You wanna be the very best…
Pokémon fans always get excited when a new Pokémon game comes out. But with the release of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y fans have more reason than usual to grab their Pokéballs and prepare for this latest adventure. Game freak have made some pretty impressive changes to the games, and they are all good.
The core formula for the main Pokémon games has not changed in years, and remains the same this time around in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. The game is essentially a JRPG with turn-based Rock/Paper/Scissors combat and a massive emphasis on collecting. Once again, the player is given their very own Pokémon, from a selection of three, and sent out into the wide world to battle and capture wild Pokémon, duel against trainers and defeat gym bosses, and follow a loose storyline involving a criminal team.
The emphasis has always been around creating your dream team of Pokémon, and there is no change this time around. Players will still capture new Pokémon of different types as they progress on their journey, and they will still be able to hold six Pokémon in their main team, which they can level up and make more powerful, possibly evolving them into new, more impressive forms. The different types form the basis for the combat in which certain types of Pokémon will have advantages or disadvantages over other types, making battles more successful for the player who knows what they are doing and have chosen the right Pokémon for the job.
The Journey through the game is also the same to a degree. The player will travel through wilderness areas, where long grass holds the possibility of new Pokémon, and visit towns or cities where they can heal any damaged Pokémon and grab some new Pokéballs. Pokémon still level up and learn new moves, or moves can be found along the way that can be assigned to the Pokémon of the players choice, including all important moves that progress the story by allowing the player to remove obstacles from previously blocked paths, or travel across bodies of water unaided.
In all of these respects, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y remains pretty much the same as the previous entries in the series. Pokémon veterans will be able to slip quickly back into their Pokéboots as they put in the many hours required to find and catch every type of Pokémon in the game. But, as the first entries specifically made for the 3DS, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y have made some massive changes that not only bring the game bang up to date, but also make the game more approachable for newcomers. Oh, and the eye candy will give you toothache…
It is the visuals of the game that perhaps bring the most dramatic changes. The move to 3D polygonal graphics offer a stark contrast with even the most recent last entry in the Pokémon series. Previous games had a familiarity, but were looking dated. Now though, everything has a fresh coat of paint and simply looks stunning, competing with the best looking games on the 3DS. Little touches that the player will notice as they journey through the game will raise a smile, and the built up areas look simply amazing. It is quite the transformation.
Indeed, the new Kalos region, with so much to explore and do, is beautiful. But the visual upgrades don’t stop there. The gyms are a really big deal and look aesthetically pleasing as the player tries to get their elusive badges, and the turn-based battles are made even more interesting with new animations for the Pokémon as they perform their moves. All in all, the visuals of these new Pokémon games are impressive.
But these visual upgrades come at a price, and that price is in the games performance. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are pushing the hardware to its absolute limit, and this can be seen by the occasional frame rate drop. Turn on the 3D and things get even worse. Fortunately, there is not much to be gained from having the 3D turned on, so leaving it off will not see the player missing much and the game will run smoother.
The most exciting thing for a Pokémon player when a new title come out, is the new Pokémon included in the game. For Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, the new Pokémon are kept to a relative minimum. However, the games do have the largest roster of Pokémon to find and capture so far, and this is thanks to the inclusion of Pokémon from all other regions. Players of the previous games have the chance to find old favorites within the world, which is always nice. In fact, very early in the game the player will have the chance to choose one of the Kanto starter Pokémon to join them on their journey (Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle), paying fan service to those who have been around from the start.
There are a huge number of additions in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, and discovering these differences is part of the fun for any Pokémon veteran. Two of the biggest changes come in the form of EXP share and Mega evolutions. Offering up an extra level of evolution for certain Pokémon, giving them a different look, is a good alternative to including new Pokémon, but these Mega evolutions are limited to only 28 Pokémon evolution forms so are perhaps more of a gimmick than anything game changing.
The EXP share is a point of contention for many Pokémon fans however. With this turned on, all of the Pokémon in your team get a share of the experience earned during battle, making for a more rounded team rather than having only one or two Pokémon of high level while the rest lag behind. This means that the player can develop a powerful team relatively quickly in the game, making the game easier, especially for newcomers. An easier game is not something veteran players are pleased about, but it is not something that has to be used.
Also appealing to the newcomers, and perhaps the more casual gamers, are little mini-games and levels of customisation never before seen in a Pokémon game. Pokémon-amie is a fun way of connecting with the Pokémon and also getting benefits such as experience or stat boosts. While perhaps of no interest to the more serious players, it is all about choices. These choices come across in the ability to customise the players’ character in the game, in the form of changing clothing or hair. The options are limited and can be expensive, but it will encourage more immersion in the game.
The online options have been made simpler and more fun for both old and new players, with the ability now to trade from anywhere. Most exciting is the inclusion of Wonder Trade in which the player can take a gamble and trade their Pokémon randomly with someone else around the world, not knowing what they will get until the trade is complete.
The changes and advancements in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are numerous and simply cannot be listed here. Although still remaining the same core game that the Pokémon titles have been for years, X and Y has brought the game forward in leaps and bounds, making it not only the deepest and most content filled Pokémon game ever, but also making it the most approachable to new gamers and those who have never tried to “catch ‘em all”. Add Pokémon X or Pokémon Y to your collection and enjoy what is the best version of one of gamings greatest series.