Easily the best Pokémon game in the franchise; X and Y break the mold by introducing a plethora of new features, interesting characters and breathtaking 3D scenery to compliment the decade old tradition of catching them all. With a plot that made you care, Pokémon X and Y are the latest games in a long franchise that has captured the hearts and minds of many youths of the nineties and continues this tradition well into the 21st Century.
The game steps away from tradition by introducing your cute little partner through your neighbour rather than the handsome young Pokémon Professor Sycamore. As you travel along in the new Kalos Region, you will find a lot of familiar themes and locales that you can visit and a variety of new places like Hotels and Cafés to satisfy the appetite for both food and battles. Part way through you will encounter Team Flare, a puzzling looking team that is in collection for profit, but their ulterior motives soon shine through their orange suits. As you save different organizations from their Leader’s broad vision, you will become closer with your Pokémon and your friends and perhaps rekindle a friendship that has been lost for thousands of years.
The new features of the game allow for some interesting play styles to come through. The most glaring and popular change is the way you EV train your Pokémon. Instead of using spreadsheets and battling specific Pokémon over and over; they have changed it into a terrific mini-game that all of your Pokémon can participate in. Different levels change the amounts of EV you get, so you still have to be careful, but it allows for an alleviation for what use to be a very taxing grind.
The way your Pokémon gain friendship with you and the benefits, change dramatically in this generation. With the introduction of Poké Amie, you can play several mini-games with your characters; Berry Picker, a match game, Head It, a ball hitting game and Tile Puzzle, in which you complete a randomized puzzle of your Pokémon. Giving them Poké Puffs increases their fullness while petting them increases their overall friendship. Each individual Pokémon will like different Poké Puffs and will enjoy being petted in different places. Just keep exploring until they look like they’re enjoying themselves. Increasing friendship rewards you with in battle perks such as instant cures from status afflictions, an increase to the Critical Hit chance and enduring moves that would otherwise K.O. your Pokémon. This is certainly one of the best additions to the game.
What people had been craving for has finally arrived. The ability to customize the look of your trainer. You can change clothing and hairstyle, accessories and shoes to create a trainer that is most suited to you. This is done by going into Boutiques inside several of the cities in the game. Once there, daily you will have a selection of clothing that you can purchase. Some of the more interesting items are pricey and if you’re a real player and clothing connoisseur; you will find yourself in some of the most exclusive Boutiques in the Kalos Region.
Another one of the most interesting introductions to the game was the expansion of online function. With Wonder Trade, you choose a random Pokémon to send out and receive a random one back. You have the opportunity to get some of the Generation VI Pokémon you wouldn’t normally get in your game and some people will trade off some Legendary Pokémon, although I can’t imagine why. Imagine trading a Bidoof and receiving a Mewtwo. It doesn’t get much better than that. The robust online capabilities allow for a wide variety of battle styles that will keep you and your opponent on your toes. With opponents that use knowledge of abilities, natures, type advantages and breeding, you won’t know what comes next.
The dynamic settings only go to show the effort put into this game by developer Game Freak. With random wind storms and rain changing the overall look of the areas and the battlefield itself to seeing your breath in the cold; it’s the little things that make the environment a much more realistic world. Traveling along beaches and under overhands changing the camera angles as you travel has made the universe a lot more immersive. It may be taken for granted because it’s not a new thing to gaming, but it is to handheld Pokémon games.
There are few flaws to this generation and they’re minor at best. This generation has seen the introduction of only 69 new Pokémon. Most of these Pokémon were very well designed, but then we have one that has joined the ranks of some ridiculous designs such as Vanilitte, the Ice Cream Cone and Rotom’s turning into house appliances. It is alright to draw inspiration from everyday objects, but a keychain Pokémon? That is some low design value. The new Fairy type has it’s mascot for screwing up the type advantage chart.
The other issue is that there is practically no end game content beyond catching them all and The Looker Bureau missions. It has become a lot more difficult to catch them all as currently there are only so many Pokémon available in the game. With the introduction of the Pokémon Cloud in December, Trainers will be able to transfer Pokémon over from the Generation V games (Black, White, Black 2, White 2) which will allow them to transfer Pokémon as far back as Generation II. Until then, they will have to rely on some of the fun mini-games to keep the game alive.
There is so much to say about this game that is positive that it completely outweighs the negative. A great story mixed with an impressive array of new features just goes to show that they thought of all the concerns from previous generations and improved things you thought impossible to improve upon. Thoroughly impressive, this will be the generation that keeps everyone interested in what happens next. Until then, catch them all!
Final Score: 9.5/10