Review by Skimbles

"A new generation of Pokémon + the same traditional formula + a small spice of change"

Quick Facts

Brief Summary: The game begins with your character arriving in Vaniville Town of Kalos. The Pokemon Professor of this region has exciting news for you! He wishes for you and your neighbor, Calem, to journey around Kalos in an attempt to fill his Pokedexes. Shortly after, you encounter three new friends, and your journey of training, battling, and capturing Pokemon (while thwarting the evil plans of fashionable villains) begins.

Recommendation: I would highly recommend playing this game, especially if you are a fan of the Pokemon series. However, the game is more of the same: capturing and training Pokemon. There isn't much deviation from the traditional format of the series, but for Pokemon fans who have been playing the games for generations, it is exciting seeing your favorite critters in 3D models rather than their typical sprite formats.

Length: It depends on what you want to do within the game. I strive to check every nook and cranny of the game and have just beaten it with a total time of 45 hours. I still intend to play through the end-game material as well as continue catching other Pokemon. There are a lot of things to do in this game: collecting, training, battling, trading, exploring, and even dressing up your character.

Gameplay = A (25/25)

The gameplay formula for the Pokemon series has remained the same throughout its previous generations, and this game is no different. The region of Kalos is inhabited by a plethora of different Pokemon, and it is your goal to collect each and every one of them. The way to collect these monsters is by stepping into tall grass – the little buggers like to hide. Each route has a different amount of Pokemon that can be caught, and the probability of encountering certain Pokemon range from being extremely common to agonizingly rare. When an encounter begins, you throw out the first Pokemon in your party, and the battle begins.

Fight, items, switch, or flee – these are the choices that you are given when in a battle. Battling the Pokemon enables you to inflict status effects and lower the health points of the opposing Pokemon, which makes it easier to capture it through Pokeballs. Once it has been caught, it either joins your party or is whisked away to live its life within a PC. Battling trainers is no different, except you cannot flee or capture the opponent's Pokemon. Throughout the game, you can find and buy various items that can heal or buff your team, as well as items that can be given to your Pokemon to hold during battle.

Like with most roleplaying games, your Pokemon level up and grow stronger as you use them, along with learning new moves to be used in battle. Each Pokemon can only know four moves at a time, but they are able to immediately forget a move if you wish to replace one.

The new spark that Game Freak gave to the gameplay of Pokemon is the Mega Evolution mechanic. At a certain point in the game, your character is given an item that enables him/her to Mega Evolve certain Pokemon. Only a few Pokemon are able to do this, and the Pokemon must be holding their specific item. Mega Evolution only happens during battle, and the Pokemon loses this form once the battle ends. Many things can change: the Pokemon's stats, ability, and even type. Mega Evolution even enables Pokemon that have reached the end of their evolution line to evolve once again – such as with certain starters.

Game Freak added two other mechanics to the gameplay: sky battles and a new type. Sky battles only allow certain Pokemon to take place in the battle. If the Pokemon's model is floating during battle, chances are it can participate. Surprisingly, not all flying-type Pokemon can take place in these battles. To me, this new battle mechanic was rather forgettable; it only appeared a few times and was always avoidable. Fairy-type Pokemon, on the other hand, appeared often. A new Pokemon type adds new weaknesses, strengths, and ways of thinking when battling.

One last thing to mention is that the game can be extremely easy depending on how you play. An item is given to you that enables all of your Pokemon to gain experience from battle, even if only one Pokemon participated. The participator gains full experience while the rest of the team gains half the experience. Pokemon Amie, a feature that allows you to feed and play with your Pokemon, can also boost the experience gained in battle. Various other additions can also make the game easier: Wonder Trade, O-Powers, and Super Training. I found myself sweeping most trainers with my Pokemon being over ten levels higher, but when I was challenged by other players online, I found myself struggling and forced to use better strategies.

Bottom line: If it's not broke, don't fix it. Game Freak adds many little things to spice up the gameplay, but ultimately the same basic routine is still in place. You capture Pokemon, train the Pokemon, and then battle other trainers using your team of mighty Pokemon.

Story = C (19/25)

After Black and White's storyline, I was disappointed in X and Y. None of the characters are memorable, and the story was a mess. Pokemon games have never had stellar stories to tell; it is the gameplay that matters most. However, the lackluster story cannot be ignored.

