Pokemon X and Y are the first Pokemon games released for the extremely popular Nintendo 3DS. As a Pokemon fan who started with Red and Blue back on the black and white, brick-like Gameboy, I’ve been really excited about this release. The past few Pokemon titles have been mostly conventional and have offered little in the scope of the series. But after playing X and Y, I can definitely say that these games are a refreshing course for the series. They invoke a mix of nostalgia yet discovery, something I’ve been waiting from Pokemon for a long, long time.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
Kalos, the region Pokemon X and Y is set in, is a truly spectacular setting filled with an array of charming, vibrant landscapes. Game Freak, Inc. has done an excellent job in converting the latest Pokemon games from their traditional isometric view to the new 3-D aspect, making sure to add new, rich details to old landmarks of the Pokemon franchise. As a longtime Pokemon player, I must admit the new perspective was a bit disorienting at first and I was a bit bummed that the 3-D setting of the 3DS does not work while exploring (only in battles). Nonetheless, the new 3-D approach breathes a refreshing, new life into this routine franchise. The best example so far where the graphics left me in awe was when I entered the Glittering Caves. The dazzling, multi-colored crystals that hang from the cave’s walls project a sort of warm light that creates fantastic shadows and a breathtaking atmosphere. This area, along with many others, are sure to create a sense of immersion you’ve never felt in another Pokemon game before.
In terms of story, the tale that accompanies the exploration and Pokemon gathering in this iteration are much less narrative than Pokemon Black and White’s. The most significant change to the standard Pokemon plot this time around are that you aren’t acquainted with just one rival, but instead four friends who act as sub-rivals: three unique characters and the male/female main character (depending on which one you chose). This gang of friends speeds up the usually slow beginning to the Pokemon games; you get you’re first Pokemon a few minutes in along with your ability to catch Pokemon and freely move forward without running errands. Other than these changes, the game’s storyline and plot points feel very similar to past Pokemon games, filled with tiny episodes in each town as well as the standard run in with Team _____ (Flare in X and Y).
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
The Pokemon series has remained fairly consistent over its seventeen years in regards to gameplay and mechanics and Pokemon X and Y holds true to that tradition. However, this iteration in the Pokemon franchise has some interesting and very welcome changes; most have been in past games in one form or another, but there are two that I want to highlight. First of all, Pokemon X and Y introduces a new type: Fairy Pokemon. This new type is weak to poison and steel, yet is resistant to bug, dark, dragon and fighting. I really like the balance changes this new type brings, as it finally gives more of a purpose to poison types and weakens dragon types. Secondly, Game Freak Inc. has included a character appearance customization option. Now, instead of having the generic main character models, you can customize yourself to fit your style. These two important additions have been needed for a long time and I’m glad they’re finally part of the formula.
However, with the increase in technical innovations there is also an increase in technical problems. During certain camera position changes in battle, the frame rate takes a considerable drop and the game becomes choppy. Furthermore, the frame rate also drops considerably when you encounter a horde of Pokemon, a new feature that pits your first position Pokemon against five wild Pokemon. These technical problems along with a few features that are troublesome (roller skates are automatically assigned to the circle pad; moving isn’t as precise as it should be). These problems aren’t a game breaker, but they are present through most of the game.
Pokemon X and Y is a fantastic journey that will appeal to all fans of Pokemon, old and new. The upgrade to 3-D models is stunning and well executed, fully immersing you in the world of Pokemon. Furthermore, the new additions to the game including Fairy types and character customization bring enough to X and Y to make it feel like a new, separate experience while still keeping true to the Pokemon games we grew up with. Despite a few technical problems, I would wholly recommend Pokemon X and Y to not just continuing fans, but also to those new to the series.
Written and edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review