Over the various iterations of the Pokemon series, one thing was usually certain about the next title: its predictability. Not much had changed in the world of Pocket Monsters since their inception, and most expected that the series would continue on in this way.
However, with the introduction of Pokemon X and Y, a lot has changed, and much of it is for the better. Don’t worry, there is a lot of familiarity in the formula of the new games, but the additions and tweaks that are made turn classic Pokemon into a whole new experience.
The story is very much the same; get Pokemon, venture out into the world, beat the evil team, and defeat the Pokemon League. The story behind Team Flare — the fashion-obsessed group players are tasked with trouncing — does take a darker turn near the end, but players will have plenty of help along the way. Part of this help comes from the fact that players can choose one of the original Kanto starters a few hours into the game to add to their team. Pokemon X and Y make it easy to create a diverse team very early on, which will only make the path to victory that much smoother.
One think that I quickly noticed is how attached I am to my Pokemon this generation, and part of this comes from the new 3D graphics that have been introduced. The world of Pokemon seems so much more lifelike in wandering through the varied, France-inspired towns of Kalos. In addition, Pokemon battles are exponentially more fun to watch as moves now have unique animations, including each Pokemon’s fainting animation. And while this 3D viewpoint is very dynamic, in a couple areas it can lead to some awkward camera angles that can be off-putting.
The other factor in Pokemon attachment is the new Pokemon-Amie feature. What on the surface seems to be a bunch of mini-games actually becomes a fun way to bond with Pokemon, and its more than just enjoying how cute that Emolga actually is; building up a Pokemon’s affection level will have in-game results, with the Pokemon being more likely to have a critical hit, cure themselves of status effects, and even attempt to not faint in one hit. It’s a small addition that will result in players cheering on their teams to the end.
There are only a handful of new Pokemon that arrive with this generation, but with the addition of the new Fairy type, there is plenty of variety to be found. There is also a good mix of Pokemon from the past generations to keep old fans excited to see their favorites.
Some of the other additions include the ability to customize players’ trainers. The game lets players pick from three basic models at the beginning of the game, but they quickly gain the ability to change their outfit, haircut and color and accessorize. Players can then show off their new look by producing Trainer PR videos, which they can then share with friends and strangers alike.
For the more hardcore of Pokemon trainers, the EV training system has been simplified. Players can now check to see what their Pokemon’s strengths and weaknesses are, and the addition of Super Training allows players to play small mini-games to train specific stats. No longer do players have to guess at the EV stats of their Pokemon.
Finally, X and Y begin to create a more robust suite of connectivity features. Players can now send O-powers to friends, which grant different effects such as capture rate assistance or critical hit boosts. They can use these powers on themselves, but they are more effective if given to or received by others. Players can now do Wonder Trades, which allow them to trade a Pokemon blindly with another random player. Its a fun system, especially if players decide to do a lot with breeding, and it’s a great way to get international Pokemon.
While on the surface, Pokemon X and Y may seem like the same old games, there are a lot of tweaks that make these titles worth playing, whether you are a veteran of the series, or if this is your first game.