pokemon-x-y-3ds-e3-2013

Pokemon X / Y
Developer: Game Freak
Price: $39
Platform: 3DS

Way back in January, Pokemon fans the world over got an amazing surprise–the announcement of a sixth generation–Everyone went into overdrive as new Pokemon, new characters, and a new region to explore were slowly unveiled and detailed over the next nine months. The cherry on top was a Pokemon first–for the first time in franchise history, the new games–Pokemon X and Pokemon Y–would see a simultaneous release around the world.

This particular generation of new Pokemon may be a bit small compared to past generations at only 69 (bringing the total monster count to 718) but the sheer number of places to see and things to do more than make up for the tiny number of new Pokemon.

Just to forewarn you, there will be spoilers in here, so if you want to be surprised, click away now.

Still with me? Let’s embark on our Kalos adventure…

At its heart, Pokemon is a great example if “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”–collect eight badges and stop the evil team. That being said, you’re not embarking on your quest all by yourself–this time, you have a few friends you will meet and battle over the course of your quest–the energetic and sweet Shauna, the aspiring dancer Tierno, Trevor, the shy intellectual, and the other playable character (Callum is the boy, and Serena is the girl). However, of the party, only the other playable character (who is cast as your neighbor and rival) and Shauna (she gets a few sweet moments showcasing your growing friendship throughout the game.) are the only ones that get any form of character development–I would’ve liked to have seen more of Tierno’s and Trevor’s backstories and give both of them a little more time in the limelight.

Opposing our fab five is the mysterious Team Flare–while they may appear materialistic and obsessed with fashion (or their lack thereof) at first, as the story progresses, you uncover what they REALLY want to do–and once the big reveal occurs, the story revs into high gear as you race to stop an ancient weapon from devastating the world. The entire “stop the evil team” sequence was easily one of my favorite parts of the game, and will easily floor you if you pick up on some of the small little clues to Team Flare’s plot as you play.

X and Y take full advantage of the 3DS’ graphical capabilities–cities now are sprawling metropolises filled with realistic looking sprites. The region’s centerpiece, Lumiose City, is so large, you wan’t be able to find and enjoy all its secrets in one sitting (In fact, you may get lost a few times–just be sure and pick up the free patch in the eShop that fixes a game breaking glitch in the outside areas, if you haven’t already) Every Pokemon looks so life-like, they could step out of your 3DS at any moment. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg–grass rustles, rain and snow fall, crystal and glass sparkle–every one of Kalos’ locations is a treat to discover, and every town has their own character.

Pokemon is another one of Nintendo’s best loved musical series, and X and Y are no exception–from the majestic title screen fanfare with Yveltal flying, to the heartwarming theme that plays when Shauna tells you how much she’ll cherish your friendship and memories, the grandeur of Lumoise City, to the many themes of battle–there’s not a bad track in the bunch. But among all the new music, there’s whispers of the familiar–the title screen evokes the original Red and Blue title screen, and the Pokemon Center theme is back, as well. Not one of them is grating or annoying, which is nice if you’re going to be in one area for a while (especially if you get lost in a cave)

Once noticeable difference this time is the Pokemon’s cries–they now sound more realistic as opposed to digitized bloops and bleeps. In fact, Pikachu actually has his iconic anime voice, something I wish all the other 717 Pokemon had. But what was done is a promising step in that direction.

In addition to the main quest (which took me about 30 hours or so), Pokemon X and Y have a wealth of things to do–for the first time ever, you can customize your character’s looks, and collecting every piece of clothing is a challenge in itself. You can also ride some Pokemon–Rhyhorns, Gogoats, and Mamoswines will be ready to help you cross otherwise impassable areas over the course of your adventure.

A new type is introduced (the Fairy type, which serves as the sixth Gym), and some Pokemon can evolve even farther with a special evolution known as Mega Evolution. You receive a Mega Ring (a bracelet thing), and can find Mega Stones to give to certain Pokemon to induce Mega Evolution (in fact,those that preordered the game could get a special Torchic holding the Mega Stone needed to induce Blaziken. There are some moments where Mega Evolution can save your skin, but only one Pokemon can be induced at a time, so think carefully if you have multiple Pokemon that can be induced as I did.

 

In addition, there also Horde Battles (multiple wild Pokemon at once) and Sky Battles (which only flying types can participate in–luckily the trainers ask if you want to participate–these battles are optional) to further keep you on your toes. If you need a break from the main story, you can quickly EV train your team with Super Training, or just cuddle your Pokemon via Pokemon-Amie. That’s only a fraction of things to see and do, and once the story really gets going, you’ll find yourself playing for hours.

The Final Word
While the story is disappointing in some areas (most of the main characters don’t get character development, and the story takes a while to really get going), it doesn’t detract from the beautifully designed world, wonderful music, and wealth of things to do–this is perfect for both the veteran trainer and newbie alike.

- MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Great