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Pokemon X & Y Review

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On 11/13/2013 at 12:30 PM by Jon Lewis

A series, reignited.

For Pokemon fans, old and new.

I stood in line for an unnecessarily long time to pick up my copy of Pokémon X from Nintendo World in New York, but it was worth it. Most would have left the line and picked it up at a more comfortable or convenient location. For myself and many others, the reason why we stayed, braving the cold morning air along the streets of Manhattan, was the sense of community—the very heart of the Pokémon series since its inception. That community is one of the reasons why my time with Pokémon X has been so amazing, but it's much more than that. It's also about the way the the right improvements have been made in all the right spots, the new features, and the nostalgia. X is the best Pokémon game in a long time.

One of the foremost improvements is the look. It's the first in the main series to be in full 3D, but it will still feel familiar. The towns retain a classic, Pokémon feel—with houses, shops, and gyms to explore, but they all look leaps and bounds better than anything before. Some areas, like Lumiose City, show the protagonist from a 3rd person perspective and let you see the world that in a way that hasn't been done in past Pokémons. Unfortunately, much of the overworld isn’t viewable in stereoscopic 3D. I felt like this was a missed opportunity, as some of the cities would look even better in 3D. However, some areas—specifically caves or story dungeons—are viewable in 3D. It's not much, but nice to look at.

Battles also are rendered in 3D for the first time. While only one-on-one battles are in 3D, they unfortunately don’t take advantage of the 3D effect very much. If anything, 3D causes a bit of lag, and I ultimately ended up leaving the 3D off for most battles. Despite this, every Pokémon has been updated with all new animated sprites and even brand new battle cries. As someone who has stuck with the series for such a long time, it was great to see some of my favorite Pokémon updated for the new generation. I enjoyed many of the new Pokémon, including my starter Froakie (who later evolved to become the awesome Greninja), the firebird Talonflame, and the ghost warrior Aegislash.

The flow of gameplay remains the same, which can be good or bad. For me, it was definitely a good thing. Players start out in a city alongside other young Pokémon trainers. While their goals vary, the sense of exploration and adventure pull them along from city to city. As your own, customizable trainer, you visit each town, train Pokémon, and battle gyms to earn badges. Upon gaining each badge, you can challenge the Pokémon League, where you battle the Elite Four and its Champion.

To mix up the formula, the central plot surrounds two other aspects: Team Flare and Mega-Evolution. Team Flare is bent on making the world “beautiful” by ridding it of most people and Pokémon, and starting over. The silly story overall didn’t engage me like Pokémon Black and White did, but in a series not known for its plot devices, it wasn’t the worst.

Mega Evolution is one of this game's key advertised features. This allows certain Pokémon to temporarily ascend to a new form and gain new abilities and stat increases. Mega Evolution changes the way battles are fought, particularly in a competitive setting. They become a threat to most trainers, and going in against one unprepared can lead to devastating results. That being said, in the main story, it’s not very necessary aside from a few segments toward the beginning part of the game. I made it through without even one Pokémon in my team that could Mega Evolve. Of course, if I wanted to challenge my friends, I’d need at least a few in order to be considered a threat. Another new, but smaller addition is the Fairy type. This new specimen mixes up things decently by exposing types that were considered too powerful (like Dragons) and adding a new dynamic to team building.

Of all the new additions, the things that make Pokémon X so memorable to me were the smaller ones. Being able to walk diagonally for the first time. Being able to sit down, and enjoy the setting. Being able to roller skate and do tricks. Remixes of Generation One battle themes. Petting and feeding my Pokémon through Pokémon-amie led to results that I didn’t even expect.
One of my highlight experiences was in a late game battle. I had trained my Greninja up to become very friendly with me. In a battle, I miscalculated and was hit with a critical. My Greninja held on with 1 hit point. He looked back at me, and some text came up roughly saying “Greninja toughed it out for you. It looks like it might cry.” Because of this, I healed it, which caused it to become elated. My next attack was a critical which defeated the opponent, and then it stated that the critical was because my Pokémon wanted to impress me. It followed up by virtually rubbing my Pokémon on the head (in the middle of battle). In a game about building bonds between trainer and Pokémon, there has never been anything as gratifying as this to make me care even more about these creatures.

