Review – Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon is a series that is a little strange. Unlike the vast majority of games from the nineties, Pokemon didn’t simply exist on the tiny screen of the Gameboy. Instead, it launched off a cultural phenomenon leading to television series, movies, merchandise, manga, a card game, among others. For a time, Pokemon was everywhere, and every parent had to deal with the incredible pull it had on children. Nowadays, Pokemon isn’t a cultural phenomenon. There are still television series, movies, merchandise, etc., but it is noticeably less impactful. As such, a non-gamer might think that Pokemon is a series that has run its course, whose best days are behind it. The non-gamer in this hypothetical situation would be dead wrong. Video games were what always grounded the Pokemon series, and sales of those games have never really faltered. The series itself is the most important handheld series in history, being one of if not the only thing you need to point at when justifying the need for handhelds – 1996 to today. All of this is to say that Pokemon X and Y are kind of a big deal for gamers, and the gaming industry as a whole.

And somehow the skinny dear version is more popular.

The core experience in Pokemon X and Y isn’t substantially different from the original Pokemon Red and Blue. You still start out as a kid in some no-name town, and you still go around to eight gyms collecting badges so you can become the Pokemon league champion, all while catching little critters called Pokemon to do your fighting for you. From the outside, a jaded gamer might remark that the game lacks innovation since the same premise is still being used seventeen years later. However, like the non-gamer above, the jaded gamer would be wrong. Pokemon X and Y is substantially different from even the last Pokemon adventure, no less Pokemon Red and Blue. It would be like comparing Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy and calling them the same (Which might be a bad example on my part, as many people make the same deluded mistake when looking at the main Mario series).

And yes, Pikachu can be caught early and he says his name like the show.

The story of Pokemon X and Y is, as usual, the game’s greatest weakness. None of the characters are interesting, and many of your friends are so generically designed that you forget that they even exist. Without exception, all characters in this game have the flimsiest of characterization, which can be broken down into a single line which never changes or evolves through the game. One of your friends likes to dance. One likes the Pokedex. One is your rival and he wants both of you to get stronger. And one just wants memories, or maybe to love Pokemon? I don’t know. Her character is particularly blank. The team you fight, because you have to fight a team, is also blank and vapid. It’s still better than the ridiculous waste-of-space Team Plasma, but they’re taken way too far by the end, and it’s hard to understand why anything actually happens.

Don’t expect anything that leaves their mouths to be valuable. Not even once.

I suppose I should be a bit more thorough in explaining how a Pokemon game works for young children and unfrozen cavemen who completely skipped the nineties. Pokemon are creatures of varying types that can be caught in the wild after catching them with items called Pokeballs. You then  use your new pet to battle other Pokemon and catch more, all the while going to gyms to battle gym leaders before you take on the championship at the end of the game. From a battle mechanics perspective, Pokemon is a very complex game, although, you don’t need to understand all of the mechanics to enjoy playing it. Pokemon are divided into types, each of which as its own strengths and weaknesses. Attacks also have types, which you can use to hit enemy weaknesses. At its core, Pokemon delivers the perfect combination of easy to learn hard to master mechanics, and an addictive monster collection system. It is the gold standard for all monster collection games, and worth a purchase for all of you cavemen.

I’m not saying that you should feel bad if you don’t know what Pokemon is, but I sure am thinking it.

Now that we’ve taken care of the uninitiated, let’s look a little at what Pokemon X and Y bring to the table. I discussed how much of a difference the jump to 3D graphics made in this article, so I’ll skip that discussion for now. I would say the biggest other change to the game is the introduction of the fairy type. This type is weak against poison and steel attacks, and strong against fighting dark and dragon. The reason why this is a big deal is because of the massive changes this could have to the competitive scene. Poison and steel are often considered the least useful attacking type. Conversely, steel (Who have lost their resistance to ghost and dark), dragon, fighting, and dark Pokemon make up the vast majority of the top competitive circuit. What this means is that fairy types have an opportunity to come in and turn everything on its head. For example, if poison Pokemon become more common, then psychic, their counter, will as well. Dragons and other big name Pokemon will start to have to arm themselves with steel or poison moves, or they’ll risk being caught completely off guard, which means that move sets will become less predictable, as there won’t be as optimal a coverage. Like the steel and dark inclusion in the second generation, this has the ability to really change how the game is played.

Clefairy/fable, statistically the cutest Pokemon, can now rip dragons to shreds – Justice

Mega evolutions are a big part of this game’s story, and are very fun, even if a little over the top. Basically, some Pokemon can hold items that will allow them to mega evolve during battle. These newly evolved Pokemon will gain some sort of benefit for it. For example, Mega Alakazam gets a massive boost to its already massive special attack; Mega Mawlie doesn’t get any stat changes. Instead it gets a new ability which doubles its attack stat; and Pokemon such as Mega Charizard X and Mega Gyarados gain a new typing, dragon in those cases. This allows players to add to the general unpredictability of battles, as you never know if that Charizard will be mega evolving or if it is holding a different item such as a focus sash. Mega evolution, while powerful, is not entirely broken. You can only mega evolve one Pokemon a battle, and it deprives that Pokemon of holding a different item, which may be more useful. In-game, players will get a decent use of mega evolutions, but the vast majority of mega evolutions are obtained after you beat the game. Still there’s no reason not to enjoy your Mega Gengar, or Mega Lucario, while you wait to unlock the rest.

