The release of Pokemon X and Y marked the arrival of the 6th generation. Apart from the introduction of a variety of new Pokemon, which takes the total number to well above 700, this latest generation of Pokemon games introduces many new features and has taken full advantage of the Nintendo 3DS’s capabilities with its enhanced new 3D graphics.
Set in the Kalos region, inspired by the geography of France, the player sets out on yet another journey across the region, collecting badges, taking on a villainous secret organization and challenging the Pokemon league. The protagonist is a young trainer from Vaniville Town who sets out on a journey along with his friends Shauna, Calem/Serena, Tierno and Trevor. At the beginning of the game, you get to choose your starter between Froakie, Chespin or Fennekin from one of your friends and when you meet the region’s leading professor, Professor Sycamore in Lumiose City you get to choose a second starter between Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander.
Along the journey you run into a fashion-conscious villainous group, Team Flare, whose motives are to wipe out civilization to preserve the planet’s beauty while making money along the way. They seek out the secrets of Mega Evolution and the legendary Pokemon Xerneas/Yveltal in order to power up a weapon they intend to use. Just as in the previous generation, there seems to be another mysterious trainer AZ who is somehow involved in their plans.
Now the storyline is not what impressed me the most in this generation, having thoroughly enjoyed all the innovation brought into the previous generation’s storyline. I still enjoyed it nevertheless and appreciate how creative the story was.
Gameplay and Improvements
The most obvious improvement brought to this generation would be the gorgeous new 3D world, maximizing the Nintendo 3DS’s capabilities. The grid-based movement is retained but improved where the player can also now move not just horizontally and vertically, but also diagonally (About time isn’t it?). Battling looks fantastic now with improved animations and the Pokemon appearing in 3D.
The most anticipated improvements would probably be the introduction of the new Fairy-type and Mega Evolution. The new type introduction also comes with an update to the current type chart, but Fairy type definitely makes things interesting as it is super effective against the Dragon-type, which is deemed as one of the most powerful types in the game, and in return does not take any damage from Dragon-type moves. Mega Evolution is a new mechanic which plays a big part in the storyline of the game as you and your friends set out to discover this new mysterious type of evolution. Through holding a Mega Stone, certain fully evolved Pokemon are able to evolve into a more powerful form during a battle, often with a new ability and sometimes new types. Mega Evolution definitely adds more depth and makes competitive battling more interesting as you are limited to only one Mega Evolution in one battle.
With respect to the general gameplay, it seems that Nintendo has responded to the increasing crowd of competitive Pokemon Video Game Competition (VGC) players. Something that used to be not an easy task for every player to do is EV (Effort value) training their Pokemon for competition level play, and determining the IV (Individual value) of their Pokemon. Pokemon X and Y have introduced a new training mini-game called Super Training, where you play mini-games to increase your Pokemon’s certain stat. There is also a chart where you can keep track of your Pokemon’s progress. Apart from that, through the newly introduced horde battles, where you encounter five of the same Pokemon at once in the wild, it makes EV training much faster as you gain effort values from five Pokemons at once. With respect to Pokemon’s individual values, once you have beaten the game there is a man in the Kiloude City Pokemon Center that tells you the best and worst individual values of your Pokemon.
This game also introduces trainer customization. At the start of the game you are able to pick your trainer’s skin-tone and hair colour and as you advance you are able to purchase new clothes, accessories and change the appearance of your trainer. Following a trend started in the fifth generation, Pokemon Black and White, HMs are again not required for the main story except for getting through the Victory Road right before the Elite Four. Now this may receive mixed opinions as it makes it much easier to get through the game, however old-school Pokemon players may say this makes it a little too easy.
Similar to previous games, there are also differences between Pokemon X and Pokemon Y which are mainly the two different legendary Pokemon (Xerneas for X, Yveltal for Y) and a few version-exclusive Pokemon that appear throughout the game. Another interesting difference to note is there are two Mega Evolutions for Charizard, Mega Charizard X and Mega Charizard Y. What makes it different is that you will receive different Mega Stones depending on which game you are playing.
There is still a wide array of new mechanics introduced in Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, such as Sky Battles, gaining experience when catching Pokemon, riding Pokemon, rollerblades and the Player Search System which can detect people playing Pokemon X or Pokemon Y nearby or when you are connected to the internet. There are also plenty of side-activities to do once you have beaten the Elite Four to keep you playing the game for a very long time.
Previously, setting up trades and battles used to be a hassle as you needed the Pokemon to be in your party and then head over to the Pokemon Center. This has all been integrated nicely in Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, where you can trade and battle from anywhere at all, and you are able to select Pokemon from inside the PC, which saves a lot of time and is very convenient.
In my opinion all the new features and mechanics brought in has done its part in keeping the franchise interesting and to keep Pokemon fans happy. One minor issue I found with the game however is how easy it became to train your Pokemon now that the Exp Share has been updated to share experience to all Pokemon in the party. I found my Pokemon levelling up way above the average of other trainers and gym leaders in the game, however this is a problem that can easily be solved by turning off the Exp Share too make it slightly more balanced. Game Freak has justified this by mentioning that it is easier for newly caught Pokemon to level up so it’s balanced with the other Pokemon in the party.
Shortly after the release of the games, there was a glitch where players that saved the game in the streets of Lumiose City had their games crash and save file corrupted. However an update that is downloadable from the Nintendo eShop fixed this glitch. So if you have just purchased your copy of Pokemon X or Pokemon Y, make sure that it is at least version 1.1.
There is definitely plenty in store for both competitive gamers and casual gamers alike and I believe Nintendo has done a fantastic job in updating and reinventing these Pokemon games. In a nutshell, the huge improvement in the graphics, introduction of new battle mechanics in the form of Mega Evolution and many new updated features definitely does the game justice and is able to draw in both old-school Pokemon players and newer fans alike. Nintendo has definitely shown that it has been listening to its fans, especially the VGC crowd, with some of the updates in the battle system and has addressed problems in the game swiftly with updates. With an immense Pokemon world to explore and so many new features, it’s easy to get hooked to these games for a very long time.