Videogame Reviews Pokemon XY

Published on October 18th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley

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Pokémon X/Y Impressions of X

The first ever fully 3D Pokémon game has finally arrived and it only took 17 years!

From humbler beginnings of the Gameboy, Pokémon Red & Green were a cultural boom for children throughout the 90’s, creating a craze spanning collectible trading cards and even condoms. The Pokémon series has had its ups and downs, with the Color games noted as a high point and Gameboy Advance generation meeting negative fan reaction.

Despite the differences in between games, it is a rather traditional series and hardly changes; the core mechanics are the same, the games main series continue to release on the handheld consoles and the Pokémon count always increases with each generation.

However the newest instalment has been particularly hyped, not only does it now feature beautiful cel-shaded 3D polygonal graphics, but the playable character (Pokémon Trainer) is now fairly customisable from the start. Other features include being able to choose from one of the original three starter Pokémon from Red/Green, Mega-evolutions and the new Pokémon elemental type: Fairy.

For me this is the first Pokémon game I have started since the horrendous GBA game Sapphire, which I thankfully have little memory of, and the remake GBA game Fire Red. I have never played any that have had online functionality and there are approximately 300 more Pokémon since I last played. Splendid.

For those that are not aware of Pokémon, it’s a turn-based RPG which uses monsters that you find as your party members, but you have to switch them out. It’s really simple and has very stripped down Japanese-style RPG mechanics, but retains the old Dragon Quest motto of “easy to learn, hard to master”. Features like status ailments, buffing stats, levelling and exploration are prevalent but the mojaority of the time is spent managing and fighting enemies. The series is predominantly aimed at children but the challenge and fun attracts adults too. The main selling point of the game is to catch all of the Pokémon available and also to progress and beat the in-game Pokémon Trainers until you are the best.

Chespin - My starter. He's an ugly boy.

Chespin – My starter. He’s an ugly boy.

The initial start-up of the game is much shorter than any I have previously played, Professor chatting is cut short and you are instantly able to get your Pokémon and move out to exploring in less than 5 minutes. The abundance of Pokémon available (all at low levels) in the first piece of grass is extraordinary, as well as the ease in which you can catch them; you just throw the ball, there’s no need to even lower their health or inflict status ailments!

Due to the large number of available Pokémon however, if you wish to collect them or simply even level up and round off your party, then you are in for a lot of time-disposal. It takes a while to get to the next areas, with lots of trainers, Pokémon to catch, items to find and one of the highest encounter rates I have seen since Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast. The design of the map and the style of the town’s are different too, the routes are shorter but with more content and there are now lots of different towns, villages and cities of much more varied size and shops than before.

There are lots of things to do outside of the main quest of catching and progressing, there are plenty of mini-games to help customise levelling such as Pokémon Amie, where you can creepily stroke your Pokémon and play mini-games with them or there is the Super Levelling which is basically even more mini-games to make your Pokémon specialise in a certain area. There are also plenty of in-town stuff, such as purchasing accessories, going to hairdressers and making PR videos to personalise your character, or even your party, like going to a dog grooming parlour for Furflous.

My character on Pokémon X has blonde hair, because $3000 is just too much for a dye job.

My character on Pokémon X has blonde hair, because $3000 is just too much for a dye job.

The game mechanics have always been solid, but the extras haven’t, this game has proven that it can add to the core game without becoming too distracting, even the ludicrous extensive online stuff doesn’t even need to be touched to get on with the game. The functionality of online trading and battling has vastly improved and is very simple and quick to get going. For the most part the management is easier in this game, but still there were a few issues with some of the tools being permanently equipped and also the HM permanence is made largely redundant and time-consuming now that TMs are unlimited use.

It feels like it’s going to be a long one, so far I am 15 hours in and only have one badge, there’s plenty to do at least and I’m not at all bored, the game isn’t lengthened by padding or long treks, it’s filled with content, exploration and things to do. Getting around doesn’t take long as in one of the first towns you are handed some rollerblades, which quickly speed up moving along routes.

As I have only just really started this adventure these are just some thoughts, so far Pokémon appears to be outselling GTA V and I’m already enjoying it a lot more. The series has come a long way but there are certainly improvements that ought to be made if they ever want to knock Dragon Quest of its perch in the east. Final thought: Pikachu’s “Pika!”. It’s not cute, please stop.

 

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