The Pokemon series has seen a ton of releases over the last decade, but none have seen the type of forward advancements for the series that the dual-release of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y bring to the table. Pokemon X & Y are both rooted in the traditions of the series, but do exactly what we hope for sequels to accomplish — add meaningful changes to the gameplay that actually expand and/or progress the franchise forward. Pokemon X & Y is this, and it’s proof that this mainstay Nintendo franchise isn’t going anywhere.
For long-time Pokemon fans the most noticeable differences out of the gate are in the game’s cosmetic overhaul. The polygonal character models and environments take over for the traditional 2D models that Pokemon fans are accustomed to, and it’s about time that the series has seen this type of graphical upgrade. It lends a lot to immersing the player in the world of Kalos. Releasing on the 3DS however, the lack of use of the steroscopic 3D features are a bit of a letdown, but it’s a much better presentation than has ever been seen in the series.
While the graphics and presentation have changed somewhat in X & Y, the core gameplay that fuels the Pokemon experience are still familiar to those of the past Pokemon games. A new generation of Pokemon means that there’s a whole new line-up of monsters to capture and train. There’s a nice mixture of new and familiar Pokemon throughout the entire game, exploration of Kalos in this 30+ hour single player experience will reward you with opportunity to get a closer look at these new wild creatures and capture them for your own. As expected, it’s still all about finding and training your Pokemon in X & Y, but there’s a bigger focus on the new Mega Evolutions game mechanic that is introduced in through the storyline.
X & Y has meaningful changes to the game that move the series forward
Mega Evolutions have a huge impact on the game, and the way which battles play out. These are special transformations for your Pokemon that add another layer of strategy to any battle. The Mega Evolution can only be summoned once per battle, and not all Pokemon can use it. The Mega Evolutions are also central to the game’s single player plotline, where players will be given a Mega Ring that allows you to unlock the power of this mechanic as the story progresses, and get you familiar with the nuances of this new mechanic and how it plays out against the AI.
These new Mega Evolution abilities go hand in hand with the personalization of your Pokemon collection, as well as trainer character. While 3D models go a long way in adding new depth to your roster, X & Y also introduces some interesting new training mechanics in the form of mini-games that allow you to form a stronger bond with your Pokemon in the Pokemon Amie and Super Training game modes. Pokemon Amie is a feature that lets you interact with your Pokemon with an interesting pet mechanic. You can feed them Pokepuff cupcakes which increase different statistics and ultimately allow your Pokemon collection to gain better abilities. It’s tied into a mini-game mechanic which allows you to stroke and pet your Pokemon for affection or play mini-games that allow you to earn food for them. The Super Training mode also allows for stat building for your Pokemon party, but the mini-games are somewhat less interesting than the interaction found in Amie. Both will allow you to grind through the progression system for your Pokemon if you have the perseverance to play some of the more lackluster mini-game challenges.
Pokemon X & Y
Game Freak has also revamped the online features in X and Y. The player search system has been refined from Black and White, which means getting together and playing online is a much more user-friendly experience. The Player Search System is a persistent mechanic that can always be shown on the bottom screen of the 3DS. You can view passerbys, acquaintances, and 3DS freinds. You can share a trainer PR videos, trade with other players, battle, or give O-powers to other players. The online functionality feels properly upgraded to match a new era of online connectivity in gaming, and its got the polish that is expected from a game series as popular as Pokemon. Why it took so long to get here is another question entirely.
When you put it all together, Pokemon X & Y is the most impressive set of Pokemon games in a long time. Game Freak didn’t really make any huge changes to the accessible gameplay. But it’s all that’s been added to Pokemon X & Y that round out the game as something more progressive for the franchise than we’ve seen in a long time. While Pokemon has managed to remain extremely popular over the years, it’s been need of upgrades to bring it up to speed. Pokemon X & Y is this upgrade, and the first step toward what we’ll see from the franchise for the future.
Pokemon X & Y
- Available On: Nintendo 3DS
- Published By: Nintendo
- Developed By: Game Freak
- Genre: RPG
- US Release Date: October 12th, 2013
- Reviewed On: Nintendo 3DS
- Quote: "Game Freak didn't really make any huge changes to the accessible gameplay. But it's all that's been added to Pokemon X & Y that round out the game as something more progressive for the franchise than we've seen in a long time."