Review by PChaosWM
"Congratulations! Your Pokémon Game Has Evolved!"
Pokemon X And Y (N3DS) - Congratulations! Your Pokemon Game Has Evolved!
Though this is in the Pokemon X section this review is for both Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, seeing as how they are nearly the same game. Only slight differences exist between these two games, and they are not significant enough to deter you from buying one game over the other.
In today's world, Pokemon is one of the most recognizable franchises in video game history. Along with Mario and Sonic, Pikachu and the now 700+ Pokemon stand as some of the most recognizable characters of all time. Because Pokemon is so imbedded into the mainstream of society today, more and more Pokemon games are able to be produced, and once every year or two a new main series game comes along that Pokemon fans the world over simply must have. These games are almost universally received well and with the addition of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y that trend continues.
Of the many main series Pokemon games to come out over the years, Pokemon X and Y are some of the best to ever come out. These two paired games share great graphics, phenomenal sound, innovative online play and an unfortunately sloppy and rehashed story. These paired games are truly great, and they make many improvements on the foundation of the series, but there are some aspects of the game that have not evolved at all.
My ultimate verdict on this game is that it is truly a must-have game for any fan of Pokemon. If you have skipped a couple of generations of Pokemon games, this might be the one that gets you back into it. If you have been playing Pokemon games since day one and haven't stopped since, than this might be the Pokemon game you have always wanted.
Like the majority new Pokemon games, Pokemon X and Y features many new things for players to explore. For those of you who have never played a Pokemon game before, it works like this. You take on the role of an adolescent kid in search of adventure. Throughout your adventure you befriend, train, and battle creatures called Pokemon, who all have their own traits, abilities, and moves. The ultimate goal is to become the best trainer in the region, while stopping the evil forces of the land. A little cliche, but still done pretty well.
The first thing that people will notice is that this game takes place in a new region, this one based off of the country France. Aside from a couple of road-blocks, which are a part of the game's story, this region is fairly wide-open and ready to explore and the first thing that any seasoned Pokemon trainer feels the need to explore are the new Pokemon.
Pokemon X and Y feature several new Pokemon, although there are not as many new Pokemon as the previous generations provided. If you don't count the new Mega Evolutions (which will be explained shortly), there are only 69 new Pokemon; however, if you do include the new Mega Evolutions, there are a total of 97 new Pokemon. This number is not significantly lower than some of the previous generations, but it is low enough to be worth mentioning. Though the quantity of the new Pokemon is low, the quality is very high. There are only a handful of Pokemon that are anywhere near disappointing, and the rest are very good.
As mentioned before, there is a new way for some Pokemon to evolve called Mega Evolution. This type of evolution works differently from the type of evolution that many Pokemon fans are used to. Basically, this evolution is a temporary power-up used during a battle that increases the stats and appearance of some Pokemon under specific circumstances. This power-up can be used once per battle, and once the battle is over the Pokemon reverts to their normal form. Much of the story of this game is centered on Mega Evolution and players are able to wield it fairly early on.
Overall, Mega Evolution shakes up the normal formula of Pokemon. It makes Pokemon that were marginalized in the past more useful, and it makes Pokemon that were already powerful even more powerful. The only real complaint here is that there are not that many Pokemon capable of achieving Mega Evolution.
Other than Mega Evolution, there is one other thing that shakes up the game of Pokemon: The Fairy type. It has not been done in over a decade but a new type of Pokemon has been added to the game, a type designed to upset the balance of power. However, it is not just new Pokemon who have this type, several old Pokemon have been changed to include the Fairy type. The end result of this new type means that seasoned Pokemon players will need to re-think their strategies, but the bottom line is that this new type works well within the Pokemon universe.
In addition to the new type, there are also new ways to battle. There are two new optional battles in Pokemon X and Y: Sky Battles and Inverse Battles. As the name suggests, Sky Battles are for Pokemon who can fly. Any Flying type Pokemon can participate, as well as any Pokemon with the Levitate ability. These battles are rare, and yet somewhat underwhelming.
Inverse Battles are battles where type match-ups are turned on their head. Moves that would normally be not very effective on targets will instead become super effective, and vice versa. There are only a handful of these types of battles across the region, and they are entirely optional.
