Pokemon is everywhere.
The recent release of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y on the Nintendo 3DS has stirred up all kinds of talks amongst series fans, gaming outlets, and everyone that owns a 3DS. I’ve heard people saying this is the best version of the Pokemon games since the originals, that it’s a wonderful place for newcomers and veteran players to start (or re-start), and that the games have never looked, played, or sounded better. But what exactly makes these the best in the already legendary series of introduction RPGs?
Perhaps out of sheer coincidence (or possibly luck) I made a post discussing everything wrong with Pokemon upon the release of Pokemon Black version 2 and White version 2. I wouldn’t say those games were bad games, but as far as Pokemon games go I never felt that the series had grown stagnant more than when I was playing them. In the post I talked about a few things the series as a whole could do to improve: gameplay changes, storyline features, and even tweaking the game dual-release system of the games. Perhaps I had a bit of foresight, but some of these actually made it into X and Y!
I didn’t get all my predictions right, but I did get a few correct, starting with traveling with companions. Pokemon X and Y give you friends from the very beginning of the game who are also out traveling the world and collecting Pokemon. They have their own personalities, goals to achieve with their Pokemon, and you frequently run into them throughout your journey. Not only that, but having your friends with you is key to certain plot points in the story! Never before in a Pokemon game have I felt like I had friends to look up to and inspire.
Not something I spoke of in the past post but something that really stood out to me with the new games was the involvement Pokemon had in the day to day lives of everyone in the world. Pokemon would be sitting next to people in cafes, they’d be walking down the roads, they’d be in a fenced off area where you could physically hop on them and ride around, they were everywhere! Certainly the more powerful 3DS made this possible but regardless the immersion the game gets you to feel is unlike any other Pokemon game.
Ever since Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow people have been griping about how many Pokemon there should be. The 150 original Pokemon have become something like legends amongst the community. Since then there have been nearly 600 new Pokemon added to the series. While playing older Pokemon games I would frequently get to a new zone and catch a few new Pokemon in the tall grass. But after I caught the four or five new guys I’d run into the same ones again and again. In X and Y I would spend hours in new zones because the game threw tons of new Pokemon at you with each new location! And it makes sense that there would be that many new faces because, my gosh, there are so many Pokemon to pull from! For the first time since the original games I was actually engrossed and excited to catch them all.
Another direct point that I discussed in my past article was the storyline needing a change. I know that these games are for kids, or at the very least lighthearted in nature, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the story and shove out an unmemorable story. But man, Pokemon X and Y gave you some deep thoughts. Team Flare is set upon releasing the ultimate weapon which would destroy every living creatures, Pokemon or otherwise, on the planet. Man, that’s some deep, dark stuff to deal with. You, as a young, fresh Pokemon trainer must stop an evil organization from destroying the world?! Now that’s more like it!
I can’t talk about why Pokemon X and Y are better than the past games and not speak of the visuals. It might be unfair to judge based on this, but think about it: it took over a decade to move the series to full 3D, and that includes skipping over two entire hardware generations (the Game Boy Advance and original Nintendo DS)! Pokemon move around the battlefield, their moves are fully animated, the backgrounds are beautiful, and the game gives us dynamic camera angles, a diverse cast, and lots of locations to explore. By doing this the games become the only games to make me feel like I was finally in the world of Pokemon. Like I was finally a trainer making my way through this fantastic land.
Something that is definitely only possible on the 3DS and not any prior handhelds is wireless communications. Now now, before you get in a tussle and talk about Pokemon Black/White’s wireless battles and connectivity, hear me out. Pokemon X and Pokemon Y can connect you at any time to the entire world (the real world, as in Earth) of Pokemon players. By connecting to the internet you can see literally everyone who is playing the game at that time, as well as instantly battle them, trade Pokemon, give special power-ups, and even chat with. Along with the game’s new visual style, this connectivity made me feel like I was an actual Pokemon trainer. Seeing as the world of Pokemon is (sadly) not a real world, this is the closest I’ve ever felt to actually being in that fantasy land.
Most of these past points are all facts: the visuals have improved, the amount of Pokemon available has increased, Team Flare is super evil, etc. But the following is just one opinion and I believe one that speaks a lot for what makes X and Y so great:
If you’ve played every Pokemon game to date and you’ve experienced all there is to experience with catching them all, I task you with playing these new games and not having a good time. The masterfully tweaked and perfected battle system blends so well with the online capabilities that you have a seemingly endless network of competitors to test your skills. Dozens of hours can be spend playing, literally playing games, with your Pokemon to improve their happiness and affection. Dozens more hours can be used playing through the game’s legitimately entertaining story mode. There are countless ways to interact with your friends (Battling, trading, StreetPassing, tournaments, and more) that you never feel like you’re doing the same thing too long before something new springs about. Even if you’ve done it all before, there’s a certain magic about Pokemon X and Pokemon Y that you simply have to experience.
Every 3DS owner owes it to themselves to see what the new Pokemon games are all about. Not only do they take full advantage of the 3DS, but they are also fully accessible for new and old players alike. It’s understandable then that everyone in the gaming world seems to be talking about Nintendo’s latest addiction.