Pokémon X & Y (Available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: Nintendo / The Pokémon Company
Developer: Game Freak
Release Date: October 12th, 2013
Well there we have it, after 15 years of waiting, a 3D Pokémon adventure is finally upon us. I was 13 years old when I started playing this franchise and like many, I became addicted. I had to buy all the games that came out, even minor upgraded version during the same generation. I was a die-hard fan of the show (which to its credit, remains one of the very best licensed properties ever) and even collected the trading cards. I’m now way into my twenties, dangerously close to the big 30, and while the craziness has stopped, I’m still very much the same kid when it comes to the games. I invested over 200 hours into Black and White and their respective sequels. What always drags me back to these games are the addictive multiplayer features. Trading Pokémon and battling other trainers simply cannot be matched elsewhere. If you’ve read my review of Black & White 2, you’d know that I was pretty disappointed by the online features. It seemed like a missed opportunity when you factor in the popularity of the series and the huge e-sport community. Well ladies and gentleman, to my pleasant surprise, Nintendo (well Game Freak rather) of all people have nailed it this time. With the exception of one minor detail, expect to get lost in the e-sport because all of the tools you need to have fun online are included in Pokémon X & Y.
Online gaming in Pokémon is no longer a headache. For starters, the servers have been fixed. It’s now easier than ever to connect to someone and you don’t need to rely on luck or wait long periods of times before the connection happens. Check out this video I made of how ridiculous the system was in Black & White.
+ Wonder Trade is genius! Whoever thought of that needs a raise. It’s extremely simple, choose a Pokémon and in seconds it will be traded to someone anywhere in the world. In exchange, you’ll get a random Pokémon. Sure, often you’ll get a crappy Pidgey in return, but every now and then you’ll get a true gem. Some of my highlights include a few Fennekins, a Charmander, an Abra and tons of Eevees. Since you never know what you’re gonna get in return, it’s easy to get lost in this mode for hours.
+ The visuals are great. I’ve always wanted to play around in a 3D Pokémon world and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Battles now look more exciting than ever before, and the moves feel alive. Brilliant.
+ For the first time since Generation II, a new type is introduced, the fairy. Be sure to include a good one in your party as it completely demolishes Dark, Fighting and Dragon types which are usually pretty common online. They’ve also revamped the type chart and added some small changes here and there. For example, electric Pokémon can no longer be paralyzed. Little nooks like this are always appreciated and pros will surely come up with new strategies in a heartbeat.
+ You now gain experience points when capturing Pokémon. Also, the new exp share item makes everyone in your party gain experience points instead of just the Pokémon holding it like in previous games. This means that raising an entire party of Pokémon is easier than ever.
+ Huge diversity of creatures. It’s not uncommon to face 12 or more new Pokémon to capture and raise in a single area, because the game has over 700 creatures. As such they don’t waste much time introducing them, which is great.
+ Mega evolution is a fantastic new twist. It’s now possible to evolve certain monsters once they’ve reached their previous evolution cap. You need an item specific to the Pokémon and you can only trigger one mega evolution per battle so it balances things out. The Pokémon only stays in its mega evolution form during the battle then reverts back to its previous state. There are only a few out of the entire library that can do this, which is smart and keeps the mystery going. You never know just who can mega evolve until you find a stone or see a trainer do so in battle.
+ Worldwide release was ambitious and it paid off. Usually, Japan gets the game a few months ahead of everyone else and because of this, information is already out and you just can’t help but know a lot about the game before its release. Pokémon X & Y feels completely fresh since walkthroughs and strategy guides are only just coming out now. The entire game feels mysterious and is yours to discover.
+ There’s a cave somewhere that plays out just like a classic dungeon crawler game with a first person view. Really adored that segment and it felt like a nice throwback.
+ Fast paced single player campaign means you can get straight to the point and enjoy the game. Besides one useless tutorial on how to catch a Pokémon (when it was shown to me, I had already captured six), the rest of the adventure doesn’t hold your hand and just let’s you play.
+ Super Training makes EV training a lot more simple. It’s still something that will probably end up causing more harm than good to casual players as they won’t really understand the system, but for hardcore players who spend hours and hours raising the perfect Chandelure, this system will save them a lot of time.
+ Buy the game before January and you can receive a brand new Torchic via mystery gift. The generation III starter is a beast and a worthwhile addition to your team. Nintendo usually gives out a new rare Pokémon every three months so stay tuned.
+ Global link lets you register your account online and buy up some useful items at a discount that you can then transfer to your game. Very nice stuff.
+/- Stereoscopic 3D is limited to battles only. It looks awesome but makes you wonder why the rest of the game doesn’t support it. Maybe the 2DS had a say in this. Nintendo already confirmed that some 3D puzzles were removed from the upcoming A Link Between Worlds so the situation is a bit scary for 3DS owners.
+/- It would have been nice to be able to send text messages with the stylus to friends on the lower screen. It would make it much easier to set up a battle or a trade. Chatting is nice, but you can’t do anything else while using that feature. The Animal Crossing: New Leaf system would have been perfect here.
+/- Story takes some time to kick in. Team Flare doesn’t really make an appearance until the ten hour mark and besides a few missions, they don’t take center role. Pokémon has always been aimed at kids and I’m fine with that as I was one when I started playing the franchise after-all, however I sure remember the originals being a lot more epic than this one.
– Difficulty took a huge hit. Easiest single player Pokémon game by far. This is a step back from Black & White 2 which were the first to introduce a hard mode to the series. The challenge is taken down because of three reasons. The first being the new exp share, which means your Pokémon level up faster. This should have been countered by upping the levels of the A.I. Pokémon as well. Second, trainers always raise a team composed of one type, which is the stupidest strategy possible. I was hoping Game Freak would change this standard and mix things up by removing type-based gyms or at worst, remove this for the elite 4. Thirdly and most important of all, the only trainer encountered with a full party of six Pokémon in the entire 30 hour adventure is the champion, your very last foe. Most gym leaders have a maximum of three Pokémon. Even the elite 4 themselves don’t have more than four monsters in their party. How is this supposed to be challenging when you come in there with a full party of six? I’m really hoping the next entries ups the difficulty by a mile, or at least offer a Hard mode from the get go.
– Only 69 new Pokémon in X & Y, the lowest amount of any new entry ever. This means that there are fewer incentives to raise new creatures.
– A few extremely boring quests. One in particular requires you to find the Pokéflute to wake up Snorlax. Doing so takes around 30 minutes. During that time, there is not one single battle to be had or one Pokémon to catch. All you do is explore a standard looking castle and talk about non-Pokémon related stuff with other boring characters. It ends with fireworks to force some “magic” moment between you and a friend, even though you couldn’t care less about her. A series of post-game content makes you join a detective agency and “solve” various crimes. Again, the game tries to force simple educational morals on you that even young kids will find boring. Where is all this coming from?
Since I’m very passionate about this series, it’s always easy for me to point out the flaws. I did so with my Black & White 2 review, and to my surprise, the online system was revamped. This makes X & Y a must buy game for anyone out there. Still, I would love to see more improvements made to the next entry like I talked about above.
Don’t be fooled, this is one of the best 3DS games you’ll ever play. With a fantastic online system, this game will stay into your 3DS for a long time to come. Even if you’re not into competitive matches, the new visual style warrants a look. All the new changes like the addition of the fairy type, the mega evolutions and wonder trade creates a fantastic product. Pokémon X & Y comes with my highest recommendation. Buy it today.
Final Score: 9.6/10