Review: Pokémon X and Pokémon Y Review (Nintendo 3DS)

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y Review: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 1,732 view 1 like 11 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Oct 14, 2013
I have always enjoyed the Pokémon franchise as a kid, and the moment this game was revealed I was already dead set on purchasing it so that I could enjoy the sense of exploration of a completely new territory.
Oct 14, 2013
  • Release Date (NA): October 12, 2013
  • Publisher: Game Freak
  • Genres: Role-playing game
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
This game was revealed on January 8th via a Nintendo Direct. The series features 69 new Pokémon, and over 700 total. New concepts include Mega Evolutions, Fairy typing, and a more enhanced online social system. The game is also the first of the Pokémon franchise to have fully three dimensional models and steps up from the sprites of previous games.
Brandon Boui

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We made it, everyone. Welcome to the sixth generation of the Pokémon franchise. These are the first of the main series games to be in full 3D, and the result is magnificent. This is going to be the full and story spoiled (hidden, of course) review. I took the entire day yesterday to pump through the main storyline, which took roughly twelve hours, but required several more hours to attain the right stats for the mascot legendary. To put this simply, these two games are the magnum opus of the franchise. Many features have been changed or added to spice up the series. Game Freak has outdone themselves with this excellent addition to the series, and the effort placed into these games outdoes much of the previous generations by a long shot. The use of a fully three dimensional environment creates an enriching and immersive experience never before seen by the main series. The games have many new details and additions, so without further ado, let’s dive into this.

The Story

The story admittedly takes a step backwards from Generation V. While the previous generation attempted to think deeper philosophically with the idea of freeing Pokémon from human “captivity,” the Pokémon X and Y games decide to revert back to the usual theme that has been present in previous generations of world domination. While supporters might argue that these games are geared towards children, it is regrettable that the story takes this turn for the whimsy, despite other features attempting to pull in its older fans, especially with the mini anime special Pokémon Origins.

The story follows the player character, the new resident of the town. Upon arriving the player meets up with several other characters, the “rival” characters. In this game the rivals thrive and grow alongside the player. One of the major themes of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y involves the bond of friendship. This is often thrown in the player’s face a little too often. As the player grows alongside his Pokémon and friends, the player obtains badges and encounters the Team Flare, whose overall goal is to make the world a better place to live in. Unfortunately, this team takes a step back from the previous Team Plasma. Most of the team’s justifications to create a better world is simply because. There is no real way to put it. As the player breezes through the team and acquires the eight regional gym badges, the player challenges the Pokémon League and becomes the Champion.

A detailed story breakdown and discussion is below. I will not take responsibility for anything after this point, you are warned. If you have not completed the main story line yet, I suggest you skip this portion.

The story begins in Vaniville Town. You are a new neighbor and you have a few new friends wanting to meet you. These friends are your adventure rivals in a way, and their names are Shauna, Trevor, Tierno, and Serena. The story has two major parts and a few smaller stories in between.

The first portion of the story involves solving the mystery of Mega Pokémon. You are asked to do so by Professor Augustine Sycamore, the professor who has been doing research on the phenomenon. You receive your starter from Tierno in the next town, and then begin the quest to become Pokémon League Champion and solve the mystery of Mega Evolution. Eventually, you arrive at the Tower of Mastery and you are granted a Mega Ring, which allows you to utilize the strong bond shared with your Pokémon and reach new heights. Keep in mind that the Pokémon needs to have a certain item attached to it in order to utilize the new evolution.

The second portion of the story involves defeating Team Flare. Team Flare is trying to revitalize the beauty of the Kalos region. They intend to do so by utilizing a weapon that was created over 3,000 years ago by a mysterious man named AZ, whom you encounter on your adventures. Team Flare is a bit silly, as they think that the whole world is responsible, so the correct solution to solving it is to wipe out everybody who is not from Team Flare. AZ lived 3,000 years ago, alongside his partner Pokémon. The Pokémon of that era existed in an age of war and eventually many lives were taken, including the life of AZ’s companion. In response, AZ devised a machine to bring back his friend. Though lives are taken in the process, his partner eventually comes back but leaves knowing that its life came at the cost of many others. Of course, this machine also does the reverse. It is capable of wiping out all life in the world as well. At the very end of the story, AZ’s partner Pokémon returns after 3,000 years, and he is touched to see his companion again.

A small subplot in the story involves your rivals. Your rivals all want to get stronger, and possibly achieve Mega Evolution. They all fail, which was disappointing to say the least. This entire plot feels a bit forced at times, as Tierno, Trevor, and Shauna really have no sense of true ambition. The only one to have a good idea of what to do is Serena, and by the end of Victory Road she has not even received a mega evolution.

