The concept for Pokemon titles have followed the same pattern for decades since the release of Gameboy's Pokemon Red and Blue versions. Catching all the critters that inhabit the landscape and facing off in turn-base combat is still the center focus of Pokemon X and Y. This is first installment to make it to the Nintendo 3DS and it’s still the same journey that fans know and love. The compelling adventure, rock-paper-scissors combat system, and desire to capture hundreds of creatures is still entertaining. However, Pokemon X/Y isn’t a copy of what came before, but it has built on the previous with new stats mechanics and gameplay refinements. It’s time to once again embark on an profound and difficult journey to become the best Pokemon trainer in the world and catch them all.
What you’ll notice when first starting Pokemon X/Y is the graphical update. The characters and environment have been developed with fully 3D animations - a first for the series. Seeing your Pokemon fight in impressive 3D models, instead of 2D spite figures,adds a lot of flare to the gameplay - something that hasn’t been possible since the Pokemon Colosseum series. You'll marvel at seeing your favorite Pokemon burst out of their Pokeball, look in anticipation as the critter attempts to break free from their imprisonment, and admiringly explore each new area in your travels.
Your adventure is set in Kalos, a setting that is mostly filled with vibrant flora and vast countrysides. Some of the structures are impressive, especially the gyms that are tailored to each leader’s speciality. Whether it’s climbing the walls of the Cyllage City Gym or walking on the webs of the Satalune City Gym, each new building comes with a new surprise. The camera does a fantastic job of keeping things visually appealing, and using the 3D function adds depth of field. While the 3D function is put to good use here, the cosmetic appeal loses its appeal after a while.
Those looking to separate themselves from other trainers will be glad to know that you can now customize your avatars. Everything from skin tone to clothing is accessible. Instead of maintaining the same look as everyone else, now you can distinguish yourself from the thousands of players playing Pokemon X/Y.
Of course the highlight of the entire game is the Pokemon themselves. These amazing creatures each have their own specific types, abilities, and fighting styles. It’s unfortunate that a lot of the creatures have shared animations, but regardless, hundreds of these wonderful creatures are included with enough unique characteristics that their personality shines through any annoyances, especially when using your favorite Pokemon. Attacks share similar visual flare, delivering a palpable feeling with each impact. If you want to get closer to your Pokemon you can use Pokemon Amie, a system that allows you to interact, feed, and play with your Pokemon to boost their bond with you. This system is one that feels very similar to Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, where you interact with Dream Eaters.
While it may seem like a large step forward in the Pokemon franchise, X/Y still relies on the classic mechanics of the franchise. Those familiar with the series will know what to expect from the story - a novice trainer attempting to travel the region and collect as much data and Pokemon as possible while attempting to stop an evil organization. The evil organization in Pokemon X/Y is called Team Flare, and it’s your job to ensure that their malicious intents don’t come to fruition. Centered on the main character’s love for his or her Pokemon, some novel moments do occur, but it never truly becomes engaging.
Capturing Pokemon and using them to battle for experience is the same as past Pokemon games. Gaining new more powerful abilities, exploiting weaknesses, defeating all the gym leaders and eventually becoming one of the best trainer’s in the region still remains the same. Even with the update, the game is still a compelling mix of strategy, collection, and prediction. Exploiting weaknesses in order to get the upper hand has become more intricate with new Pokemon types and specific vulnerabilities added to X/Y. Attempting to predict your opponent’s Pokemon while minimizing damage still remains one of the joys of Pokemon and X/Y is no exception to this.
Those hoping to catch them all will have a long journey ahead. Pokemon X/Y spans the entire previous games, so be prepared to stock up on a lot of Pokeballs. You’ll traverse through the wild grass, water, and other areas in search of these nimble beings, attempting to capture that one specific beast that has evaded your collection. You’ll glow red in anger looking for a specific Pokemon, compare stats from one creature to another, and use your superior Pokemon to defeat other trainers. It’s a rewarding mechanic that invokes a feeling of accomplishment after enduring loads of vexation.
Super training has been added to ensure that causal Pokemon players will not need to dedicate hours into training their team. Super training allows trainers to alter their Pokemon’s stats and boost areas that they’re weak or strong in. By playing certain minigames and using specific items allows you can alter your Pokemons statistics. Training your Pokemon to be the best has been an obsession for a lot of fans and at times may intimidate causal players. This new system can allocate base stats to your preference whether it’s speed, strength, or something else.
Mega Evolutions are probably the second most notorious feature in Pokemon X/Y aside from the 3D graphics. These special upgrades allow certain Pokemon to temporarily evolve past their final stage, boost their stats significantly and sometimes change their type. Since you can only Mega Evolve one creature in your roster once per battle, choosing the right Pokemon at the right time can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Other changes speed up the progress of the main campaign. Early on in Pokemon X/Y I was given access to a diverse array of Pokemon types, rollerblades and a bike- making travel less of a chore. A taxi service also made traveling through Kalos much easier. It almost felt that the game encouraged me to finish the campaign quickly in order to to face actually players as soon as possible. It is definitely a welcomed addition and fighting actually people is a lot more challenging than computer enemies..
This doesn’t mean that the game isn’t challenging. You’ll still need to rely on your knowledge of Pokemon types and which are strong or weak against one another, especially towards the end of the game. During the post game new challenges appear, as well as multiplayer features such as battle modes, global trading, and a friend support system for temporary boost. It’s a compelling connection system that made me feel like I belonged to a larger community.
Pokemon X/Y evolves the long-running franchise greatly. It’s graphical update has been long overdue, but maintains the same elaborate gameplay mechanics that made the series so popular. While the formula remains unaltered, and getting into random fights can get vexing, it doesn’t devalue how much fun Pokemon X/Y is. It’s an excellent addition to the franchise and worth adding to any 3DS library.