Archived Story

Joystick: Gotta catch the new ‘Pokemon X and Y’

Published 2:51pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Pokemon X and Y”


Rated E: Nintendo 3DS

Genre: RPG

—The latest “Pokemon” has decreased difficulty but increased playability

—New features don’t detract from the game’s infectious design

—3D world is a glorious addition to a familiar format.

The new Pokemon might be the biggest-selling Pokemon yet. What’s more, “Pokemon X and Y” feel revolutionary for a long-running, somewhat stale series that will likely bring together new and old players.

By now, we all know the basic “Pokemon” plot: A young boy or girl, desiring to be the very best, like no one ever was, sets out on real test to catch and train many Pokemon while defeating powerful trainers to become a Pokemon champion.

All of the Pokemon games essentially play the same as well. Your Pokemon get four moves in battle, and by evolving and learn more moves, your Pokemon can eventually become unstoppable powerhouses of destruction.

Pokemon developer Game Freak has smartly kept gameplay the same over the past 15 years+ years, though they’ve added small, subtle tweaks and sidegames in an attempt to garner more interest. I’ve always found some of the more bizarre sidequests to be a little too daunting. After all, these games practically print money! Why take the focus off your training by holding Pokemon fashion contests or subterranean digging sprees?

What’s more, the game has always been deceptively deep. There are tales of players who spent hundreds of hours catching, fighting and breeding thousands of Pokemon to create the ultimate fighter by focusing on boosting one particular stat.

With “Pokemon X and Y,” the developers have simultaneously added cheap sidequests that will attract a lot of players while making the endgame training easier, which is a welcome and much-needed change. Instead doing Extra Value training, players can do Super Training by boosting their Pokemon’s base stats through minigames and bonding exercises.

Of course, the average player is going to be enthralled with the 3D environment, a first for Pokemon’s generally 2D game design. It allows the French-inspired towns and country to shine, and it’s probably the most gorgeous use of the Nintendo 3DS’s graphics to date.

There are other new additions, such as Sky Battles (guess where trainers fight in those?), unprecedented multiplayer options, bonus experience for catching Pokemon and the addition of a new Fairy type, the first new Pokemon class in about 14 years.

My favorite feature thus far is Mega Evolutions: special in-battle transformations to your Pokemon which make them stronger and even more awesome-looking. New players may not appreciate a Charizard who turns blue and becomes a Fire/Dragon type Pokemon, but I, an adult, reacted with child-like delight when I first saw this change.

All of this means “Pokemon X and Y” is the perfect blend of interesting additions for veteran players combined with easier gameplay for new gamers.

It’s an excellent game that has already sold more than 4 million copies in the first two days of its release. It’s a success, and it’s a welcome sea-change for the Pokemon universe.

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