Some of this story felt very forced, and the logic behind it was childish, to say the least. Team Flare’s Boss, Lysandre, becomes a silly figure towards the end of the game. Even though he has a Mega Evolution, his intimidation factor drops tenfold when he comes out with his little backpack with mechanical arms attached. They serve no purpose, either. The story also reeks of friendship and throws it in the player’s face at almost every opportunity.

Spoilers end here.

Overall Game and Mechanic Changes

One of the major factors that made Pokémon X and Y such a great adventure was the addition of several new mechanics and the modification of several older ones that needed to be changed. There are also an enormous amount of small quality of life changes, which adds up in the long run. The first said feature of discussion is the Mega Evolution.

Mega Evolution was revealed in Coro Coro back in August 2013. Select critters from the previous generations were given an enhanced stage of evolution, through the use of a special item called the Mega Stone, which can be found throughout the Kalos region. The Mega Evolutions are an interesting addition to the franchise, as the benefits often changed the scope of battle. The visual transformation is top notch. Currently, only one Mega Evolution is allowed on the team at one time to preserve balance in gameplay. Unfortunately, Game Freak shows a bit of bias here and gives a few select Pokémon the ability to have version specific Mega Evolutions. This was unfortunate as hardcore fans wished to have other Pokémon to have dual forms or evolutions. It is unknown whether every evolution has been fully discovered at this point or if downloadable content (DLC) will be provided later.

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These can completely change the tide of a battle.

Another major feature is the introduction of the Fairy type. This eighteenth type, the newest since Generation II, addresses some of the balancing issues and gives both new and older Pokémon this new typing to balance out the game. Dragons in previous generations were just a tad stronger than what many competitive battlers would have liked; thus the introduction of this new type balances the scales. The mascot of Pokémon X is a Fairy type, and it is a fantastic looking beast.

A new and fun feature added is character customization. Yes, you can change up your avatar's appearance to make it unique. There are shops all over the Kalos region that allow you to buy these clothes and change your appearance.

Of course, I cannot forget about Pokémon-amie. This is a small minigame on the touch screen where you can play with your Pokémon and garner affection. These affection benefits will yield battle bonuses such as the ability to land critical strikes more frequently. Other benefits include evading attacks, an experience point bonus, or shrugging off status ailments automatically without item usage.

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It was a pleasant surprise to find this portion of the game addicting.

Some of the broader changes to the game allow for much more ease in the training experience. The addition of the EXP. All helps tremendously to raise Pokémon to a fighting level much quicker. Grinding is reduced significantly. One small note I would recommend if you are playing with a friend is to trade around. For instance, if you both get Charizards, trade them to each other and you will gain boosted experience on top of the EXP. Share. Other quality of life changes include a more immersive multiplayer interface and the use of O-Powers to give friends boosts in their training. The smaller changes to make the game have a more realistic feel involve sitting on chairs, increasing methods of transportation, or even something small like crouching down a little bit to talk to a child. There are plenty of changes in this edition that the franchise has direly needed. I will leave that bit of exploration to you. The vast number of changes turns a small reservoir into an ocean. Every tiny change adds up, and longtime veterans will find a majority of these changes to be beneficial to the overall Pokémon experience.

Visuals

For the first games on the Nintendo 3DS, this is where Pokémon X and Pokémon Y shine. The entire game is done in a three dimensional environment, and the results are stunning. Photos of the game are not going to do justice. The environments are fluid, immersive, and allow for eight directional movements at long last. The game has never looked more realistic, at least for the Pokémon franchise. The cut scenes are beautifully animated, and are some of, if not the best, animations to arrive on the Nintendo 3DS.

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There is no way that a photo will do justice here. Detail is much sharper in game.

Battle environments are dynamic and changing. Each environment has its own specific battle background. If you are in a cave, the backdrop becomes that of a cave. Pokémon have fluid and natural movement animations and now display emotions when attacking or when hurt. The camera is moving frequently to provide a better look at how the Pokémon are doing. One of the major features of battling involves the displaying in stereoscopic 3D. The only downfall to this is a noticeable lag in battle animation. The effect is still stunning and does not severely impact gameplay. You can still play perfectly fine without the 3D and enjoy the experience.

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Small snippet of a customized character appearance.

Music

According to Junichi Masuda, the music in this particular game would be deviating from what players would expect from the franchise. The new soundtrack is changed as it features orchestrated music. Some of these tunes are brilliant while some others raise eyebrows, but more in a good way. These tunes are very different from the past generations and deviate from the norm of what one would normally expect. Each track is charming, and fits the overall motif of the region being oriented around France. A snippet of one of the soundtracks is below.

