As avid a gamer as I am, it’s probably surprising that Pokemon hasn’t always been on my radar. I mean, Red is one of my earliest and fondest gaming experiences, as almost anyone in my generation can say. I still have my original Red cartridge (we all know Red was better than Blue) and loved my Blastoise. But, aside from playing FireRed and HeartGold years after their release, I hadn’t played a new Pokemon game until Black.
Over the weekend, the first portable 3D Pokemon games came out in X and Y. This batch of games looks to be a real game changer in the Pokemon world. Being that this is the sixth generation of games in a series that started 15 years ago, there isn’t much to discuss on the storyline front since the main formula hasn’t changed that much. There’s a new region, new Pokemon, a new team of bad guys, etc. I’ve only played three hours at the time of writing, but there’s so much to talk about already. *** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
First of all, the game is absolutely beautiful. Everything is sharp. The 3D effect only comes into play during battle, and honestly does make the frame rate skip a bit, but this is the only complaint I have with the game so far. The sound is both new and nostalgic, as alot of the sound effects you remember in generations past have been upgraded/remastered. Moves even look different from Pokemon to Pokemon. Braixen’s Ember comes from it’s staff, while Litleo’s comes from it’s mouth.
Grass is no longer the same everywhere you go, either. The tall grass can be various flower patches, a simple but nice aesthetic change. Routes have their numbers posted on signs when you enter/exit them, like road signs. The new 3D effects and camera give you a much better sense of scope and scale.
A new type has been added into the mix with Fairy. Fairy-type moves are super effective to Fighting/Dragon/Dark and take super effective damage from Poison/Steel. There are a number of new Fairy-type Pokemon, while some have been retro-fitted with the new type (yes, Clefairy included).
One of the most interesting parts of X/Y, and the main theme when you meet the new Professor, is that of Mega Evolution. Certain final-evolution Pokemon can evolve at the start of a battle into their mega form if holding their mega stone (for example, Blastoise needs to be holding Blastoisinite). Some Pokemon even have different versions between X/Y, such as Mewtwo and Charizard.
There have been a lot of improvements to the menus which need mentioning. You can choose a Pokemon and click “restore”, allowing you to use items on that Pokemon. Also, from the item screen if you choose something like a potion or antidote, you don’t get moved to another screen to apply them. All of the important menu functions — Pokemon, items, save, etc. — are touch buttons on the bottom screen. You don’t have to put your right hand back on the buttons that often.
There are so many small tweaks that it’ll be easier to just go with a list:
- You can run right away. No more having to walk for a few cities until you get running shoes.
- Pokemon now receive the full EXP when you catch a wild Pokemon that you would have received for beating it.
- When catching a Pokemon, the Pokeball shakes less with each successive shake to show the Pokemon giving in.
- If you talk to someone who is facing away from you, they’ll turn their heads to talk to you. Also, your character kneels down to talk to children.
- EXP Share is now a key item, not a held item. If turned on, the entire party splits EXP in battle instead of just one chosen Pokemon.
- Trees for cutting are actually large and in the way, not the small bushes you always thought you could just sneak by before.
It’s clear that only after three hours, this is going to be a fun ride. There is so much more to discover, badges to earn, and Pokemon to catch. I can’t wait to start EV training a team for battling after beating the main story. But for now, Kalos awaits!