fight. Having a Pokemon dodge some heavy hitting attacks, or pulling through with 1HP can actually become really helpful. The second form of interaction is a blessing to all trainers who have been playing Pokemon competitively for years – Super Training. What is essentially EV training dumbed down, building up Pokemon’s stats through minigames explains its benefits on its own. No more vigorous training against the same Pokemon over and over to build up your stats.
Connectivity has been completely redesigned, making trading, battling and the such simpler than ever. The Player Search System (PSS) allows players to easily trade and battle between any of their friends or even strangers that are connected online as well. Blind trades are also an option with the Wonder Trade feature, though these can wind up being a mixed bag for obvious reasons. Players can also exchange O-Powers, which are temporary boosts in stats that occur in battle. These can range from a boost in Attack or even a bump in EXP earning. Along the single player journey, players will encounter numerous other O-Powers to learn.
It also goes without saying that Pokemon X and Y are visually stunning games. The first entry in a fully realized 3D environment proves to be a huge step up for the series, so much that it can be difficult to return back to the sprite era which is still fairly new to many. Battles are also incredibly beautiful, with a slightly cel-shaded flare added to the Pokemon. While most cries have been completely revamped, certain Pokemon retain their original sounds from previous games, except for Pikachu who calls out its name. Overall, Pokemon X and Y prove to be the most fully realized entries into this still growing series. Despite a few setbacks and lackluster post-game content, X and Y provide a massive amount of change and hours upon hours on enjoyment.
- Great cast of supporting characters
- Fairy types add a whole new level to the strategy and depth
- Character customization is loads of fun
- Pokemon Amie and Super Training are incredibly useful
- Connectivity improvements are beyond superb
- Visually stunning
- Antagonist team is lackluster
- Mega Evolutions hardly add to gameplay
- Lack of post-game content