Pokemon X and Y Review: Pokecrack

pokemon-x-and-y-starters

Here I am again, crawling through the grass, looking for a trainer battle, willing to do anything just for one more fight—anything, I mean anything. Someone has to tell me to stop, to move on to the next route. There’s no more Pokemon you haven’t seen here. But I can’t stop, I’m digging through the dirt, just hoping that maybe I can catch a wild duduo—is that even possible?—and suddenly it’s 2 AM. I got the Pokemon fever, and I got it bad. In fact, it hasn’t been this bad since the original Pokemon in 1998.

A lot has changed since the original 150 graced Game Boys everywhere and began printing money for Nintendo. Some of the changes feel disorienting—quite literally, the change of perspective from top down, 2D sprite to full 3D took some getting used to. But the new animation, sound, and forward-thinking design really sets both X and Y apart from former entries in the storied series. For example, you get a faster method of transportation (rollerblades in this case), a town map, and EXP share within the first hour or so of the game. EXP share that early in the game is a true game changer, as it’s much easier to keep your party closer in levels. In previous games, it took concerted effort to not have one Pokemon shoot up past your other party members. I’m not sure why that always bothered me, but it just did, and now that’s fixed and I have played so much in the last few days and this is my cry for help.

The improved graphics are such a huge change. I try not to be vain when reviewing and playing games. I tell myself that graphics don’t matter, that it’s really about gameplay, but what happens when the gameplay is already addicting like crack and suddenly the graphics jump from 1999 quality to 2013? Disaster, that’s what. This game has obliterated my free time. Even when friends convince me to do something else, I have my 3DS with me with Pokemon installed on its SD card. Play the Battlefield 4 beta? When I die, I might just stay dead for a bit as I finish a fight. Queuing up for Dota 2? Sounds like a perfect opportunity to explore a new route.

Pokemon X and Y Frogadier

Some people have criticized the character designs of some of the new Pokemon, to which I say: did you just chug a bottle of stupid pills? Yeah, a pile of garbage might not be the most interesting design, but look at those starters—look at Frogadier. I know I just did. And I just took 15 minutes from writing the previous sentence to this one because I started playing again.

In all seriousness, this game brings back what made the first game so addicting to me. I have been away from the series for quite some time, so seeing a ton of new Pokemon is both overwhelming and exhilarating. What type is that Pokemon? I found myself wanting to both look up wild Pokemon on a wiki and avoid it at the same time. Surely, it’s more interesting to capture one for yourself and update your Pokedex. Add to the formula the ability to customize your appearance, and you have Pokecrack all over again.

Of course, not everything is perfect about this game. If you don’t like RPGs, leveling up characters, and minimal storytelling, Pokemon hasn’t changed in those departments. In fact, the story in Pokemon X and Y I think is its weakest point. The cast of characters surrounding the main character are kind of pointless and don’t add anything to the game; without spoiling anything, there have been some “moments” that are trying to have some impact on the player, but they don’t pay off because no one cares about the characters, just the Pokemon. Also, the inability to control the camera in certain segments can make moving around tricky, particularly since the turbo for the rollerblades active whenever you push a direction. I ran into trouble moving around Lumiose City on occasion, but it wasn’t enough trouble to put down the game, clearly.

The biggest problem? For me, the game is too large to review properly. I can’t go into the ins and outs of high-level battling. It feels weird to even mention as a footnote how great the online system is, too, but it is great and it is awesome. A few taps of the lower screen and you can trade and battle anyone in the world or give them a temporary buff. Did I mention Mega Evolutions? No? There, they’re mentioned, they add another level to an already deep fighting system, and make badass Pokemon look even cooler. Everything that was awesome about previous Pokemon games has returned and the majority of it has been improved.

What can I say? This is the Pokemon game I always wanted as a kid. When talking to a friend about this write-up, he said, “I’ll start it for you: Best Pokemon ever. Oh wait, that’s all you need to write.” I think he might be on to something, but I don’t have time to bother. I have to get back to Pokemon X.

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