For those of you who might have been living under a wifi-less rock, it may be news to you that a new generation of Pokémon games launched on Saturday. Since 1998, every year or so there has been a major release from the Pokémon franchise, but Pokemon X & Y are a new re-imagining of the series.
While the game still appeals to a wide audience, this is a smarter, faster, better and more innovative game than its predecessors. The impressive online social features and the gorgeous 3D rendered environments have given the series a much needed face lift.
The most striking differences are noticeable from the beginning of the game. Veterans know that the first couple of hours in a typical Pokémon games means you can only catch boring Normal and Bug types while slugging through route after route. In less than an hour of game play, you interact with an incredibly diverse roster – Water, Fire, Grass, Electric, Fairy types appear alongside the classic Normal and Bug in the starter areas. The new Pokémon added to X & Y are significant improvements from the Black and White generation, which is also a relief.
The transition to the 3D design was well executed – the towns and cities have a new sense of life and vibrancy and the buildings offer distinct character. The battle scenarios are gorgeous and the Pokémon were animated taking personality traits into account. Along with these aesthetic changes comes the ability to finally design unique character avatars – you can change your physical appearance as well as your clothing options throughout the game. It adds a sense of ownership towards the main character that I felt the series had always lacked.
The game play core remains the same, revolving around battling and trading throughout time. There are small improvements here or there (like the ability to heal Pokémon before switching them out in battle) but overall it remains untouched. A new combat layer has been added however, with the introduction of the Mega Evolution option. These special transformations can alter Pokémon types in-battle, allowing you to negate possible opponent type advantages. Essentially, it adds a seventh type into your party line up (an innovation for Nuzlocke players like myself).
*For the Pokéaddicts who love EV training, there’s a new system of training called “Super Training” that allows you to boost base stats of you Pokemon through mini-game regimens.
The online component in Pokémon X & Y is where the connected play should have been all along. Using a local or internet connection, you have the ability to access trainers around the globe for trading, battling and other social features.
The only minor disappointment I experienced was that the story in Pokémon X and Y was still a fairly predictable arc resembling previous games in the series. The introduction of more attached and endearing NPC’s was a nice addition, but their characterizations are very flat for a single-player RPG.
Overall, I have been excessively pleased with this latest installation in the Pokémon series – if you are a longtime fan or totally new to the franchise, I seriously recommend you pick up a copy today.