However, it does not stop there. In the wild, there is now a chance of encountering 5 Pokemon at once. These are called Horde Encounters and they can be a challenge to overcome. Typically, the Horde Encounters will consist of 5 similar Pokemon at lower levels than the other Pokemon in the area. The challenge is defeating all of them before they can all gang up on you. While this new encounter can be somewhat frustrating, in the end it can be a new and useful way to train your Pokemon.
Speaking of training, there is a new and interesting way to train your Pokemon: Super Training. Super Training allows you to increase your Pokemon's base stats and max them out without entering a single Pokemon battle. This feature is available from almost the moment you get your first Pokemon and can be accessed at almost any time throughout the game. In essence, Super Training is a series of mini-games that can be used to boost your Pokemon's Hit Points, Attack Power, Defensive Abilities, or Speed. In the end, this is not the most efficient way to raise your Pokemon's base stats, but it is a new and clever tool to use by Pokemon trainers.
Battling is not the only way to interact with your Pokemon. In fact, Pokemon X and Y takes interacting with your Pokemon to a new level with something called Pokemon-Amie. This new feature allows you to interact with your Pokemon in a NintenDog style mini-game, designed to increase the bond you have with your Pokemon. If you interact with your Pokemon long enough, they will eventually become happy and be able to do things in battle not possible before this new game. When bonded with your Pokemon they may shake off status ailments or even survive a hit that would otherwise knock them out. This is a cute mini-game, though it clearly is not for everyone.
The new features do not stop there, however. Pokemon X and Y brings character customization into the fold. No longer does your character need to look like half of the other characters throughout the world. You can now select your character's skin tone, hair style, and outfit. While this is a great addition to the series, they could have gone farther in its implementation. For example, you can only change a handful of things about your character early on, and the rest is done throughout the main story of the game. There are also very limited options for male hairstyles, though the females will have many more options to choose from. It is a great new feature overall, but in the future more options would be greatly appreciated.
Aside from the many new features, at its core Pokemon is still the same game you know and love. You still capture and battle Pokemon in ways similar to the way you did in the late 1990's when the series had first started. The series has evolved, but it still has its heart.
Multi-player and Online play: 9.75/10
The thing I was most surprised about this game was that the online aspect of the game was done so well. Nintendo has not always had the greatest track record when it comes to Online Play, preferring to prioritize the living room over the online world. With this in mind, I count myself pleasantly surprised to find that they put so much effort into this part of the game.
Battling and trading Pokemon has never been easier. No longer do you need to wait around in the town PokeCenter and go through all kinds of menus in order to have a simple Pokemon battle. A Pokemon battle or trade can be done almost anywhere and at any time in the game. Even if you do not have someone's 3DS Friend Code registered, you can still connect with people so long as you have access to the internet.
This is done through something called the Player Search System (or PSS). If you have an internet connection or are in a place where many people are playing Pokemon you can see all kinds of players on the bottom screen of your Nintendo 3DS. If you tap their profile you can choose to battle, trade, chat, and so on. The only real complaint about the PSS is that if you have this menu up you will occasionally get pop-ups about the many features that the PSS has to offer. While it is not a bad thing to advertise what you have to offer, it is not the most painless way to do it. Aside from this minor annoyance it is a great way to help Pokemon players connect with one another.
The newest way for players to trade Pokemon is called Wonder Trade. In essence, Wonder Trade is a roulette that you can put your Pokemon in and trade it away for another Pokemon from another player somewhere in the world. You do not know what Pokemon you will get in exchange for your Pokemon, nor does the other player; it is a blind trade. Typically the Pokemon you get in exchange are not impossibly hard to find, although it is a great way to get rid of Pokemon you would otherwise delete.
Overall, this is online done right. It is not exactly perfect, but it is well beyond anything that Pokemon has ever done before. Even if you are the only person in your household who plays Pokemon, it is extremely easy to connect with others throughout the world and you have to give them credit for that.
This category has long been Pokemon's weakness. The main reason is because the story of Pokemon has not changed significantly in the past 15+ years. There are a couple of things that make it seem a little fresh, but by the end of the main story you may question why some story elements were even present in the first place. It is a story designed for a younger audience, but they could have found ways to make it appeal to a wider audience.
If you have ever played a main series Pokemon game before (example: Pokemon Red, Blue, Ruby, Sapphire, etc.) then you will notice a familiar story arc; if you have not played a main series Pokemon game before I still wouldn't expect a story that will capture your heart. The story does differ a little bit between the two versions; it differs enough for it to be worth mentioning, but not enough to really drive you toward one version or the other.
