Posted by: TWILT | October 21, 2013

Pokemon XY – Are YOU Stylish Enough?

#TeamY

#TeamY #TeamFroakie #TeamCharmander

  • Developer: Game Freak
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  • Price: $39.99
  • Release Date: October 12, 2013 (Worldwide)

A new generation of Pokemon has arrived in the form of XY. For the sixth time, Pokemon is back and better than ever. While you’re still a beginning trainer, who catches Pokemon to be the very best like no one ever was, this Gen has a lot to offer, for various different reasons. Being the first worldwide Pokemon release, this is the first time the mainline series (so obviously excluding stuff like Stadium and Colosseum) hits 3D in handheld version. It’s also the most customizable mainline Pokemon game to date, with tons of new features and is probably the most easy to get into Pokemon game to date.

Before I can get to that though, let me give you a little history lesson (though skip about five paragraphs if you don’t need it).

rbystartersPokemon started in 1998 (in America anyway) with the release of Red, Blue (or Green in Japan) and Yellow on the Game Boy. Some may argue that Pokemon stopped being “good” after this Gen, and while others are willing to regard this Gen as the worst, at least on a technical basis. Personally, while I do think the first generation of Pokemon gets far too much credit, I still have fond memories of this gen, if only for nostalgia reasons. I’d probably hate playing this game again after playing the newer gens, but still, for it’s time, it was great. Nowadays, it’s far from my favorite gen though.

gscstartersFast forward two years or so, and we have the second generation of Pokemon, in Gold, Silver and Crystal. This is actually a lot of people’s favorites, and it actually used to be mine as well. For good reason too; it added in a bunch of new cool features such as night and day, breeding, two new types (Steel and Dark) and this was the first Pokemon game that actually felt like a sequel to Red, Blue and Yellow, allowing you to travel to Kanto after being the main game. This used to be my favorite gen, but as time passes, the age of the game really grows to show. Still, it introduced a lot of my favorite Pokemon ever (shoutouts to Typhlosion, Umbreon and Scizor), and still remains one of my favorites.

rsestartersThree years later, Ruby and Sapphire are released for the Game Boy Advance (Emerald releases two years after THAT). Not too many people are fond of this generation of Pokemon, and it’s easy to see why. More than half of the old Pokemon were unavailable, so you had to focus on the 200 Pokemon available. There was also no way to transfer your old Pokemon from the old games, and not to mention SURFING for 1/3rd of the region ugh. That said, I always felt that this gen was always underrated. It was really nice to see Pokemon in HQ sprites, battles were fast paced, the soundtrack was great, and despite some duds here and there, the Pokemon designs were overall pretty nice.

dpplstartersNow, let’s skip to 2007 and talk about Diamond, Pearl and Platinum for the Nintendo DS. I won’t mince words here; this is honestly my least favorite Pokemon gen for a lot of reasons. A lot of the new Pokemon designs were either really meh or just plain bad (though there are some exceptions like the two new Eeveelutions and Piplup).  Battles were really slow, the music was pretty unmemorable, and the Pokemon variety was so little in between (seriously, your only fire type choices are either Chimchar or a goddamn Ponyta). To it’s credit, it did introduce the Physical/Special split, and the HeartGold/SoulSilver remakes were great, but I’d honestly pretend this gen never happened.

bwstarters

Then there’s Black and White that released in 2010. Diamond and Pearl left a little bad taste in my mouth to say the least, so I was skeptical about this gen. Thankfully, this gen actually saved my love for Pokemon. There are still some problems here there, such as only being limited to only 150+ of the new Pokemon (though this is fixed in their sequels), but overall, I thought fifth gen was overall a pretty good gen. There a definitely some derpy designs, but we also got some badass Pokemon like Haxorus, and Samurott. Good gen overall, and while my expectations were relatively low, it thankfully far surpassed them.