Game Replayability

Once you have been crowned the Pokémon League Champion, there is still plenty to do. You can eagerly wait for the new Pokémon Bank and Transporter apps to appear on the Nintendo eShop so that you can transfer your old pals to the new games. Please note that the Pokémon Bank and Transporter service is operated under an annual fee of $4.99 USD. You can take advantage of the new Super Training method to bring Pokémon up to a competitive standard. Other challenges include the Battle Tower facility which makes a return from previous generations; you can catch roaming legendary Pokémon (at this moment, no mechanism of capture is ready yet as the birds flee upon sight. You cannot even find the battle menu.), and of course aim to complete the Pokédex. With the new multiplayer features, the end game content is quite high and one should not be immediately bored following the ascension to Champion. Do not forget to go searching for the Mega Stones hidden around Kalos! 

A small addendum to this section is necessary. I have crawled 45 hours into this game, and the endgame content definitely is sparser than in previous generations. The lack of legendaries to capture and content to do after the Elite Four leaves a slightly bitter taste of disappointment. The fact that the Legendary Birds have only one bird appearing depending on starter is a bit of a letdown. There is of course speculation that content is not discovered yet, but as of right now the way things are things do not look good in terms of end game this generation. Fans are already clamoring for Downloadable Content to make up for the rather small post game, and Nintendo would be foolish to not take advantage of the 3DS.

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They are back, and catchable with some serious determination and stalking.

Online

For the first time, Pokémon feels more like an MMO or social game. This is now possible through the Pokémon Player Search Station. This allows all of the necessary features such as the Global Trade Station (regrettably, ridiculous trades are already plaguing the station), sending power ups to friends, trading, battling, sending shout outs, creating profiles, syncing your game with the Pokémon website, and more. Online is very well done, and does not require camping at a Pokémon Center anymore. Online play can be done from anywhere now.

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Due for release on December 27th, it will be an opportunity to bring friends from the old games over to the new ones.

A feature that is absolutely brilliant is the Wonder Trade. The premise is to trade a Pokémon and receive a random one back from a player all around the world. It takes about a minute to find a partner, and you can often receive something special. The first trade I participated in yielded an Absol that became a crucial staple to my team later on. There is no time restriction or limit, so this can be readily done at any time. Take advantage of this feature, as it is also a lot of fun.

Closing Remarks

Game Freak announced this game about ten months ago, and the effort displayed is readily apparent and noticeable considering over one million copies were preordered several weeks prior to launch. For sure, the long wait was more than worth it. The game is also the first in the franchise to be released worldwide. The previous trend was Japan receiving the games first, followed by localization several months later, which left international players at a disadvantage facing the teams that the Japanese had been assembling months prior. This trend needs to continue to let everyone start off on an even footing. The changes to the environment, the modification of features and the addition of newer mechanics makes the Pokémon X and Pokémon Y versions the most shocking in terms of overall changes. The somewhat lacking number of newer Pokémon is made up with the Mega Evolutions introduced, and the addition of the Fairy type is sure to rustle feathers in the competitive Pokémon battling community.

Should You Buy This Game?

This answer is a resounding yes. The new visuals and additional features result in an incredibly immersive adventure. The longer lasting story line (depending on gameplay) this time around, complete with the end game content, will leave even the most skeptical fan wanting more, especially in a thid game. With everything that is packed into this game, a $40 purchase should definitely be considered. With mechanics, this is one of the better games of the generation, and in terms of what has been shown on the 3DS thus far, this is one game that should definitely be considered. This game comes at the highest recommendation, and will be a powerhouse on the Nintendo 3DS consoles.

Verdict
Pros
+ -Immersive 3D environment
+ -New Pokemon to capture
+ -Orchestrated track
+ -Lots of mechanics and quality of life changes
Cons
- -Whimsical story, can be bland at times
- -Rather lacking in terms of "true" endgame content
- -Slowdown when using steroscopic 3D effect.
- -
9 Presentation
The environments are all incredibly crisp, the overworld beautiful. The visuals and animations are top notch and some of the best the series has to offer. In fact, this could very much be the best visually presented game on the Nintendo 3DS.
9 Gameplay
Gameplay is as deep as ever. Collecting tons of Pokemon has always been a staple of the franchise. The new battle mechanics add another layer of strategy to the series. Overall structure of gameplay has not changed too much from the formula presented in the first generation of the games.
8 Lasting Appeal
Plenty for collectors to do when reaching the end of the game. Playing with friends is easy, and very fun to do. Although there is a slight lack of content, this could be remedied by DLC or distributions to help complete the Pokedex. For any Pokemon fan, this is the must play game. As an addendum, end game is a bit lacking in terms of previous generations. Not enough legendaries means that the Bank and Transporter apps will become very important for those completing the Pokedex at a later date.
8.9
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
This game is absolutely stellar. The new visuals and additional features result in an incredibly immersive adventure. The longer lasting story line (depending on gameplay) this time around, complete with the "end game content", will leave even the most skeptical fan wanting more. With everything that is packed into this game, a $40 purchase should definitely be considered. This game comes at the highest recommendation, and will be a powerhouse on the Nintendo 3DS consoles.
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