Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon X and Y
It's been years since I last played a Pokemon game. The last one I play was Pokemon Diamond and I felt the game was lacking in inspiration in comparison to the superior Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire. So playing Pokemon Y was on an almost clean palette... and it was a great idea! So let's grab our Pokeballs, clean our badge case and explore the Kalos region.

Veterans know the basic story off by heart. You wanna be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them is your real test, to train them is your cause. You will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Each Pokemon to understand, the power that's inside! Pokemon, gotta catch 'em all! Yes I know that's the first verse of the classic Pokemon anime theme... I'm old, sue me!

Anyway the story proper. You just moved to Vaniville Town of the Kalos region(Poke France!) and you have a famous mum who races on a Ryhorn. No sooner you've moved in, you're asked to join 4 other kids on a quest to explore Kalos and fill up a Pokedex and become a Pokemon trainer. Along the way you collect gym badge and run into Kalos region's evil organization know as Team Flare, who want to kill every living thing on the planet except for a selected few(insert Nazi Germany reference here). Yeah the story resembles previous games in the series with a couple of changes, like a dark and tragic legend of the region.

Gameplay is no different... or at least not different enough to notice. Sure you get the occasional horde of 5 wild Pokemon to battle and there's the Mega Evolutions but it's essentially the same turn based combat running on a rock, paper, scissors style deep combat system we know and love. Simple to learn, hard to master and someone is always better then you. I suppose the biggest difference is the ability to move in  8 directions and use roller skates.

The visuals this time around are in 3D! Yeah, we finally get a full fledged 3D Pokemon game... and the selling feature of the 3DS is restricted in the game to Pokemon battles and certain area... because kids and other stupid reasons. That doesn't matter anyway since the 3D effect is crap in the game. On the plus side, after 18 years(wow, has it really been that many years?) we can finally BE the trainer and customise them with various clothing, colour contact lenses and hairstyle options. Probably the best thing in the game is crafting the perfect look for your trainer that reflects you... or just looks good.

The Pokedex has been separated into regions of Kalos. They cover 450 out of the 718 total in the national Pokedex. To fill that Pokedex you'll need to do a lot of trading with people or if you have the older games and the Black and White DS games, you can transfer them to the new service called Pokebank(not available until 2014) and you got to pay for the service too. Personally I just say complete the Kalos Pokedex first, then transfer the Pokemon mid 2014... or leech the other Pokemon from people who choose to use the Pokebank. I'd choose leeching but that's me.

EV(event value) training has now been made easy with the new Super Training option. I never knew about EV Training until a week before Pokemon X and Y launched. In shorts, it helps boost the growth of stats to make Pokemon stronger. People will EV train for different stats to either strengthen it's dominant stats or make up for it's short comings. The Super Training is a shooting mini game where you use the touchscreen to shoot soccer balls(real footballs!) into goals that appear on a Pokemon shaped balloon. Playing these boost the associated stat and will earn you punching bags that also assist in the training as well. Super training has it's benefits, but unless you plan on battling online or at competitions... also don't battle with kids adults unless your Pokemon are not EV trained!

Along with Super Training, there's Pokemon-aime. It's essentially Nintendogs for Pokemon. There are benefits to playing this mode that affect battle so it's worth doing if you want a small advantage in battle. These benefits are Pokemon being able to cure themselves of status ailments, confusion and sleep have a shorter duration, dodge more frequently and score critical hits more frequently too. I personally don't use it very often because I'm not too fussed by it but if you want to play competitively, it's worth considering.

The major draw of any Pokemon game is the catching and raising of Pokemon. If you decide to play like Ash Ketchum(I did) and use region exclusive Pokemon... you only have 69 new Pokemon to work with and only about 50 you can use without trades. I played like this but still had a diverse enough team to beat the Pokemon League first go with only 1 Pokemon fainting... poor Aegislash, got nuked by the Mega Gardevoir the Champion used. If you however play like a normal person, there are plenty of old Pokemon here to satisfy you. Lots of returning favourites are here and you can even download a Torchic from the Mystery Gift via the internet(available until January 15 2014).

The biggest new selling point is the Mega Evolution. Mega Evolution is... we... I'll let this sentence say it all. Charizard digivolve to... Mega Charizard! Yeah, Mega Evolution is essentially digivolution straight out of Digimon. You can temporarily mega evolve certain Pokemon with a corresponding stone once per battle into a Mega form with boosted stats or in some cases, new abilities and types. Mega Evolution can change the tide of battle, but don't really matter much against a diverse enough team.

These games have online features up the wazoo! So much can be done online that it's crazy! Online trading, battles, blind trades just to get started. There are O Powers that can boost a variety of things and you can use them on yourself or share with people online. You can sync you game to your PGL(Pokemon Global Link) if you have one. To be honest, a lot of the online features will probably not be used, especially since you won't know what they do. If you know and can use all the online features, then have at it. I'll stick to trades and online battles.

Man this seems to be getting long. Pokemon games have so much in them to talk about. Well Pokemon X and Y are very similar to the previous games. Veterans will enjoy the few new changes and newcomers can come into it, without being too overwhelmed... but kids will need an adult to help them through. As usual, Pokemon remains a great RPG for young and old. The online features kinda screw people over with slow internet connections(*cough* Australia *cough!*) and people with not no interent connection what so ever. Regardless, anyone can enjoy Pokemon and the new entries are well worth playing, maybe even more now then previous entries. If you feel too old for Pokemon however, there's always Dragon Quest, Mistwalker JRPGs like The Last Story and Lost Odyssey, pre Square-Enix merger Final Fantasy's and well... any JRPG really... especially Chrono Trigger! In my opinion, you're never too old for Pokemon and if you have kids, you should play it with them and share the experience with them like any good parent should.

PS. A patch was released and can be downloaded via the eShop that fixes a save data bugs that corrupts your save data when saving in Lumiose City. Remember to do it as soon as possible and save elsewhere to be on the safe side.

Score 4/5

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