since i’m more or less caught up with the pokemon series, i was ready to jump on pokemon x and y (on 3DS) pretty soon after they released. i was intrigued by one of the games’ biggest selling points, namely mega evolutions, and the promise of new critters to discover, inc. what i had already decided was going to be my starter of choice, froakie. i was also looking forward to seeing how the series would evolve, although i wasn’t expecting a whole lot, 3-D graphics and new fairy type notwithstanding.
to skip to the punchline, overall i enjoyed the game, but as expected, in terms of the core experience it didn’t feel terribly revolutionary. in other words, it should come as no surprise that you’re still a young trainer tasked with becoming pokemon champion and travelling around a new region collecting eight gym badges before tackling the elite four and the champion, while being distracted by the shenanigans of a group of miscreants, in this case, team flare. there weren’t a huge number of new pokemon, although i did a pretty good job of avoiding spoilers so it was fun to stumble upon them. the game has an interesting setup in terms of the pacing because the new pokemon are spread out over the course of the whole adventure, but the game itself is packed full of pokemon, so much so that the kalos pokedex is divided into three groups, for a total of more than 450 pokemon native to the region. this is a huge number, and so just going through the game at my usual pace there were plenty of pokemon that i completely missed simply b/c i didn’t spend enough time in a particular area. this makes trading, and wonder trading (in which you exchange pokemon randomly with someone else online) more worthwhile than it would be otherwise, and it also makes hunting down rarer pokemon more fun b/c there are more pokemon to discover while you’re searching for a specific one.
one of the things i enjoyed about other entries in the series was the introduction of new forms (baby forms or evolutions) for familiar pokemon, but there weren’t any in this game, no doubt b/c of the mega evolutions. i was disappointed that the majority of the mega evolutions are confined to the post-game, and not only that but there’s no easy way you’d find them all without using a guide, plus there are quite a few that are version exclusive. i suppose i’ll try to track them down some day, but i’m not in any hurry. i found the mega evolutions designs to be kind of same-y, but some of them were more memorable, although i have to say i’m disappointed that of the three original starters only charizard received two mega evolutions (although i’m guessing that the other two will receive alternate forms in the inevitable pokemon Z). not being a hardcore trainer it’s not completely obvious to me if the addition of mega evolutions has broken the balance, but i’m guessing the creators have made sure that it hasn’t. speaking of hardcore training, i didn’t spend any time with the new nintendogs-esque pokemon-amie features or the mini-games, but i’m sure the addition of easier ways to EV train pokemon has made many elite trainers happy.
the 3-D models were great to see in a handheld title (although having played such console pokemon games as pokemon colosseum on gamecube not to mention pokemon battle revolution on wii the experience wasn’t completely novel), although i was disappointed that the actual glasses-free 3-D effects were limited to battles and a handful of areas within the game. as it is, at times the battle scenes had significant slowdown, and while i appreciate the developers wanting to squeeze every last drop out of the 3DS’s hardware, i would’ve preferred they scaled things back a bit to make it run more smoothly.
in terms of other tweaks, the biggest pluses were changes related to gaining exp., namely, the change to gain experience for capturing equal to the amount you would’ve gotten defeating a pokemon, and the change to the exp. share item, which now gives exp. to all the pokemon in your party instead of just the one holding the item. these end up being significant changes b/c you can much more-easily train your pokemon so that in general it becomes easier to get to level 50 and level 100 (the levels used for competitive play), and you can also train more critters, giving you more incentive to experiment instead of relying on your core party of 6. the other minor addition i ended up really appreciating was the addition of roller skates, which provide a means of locomotion that’s faster than running shoes, but more useful than the bike. a relatively minor tweak, but one that i was thankful for every time i played.
the addition of horde and sky battles were more minor inconveniences than new experiences. O-powers (i.e. online powers) are this game’s version of B&W‘s “pass powers” and provided me with a way to save on buying HP-restoring items but were otherwise not particularly essential. another convenience was being able to trade at any time rather than only at poke centers, and although i’m kind of sad that the GTS has returned to its no-frills state and gen V’s dream world is no more, given how obsessively i played on the dream world this is actually a plus in terms of gaining part of my life back.
this post is more detailed than usual, but it makes sense since the series has long been about minor evolutions in the form of continual refinements as opposed to revolutionary new features. the biggest change, mega evolutions, is a nice diversion and a clever way to set up years and years of new designs for the whole menagerie of pokemon, but being mostly limited to the post-game it wasn’t really a “game changer”. i was certainly happy to keep current and play through the latest installment, and it could be that i end up spending more time exploring the competitive aspects of the game since they’ve made it easier than ever to get into “super training”. given my astoundingly huge backlog i won’t be getting into that any time soon, but it’s in the back of my mind so we’ll see. anyway, this is certainly one of the best entries in the series yet, but as usual i’m left feeling tolerably satisfied with the new features and very curious about how the series will evolve further.
[for anyone curious, my final team was comprised of: greninja, charizard Y, vivillon, goodra, aegislash, and florges. as you’d expect, greninja and aegislash did all the heavy lifting, but thanks to the new and improved exp. share my pokemon were all at a pretty high level by the time i got to the end (their levels were in the low 70’s) so the elite 4 and champion weren’t particularly challenging. i did train up malamar (who has the single coolest evolution method yet and, incidentally, always makes me think of those marshmallow cookies), but i ended up ditching it and using charizard Y instead just so i could play around with mega evolutions.]
check out these ever-evolving with pokemon x and y links:
– official site, which includes wallpapers
– as usual bulbapedia is the go-to site for everything you could ever want to know about the games and the series
– a couple of wallpapers at nintendolife.com along with some some entertaining impressions from their staff
– another collection of entertaining moments from the game, courtesy of nowgamer.com
– someone came up with this annoying meme for wonder trading. a funny twist to it is that i got a wonder trade who named a froakie “zubat”. awesome.