By Steven Buchele
“Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” introduce a lot of new, and many long overdue, additions to the game—the most immediate of which is a massive upgrade in graphics. “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” are the first major Pokémon games designed specifically for the 3DS and are the first to use 3D graphics.
These games are beautiful. Developer Game Freak has done an excellent job of making almost every part of this game visually appealing. The models and rendering style, while completely different from previous games, are still carried out in the same style, so the game still feels like a Pokémon game.
Although the game looks beautiful, there are problems with the graphics. Despite being designed for the 3DS, the majority of the game is not actually in 3D, and what is in 3D is not very spectacular.
Moreover, the battles—which is where most of the 3D graphics are utilized—can lag noticeably. Instead of spending copious amounts of time programing the ability to sit on benches (which admittedly is pretty cool), Game Freak should have spent more time making sure the game did not lag during some of the most exciting battles Pokémon fans have ever experienced.
Another major change to the game has been the addition of two new Pokémon types to the traditional types featured in previous games—the fairy type and mega-evolutions. The fairy type basically exists for one reason, to kill dragons.
Admittedly the dragon type had been previously mishandled, and all the new fairy Pokémon (and old Pokémon that have been retyped) are actually a lot of fun. However, the dragon matchup for fairies does not have the same intuitiveness of the previous type matchups. If Game Freak was going to update the type matchups, there were certainly other types they might have begun working with first.
As for mega-evolutions, these super-powered forms of previous beloved (or forgotten) Pokémon are definitely a shoutout to older fans. However, having an awesome Mega-Charizard comes at a price: brand new Pokémon. In total, there are 69 completely new Pokémon in the sixth generation. That is 26 new lines, eight single-stage species and one new evolution for Eevee, for those counting at home.
It is likely that the best thing about “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” is the attention that was spent on making this game social, even for those unlucky people who are unable to find a community of trainers to play with. Unlike previous games, “The Player Search System” makes online and wireless play much easier.
Unfortunately, it seems that in order to have fun trading and battling random people online, gamers had to sacrifice an enjoyable post-game experience. Battling, trading and collecting Friend Safaris (gamer codes for making friends) is about all there is to do once the Elite Four has been beaten, which is a disappointment after the Battle Frontiers of previous generations.
“Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” are entertaining games for both new and old fans of the franchise. The first four routes alone have nearly one hundred Pokémon, chosen from each of the various generations, so there is a lot of nostalgia in simply moving through the first hours of the game. (Like catching a Zigzagoon, the first Pokémon I ever caught). This model also serves as a great introduction for gamers new to the franchise.
Furthermore, there is quite a bit to hold a gamer’s attention while playing through the game. Most of the gym challenges are amusing, and nearly every character in the game will have an item of some kind to give the player. As for the plot, the mystery behind the mega-evolutions overshadows the game.
Unfortunately, aside from a really good ending, the story is one of the weakest points of the game. The major enemies in the game are uninspiring, and the legendary Pokémon are hardly incorporated into the plot at all. This is a major disappointment, as the legendaries represent life, death and order, which could have led to fascinating developments in the plot.
Overall “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” are two great games, and they do some things particularly well—like incorporating the social element—yet, the production of the games suffered from a misdirection of energies.
Developer Game Freak maintained fantastic attention to detail and produced an entertaining and graphically beautiful game, however important aspects, such as the plot, the lag issue, the disappointing number of new Pokémon and a rather nasty glitch that breaks the game, did not get the attention they deserved.