When Nintendo released the 3DS in 2011, everyone knew a Pokemon game for that system wouldn’t be too far behind. Game Freak ended up releasing two more Pokemon games for the DS (Black 2 and White 2) in 2012, but those were just holdovers.
The first Pokemon games on the Nintendo 3DS have been released, bringing Pokemon into a whole new dimension. With updated art, new features and a new region, how does Pokemon X and Y fare?
While Pokemon X and Y might start in a similar fashion to its predecessors, Game Freak has made an effort to speed up the tutorial section of the game. Within the first hour you should have the roller blades and your first gym badge and be well on your way. You still go through the rigmarole of being taught how to catch Pokemon and how to use the Pokedex but it takes much less time than it has in the past.
Indeed, Pokemon X and Y seems dedicated to getting rid of as much of the unnecessary time-sinks as possible. With the revamped EXP Share, your entire party can gain experience from fights (as opposed to the two Pokemon that would previously benefit from it) and you now get XP from capturing wild Pokemon (traditionally you would have to defeat them, which is somewhat counter-intuitive for collectors). The problem with the EXP Share is that it makes X and Y the least challenging Pokemon title by a country mile. The past games of the series weren’t particularly tough, but with the necessity of grinding gone it’s easy to over-level your team quite a bit.
Even though the game is fairly elementary, the way the battles play out are fantastic and fun to watch. While it maintains the same basic mechanics (two Pokemon face off and you pick one of four moves to use) the new polygonal models and animations make your monsters look more lively than they ever have. While the Black and White games featured sprites that would bob up and down, X and Y has camera angle changes and various particle effects that recall the old Pokemon Stadium games on the Nintendo 64. All of the Pokemon look great in their new models and the design of the new additions to X and Y are well done. This is also the first time since Gold/Silver that a new Pokemon type has been added: Fairy. This type is super effective against Dragon types (which is good because Dragon was only weak to other Dragons and Ice previously) and weak to Poison/Steel. This new type addition doesn’t upset the overall balance and helps lessen the massive advantage that Dragon had previously, so it fits right in. Several of the older Pokemon that were fairy-like in appearance have been retconned to gel with this new type (Jigglypuff, for example).
The new Mega Evolutions aren’t as game changing as they were made out to be in their original reveal. While a few of the Pokemon in the game have some pretty cool Mega Evolutions (a couple even evolve differently depending on which version you’re playing), there doesn’t seem to be a huge stat boost over their normal form, so it ends up feeling like a bit of an underdeveloped gimmick than anything else. Mega Blastoise does look super cool, however.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a bit of a frame rate drop in some of the close ups during battle and particularly if you use the 3D slider at maximum, but nothing that will hamper your ability to fight effectively (speaking of 3D, this is the most minimal use of it on the 3DS, it’s limited to battles only).
While the top screen of the 3DS is dedicated to the gameplay, the bottom screen is home to a large variety of functions. While Pokemon has always ostensibly been about collecting and battling Pokemon with your friends, it’s always been rather difficult to do that unless you had a group of dedicated traders and battlers within close proximity to you. Pokemon X and Y adds the Player Search System which allows you to easily battle or trade with anyone in the world.
The PSS divides other players into three categories: Passer-bys (anyone in the world playing X/Y while connected to the Internet), Acquaintances (people you add to this list from Passer-bys) and Friends (people who are registered on your 3DS friends list). Having these people on your PSS allows you to trade, battle and give buffs in the form of O-powers all over the Internet. You can also do a Wonder Trade where you send off a random Pokemon and receive one in return (if you give away Bidoofs, you’re an awful person). This system makes the multiplayer in Pokemon X and Y the most accessible, and therefore the best, of the series. You no longer have to get two people together in the same room and deal with extra cords or spotty IR connections, and that in and of itself is a blessing.
The bottom screen is also home to some Pokemon-centric side activities, the mileage of which will vary depending on the person. Hardcore competitive battlers will enjoy the Super Training which allows you to train your Pokemon’s hidden stats through mini-games (this was previously relegated to EV Training, which was essentially a huge chore). Pokemon-Amie will let you make your Pokemon more friendly to you and give them buffs to less important abilities via petting them and feeding them Poke-Puffs (protip from a GamerSushi user: hold the Poke-Puffs for the Pokemon; don’t drop them or your Pokemon can’t eat them).
For the first time ever there’s a wide array of customization options available for your trainer. You can choose a skin tone, hair length and color, eye color, and in almost every town there’s a boutique with a rotating offering of clothing. The more badges you unlock, the more clothing becomes available. Given the fact that you can now interact with people all over the world, having your own personal trainer customized to your liking is a cool addition. You can also ride Pokemon on land, something that’s essential to get past a few areas.
Pokemon takes a bold step into a whole new platform with this release. While the game is familiar to long-time players, it ditches a fair amount of the constraints and removes the grind. Even though there isn’t much to the story (you get some badges and beat the evil team) and the post-game content is almost non-existent except for the Friend Safari (where you gain more Pokemon of each type depending on how many friends you have registered on your 3DS), the massive overhaul of the game’s presentation, the multiplayer that actually takes advantage of the Internet and the swath of side-activities available makes Pokemon X and Y an easy recommendation, even for newcomers.
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