Review: Pokemon X and Y

By and on

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A new generation of Pokemon has begun and Gamefreak have outdone themselves with the new Pokemon X and Y games, using the Nintendo 3DS hardware to produce stunning 3D visuals and crisp sounds, Pokemon X and Y is their most ambitious game yet.

This is a dual-review between Adrian Cajili and Gabriel Huynh. The final score is an average of the two. Also, warning – this review does contain some spoilers.

Story

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Gabriel Huynh: For those who has played a Pokémon game before knows the general plot: a ten year-old child starts his/her Pokémon adventure aiming to be a Pokémon Master; and along the way ends up getting involved in taking down a villainous plan to either taking over the world. Sadly, this game does not deviate from this predefined formula – making the game very similar to the older games. The additional cast of characters are very forgettable. Most of the player’s friends feel very underdeveloped, as most of them appearing on screen for one minute and disappear the next. The only character that feel somewhat developed was AZ – a mysterious giant looking for something important; even if his appearance was brief.

Adrian Cajili: The story for X and Y didn’t stray too far from previous storylines and followed the same pattern of a young trainer exploring the region and catching new Pokemon to fill the Pokedex. You are still in the process of moving to Vaniville Town and already, the professor and your mother want you to go exploring the new region. Of course, most Pokemon storylines are as simple as this, and with the inclusion of ‘bad guys’ such as Team Flare, it becomes a little more interesting. Out of all Pokemon Villains, Team Flare wasn’t as aggressive and ‘evil’. Their motive to make the world beautiful by destroying all Pokemon, was bizarre and very unusual since they use Pokemon to fight against you. Although the side story with AZ and Floette did interest me, the game lacked a strong story.

Graphics & Gameplay

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Adrian: Being the first Pokemon game made for the 3DS, X and Y’s overworld and battle gameplay is more than amazing. The 3D modeled environments and characters are great, but the Pokemon battles are where its at. Gamefreak not only 3D modelled new Pokemon, but ALL 650 Pokemon from previous Generations, and being able to see pokemon from different views is pretty awesome with Pokemon-Amie and the new Pokedex features. The game uses cell-shading graphics, which was a nice touch, as it made the Pokemon look like sprites, and also having drawings in the iconic style by Ken Sugimori was a great addition.

Gameplay felt a lot quicker than previous games, like making running a standard control and introducing the rollerblades as the new ‘run’ feature. as well as the battle animations. The EXP share key item also sped up the process of leveling up your Pokemon which was a nifty feature, my team was already nearing level 40 by the second Gym, and was always overleveled throughout the game. I was pretty disappointed that X and Y only had 69 new Pokemon, but the addition of old generation Pokemon really concealed that. Introducing the Kanto starters and encountering Gen 1 Pokemon was a very nostalgic experience, and I have to say, It’s great to have a few of of my favourite Pokemon on my team again. GameFreak have also been toying around with the idea of event Pokemon and DLC, so I wouldn’t be surprised if 69 isn’t the final number of new Pokemon.

The most notable new features in the game are Mega evolutions, Pokemon-Amie and Super Training. Very reminiscent of Digimon, the Mega-Evolutions are very awesome, at first, but loses its shine after a few evolutions. The Mega designs are great nevertheless, especially with the change in appearance and abilities, but It gets old after continuously mega-evolving. We still don’t know which other Pokemon can Mega-evolve, and GameFreak have made an interesting decision in making the evolutions temporary rather than permanent.

Pokemon-Amie influences your Pokemon’s performance during battles, where the affection towards your Pokemon can lead your Pokemon to endure huge hits, shrug off status effects and gain an EXP boost. The addition of Super Training as the form of EV training was also interesting, but I personally didn’t take that much interest to it, except farming prizes like evolutionary stones.

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Gabriel: Transitioning from the Nintendo DS to the Nintendo 3DS, Game Freak redesigned most of the core gameplay and upped the graphics of the game. The biggest redesign was the new Pokémon type: Fairy – to counter the dominance of Dragon-type in the current metagame. The new addition added some obscurity and a slight difficult curve due to the unfamiliarity of the new type. Like what universe where a fairy hurt a dragon? Really Nintendo… Moreover, the new typing feel slightly overpowered, as Fairy Pokémon are weak against Poison and Steel Pokémon – which the former is rarely used.

