Pokemon X / Y 3DS Review

6 Generations. How many of you guys have been playing ever since the good old Red/Blue/Green days up until Black 2/White 2? It’s amazing how far we have come since then. Pokémon may have changed so much after all these years but in its core, it’s still the good old Pokémon title we have come to love since young. Has it breathed new life into this franchise or is still stale after 6 generations? Let’s take a look!

Pokémon X/Y is set in the Kalos region which, unlike the first four generations of this franchise, is not set in a fictional version of Japan but in France instead. Essence of the French culture is very apparent all around the world which adds a nice touch to the region. As per the norm in every handheld Pokémon title, you start off in your hometown where you’re given one of three starter Pokémon and a Pokédex and you’re off to defeat 8 gym leaders and challenge the enemy Team Flare on your quest to become the Pokémon Master.

As soon as the game starts, you’ll notice the visual overhaul in this title. The buildings in the overworld pop out more than before, almost akin to being 3D. It is really visually pleasing for a 3DS title, and shows how much Pokémon has changed over the years. The game also has better camera perspectives at certain points to show off the wonderful new environment. Pokémon battles are beginning to look very visually pleasing as well. Pokémon sprites have become more animated ever since Black/White but with X/Y, every Pokémon has their own individual animation! It really feels like we’re getting closer to realistic Pokémon battles like those in Pokémon Stadium titles. Attacks have been given a great visual upgrade as well. One thing to note for the older players that have played the 1st Generation titles, certain attacks has the sound effects from those titles. Look out for Psychic and Hyper Beam in particular!

For the main duration of the main plot, I spent half the time searching the tall grass for Pokémon. There’s just so much Pokémon to catch this time round. In the past, each route would only have 4 Pokémon at most but it has doubled in X/Y. Taking a step into the very first grass patch, I managed to find at least 6 different Pokémon available to catch. The fact that the game has 3 different regional Pokédex to complete is a testament to the variety of Pokémon available in the game to catch. You may have a hard time to decide your Pokémon team just because of that!

For the first time in 4 generations, they have finally added a new Pokémon type: Fairy. This is a very interesting new typing in this generation as it humbles the long overpowered Dragon type. Fairy types are fantastic against Fighting, Dragon and Dark Types, while not so much towards Steel and Poison Types.! I really appreciate a new type as it finally adds a breath of life in the metagame for Pokémon. Certain moves have double typing as well to hit even more types for super-effective damage, even though it’s currently only 2 moves. Such a shame that my favorite 2 types just so happens to be Fighting and Dragon!

Another big change in the Pokémon battles in this generation would be the Mega Evolutions. Certain Pokémon has the ability to evolve one step further! Mega Charizard X gets the Dragon typing while Mega Kanghaskan has its baby to come help and fight. This does bring Pokémon battling to a different level with new evolutions that adds another tier of challenge. They tie in to the game’s plot really well so it doesn’t seems like it was entirely shoe-horned into the title as a gimmick. Look out for all the new Pokémon evolutions.

Two new minigames were touted in this iteration of the Pokémon franchise: Pokémon-amie and Super Training. In Pokémon-amie, you can interact with your Pokémon to increase its Affection with you. You can do all sorts of things like petting them, feeding them and playing games with them. In Super Training, you get to train your Pokémon in many different ways to increase their status by gaining Effort Values. Both of these minigames breaks from the monotony of constantly battling and catching Pokémon constantly.

Pokémon-amie would probably suit the more casual players as increasing the Affection helps your Pokémon resist one hit attacks, lands more critical hits and lets it perform better in battle while Super Training would suit the more hardcore players who play competitively and strive for the Pokémon with the best stats. It does not necessarily mean that either of them won’t try the other game but it’s great that GameFreak is appealing to both ends of the spectrum.

We may not have a Safari Zone in this title but instead, we get the Friend Safari. It is a place in the game where you can catch certain Pokémon based on your Friend’s Friend Code data. Each Friend Code adds a different Pokémon type with 3 pre-determined Pokémon. This is really useful for certain Pokémon that are extremely hard to find in the main game or even Pokémon that you can’t find anywhere else in the game. All the starters you can get are also available in this mode which adds to the great benefit it already gives. The more Friend Codes you have, the better the variety of Pokémon you have access too!