That’s right, Mega Ampharos. You are fabulous.

There are two new types of battles in Pokemon X and Y, and both of them are underwhelming. Horde battles happen occasionally while you’re hunting around in tall grass. These battles set your single Pokemon up against five lower level Pokemon. It’s a neat concept, but they tend to drag on too long, and too few attacks can hit multiple targets. The other kind of battle is an aerial battle. These battles only operate if you have a flying Pokemon and are essentially unchanged from regular battles other than this restriction. If you’re not using birds or the like, you are unlikely to see much of them, and more could have been done to change things up from regular battles. Even though these new types of battles are underwhelming, they join an increasing number of ways to fight in Pokemon, as double, triple and rotation battles return, although in a diminished capacity for the latter two.

One step closer to being able to start my illegal Chansey boxing ring.

Pokemon X and Y is noticeably easier than Pokemon Black and White. This is partially because very few people (Three in the main story) other than you can mega evolve Pokemon, and partially because major fights such as against gym leaders aren’t as punishing. Gym leader and the Elite Four have fewer Pokemon than before, and they don’t cover their weaknesses as well as in Black and White. Post-game stuff will still provide a challenge, but experience Pokemon trainers will probably find this the easiest game since Gold and Silver. That’s not to diminish the fun. Strategy is still important and the game gives you far more tools than previous generations. For example, while there are only a paltry sixty-nine new Pokemon in this game, I don’t think there has ever been more available for you to catch. Even as early as the first gym, you have a potentially massive roster, which makes possible subsequent playthroughs far more interesting.

Don’t let the fire fool you. You’ll probably sweep this without a casualty.

The game also adds tons of tiny little things that make the experience much more enjoyable. You can now customize your character, and I wound up spending a king’s fortune on threads on my journey. There’s something about customization which makes your character far more personal to you, and it adds a lot to the game. Pokemon Amie is a new option, which allows you to feed, pet and play with your Pokemon in a 3D environment. However, it goes beyond being a simple sim. Maxing out Pokemon Amie affection will lead to your Pokemon getting boosted experience, being able to survive fatal hits, more criticals and dodges, and even being able to shrug off bad statuses. It’s surprisingly powerful to play with your Pokemon, and the interface is cure too even if it’s begging for pervy gifs. In past games, EVs or effort values were a hidden stat that affected how your Pokemon’s stats grow. Now with the ability to super train, you can easily train up your Pokmon’s EVs in about an hour. It’s a fun, though repetitive mini game, but it is infinitely better than the old way which involved mindlessly killing the same enemy over and over again while keeping a tally in your head. Tragically, IVs or individual values have not been changed.

Nintendo might not have thought this one all the way through. On the bright side, PETA might not have a problem with this part…

Unlike every Pokemon game before it, Pokemon X and Y is on a system with a good online infrastructure, meaning that it can push online in a way no other game can. You can now battle easily and instantly with random strangers across the internet, or trade with them with a touch of the button. These features existed before, but they’ve never been easier, or problem-free. A new addition includes wonder trading, which is trading your Pokemon for a random one from another trainer. Many people complain about getting nothing but garbage low-level Pokemon from the system and that is mostly true, but you can get some great things. My wife, for example, was able to get a Dragonair and Pupitar, while I’m stuck with Scatterbugs and Pidgeys. O-powers are given to you in the creepiest of ways, but are actually a good idea. You get these bonus powers to increase stats like attack, defence, the amount of money you get after battles, etc., and you can spend them on yourself or friends. The catch is that it’s cheaper (You have a regenerating O-power meter) to use it on friends, meaning it’s better to have a network to support you. That being said, it’s also easy to forget they even exist.

Realistically get ready to see lots of Caterpies as people try to game the system.

Pokemon X and Y is one of, if not the best game on the Nintendo 3DS, a system which has been blessed with a huge number of excellent releases. Not only that, Pokemon X and Y is, in my opinion, the best Pokemon game ever built. The combat is better, and more complex, the world is engrossing and deep. The story is garbage, but it always is. And there’s always something to do even in the post game when you’re earning BP for rare items or hunting down that next legendary Pokemon. In short, I couldn’t recommend Pokemon X and Y enough to any gamer young or old.

Score – 10

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


2 thoughts on “Review – Pokemon X and Y

  1. I found the gyms to be very interesting. They're normally themed but for the first few (I think I only have 3 gym badges), there's been some very unique element. The first one you traveled along a spider web, second had rock climbing and the next one was a roller derby. I found it a lot more interesting than just walking in and finding the enemy trainers and then moving on. It's a nice little touch that I've enjoyed. I'm sad that Dragon has another counter though 😦

  2. Leave it to Gamefreak to consistently make interesting gyms. It does suck that the first Pokemon game where you can obtain dragon Pokemon really early in the game is the first one that really attempts to defang them. On the bright side, they mostly still have a massive stat advantage.

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