Review: Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: The Pokemon Company
Content Warning: This game is rated E and is as clean as every other Pokemon game. Very family friendly.
I have been playing Pokemon since the series began with Red/Blue. I have played Gold/Silver, Ruby/Sapphire, and Diamond/Pearl. However, Black/White 1 and 2 eluded me as I bought into the Vita upon its release and… Well… let’s say that was a mistake. I returned back to the 3DS and picked up Pokemon Y with it. After hearing all of the great things about it, I couldn’t wait to build my team of pocket monsters and roll over every trainer in sight. Little did I know the game would hand me my team on a silver platter and rolling over trainers became a whole lot easier.
Have you played a Pokemon game before? If so, then this story is nothing new. Generically named evil team and its leader wants to change/control/destroy the world. You (as a child) just happen to run across their nefarious plan and end up being the one in charge of stopping it. It is the same ole schtick from previous titles and yet that is understandable. Nintendo sticks to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” when it comes to the formulas of its games. However, this formula is tiring and could use a change. I am not crying out for a mature themed story like many others have, since the game is aimed at children. But, it would be nice to see something different here. I did find your rival in this game to be the weakest of any who have come before. Your rival is not really a rival as much as they are your friend. This friend/rival likes to be polite by giving you a heads up before they go ahead and battle you. What happened to being a total bag of awesome and showing up when you least expect it to give you a good challenge and the rare beat down? Also, when heading to the final showdown, on your path to end team generics plan, one of your annoying friends (you have four, gone are the days of being a loner) shows up and says hey I want to help (she is the most worthless of the group). Um… my rival/bff and I are in the middle of a very important world saving mission. Now is not the time to say you want to tag along because… friendship. Friendship is shoved down your throat in Pokemon X/Y. Lastly, they had a couple of options to surprise you with when it came to the Pokemon League Champion but, they didn’t capitalize on it.
Luckily the gameplay has been mostly untouched from previous iterations. You could of only played Pokemon Red/Blue and jump right into Pokemon X/Y with almost no learning curve. Everything here works flawlessly as you have your typical turn based battles. I will note that the emphasis on double battles was appreciated by me. Double battles happen here more often than I can remember and bring a welcome to change to the usual one on one fights. Sky battles show up in Pokemon X/Y as well. Sky battles are optional battles from random trainers where you can only fight with flying Pokemon. This was the biggest challenge in the game to me as I only adventured with Pidgeot for majority of the game. Mega Evolutions are new to the franchise and kind of reminded me of Digimon, in the sense that they are temporary evolutions that make you Pokemon an awesome beast. After the battle is complete, your Pokemon will go back to normal. My biggest gripe with X/Y is just how easy it is. The game makes everything significantly easy and there is no hard mode option. Leveling up your Pokemon isn’t grindy as everyone in your party levels up pretty quick and without issue. Most trainers you fight will have Pokemon that range from five levels below yours to fifteen. I believe I could count on one hand how many times I found myself needing to actually think when battling someone. Pokemon X/Y is so determined to make sure the journey you take is easy that they hand you six Pokemon. Let me repeat that. The game gives you SIX Pokemon. I don’t mean six Pidgeys either. In this order they hand you… Your first starter (typical for every Pokemon game), a starter from Red/Blue (this was a neat touch), Lucario (made sense at first), Lapras (not but five minutes later), the legendary on the box of your game (took me one ultra ball to catch), and another starter that you didn’t pick right after the credits roll. If you don’t have an awesome team by the time you play the end game content, then you must of not actually finished the game. Speaking of end game content. There is actually another three or four hours of gameplay here as you get to do a couple more missions and catch legendary Pokemon (including Mewtwo!). Unfortunately, I don’t think we will see Pokemon return to what they did in Gold/Silver when they gave us a previously explored region to run through and get the badges from. The online battling works flawlessly as they have many options. You can have both parties team of Pokemon become, temporarily, all the same level or have the Pokemon at the level they actually are. Trading and finding a Pokemon you want becomes easy too as it turns out that other people will farm Pokemon (breed them with dittos) to trade with others. Also, fairy Pokemon were added but I didn’t find them really any different from most other Pokemon.
This is by far the best part of the game. Noises made by the Pokemon have finally moved from the Gameboy era and into the 21st century. Graphics and presentation is simply top notch and makes me feel like they finally got Pokemon Stadium style battles into my hand-held adventure. Mega Evolutions get your blood pumping while Lumiose City will dazzle you, yet get you lost all at the same time. I actually dreaded Lumiose City for a while because it was so large and I was not used to this at all in Pokemon. It makes me chuckle seeing how far the franchise has come since I recall when water reflections in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire made everyone ooh and ahh. The epic music from wild Pokemon battles is STILL stuck in my head!
Pokemon: Hand-holding/Friendship is magic edition was a fun twenty hours of my time, even if it was incredibly easy. The leaps made in the graphical and presentation department make me look forward to the Ruby/Sapphire remakes coming out in November. I would recommend this game to everyone, including those who usually scoff at Pokemon. I must say I hope the next Pokemon game returns to what Gold/Silver did with it’s post Elite Four content by allowing you to explore another region and get eight badges.
+ Presentation is top notch.
+ The tried and true gameplay formula is still here.
+ Mega evolutions show that the creators want to do something new here...
- … Just not with the game's story.
- Difficulty is cranked way down.
- Rival and League Champion were huge disappointments and instantly forgettable.
- Post game content is lacking.