The first thing you’ll notice when you start off the game would be the fact that you can change you character’s looks! For the first time in the franchise, it can be fully customizable. You’re only able to change your skin and hair at the beginning but as you travel along in the game you are able to buy clothes and create a unique avatar for yourself. As your stylishness increases, certain NPCs may comment on how well you look while others may even give discounts on certain items. I heard there’s a store in the game that you can only access if you are really stylish…

While playing through the game, I notice quite a couple of minor features that got my attention. Here’s a short list of them:
  • Your trainer bends down while talking to kids, so they can see on eye-level. Likewise for picking up items from the floor
  • If there is rain or hail in Pokémon battles, your bottom screen has raindrops or ice falling on it
  • Tipping NPCs in the game
  • Enemy trainer look at you as you are approaching them
  • 8-way movement!
  • Your trainer moves around when they’re idle
  • Different sounds when walking on different terrains in game
All these small little features really make the game stand out for me as a neat touch of player interaction.

The main plot will take a good number of hours to clear while catching and leveling up your Pokemon on your way to becoming the Pokémon Master. That’s where the end-game content comes into place. You get access to the afore-mentioned Friend Safari to catch more Pokémon, more Legendary Pokémon, a new location for the region’s Battle Frontier and a side-plot featuring a returning character. After being pampered so much content from the past 3 titles, it’s a little disappointing. It’s a little understandable with this being the first 3DS Pokémon title.

You might stop to wonder one thing: How do I transfer my Pokémon from Gen V? No need to worry. Unlike previous titles where we can simply transfer them over after the endgame we now have the Pokémon Bank system. The Pokémon Bank is coming in December where you can transfer all your Gen V title Pokémon to an online system for only $5 a year. It’s pretty cheap considering you can store 3,000 Pokémon online but the feature would only be available come Christmas 2013. Its great that we can store that much Pokémon but the 2 month wait may turn certain players away. There is no mention what happens to our Pokémon if the subscription runs out. It’s not entirely bad considering we have yet to see how it fares.

One feature which I really find a little of a letdown in this title is the 3D feature itself actually. You could probably play the entire game without ever needing to turn on the 3D switch, mainly because the 3D Pokémon sprites might looks really fancy but it’s nothing so impressive that you’ll keep on the entire playthrough. Only Pokémon battles, cutscenes and certain dungeons use the 3D function. This might have been particular done in part because of the Nintendo 2DS, released on the same day as Pokémon X/Y , which lacks any 3D functions but essentially works the same as any other Nintendo 3DS. It would have been a little better received if the overworld in the game was running on all 3D, which would have made me want to keep the 3D feature on at all times.

While the game has many Pokémon to catch in each route, eventually you’ll realize that majority of the Pokémon available to you are from the previous titles. A recent count showed that this title has less than 70 new Pokémon available to you. While this may not be a concern for most players, it might be a little disappointing to quite a number of players who mainly play this just to catch every Pokémon. The Mega Evolutions may have cut off from the total Pokémon that may have been in the game. Super Effective or Not Effective?

At its core, Pokémon is still about battling other trainers and catching every Pokémon but for GameFreak’s first 3DS Pokémon title, it’s really impressive how they made the good old formula feel more refreshing and exciting than ever before with only really minor shortcomings that GameFreak usually solves in the imminent 3rd title. With all the technological and in-game improvements made with Pokémon X/Y, the foundation for future titles has been laid. GameFreak has a winner in their hands. For all Pokémon fans whether old or young, casual or hardcore, this is one title you don’t want to miss.

By the way, My name is Eshpal, or Ash for short, from Singapore guest blogger here! I'm a gamer and I love games. People might think its boring and timewasting but I feel each and every game is a totally interesting and new experience. I've played on many platforms but mainly on Playstation and Nintendo handhelds. Really enjoy anything from Metal Gear, Dynasty Warriors or Gundam games! Feel free to hit me up if you want a gaming kaki or anything about games in general, I'd be more than happy to! Other than that, I watch some anime, build gunpla and study Japanese in my free time. I'd love to be a Voice Actor, Translator or a Journalist in the future so I'm really trying my best to fulfill one of these three dreams! Anyways, really nice to meet you guys!


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