Release Date: October 12th
Developer/Publisher: Game Freak, Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Summary: Pokemon X and Y revamps the Pokemon franchise for the best installment in the series that will bring the Pokemon lover in you back to life”
Pokemon X and Y doesn’t really follow much of a different formula than it’s predecessors from the late 90’s: you’re a kid, that leaves home to go on a journey of personal growth, along with completing a Pokedex given to you by a Pokemon professor, that has a different name and face for each generation. You always have a rival, who instead of teaming up with you along the journey for bonding purposes, chooses to pit themselves against your progress, random challengers along the way, gym badges to collect from a variety of whimsical Pokemon gym leaders and the villains that represent a cult-like organization that upholds some sick leaders “vision” of a beautiful world with Pokemon… This installment though, added some spice to the old formula without destroying the classic Pokemon that we know; this time around, the professor’s name is Sycamore and he hasn’t just given a Pokedex to only you and your rival, but he’s given one to three other friends of yours that you meet up with randomly during your journey to battle and give you tips on interacting with your Pokemon.
Good Lord, Pokemon finally went and cel shaded everything and it looks FANTASTIC! The environment and characters are vibrant and the colors are a visual feast for your eyes. If you have a chance to set your 3D slider to a setting that’s more comfortable for your eyes, you’ll enjoy Pokemon X/Y even more since the characters and Pokemon “pop out” at you and the fighting moves are more enjoyable! Your character has some small details that are noticeable: eyes blinking, swaying head movement, the way you walk depends on whether you pick a male or female, your hair moves – it’s really refreshing to see that Game Freak took more advantage of the 3DS’ graphics capabilities. In fact, I loved the graphics so much, I took the time to find the “just right” position on my 3D switch just to play in 3D and honestly, I wouldn’t play it any other way.
The battles look more “realistic”– at least for Pokemon. It took 15 years, but we’ve “evolved” from this:
Battles from Pokemon Black / White/ White 2/ Black 2 looked like this:
but with Pokemon X and Y we now have this:
When your “enemy” is attacking you, for some moves, you can see your Pokemon’s facial expressions when they flinch from a hit. Simple moves like “Tackle”, fell a little short, since with a 3DS I expected full on contact with the contending Pokemon, however, each Pokemon’s tackle is unique to their body’s form, so Bunnelby’s looks totally different than Chespin’s tackle. This of course applies to every move across the board – most of the moves look different for each Pokemon and it’s a testament to Pokemon’s growth. I still wish they could have animated some actual contact with the lower moves since again, this is the 3DS, but I can only imagine the reason they kept the little to no contact feel, is because they wanted to keep some of the quirkiness of what makes Pokemon so great.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about grass like I am when I play Pokemon X/Y. There are now different types of grass that are beautifully drawn: regular grass, tall grass, glass with flowers on them and they all hide different types of Pokemon! The battle animation when encountering a wild Pokemon in the grass is great : grass flies into the air, you “peak” through the grass, a mysterious shadow appears and then reveals the Pokemon that you’ve run into. Once in battle, if you wait for a few, the camera will then make it seem like the battle is televised via shooting the battle from different angles! Sometimes there’s a split screen of both Pokemon staring intently at each other (some Pokemon look like they don’t have a care in the world), other times the camera pans out and captures the background of the environment you’re fighting in, complete with dramatic wind!
Grassy areas aren’t the only place on land where you’ll meet up with wild Pokemon; now in certain areas, Pokemon will jump out at you from the bushes to enter in battle with you and if you’re on the beach, smash rocks will likely lead to either finding an item or a Pokemon hiding under said rock!
One HUGE realistic surprise players will come across in Pokemon, are hordes of pack/swarm driven Pokemon attacking you. You’re not able to use more than one Pokemon to fight the hordes as they are generally a much lower level than you are, but in packs of 5, it can become quite challenging if you’ve been poisoned, paralyzed or put to sleep.
Pointing out some small, yet noticeable details, Pokemon X and Y gave the random challengers some cool detailing. You’ll know that you’re in their range of sight because they make eye contact with you character and keep eye contact until you pass in front of them. While, a good portion of these Pokemon trainers do stand in one place, there are trainers that are backpackers, some run and walk around in the grass and taking part in other activities like painting and when they take a break from it, they’ll look up and spot you if you happen to be in front of them. I’d like to think in real life, people wouldn’t just be standing around waiting for someone to battle… but then again… maybe they would.
Let’s be honest, Pokemon Fans were excited about alot of things Pokemon X/Y were bringing to the table, but we were all drooling at the anticipated Mega Evolutions, most notably, Mega Charizard.
Not every pokemon has a mega evolution, but the idea is for your pokemon to be holding a type of stone that will graduate it to it’s final evolution through the activation of a bracelet you’ve obtained while on your journey. The mega evolutions were a hit and miss for me, but it was a nice addition nonetheless and adds another goal to the Pokemon franchise in seeking out all the stones that mega evolve their corresponding Pokemon.
Pokemon X and Y made a huge step with graphics, but couldn’t make a decent character customization feature. I was let down when I was making my character – which had the same head and three different skin colors to choose from and the darkest skin hue was one that made me look like a tan white person. I wasn’t even able to choose a darker skin tone like some of the NPC’s in the game, nor was I able to make my hair into afro puffs even though there is a black girl NPC with them in- game. It would have been nice to be able to change some face features – at least the eyes and mouth and my hair to make it sort of close to how I look. The body type default is thin, yet some NPCs are of a bigger stature and some players would really like to make their character as close to their body shape as possible. I understand you’re probably no more than 14 in Pokemon, but come on, there’s some kids of the fluffy persuasion in the world and we need to cater to that.
My second qualm is more of a personal gripe : Pikachu is the only Pokemon so far that actually says it’s name. I understand that Pikachu is the face of Pokemon, but we now have close to 700 Pokemon and it would be a big help to have every Pokemon say their name like they do in the cartoon to assist in actually remembering the Pokemon’s “breed”, especially if you’re that player that gives nicknames to almost every Pokemon you catch.
Thirdly, I don’t understand the concept of when you battle against your group of in-game friends, you’re able to see your and their reactions to battle victory/loss, but they didn’t bother to make those animations for gym leader battles. Those are the people I want to see vexed about their loss, not my friends.
The fourth and final annoyance were the camera angles in cities like Luminoise City. The randomly moving camera made it a pain to navigate and it was hard to actually get into some buildings especially if you’re on roller blades.
The Results Are IN
Pokemon X and Y was a valiant and most importantly a successful effort to revamp an almost 20 year old franchise. GameFreak made huge leaps with Pokemon X and Y but it’s the little things that count. I am enjoying Pokemon X and Y daily and the games are absolutely gorgeous but, the character customization was one that left much to be desired, the camera angles were shoddy in some cities and it just couldn’t go unnoticed for a series that’s been in America for almost 2 decades.