Horde Encounter and Sky Battle are new type of battling including in Pokémon X and Y. Preceding the double wild Pokémon Battles, Horde Encounter pits the player in a one vs. five wild Pokémon battle – which can be tedious and frustrating. Sky Battles are exclusive battles for only Flying and levitating Pokémon. These battles proves to be interesting as it shows how dependent players to one main Pokémon.

The battle system has been changed to be more dynamics with the addition of moving camera angles, and unique Pokémon idle and fainting animations. The shifting camera angles highlights the 3D Pokémon models, improving from the previous rear view and front view battle screens; as well as keeping the battle appear more interesting. Additionally, the game’s AI have improved dramatically, which wild Pokémon and other Trainers will choose to raise their stats before attacking. Combining this with the game’s new Horde Battle can be troublesome.

The overall gameplay felt very easy compared to previous games in the franchise. The player immediately starts with Running Shoes to increase walking speed, and gains Roller Stakes before the first gym – removing the annoying slow moving speed at the early sections of the game. Moreover, the experience design and Game Freak’s re-introduction of the ‘Exp-All’ after the first gym helped made the game felt easy. Players can gain experience from capturing Pokémon, which can be redistributed to all Party Pokémon. Because of this, my party was roughly ten levels higher than the Elite Four.

The region of Kalos was heavily influenced by modern France, which many buildings resembling French architecture. The main centerpiece of Kalos – Prism Tower has a uncanny resemblance to the Eiffel Tower. Traversing the region highlighted the unique design for city, ranging from castles to coastal towns to rural cities.

Music & Sound

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Adrian: There are massive improvements on the game’s music, being able to hear certain instruments and giving each city and area its own atmosphere. From the spookiness of the Lavarre Nature Trail, to the upbeat music in Lumiose City. The game also includes music and sounds from past games, like the Pokemon centre, and battle music, to the sounds of leveling up and using the PC. Based in France, most of the games music is very mellow, the Pokemon Centre music being the most iconic, has changed to a more folk-style theme with notable guitar and accordion sounds being used, and in cities like Coumarine, you can hear instruments like the piano and saxaphone in its theme. They have also updated some Pokemon cries, to make them more audible, rather than just screeching sounds.

Multiplayer

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Adrian: The game’s PSS (Player Search System) feature is a massive improvement in terms of online battling and trading. You can play with your 3DS friends as well as random players from all over the world, being able to battle, trade, chat and support them. The online connectivity is surprisingly great, connecting to players in just a few seconds, and the chat feature came as a shock to me, I never knew the 3DS could actually do that. Wonder Trading brings a lot of hilarity, with people sending over Lickitungs named ‘Miley’ and Jynxs named ‘Nicki Minaj’. Most of the time, you get traded really bad Pokemon, but can also receive a few really decent Pokemon, and if you’re really lucky can get a shiny or legendary Pokemon.

The GTS (Global Trading Station) includes a lot of decent offers, as well as outrageous ones. But through the GTS, was able to get Pokemon from the other versions, as well as the three Kalos and Kanto starters. O-powers are a huge addition to the game, giving players a timed boost, ranging from increased attack/defense power, to increased EXP/money gain during battle. You can also improve the levels of the powers the more you use them, an can be used on other people, as well as yourself. Also, Mr. Bonding is a really creepy character addition.

Bottom Line

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Adrian: The graphics are amazing, and really changes the gameplay and feel. Seeing Pokemon from past generations in 3D is a huge plus from me, and the inclusion of features like Pokemon-Amie and Super Training made me more obsessed with improving my Pokemon team. Although I didn’t get into the main storyline, I still enjoyed the game like any other Pokemon game. I have to appluad Gamefreak for the new visuals and sounds, because that, to me was the highlight of the game. 8.5/10

Gabriel: While the visuals of the game are stunning, it doesn’t make up for the lack of story. After fifteen years of Pokémon, I hoped Game Freak would deliver a decent story; however I was slightly disappointed. All in all, the game felt like all the other Pokémon games with improvements – sticking to the core mechanics that made Pokémon great.  7.5/10

  • Score:

    8.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Adrian: Graphics and 3D Pokemon models are amazing,

  • Gabriel: Updated graphics. Slightly improved AI.
  • The Bad:

    Adrian: Navigating around Lumiose City is a pain.

  • Bottom Line:

    The game’s visuals and gameplay are a huge step up from past Pokemon games, If you don’t mind the simple storyline, you will definitely like the new features and additions. If you’e a new fan to the series, I’d say this game would be a great introduction, especially with the new graphics style leading to a new era of 3D Pokemon Games and possibly some remakes