Review by BigReed

"Not since Red and Blue have I been this surprised and impressed with the Pokemon series"

The Good:
The Pokemon models steal the show, Gen 6 starter designs are creative, type combinations are more unique this time around, online features make trading and battling convenient, roller skates, character customization, mega evolutions, plenty of nods to the original games, the most change the series has ever experienced, unique camera angles and large cities

The Bad:
While the Pokemon models look fantastic, many portions of the game look underwhelming, the low resolution of the 3ds takes away from the art direction, extremely familiar formula

The sixth generation of Pokemon is finally here with the worldwide release of Pokemon X and Y. While the 3ds has already had some Pokemon games and applications released for it, X and Y represent the first entry from the main series of games. Luckily for fans of the series, Nintendo was able to have both the western and eastern versions release at the same time. Leading up to the launch date, Nintendo was incredibly secretive about releasing any information about the games, which has led to an interesting feeling of wonder and surprise. What do certain shiny Pokemon look like? Is that a Pokemon “horde”? How many starter Pokemon do I receive!? All of these questions are fun little surprises for the fans, and this is one of the first Pokemon games in a while where figuring out which monsters are actually good is up to me. Most of the Pokemon data is not available at the time this was written, which has ended up making my experience just a bit more fun. Pokemon X and Y represent the biggest amount of change that has ever happened to the series, and the 3d Pokemon models are the highlight of the games, however, many of the visuals actually look bad compared to other 3ds games, and while the formula has gone through some changes, it is still very familiar to the other games.

Pokemon battles look and feel better than ever before

By far, my favorite thing about the sixth generation of Pokemon, are the new 3d models used for the battles. In the past when I have played Pokemon games, my team has never truly felt like they were mine. I caught, raised, battled, and traded Pokemon, but I have never really had any sort of attachment to them. I had Pokemon, and types, that I have enjoyed using, but Pokemon X and Y are actually able to make you feel close to your team. Now, when I catch a new Pokemon, I am actually eager to use it in battle. All of the 3d models and animations breathe so much life into battling, and the series as a whole. Also, as a throwback to fans of Red and Blue, the player is given one of the Kanto starters pretty early in the game. Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander are some of the most beloved Pokemon in the series, and as silly as this sounds, it was actually pretty exciting to watch their battle animations and evolutions.

Although the Pokemon models are a great indicator as to what the 3ds can do (aside from the low resolution, which does hurt the game) many of the environments, and also close ups, actually look pretty poor for the system. Resident Evil Revelations and Super Mario 3D Land are two examples, on opposite ends of the spectrum, that showcase what the 3ds is capable of from a graphical standpoint. It feels like on one hand you have a game that is easy on the eyes, and on the other, one that is borderline ugly. Like mentioned above, the 3ds' low resolution screens make it hard to determine what the player is actually looking at. Caves, buildings, faces, and Pokemon battle close ups are all extremely pixelated. This does not detract enough from the game to make it any less enjoyable, but when coming from phones, tablets, and computers that all have high definition screens, it does make the hardware look pretty dated.

Online is completely redone and full of convenient features

If you would have asked the average Pokemon fan what changes they would like to see from the series years back, one of the common answers would have been the ability to trade and battle with anybody in the world. The Nintendo DS was capable of this, but compared to other online systems, what it offered was incredibly basic and inconvenient. Pokemon X and Y have taken the idea of worldwide interactions, and with the 3ds hardware, have made the experience more social than it ever has been. Players can trade online with random people (however the Pokemon you receive is also random), they can interact with their friends list, battle, post updates and mini surveys, and also give themselves or other players what are known as “O powers”. These powers are basically just bonuses that players can give to each other that effect base stats, capture rates, and many other things. One of the few downsides to this new online system, is that closing your 3ds disconnects you from being online. When you are connected, you are able to see everyone else that is connected as they pop up on the bottom screen with their message, and also you are able to interact with your friends list. I close my 3ds often, especially during the review writing process, and it felt like a pain to keep reconnecting. This is a very small issue however, that most likely will not affect many players.

Mega Evolutions and Trading

On top of giving players one of the original starting Pokemon, Gamefreak went one step further and has also given players the means to evolve those Pokemon even further. Mega Evolutions sounded like a bizarre addition at first, but it was implemented in such a way that during a battle, it does not slow it down or feel like it does not belong. These evolutions basically work with Generation 1 Pokemon (specially selected), but also include other monsters like Lucario. Later on in the game, the player is given the means to conduct these evolutions, and after a staged tutorial battle, the training wheels are off. To keep this from being abused, the player can only use one Mega Evolution per battle, and sometimes the change can drastically change up the flow and strategy of the battle. Charizard for example, can either be a souped up fire/flying type, or can actually become the Dragon type he so often has flirted with. So, Mega Evolutions looked a little strange at first, but as long as Gamefreak controls it well, it can be used in further games.
Trading is something I wanted to discuss once I had a bit more playtime with all of the newly added features.

Other than Pokemon Red and Blue, I have actually done very little trading within the Pokemon series. Sometimes I would trade between my Nintendo DS systems, but the online features in the games felt so archaic and difficult to use. It felt like a pain to go online, find somebody to trade with, go to a Pokemon center, and go through the goofy process of interacting with other players online. Pokemon X and Y offers a trading system that is just downright enjoyable. There are essentially three ways to trade that I will discuss. First, the player can trade with his or her friends list. This is pretty straightforward, but is also streamlined this time. Next, is Wonder Trade. Wonder Trade is a unique and fun system, but is also entirely dependent on a strong community. This system allows for the player to pick a Pokemon, any Pokemon they own, to trade, but the catch here is that the Pokemon you receive is random. So, before the trade neither player actually knows which Pokemon will be received. This is both hilarious and fun at times, and is not meant to replace a standard trading system. Finally, the GTS is the final portion of trading. The GTS is simply an amazing feature that makes the entire process of trading simplistic, safe, and quick. Players can post listings as to what Pokemon they have to trade, and which Pokemon they would like. Listing a Pokemon only takes about a minute, and breeders are ensuring that rare and desired Pokemon are on the market. As a joke earlier today, I put out a Pidgey and requested a Squirtle. I actually needed the Squirtle for my team, and sure enough when I logged back in later in the day, somebody was nice enough to do the trade. Trading, and battling as well, have both been revamped, and the online Pokemon community is much better because of it.

Review Recap

+ 3D Pokemon Models
+ Convenient Online Trade and Battling
+ Unique Type Combinations
+ Many Improvements All Around
- Low Resolution Hurts the Art Style
-Familiar Formula

Recommendation: Buy It

Regardless if you are a fan of the Pokemon series or not, X and Y are extremely fun games that not only cater to longtime fans of the series, but also offer an incredibly satisfying entry level experience for new comers. Not many games are worth buying a system for, but the launch of the Nintendo 2ds alongside the new Pokemon games makes it very affordable to jump into the series for the first time. The 3d Pokemon models steal the show, and so many minor changes make the similar formula feel fun and new again. Not since the Pokemon Red and Blue have I been genuinely impressed and surprised by the series, and it seems like the series is heading in the right direction for future games.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/15/13, Updated 10/22/13

Game Release: Pokemon X (US, 10/12/13)

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