Now, you’re probably asking what was the point of the history lesson. Pokemon XY has a ton of Pokemon from every gen. I mean it! From your Pidgeys, to your Sentrets, Bagons, Axews, Eevees, those silly elemental monkeys, Riolus, Dunsparce, Ralts to even a Pikachu really early on, there’s a ton of Pokemon variety, which is surprising (in a pleasant way) considering the last two gens restricted to you to only a few. As for actual new Pokemon, there’s only about 70+ or so, but I honestly don’t mind that all. My problem with the last two gens was that they gave far too much new Pokemon (few of which I actually liked..). Letting you have a huge variety of Pokemon to choose from was a really great choice here. You can even pick your own Kanto region starter early on!

There’s something really special about seeing your favorite Pokemon in 3D again. Game Freak did a REALLY good job at creating 3D models for each and every Pokemon, each with their own unique animations and such. It really goes to show they put a lot of effort into the game. It makes me hella nostalgic working together with my good old friend, Charmander again.

More on that, one of the new features is called Pokemon Amie (lolfrench). It basically lets your interact with your favorite Pokemon by feeding them, petting them and playing different minigames with it. It’s a pretty fun way to see your Pokemon having personality, something that Pokemon has always had a tough time doing. You’ll even get boosts for it, from critical hit boosts, to evasion, to even surviving a fatal blow. The things that Pokemon will do for you…

pokemon_x_y_e3

The actual game actually starts up pretty fast, and surprisingly, there’s very few tutorials (aside from the one that teaches you how to catch Pokemon). I was a little worried considering games like M&L: Dream Team’s constant tutorials, but thankfully, there’s very few of that in XY. The game’s pretty lengthy like any other Pokemon game, and the region in the game feels big and large, with tons of stuff to explore. The formula is still the same old Pokemon style we all know; get all 8 Gym battles, stop evil team, and become champion. Is it same old, same old? Sure, but who really cares when there’s so much good to offer about this game?

One of the new features I like is that you actually get EXP for capturing a Pokemon, so you aren’t punished in training your Pokemon while trying to catch this new one you discovered. There’s also this thing called EXP Share, that gives your point Pokemon (and every Pokemon that got sent out to battle) 100% EXP, while your benched Pokemon at least gets 50%. It’s a very handy feature that makes training your Pokemon a total breeze. That said, it makes the game easier than it already is, though to be fair, Pokemon has and never will be a challenging game, and I honestly like it like that.

The core Pokemon game gains some new features. The most interesting one is perhaps the new “Fairy” type Pokemon. They take zero damage from Dragons, are really strong against them, dark and fighting type Pokemon, but are weak to Steel and Poison. It’s pretty interesting new type of Pokemon, that surely will cause a change in the Pokemon metagame. I’ve only been using my Sylveon as a Fairy Type, but she’s been wrecking a lot of stuff! It does seem a bit too good, but we’ll have to wait and see I guess. I won’t bore you too much with the details, but while it still gains some interesting changes, it’s still very much the good old Pokemon gameplay we all know and love. It still manages to retain that, yet still feels fresh.

Speaking of old Pokemon, some of them are able to go further beyond with something called “Mega Evolution.” Pokemon like Charizard, Blaziken and Garchomp are able to evolve temporarily in battle to get even stronger. You only get one Mega evolution per battle, but it certainly provides an interesting twist to the metagame. While it certainly is an interesting new mechanic, I can’t help, but feel that there could have been a lot more. Do Pokemon like Gengar, Scizor or Alakazam REALLY need new evolutions when they’re already really good Pokemon? That said, I do hope we see more Mega Evolutions via events or something.

Sylveon really grew on me. :P

Sylveon really grew on me.

It’s incredibly easy to train your Pokemon thanks to something called Super Training. If you’re at least somewhat familiar with competitive play, Super Training allows you to easily EV train your Pokemon, with minigames involving throwing soccer balls. It can get a bit tedious if you play with for too long, but it’s faster and cheaper to EV train your Pokemon this way. I myself have been using it alot to EV train my Pokemon. My team is ready to wreck some stuff.

