Review by Oregongamer
"It wasn't broken so they didn't fix it"
I enjoy playing Pokemon but I'm not an aficionado. I've been with the series since studying in Japan in 1999, back when I was 16 - the big deal back then was Pokemon Green and I loved it, but never finished it. Surprisingly at the high school I was attending the fad has come and gone. Everyone moved onto obscure niche games (some that never made it to the states). The games included classics such as the awesome puzzle game Puyopuyo and...ironically Dragon Quest Monsters. But I digress.
Pokemon was a phenomenon, Nintendo had a new cash-cow on par with Mario and Zelda. Children were dressed up in Pikachu pajamas; during the new year I even made Mochi with a grown man in yet another Pikachu costume. I spent hours at the arcade trying to win a plastic Pokeball with Mewtwo inside. And yes, it was totally worth it.
Pokemon fever post-2000 was tepid. We had anime, new games, and movies. The formula never changed: Meet the professor, choose your first Pokemon, go to tall grass, and defeat Gym Leaders. I got to the Gym Leader part, and side-quests and then lost interest. I never really understood the point of Pokemon until today's X/Y versions. You (the trainer), really do have to catch them all.
Starting up this game, I went into it with the feeling that you CANNOT own a 3DS without a Pokemon game. It just doesn't make sense. Like all games before it you start out in a little town and meet the Professor for your first Pokemon. But things were different this time, the game was graphically beautiful and stuck to its roots. It felt like the Pokemon I grew up with.
This game throws so many additions to it, its almost impossible to explain. But I will get down to two main points that may irk the average player. First, you get rollerblades very early in the game so that you can skate through the world at warp speed. This was unnecessary, and seems like a endgame item (so you can back-track faster). It did not occur to me to try the D-pad until about half way through, and yes, the D-pad lets you walk. Second, the EXP share feature which plummets the amount of strategy and difficulty of the game. If you leave it on, before you know it, you'll be so over powered you one-hit new Pokemons that you just wanted to catch.
Sure, they circumvent that with a TM that gets the Pokemon in the red...but still...its another thing I just wish they gave to me at endgame. Nonetheless, because these things can be turned off, they are not game breaking. These "tools" are like training wheels or bumper bowling. You eventually have to start over to actually enjoy the game. And there is a lot to enjoy - talk to everyone, enjoy the beautiful cartoon-ish locales, and most of all: Slowly and carefully tweak your team of Pokemon to your liking.
There is a plethora of other small features and a online trading platform. I tried it. I lost my Psyduck. I was very sad. I am still looking for a new Psyduck.
Pokemon's story is always paper thin and forgettable. I wish I could remember what happened but its all a whir of trainer battles and Pokemon catching. There's some guy (and a group of people) that want the world to stay beautiful forever and what not. But as soon as I go to a Pokemon Center and heal up my Pokemon, I watch that animation of the Pokeballs getting zapped...and it zaps my memory too! Suffice to say once you finish the main story you'll be saying: Who put all this nihilism in my Pokemon?
The game sticks to its theme and feel that it has since Pokemon Red and Blue. It's a cartoon. A beautiful cartoon world that you get to enjoy for countless hours. The towns and wilderness are connected logically, and there are plenty of little things thrown in to keep you coming back to explore. It looks and plays like a classic RPG, and this is refreshing in a world where developers are turning beloved RPG series into blockbuster action clones.
The music and sound effects are well done and don't irritate or distract the player. I love the level up noise. The healing sounds at the Pokemon center just make you feel GOOD. They kept the sounds like they were in the older versions.
Pokemon is still Pokemon. They kept everything intact and added a few features to make the game more accessible to new players. If the developers made it impossible to turn these features off I would rate the game much lower, but they didn't...so all is good. If you own a 3DS it's a shame not to have a copy of Pokemon X or Y or both!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/13
Game Release: Pokemon X (US, 10/12/13)
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