Pokemon X and Y are the latest and greatest games in the Pokemon franchise, finally bringing the series to the 3DS family of handhelds. There are new locations, new baddies, and, of course, new Pokemon to add to your Pokedex. There’s even a new Pokemon type, as well as a new battle mechanic known as Mega Evolution. New friends, new foes, new places, and new Pokemon – what more could a Pokefan ask for?
Developer: Game Freak
Genre: It’s Pokemon…
IN SPACE! IN 3D!
Release Date: October 12, 2013
ESRB Rating: Everyone
There is so much to love about the latest games in the Pokemon series. First of all, you now start off with a group of friends, instead of one friend and one rival. You and your four friends travel around the beautiful Kalos region, battling one another, fighting against Team Flare together, and filling up your Pokedexes. The sense of being on a team brings a wonderful new level of friendship and camaraderie to the game, a feeling players already understand from previous games in the series.
The starter Pokemon are all pretty adorable – there’s Chespin, the Grass type; Fennekin, the Fire type; and Froakie, the Water type. But there’s another surprise in store for you – later in the game, you get to pick another starter Pokemon to join your team. You get to choose from the Pokemon Red and Blue starters – either Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. These are a powerful addition to both your party and your Pokedex, opening you up to more Mega Evolutions later in the game.
One of the first new things you’ll notice, other than the 3D graphics, is how the Experience Share works. In previous games, Experience Share allowed you to share experience with just one Pokemon in your party; now, all of your party gains experience when you battle. This is a huge change, giving you a chance to focus more on the story and filling up your Pokedex as opposed to spending your time grinding to level up your Pokemon.
Also apparent right off the bat is the ability to physically ride Pokemon without using an HM or TM. (For the uninitiated: HMs [Hidden Machines] and TMs [Technical Machines] are items that can teach your Pokemon special moves.) There are certain Pokemon who show up when you are walking around, and if you walk up to them and interact with them, you can ride them around. There’s a Rhyhorn in your front yard, and you can ride that for some quick practice, but later in the game, you can ride various Pokemon around, even jumping over fences. It’s sweet, charming, and fits perfectly with everything Pokemon games stand for.
The new Pokemon type, Fairy, is strong against Dragon types, which marks the first time that Dragon-type Pokemon have a weakness to anything other than another Dragon type (which used to make some fights very tricky). But the new Fairy type can be very effective (I would even say super effective) against Dragon type, despite the fact that many Fairy type Pokemon are pretty silly looking. (The goofy key ring Pokemon, Klefki, is one that was especially notorious among my group of friends.) The addition of Fairy type Pokemon also marks the first time a new type has been introduced since Pokemon Gold and Silver back in 1999.
Mega Evolutions are a new and fun addition to the game, bringing another level of excitement to battles. There are specific rocks that can be found throughout the game, and these rocks, when held by a Pokemon, allow you to choose the Mega Evolution option in battle. Their rocks interact with a specific item you get in the game, and once that interaction happens, well… your Pokemon not only undergoes a physical change, but also becomes stronger in both offense and defense. I personally love some of the Mega Evolutions, especially Mega Blaziken and Mega Abomasnow.
While the Mega Evolutions may not change much, they change just enough in battle to make things more interesting. It’s not necessarily an automatic win for you if you Mega Evolve – your Pokemon are still weak against super effective moves – but it simply brings another level where one was not previously imagined. Being able to temporarily evolve your Pokemon into a mega badass, if even just during battles, is different and exciting.
And, of course, Pokemon X/Y has some new additions that can be considered mini-games in and of themselves. Early on in the game, you are given access to a plot of land in which you can plant berries. At first, it’s fun to just plant berries, water them, and reap your harvest later on. But later, as you pick up more and more types of berries, you can plant certain ones next to others, creating mutations – and even more types of berries. Each berry has a certain amount of time it needs to grow, and some need to be watered more often than others. I have spent countless hours in my berry field, planting and picking, watering and checking for Bug-type Pokemon, battling them to make sure they don’t ruin my crop. It’s one of the most addictive mini-games I’ve ever played in a game – and it basically did nothing more than turn Pokemon temporarily into an Animal Crossing game.
Another type of mini-game within the game is that of fashion. You can buy different clothes, hats, bags, and shoes through the game. Each city has its own type of fashion, and the clothing changes in the stores as well. But the real challenge is in Lumiose City, the Paris of the Kalos region. You have to do a certain number of things within the city (I won’t spoil it here) before you can get into the shop. You can try, but you’ll be pushed out and basically told you are too much of a loser to shop there. It’s high school all over again!
There’s so much more that is new in the game, like Horde Encounters (in which you face a group of low-level Pokemon all at the same time) and Sky Battles (in which only your Flying Pokemon can fight against another trainer’s Flying Pokemon). There are actual minigames, like Pokemon-Amie where you can play with your Pokemon like they are precious pets, and is a place certain Pokemon can evolve. There’s also Super Training, which lets you build the stats of your Pokemon, something that was never available in any previous games in the series.
Speaking of stat training, there’s also something interesting that happens once you beat the game…
Once you’ve started playing again after the credits roll, you have access to something called the Friend Safari. In the Friend Safari, each person on your Friend’s List has their own safari, which has three of a specific type of Pokemon. The Pokemon that you catch here have higher stats, making them ideal for people who focus on breeding (and now training) their Pokemon to have specific stats. If you haven’t beaten the game, then your safari will show up in your friend’s game with only two Pokemon in it, until you beat the game.
Pokemon X and Y are wonderful additions to not just the Pokemon franchise but also to the 3DS library. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you don’t own a 3DS, Pokemon X and Y are the reason you should buy one. While there have been great games on the system, this is by far the best game yet, and will bring you countless hours of fun – alone and with your friends.
Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Pokemon X/Y was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.