After what many would consider an incredibly long wait, the first pair of Pocket Monster titles have hit the Nintendo 3DS. Aptly titled Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, the names themselves immediately make apparent the change that awaits longtime fans within the new games. With new 3D battles, the addition of a Fairy-type and the implementation of Mega Evolutions, these are easily the biggest and the best Pokemon games to-date, and are unquestionably a must-have for anyone with a 3DS.
Starting off the adventure in the Kalos region (based on France) players are quickly thrown into the action and find themselves choosing their new starter monster almost immediately. The introduction is completed in a quick and informative manner, something that will cater to those familiar with the series and, more importantly, new trainers starting their first ever journey.
For the most part, the story and gameplay of Pokemon X and Y fall into a very recognizable territory, with Team Flare acting as a group of morally flawed antagonists this time around, but Game Freak has tweaked the traditional formula to cater to fans hoping for something fresh from a core Pokemon game.
3D battles play out in a more traditional manner, with the camera itself remaining firmly behind the Pokemon and only becoming dynamic when commands aren’t issued by players for a set amount of time. That said, the movements and mannerisms of the monsters on-screen help to immerse fans in the games and give a more authentic look than sprites ever provided.
The battles, as well as a handful of other segments, are also the only portions of Pokemon X and Y that can be viewed in glasses-less 3D on the Nintendo 3DS, leaving players to wander about the entire Kalos region in 2D. Enabling 3D during battles noticeably slows the frame rate of the games themselves, which makes it apparent that both versions are best experienced with the feature turned off. It’s odd that the feature has more or less been shelved for the key Nintendo release, but it doesn’t take away from the gameplay.
Despite lacking full use of one of the portable’s biggest features, Game Freak has deepened the core gameplay by adding two major features that’ll dramatically affect the way the game is played. One of these major additions is the implementation of a new Fairy type, marking the first time since Pokemon Gold and Silver that a new element has debuted in the series. This new type changes the way that players will battle, and uproots a lot of strategies that longtime fans have come to rely on in past iterations.
Mega Evolution is the second major battle-related addition to Pokemon X and Y, and it’ll alter the way players select their teams. While only a handful of pre-existing monsters can gain ‘Mega’ forms (no Kalos natives are capable of evolving past their newly established states), some will actually alter their types and others gain substantially more power. Game Freak has been careful when it comes to balancing this new feature by only allowing one monster to reach its super-powered form per battle. This means that trainers won’t ever be pit against an entire team of overpowered Megas, and those playing won’t be able to rely on a team consisting of monsters that have the ability to take on their temporary forms.
Training has also been changed (outside of the ability to gain EXP by capturing Pokemon) and this comes courtesy of a new mode called ‘Super Training’ – a method of raising stats while playing several games with captured creatures, and it’s done in a rather easy fashion. Super Training makes preparing monsters and creating stronger teams a lot easier, but it could affect the way tournament players raise their teams. It’s too soon to tell if it’ll change the way competitions, both online and off, will play out as a result, but it has the potential to disrupt other methods of stat raising — with emphasis on EV training.
The deeper battle mechanics have been tweaked, but a few welcomed cosmetic features have also been added as well. One such option is the ability to customize the looks of your trainer — skin tone, hair, and clothes come down to personal choice this time around giving a much needed sense of ownership over the character.
Establishing a unique character has never been as important as it is in X and Y either, because the game is deeply rooted in an online community called the Public Search System. Significantly revamped from its debut in Pokemon Black and White, the PSS is the easiest way to fire up and online battle or initiate a global trade. Always being connected to the Internet increases the main appeal of any Pocket Monster title — that appeal being the ability to battle and collect monsters — and makes the games feel more and more like the MMO that everyone has longed for.
Last but not least, ‘Pokemon Amie’ makes its debut in the pair of new games. For the first time ever, trainers can interact with their beloved monsters by petting them and feeding them. This builds a friendship with the creature, and helps creatures warm up to their trainers. Interactions within Pokemon Amie can also help in battle in a myriad of way, which makes this adorable mode worth checking out.
Pokemon X and Y are the 3D Pokemon games that fans have been waiting all of these years for. An overly predictable plot and a hit and miss 3D feature are but a few blemishes on what’s otherwise an impeccable set of games. By allowing players to incorporate one of the three original starter Pokemon into their teams right near the beginning, X and Y instil a sense of nostalgia while still adding an obscene number of new features. Newcomers, veterans, and those that haven’t touched a Pokemon game in years should catch these games on the Nintendo 3DS or 2DS.
Pokemon X and Pokemon Y are now available worldwide, exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.
Follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.