At a story's center is a collection of characters, most of which are about as one-dimensional as they come. This particular pair of Pokemon games features possibly more characters than any to come thus far, though the quality of these characters did not increase. This game may be targeted at a younger audience, but surely even children would be able to see through these characters.
The main story of Pokemon X and Y lasts about the same amount of time any other main series Pokemon game. In my first play-through of the game I managed to complete it within about 22 hours. It is possible that I could have gotten through it more quickly if I had paid more attention to directions and had not stopped so many times to catch Pokemon I wanted in my party; this leads me to believe that this game can be completed in around 20 hours for a competent player.
The story may be nothing to boast of, but if the story of Pokemon is not the real reason you play then you may at least be satisfied with enough charming Easter Eggs to make it bearable. Some of these Easter Eggs follow Anime and Video Game Pop Culture and they may even result in a laugh or two. That is the silver lining of an otherwise sub-par story.
The reason that this score does not drag down the final score is because I do not weight the story of Pokemon games as heavily as I might for other games. Having said that, if the main reason you play Pokemon is for the story, then chances are you will end up as disappointed as I did, and this game might not be for you. If you, like me, do not play Pokemon for the story, then chances are you are going to love this game. The story might be just one more thing you have to endure in order to one day build your ultimate team of Pokemon.
Pokemon's first real entry onto the 3DS does a particularly good job of displaying the game and it pushes the limits of the Nintendo 3DS to its edge; however, the game may push the graphics too far. There is at least one drawback that cannot be ignored, but before this gets too negative let us discuss the positive.
In Pokemon battles, the characters and Pokemon look simply amazing. Unlike the first Pokemon games to come out, battles are carried out in full 3D. Pokemon attacks and animations look great as a result. The over-world is also great, although it does not have the same level of detail that Pokemon battles do.
The biggest flaw of the graphics of this game is the fact that the frame-rate suffers in places. This is an even bigger problem if you try and play this game with the 3D slider all of the way up. This issue does not seem to occur as much while in the over-world, although there are places where this becomes an issue (especially if it's raining in the over-world).
During Pokemon battles the frame-rate tends to go noticeably lower. If you insist on playing this game with the 3D on at all times then this will be an issue, but if you turn off the 3D this will be much less of a problem. It normally happens when the game is trying to display two things at the same time.
Overall though, the game displays very well. Aside from the frame-rate issue that can occur sometimes the graphics are practically flawless.
With the power of the Nintendo 3DS sound system behind it, hand-held games can sound almost as good as they do on your home console. This continues to be the case in Pokemon X and Y.
For those of you who are a fan of the guitar, it is heavily featured in this game. Many of the tracks in this game sound almost like a rock and roll rendition of classic Pokemon songs. If you are not a fan of this genre of music then you might be out of luck. However, most of the music of Pokemon is pleasing to the ears, though this is not to say that all of the music in this game is good.
Like any game, the music in Pokemon has some great music and some not-so-great music. There are a couple of tracks in the game that I would turn the volume down on, but to me none of the music was so bad that it made me turn the volume off. I don't truly count it against the final score because the sound of music is best judged in the ear of the beholder.
However, there are some improvements made to the sound of the series. For those of you, like me, who have played Pokemon games for years, you may notice something about Pokemon from previous Generations. Every Pokemon makes a sound when it is sent into battle, and with this new Generation most of the Pokemon's cries were updated.
Some of these cries were altered only slightly, but for others (especially for Pokemon created before the turn of the century) are almost entirely redone. Unless you are inconsolably nostalgic about the older Pokemon games, this is a welcome improvement to the series. In this reviewer's opinion, it is nice to see the low quality sounds get a deserved overhaul.
If not for a couple of tracks that I did not fall in love with, this category might have received a perfect score. For the most part, the music of this game takes the game in a much better direction, and the updated cries for the Pokemon were icing on the cake.
In the end, this might be the best main-series Pokemon game to ever come out. Yes, there are flaws (some larger than others), but they are far outweighed by the things that make this game great. The Pokemon series is making steps in the right direction.
If you are a fan of Pokemon games in general then this game simply cannot be passed up. It doesn't really matter which game you get, but you might kick yourself for passing it up.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/13
Game Release: Pokemon X (US, 10/12/13)
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