Back in 1996, a gang of 151 creatures started a craze across the world with the titles Pokemon Red, Blue and Green. Since then, the lovable monsters have had their own manga, movies, trading card games and reoccurring spot in every fast food kid’s meal as more and more iterations of the Nintendo game was released. With each new game came more Pokemon and a vast array of fresh moves to teach them. But each generation also improved upon the sprites, battle system and overall feel of the franchise, and with the newly released “Pokemon X” and “Pokemon Y” the biggest improvement has been introduced: 3D pokemon. And it’s about time!
Being 23, I’ve grown up with the series and have come to expect the obligatory upgrades that pokemon developer Game Freak always throws in, but I can’t begin to guess how many times since the advent of pokemon Stadium have I discussed the absolute desire for a 3D handheld pokemon title with my friends. I’m happy to report the change was worth the wait.
Not only is X and Y a great starting point for younger trainers to begin with, but there are plenty of throwbacks to the older generations of pokemon for gamers such as myself, because let’s be honest, even though there comes a point in your life when you think you’re too old to play with ‘mons, there is also a point when you realize nobody is too young or old for something so satisfying. Just like cartoons! As usual, the game’s protagonist starts off in a town, on the edge of the world map, and is prompted to start his or her quest to become the best trainer there ever was. The hero is given his trusty sidekick and battles his rival. Nothing new here, but as soon as the game begins, people won’t help but notice the new presentation of the game. This is a facet that could have been make or break for the 3DS title, but definitely helped create a new pokemon world for gamers to look forward to for years to come.
While environments are rendered three dimensional, the look and feel of the carefree pokemon universe is very much still intact and is more personal now as trainers explore. Pokemon are scattered about and moving across the landscape, NPCs make cities come to life and battles are more thrilling as ‘mons in X and Y are constantly moving and no longer a flat image projected onto a lifeless background. The best way I can describe it is that playing this game is the closest gamers have been able to get to the fast-paced action and drama shown in the anime. It’s everything anybody has dreamed about since watching their first episode of pokemon after playing the game.
As far as other new additions go, there are around 70 new pokemon to catch in the Kalos region, players can fully customize the look of their character as they can change hair styles, eye colors and clothes and the new fairy type has been thrown into the mix. This new type, characterized by such fan favorites as Jigglypuff and Clefairy, is strong against dark, dragon and fighting and has a weakness to steel and poison. This will give competitive players a whole different metagame to work with as dragon, dark and fighting types are fairly common in serious battles. Speaking of competitive play, trainers can now EV train( a technical way to boost certain stats in your pokemon so they can be as brutal as possible) with the help of a series of mini games that are accessible through one of the players three main menus. This streamlines an otherwise tiresome process and shows gamers just how strong their pokemon are in each stat.
A new friend safari zone can also be visited and rewards trainers for making multiple online friends as each pal’s specific safari zone can be visited and three type specific pokemon can be caught. For example, when you visit friend A’s safari zone you will be able to catch Magmar, Charmeleon and Marcargo, but when you visit friend B’s zone you can catch Magikarp, Luvdisc or Wailmer. This helps trainers fill their Pokedex and gives them incentive to meet as many trainers as possible. Finally, mega evolutions were added to the game and can temporarily evolve select pokemon to their fourth stage, giving them new types and an increase to their stats. Fan favorites such as Absol, Gengar and Charizard were given this ability, but an item must be held by the monster to make this transformation possible.
Not only were there a good amount of new features in the game, but some old mechanics made a reprise. The Poke’Radar, a device that assisted trainers in their search for the ever-elusive shiny pokemon, made a return and berries can again be harvested throughout the region and planted in a specific section of Kalos.
At the end of the day, “Pokemon X” and “Y” are great additions to the franchise and chances are if you’re a fan of the series you most likely already own one or both copies. But for those of you who have waited or haven’t played the series yet, this is the game for you. The music is cheery, but intense when it comes to battles, the pokemon designs, both old and new generations, look surprisingly polished in their new 3D forms (although I miss those hand-drawn sprites), the storyline is a solid blend of quick and engaging interactions and there is plenty to do with the core game lasting about 40 hours and hundreds of gameplay hours to follow even after steamrolling your way through the elite four.
“X” and “Y” has done its job in reigniting my passion for the franchise as I lost it with “Black” and “White,” and I can honestly say this game presents the biggest difficulty when it comes to only being able to choose a team of six pokemon to train during the duration of the game as this title is the most diverse yet. If I could go back in time to show off to six-year old me right now, I totally would. And you better bet he would be jealous. Do yourself a favor and pick this game up ASAP, if you haven’t already.
You can view some mega evolutions on our Youtube channel.