If you see any students on campus glued to their Nintendo DS’s, you are seeing a person (or “Pokémaniac,” as they preferred to be called) addicted to the new “Pokémon X and Y” games. Saturday, Oct. 12 was the international launch of “Pokémon X and Y,” the first installment of the sixth (yes, SIXTH) generation of Pokémon.
For gamers who don’t know, Pokémon started off in 1996 as a role-playing video game: catching, battling, evolving and trading your pocket monsters (or Pokémon) and becoming the Pokémon Master. The first Pokémon game introduced 151 cute and awesome pocket monsters, and now that number has grown to a little over 700.
I mentioned Pokémaniacs earlier and that is exactly who this game is for. Well, them and children. I too like Pokémon — I think I have logged more hours in Pokémon Yellow than any other game — but I can distinguish a good game from something that has been rehashed so many times even Miley Cyrus thinks it’s getting a little old.
“Pokémon X and Y” has introduced some new elements to the game that are rather unnecessary and a little distracting. The first Pokémon game with 3D graphics — I am sick of adding them as a means to “revamp” games — it looks like a mix of Animal Crossing and Pokémon Stadium. Extra movements were also added, allowing you to move diagonally, which is frustrating at times when you need to get in a door and not the walls around it. I don’t think adding new things to a game makes it better; it’s adding the right things that make it great. Personally, I would prefer to see Nintendo finally add some evolution cut-scenes where you could see your Pokémon grow, rather than a flashing light and a new and unfamiliar Pokémon appearing in front of you.
Although bad things did surface in the new Pokémon, some things were done right. The new “experience share” is a great way of leveling up all of your Pokémon (who are not in battle) and the mega evolutions are pretty sweet, but “Pokémon X and Y,” unlike its new graphics, falls flat.
I have always thought of Pokémon as an ice cream cone. As a kid, that’s all you wanted; it’s all you needed. Then they added sprinkles (which you’re okay with), chocolate, caramel and frosting … eventually it’s so much that after every bite you regret you ever got it and have no desire to finish it. Pokémon was once a simple, wonderful game, but now it has fallen into the trap of games repeating and revamping themselves. Nintendo, how about you give us what we really want: a massively multiplayer online role-playing Pokémon game where we can truly show off our skills as Pokémon Masters.
Remember when you and your friends were playing “Pokémon Red and Blue,” and one friend claimed he had an uncle who worked at Nintendo that told him there was a secret super evolution to Mewtwo you could get when you beat the Elite Four 30 times with a level 5 Magikarp? Well, now that Mega Mewtwo is real and, fortunately, infinitely easier to acquire.
It’s a cliche that often comes up when reviewing new entries in classic video game series, but it demands repetition with “Pokémon X and Y”: What’s old is new again. The new entries for the games do not try to remake the old formula from scratch, but instead, like the series has always done, improve the timeless foundation laid 17 years ago when Red and Green versions hit the shelves in Japan. Man, I feel old.
Simply put, this game is the perfection of everything that came before it. Everything is simultaneously new, yet familiar, and almost every aspect of the series is utilized in one way or another. One of the most talked-about aspects of the new games is the graphics. While the human characters feel rather emotionless, the Pokémon themselves look spectacular in the cel-shaded art style — this style does the series infinitely more justice than the jagged polygons of “Pokémon Stadium” ever did. Because of the crisp and lively movements given to the monsters, watching a battle looks like a fight from the cartoon series. The jump to fully 3D environments has been more than a cosmetic upgrade: Camera perspective is used to show off the beautifully-rendered and creative locales of the Kalos region.
I can wholeheartedly say X and Y are the most fun games in the series. Powerful and diverse Pokémon species are available from the very beginning and experience points are given out freely instead of demanding endless grinding. This keeps the game moving at a fast pace, so you never feel bored or bogged down. Now matter what, you’re just a few levels short of being able to take down a Gym Leader.
Special consideration is given to lapsed fans with increased prominence of the original 151 monsters: They gain new story prominence and receive the Pyroar’s share of mega evolutions (temporary super transformations available to a select few Pokémon). It’s a thrilling experience to watch your trusted Pokémon go super saiyan and rain down vengeance on a biblical scale on the poor trainers standing in your way.
If you have a Nintendo 3DS, go get this game now. The game is great for both old and new fans alike.