Pokemon: X & Y — Little monster steps


  • TECH
  • Monday, 21 Oct 2013

Pokemon hasn’t made a concerted effort to step outside of its comfort zone ever since it first released in Japan in 1996 — and for good reason.

It found its hook nearly 20 years ago and has held on firm for better and worse. In this way, changing things in Pokemon presents a certain degree of uncomfortable risk.

Pokemon: X & Y offers no significant changes in direction to the series, but this is the most drastic step the series has ever taken. It looks far different from previous Pokemon games.

REAL WORLD BASED: The Kalos region is based on the actual geographical region of France.
REALISTIC: The Kalos region is based on the actual geographical region of France.

Pokemon are no longer restricted to 2D sprites, and participate in combat as fully modelled creatures. Instead of making a couple of two-dimensional images butt heads, you now see creatures with their own idle animations and combat moves come to life on screen.

It may be a cliche to say they, “come to life,” but the new models make a difference.

The Pokemon now feel more real than they ever have. The polygonal models also allow the camera to move around the combat arena making every battle more engrossing.

The world itself also benefits from the new dimension. This isn’t the first time we’ve walked around in a modelled, non-flat Pokemon world, but this is the first time that the full game has been presented this way.

As a result, the world feels more fluid, consistent and explorable.

Small world

The path through the game and its interconnected cities and towns is more rigid in X & Y, with fewer branches and opportunities to get lost.

Pokemon fans who love exploring dense maze-like regions are going to be disappointed by the lack of opportunities to veer off the beaten path, but it helps the pacing tremendously. It also makes the world more inviting to new players and those who have stepped away for a few years and are interested in returning.

Despite the smartly implemented world constrictions, walking around and tracking down wild Pokemon in the tall grass is still exciting.

Chespin - The new Grass starter Pokemon
Chespin: The new Grass starter Pokemon.

That exciting feeling of coming across a brand-new Pokemon you’ve never seen before, or finally catching that one that has been eluding you still comes through, and is aided by the game’s new look. And watching them evolve into new forms continues to be the ultimate reward for levelling your team.

Many familiar pocket monsters return in X & Y, which is exciting as you get to see them in their new 3D models. Some of the new Pokemon are laughably bad, like Kefki, who is literally a ring of keys.

However, the new Pokemon who are meant to be cute (like Bunnelby) are exactly that, and the cool and ferocious Pokemon like (Tyrantrum) are worth adding to your team. Even the bad ones are fun to discover and show off.

Mega Evolutions are one of X & Y’s most publicised new features and while they are cool, they don’t drastically change combat.

Once you find the appropriate item and attach it to the appropriate Pokemon, mega evolving can be performed during battle, and does not eliminate a turn.

It’s a free move to make your fighter stronger, and seeing the additional evolutions are exciting. The one downside to the Mega Evolutions is the necessity of sitting through their animations each time you use them — which is often.

X or Y

The games are identical in most regards, but there are a few things that separate the two and will influence your purchasing decision.

As is the case with almost every Pokemon release, there is a different legendary Pokemon exclusive to each version.

The other big separation is the types of Mega Evolutions for Charizard and Mewtwo.

Those Pokemon have different Mega Evolutions forms in each game, and it’s up to you to decide which one you find the most aesthetically pleasing.

There are other minor differences between the two, but Nintendo wants to keep those a secret. — McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tiny tweaks

Pokemon X & Y does not break the mold of what we expect when we play a Pokemon game. It goes down the checklist of important Pokemon features, neatly ticking them off one by one.

It still feels like a Pokemon game, but the ease of player control, the updated art direction, 3D graphics and the scaling of the world make everything more inviting, attractive and fun.

It’s a great stepping-on point for new trainers, and a worthwhile continuing adventure for those who know what to expect. — McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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