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