During the main character's travels, he/she encounters Team Flare – a group of fabulous villains who have goals that drastically differ from the majority of people in Kalos. Not only that, but there is a mysterious gentleman that wanders throughout the region. I actually liked Team Flare; the group is goofy and eccentric. At some point in the game, the story derailed for me. Never once was I wondering what would be happening next. Certain parts felt too forced, especially the ending. There were a lot of loose plot threads hanging around, and Game Freak decided to knot them all together in a huge mess at the end.

Bottom line: “It's just a Pokemon game,” many might say. “It doesn't need plot.” I can understand the rationale; at some points in the game, I would tell myself those very same quotes. But the fact remains, the story was mediocre at best.

Graphics = A (24/25)

I have no complaints about the graphical aesthetics of the game. The Pokemon are now in full-fledged three-dimensional models. Having played Pokemon since Red/Blue, I felt that the visuals were a huge change in my perception of the game. It was fantastic seeing my favorites outside of their sprite formats. The charm of seeing the old in a new way never truly wore off either; forty hours into the game, and my face split into a huge grin when an opponent threw out Eelecktross. Pokemon Amie adds significant appeal as well. You can interact with your team by feeding and petting them, and each Pokemon has its own unique animations. Once you raise the affection bar, Pokemon will look back at you in battle, strengthening your own attachment to the critters.

The 3D aspect of the game isn't implemented in every area. When in single battles, you can turn the feature on and enjoy the loveliness. In battles that involve more than two Pokemon, you cannot have the 3D on, possibly because of lag issues. Even without the 3D, sometimes the battle will slow down or an action will take a second or two longer to process.

Certain environments allow the 3D to be turned on, but most routes and towns do not. This is one of the few 3DS games that I would turn the 3D slider up to enjoy the visuals, especially towards the end of the game.

Bottom line: The visuals are wonderful, especially when the player has grown up, watching the Pokemon graphics evolve over the years. Each Pokemon has its own unique allure and personality. Unfortunately, a point is lost due to a few issues: lack of 3D areas and lag. I never found either to interfere with my enjoyment of the game, but I can understand how it could for others.

Controls = A (15/15)

The controls were very intuitive, but I have been playing the games since the first generation. Walking, running, skating, and biking are all methods of moving your character around. The skating can take some getting used to; it works based off of the circle pad. There are issues in movement in the main town of Kalos, Lumiose City, but I found the navigation to be difficult more from a lack of a map rather than the controls.

Battles can be done through either inputs with the d-pad/circle pad or the stylus.

Bottom line: No complaints here.

Sounds = A (9/10)

Most of the music in the game are good atmospheric additions. It was background noise that neither captivated me nor made the experience unpleasant. There are a few exceptions; the battle music was often catchy and enjoyable. Most of the towns and routes were forgettable.

All of the original Pokemon had updates to their cries. No longer are their noises jarring compared to the other Pokemon.

Bottom line: Hit-or-miss music pieces

Online Features

I have briefly mentioned a few of the online additions, but I will elaborate more here. These features are what really sucked me into the game. On the bottom screen of the 3DS you have three options to choose: Pokemon Amie, Super Training, and Player Search System. Pokemon Amie is where you play with your Pokemon with food and minigames. When not activated, your chosen Pokemon runs back and forth across the screen while Pokemon from other players visit and leave gifts. Super Training is just that: you are given the power to train your Pokemon in specific stats.

The PSS screen shows three categories: Friends, Acquaintances, and Passersby. The first are those who play Pokemon that are on your friend's list. The second shows the players that you have traded or battled with. And the third category is for the random people in the world that are playing Pokemon. You are able to interact with any of these people, and they are able to do the same with you.

My favorite feature is the Wonder Trade: you put a Pokemon of your choosing up for trade and another person in the world will do the same. You have no control of what you receive; it's always a fun surprise.

Later in the game, you have access to the Friend Safari. Each person on your friend's list is given a unique Pokemon type. You are able to go into their safari and capture three Pokemon of that type. Two are usually able to be found within the game itself, but the third can only be caught in the Safari.

Final Comments = A (92/100)

Pokemon X/Y is definitely a game that I would suggest picking up. The lack of difficulty within the game can turn a person off, but the player can choose how to work around this. What draws me in most is the competitive nature of the game; while the single player aspects may be easy, battling against others can put your skills to the test, especially when the online world is dominated by legendary Pokemon and Mega Evolutions.

I would even say that there is a lot in this game that enthralls the seasoned veterans of Pokemon. The models and numerous references to other generations are definitely captivating, and later on in the year, players will have access to the Pokebank – a service the Game Freak is providing that enables users to store their Pokemon from previous generations and access from X/Y.

Over all, Pokemon X and Y are games that players of all types can enjoy.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/23/13

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

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