Pokémon X and Pokémon Y (Video Game Review)

Pokémon is a series that spans back over 15 years ago and features plenty of releases spread across multiple platforms over that time. The Game Freak series is easily one of the most important video game franchises to ever be released, and the success of the series is one of the biggest contributors to what has allowed Nintendo to continue thriving in the handheld gaming market. Though fans of the series love their Pokémon more than anyone, it was also clear that the series was long overdue for an overhaul for its first release on the new Nintendo 3DS handheld system. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y offers plenty of new changes for the series; some are good and some not so much. Ultimately though, it's another grand adventure that Pokémon fans will enjoy a great deal.

One thing that has changed little for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y is the games' storyline. Players once again begin the game with no Pokémon but join up with a friend to explore the world beginning with one of three new starter Pokémon. Rather than having a friend turned rival throughout the game, players will travel with a group of new friends to gather gym badges and explore the Kalos region. The start of the game is better this time around though, as players quickly gain their first Pokémon from a friend, shortly after meet up with the region's Pokémon professor to gain one of the three starters from Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue and set off to the first gym not long after beginning the game. This is very much a welcome change, but the childlike nature of the game's storyline combined with a very predictable Team Flare as the new adversarial group doesn't do the new storyline any favors.

Players will still need to create a formidable team by capturing, trading and training a diverse group of Pokémon throughout the new title. One massive change for training allows the creatures to perform mini-games later in the campaign to gain statistical boosts rather than the EV training that has always been a big part of competitive matches in the Pokémon universe. This will obviously make the game more approachable for new users attempting to train up a Pokémon to the very best it can be, but it also alienates longtime fans of the series that have dedicated hours to learning the complex system and the best ways to train up their team of Pokémon.

One change Pokémon X and Pokémon Y makes for the better is the ability is in the way new Pokémon are obtained in the game. Pokémon Bank allows trainers to more easily import existing Pokémon from other games into the new release, while improvements to online play make trading for additional Pokémon easier than ever before. It's also far easier to find a diverse set of Pokémon in the wild with many different types of Pokémon showing up in the first few routes alone, rather than the typical rodent and bird combinations players were traditionally forced to capture and use until later in the game. A new Pokémon type has also been introduced in the game known as the Fairy type, and it's definitely a welcome addition that doesn't disrupt the balance of the game in the same way that new training elements have.

For the first time ever in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, players can explore the new region and battle in full 3D. The new graphical change doesn't come without its problems. While the cute player and Pokémon sprites are impressive, and new animations make the game the best looking Pokémon yet, the open world environments feel a little less so when the player is still restricted in a 3D world, and there are some very noticeable frame rate issues during many of the game's better moments that take away from the experience somewhat. The new Pokémon designs for current generation and classic Pokémon look much better than previous releases though, and it makes the characters feel alive as much as a real companion would.

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y adds a great new strategic element for battles known as Mega Evolutions. The new evolutionary forms are only for certain Pokémon that includes the starters, Lucario and some other powerful Pokémon. Mega Evolutions can only be performed once per encounter and only if the trainer has a certain item equipped to the Pokémon. Not only does the new evolution make Pokémon stronger, but it changes the creature types to add a whole new layer of strategy to each and every Pokémon. Longtime fans had good reason to worry the new Mega Evolutions could break the balance of the game, but it is actually a very welcome addition that is cool, practical and a great new way to play the series.

Another great new change in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are the new customization options available for trainers and their Pokémon. When beginning a new journey, players not only choose their name and gender, but different skin tones and clothing options are available to the new trainer as well. New trainer clothes and accessories also become available later in the game from certain shops to add even more customization options and make players feel as though they are playing their very own character. Pokémon also get a few customization options, though it still would've been nice to actually take your creatures out of their Poké Balls while they trod along behind you during the long journey.

The presentation of the new game has been overhauled. New graphics, Pokémon, customization options, Mega Evolutions and mini-games are only the start. There are now new battles to participate in such as mid-air battles between flying type Pokémon and Horde battles, where up to five wild Pokémon can appear and attack the player at once. Neither type of encounter offers any important changes to how gamers play the game, but they can be a lot of fun for the first few times they are witnessed for the first time.Pokémon X and Pokémon Y will each take about 40 hours to complete from beginning to attaining the last gym badge and completing the Elite Four. There is plenty of content packed into the new releases, as always, so fans can be sure they will be wrapped up in their brand new Pokémon adventure for a long time once the game has been loaded up for the first time. A new control scheme accompanies the game's new graphical change, and a new soundtrack is available in the game as well, though it's far from the best themes the series has seen.

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y is a great game for newcomers to the Pokémon franchise. Longtime fans of the series may be tougher to convince, since many of the new changes featured in this overhaul of the series changes mechanics that were never very problematic in the first place. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y is still offers many nice improvements for the franchise and makes it a more accessible release that fans of the genre will get many hours of enjoyment out of for a good price. The game is family friendly and yet strategic enough to offer a challenge to even the most experienced JRPG around. Players will spend hours completing the game's campaign and finding tons of secrets hours after the main quest has been completed, and yet players can always come back to enjoy online battles or train new Pokémon. Pick up a copy of Pokémon X or Pokémon Y with confidence on Nintendo 3DS today!

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $39.99 and can be purchased exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are rated E by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence & Comic Mischief. For more information on the games, check out the official Pokémon X and Pokémon Y website.

Game Features:
  • Online Multiplayer 1-2
  • New and Classic Pokémon
  • Mega Evolutions
  • 3D Gameplay
  • Pokémon Bank Support

  • Game Information:
    Developer: Game Freak
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Available exclusively for Nintendo 3DS  (reviewed)
    Release Date: October 12, 2013

    Score: 7.5 out of 10

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