I could go on and on about the wonders of Super Training, the hilarity of Trainer PR Videos, the challenges of the Battle Maison, and the Friend Safari but this review has already gone on long enough. One thing I do quickly want to mention is how easy and accessible the online content is this time around. When online, or in the vicinity of other players, you are notified by an icon that you can interact with on the Player Search System. You can click on them, trade, battle, or give them boosts. It makes a standard function of the series much more convenient for the player, as before you needed to visit a Pokémon Center to access most of these features. Doing it from wherever you are makes the experience much better.

I’ve poured many hours into Pokémon X so far, and I only plan to keep playing, raising semi-competitive teams, and attempting to catch as many Pokémon as possible. Having friends along for the ride certainly helps the drive to do so, but either way Pokémon X has been something that I as a Pokémon fan have dreamed of since I was a child. I know that I’m not the only one who thinks so, as I’ve come across many who quit the series long ago, flocking back for X. While it definitely isn’t perfect, it’s easy to say that this is a must have if you have had any experience with the series before.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Captain N

11/13/2013 at 05:47 PM

I've been since the series first came here and enjoyed every minute of every Pokemon game I'ved played. Heck, Pokemon was the main reason I wanted a Gameboy in the first place, and I always buy a Nintendo handheld just for Pokemon. Yes I even got a 3DS at launch because I knew there would be a 3DS Pokemon game at some point and I was right. Sure I spent 250 bucks on it but Pokemon X and Y just justifies that purchase for me. I love the new games, I love every new thing about them. 

And having the 3D effect does make the battles lag a tad bit but I do love seeing the attacks in 3D. I love the new Fairy type Pokemon, some older Pokemon even has a dual type as Fairy now, meaning that you must think of new strategies now, but nothing like experimentation. That and the new Mega Evolutions makes you think twice on battles because those Pokemon are really strong. Going unprepared is a bad idea, like what happened to me yesterday, a passerby trainer challenged me and I accepted but we always kept getting disconnected like two times and like they say third times the charm and worked. 

Well I was in for a world of hurt because this guy had a pretty good team of pokemon and I was using my in-game team so I knew I wouldn't stand a chance. Plus I went up a Mega Gengar and I had 2 more Pokemon left, so did my opponent but my Pokemon were damaged, I had Mega Charizard Y but my opponent used Sanstorm previously which cancelled my Drought ability, I had to switch to Delphox to take a hit si I can send Charizard back to use Drought, I think he didn't count on me having Shadow Claw and took out Mega Gengar in 2 hits, but not without being poisoned by Toxic and Charizard had less than HP left. My opponents final Pokemon was Chestnaught and he used a guard move in hopes of the poison to take down my Charizard, well it survived the poison, I managed to get the first hit this time and used Flamethrower, it got stronger with Drought, plus it was a STAB move, and the fat it gave a super-effective hit and knocked my opponents Chestnaught out in 1 hit and won. I couldn't believe it. I felt really proud. It's moments like those that make Pokemon special to me. To me, Pokemon will always be my favorite rpg and to me it will always be the best rpg series ever. I'll always continue to play the games as long as they keep making them, I can't wait for the Pokemon Transfer thing this December, I don't mind paying the fee, because I plan on completing the Pokedex like I did three times in the 4th gen. It's definitely my Game of the Year, heck it could be my most favorite 3DS game ever, atleast till the next one.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

11/15/2013 at 09:37 AM

a lot of people are voting for this for game of the year, and I'm quite surprised.  IT must be very good!  I've never gotten in Pokemon before, but I told myself I would buy this one.  Haven't yet, but I think I will next month, or ask for it for xmas.  

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