The story’s nothing amazing, but it keeps you captivated until the end. The evil team in this game is surprisingly the most competent evil team in mainline Pokemon history. There’s also a bunch of silly references in some of the dialogue, from OVER 9000 jokes to MY BODY IS READY. That said, while there isn’t too much of it, I do think there are a few pacing issues. The gap between the first and second Gym is huge. While it does make me think the world of Kalos is a huge ass place, it still could have been done better. Though after that, it’s typical Pokemon pacing.

Best new Pokemon? Best new Pokemon.

Best new Pokemon? Best new Pokemon.

The music in the game is fantastic. Arguably one of the best OSTs Pokemon has to offer in my humble opinion. The soundtrack was a delight to hear constantly with my headphones, and I’m not that sick of the Wild battle theme yet! Some of my favorite tracks include the Champion theme, the Yveltal/Xerneas theme, Route 18/19, and the Bicycle theme. I hardly ever use my bike though, since Rollerblades are so much cooler.

The online features? They’re surprisingly great. You can trade and battle online from practically anywhere in game, without going through the hassle of going to the nearest Pokemon Center. You can use something called “O-Powers” to assist your friends with stuff like Stat Boosts, Critical Boosts, and EXP Boosts, though you gotta play through the game to unlock it. The only problem I really have is that it constantly disconnects you if you close your 3DS or go into the home menu. Two steps up, one step down I guess.

Admittedly, the postgame is a bit weak. It’s a bit comparable to Ruby and Sapphire really. There’s some stuff to do such as the Battle Maison, the Friend Safari, sidequests and other stuff to do for the hardcore Pokemon fans, but casual players may want something to be desired.

OVERALL:

Pros: 

  • Large variety of Pokemon to catch. Making a team is easier than ever.
  • Pokemon XY looks great with it’s 3D graphics.
  • There’s certainly a nostalgic feeling to it…
  • Soundtrack is fantastic.
  • Lots of cool and interesting features.
  • Game is lengthy.
  • Pokemon is still very much the same, but still feels fresh.
  • Fairy Type Pokemon and Mega Evolutions are certainly an interesting twist.
  • It’s fucking Pokemon. What do you want me to say?

Cons:

  • Pacing Issues, though not that many.
  • No way to transfer your old Pokemon until December.
  • Minimal Postgame.

Nitpicks:

  • IV Breeding is still such a pain in the ass, I’m not bothering with it.

Overall? Honestly, it’s probably the best Pokemon game I’ve played in a long time. I mean seriously, it’s that good. Is it one of the best handheld games ever? Absolutely. Is it one of the best games of 2013? Absolutely. I know some genwunners won’t give this game a chance, but I highly recommend it. Now excuse me, while I go EV Train this Vaporeon…

Now if only Pokemon games allowed you to take your silly hat off.

Now if only Pokemon games allowed you to take your silly hat off.

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Responses

  1. Pretty much agree with everything you said, though I thought the Gym Leader music was badass from day 1 since it makes you feel as though you’re playing Battle Revolution, which is fitting for the 3D transition.

  2. X and Y are certainly a sight to behold. They’re a technical marvel, at least by Pokémon standards. With full 3D models and unique animations for over 700 monsters plus all of their alternate forms, gender differences, Mega Evolutions, and shiny palettes, I’m surprised the graphics are as good as they are. You can really tell that Game Freak poured a lot of time and heart into these games. The smaller number of new Pokémon is definitely understandable, though I am not a fan of Mega Evolutions in the least. Really wished we’d have gotten legitimate evolutions for mons like Mawile.

    Special mention from me goes to the story, which was surprisingly good when judged by the precedent of this series. The ending especially, while neither the most original conclusion nor an unexpected twist in any way, was actually quite touching.

    IV breeding is still a pain, yes. I’ll probably be doing it eventually, though.

    • Funny thing is, the day after I finished writing this review, I managed to find a friend with a Ditto in his Safari, and now I’m IV breeding like crazy, haha.

      Yeah, Mega Evolutions seems to be a hit or miss for most people. Doubt this will be the last we’ll see of them, but I’m approaching it with an open mind.

      The ending was surprisingly pretty touching. I don’t think story has ever been Pokemon’s strong side, but the ending really put a smile on my face (in a good way).


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