It’s have been a long time since I reviewed a Pokémon Game. When I got a Japanese version of Pokémon Black 2 back in June of last year, although I enjoyed it, I felt that it didn’t add much in terms of gameplay besides finishing what the prequels started. Not only that, even though I spent 380+ in the Generation V games, I didn’t like the fact that none of my favorites (e.g. Eevee) was in the first game and that it took power creep to another level. Generation V was a pretty big mess, especially considering permanent Sunny Day or Rain Dance. This is why I hardly did any wifi battles. With that, perhaps Game Freak finally realized the monster they just created and decided to fix that with Pokémon X and Y with its transition to full 3D. (Image Source)
To me, the story was slightly underwhelming considering how epic the story was in Generation V despite it’s flaws with it’s gameplay mechanics. In Pokémon X and Y, you get to travel with a group of friends collecting badges and beat Team Flare along the way. One can argue that Team Flare is a mishmash of Team Rocket and Team Galactic, as they want to make money and at the same time, destroy the entire world to create an ideal world where only Team Flare only exists.
To me, the villain in this game does not only look ridiculous, especially if you consider how silly Lysandre (フラダリ) looks in his last boss battle. He looks like Doctor Octopus from Spiderman 2. To me, Team Flare pretty much serves as a roadblock that you have to defeat in order to advance before catching the legendary.
Just like previous generations, Game Freak typically adds a number of improvements to their battle system. In this generation, you can now have Sky Battles, in which you can only use flying Pokémon or ones with the ability, Levitate. On the other hand, they also made finding shiny Pokémon a bit easier by adding horde battles, which 5 wild Pokémon will show up, However, you have to defeat four of them before you can even capture one.
Unlike Generation V, Game Freak finally made an effort to try to balance the metagame. This includes nerfing some moves like Thunderbolt and Ice Beam (which is now 5% weaker), making Weather abilities only lasting 5 turns and buffing up some Pokémon by adjusting their stats (Examples: Ampharos, Clefable, Pikachu, Azumaril, etc). In addition, Dragon Pokémon, which only had two weaknesses, finally gets a nerf with a new type, Fairy, which can resist all their attacks. That pretty much levels the playing field as Garchomp can’t go and sweep your whole team if you have a Pokémon like Togekiss on the field. Lastly, Defog gets a buff since it can now clear hazards on the user’s side as well, thus making it easier to get rid of Stealth Rock.
Another addition to the game is Mega Evolutions (メガシンカ), which allows a Pokémon that is holding a special rock to temporary evolve into a different form in a fashion similar to Digi-evolving in Digimon. When you Mega Evolve, a Pokémon gains a new ability, typing and higher stats. While this will make some Pokémon like Ampharos, Kangaskhan, Mawile more useful and take them out of the depths of Never Used, a person can only Mega Evolve one Pokémon In a given battle. I think this is considered a good thing so people won’t have a team of only Mega-Evolved Pokémon.
Lastly, there are a few additions that will make training Pokémon for competitive battling a bit easier. Super Training finally makes Effort Values visible to the player and therefore, one can now keep track how many effort values he/she earn for each stats. Super training also allows a new way to earn Effort Values by playing a mini game where your Pokémon shoot balls into targets. With each successful attempt you are given punching bags to help speed up the training.
In addition, breeding gets some more improvements to make life easier. This includes Hidden Abilities to get passed down from the male Pokémon and allowing Individual Values to be transferred when a parent holds a Destiny Knot. Even with these changes, Individual Value system is still a broken system. It’s still very time-consuming to get a Pokémon with at least good or perfect IVs, causing people to cheat by hacking their Pokémon, abusing the Random Number Generator or foregoing in game battles and use battle simulators, which is not as fun compared to the real thing.
Since Pokémon X and Y finally transitioned to 3D, Character Customization is finally added. While I shared my thoughts about it in my Pokemon X and Y First Impressions, I realized one of the disappointing aspects after unlocking then the new hairstyles. Male characters have fewer hair and clothing options compared to female characters. At least there are more options compared to Pokémon Battle Revolution, which had very limited options.
On the other hand, another optional aspect that got added is Pokémon-Amie (ポケパルレ), which allows you to interact with your Pokémon. While these three mini-games can get a bit boring, there are benefits such as increased experience gains and some more luck based stuff as avoiding attacks and shaking off status effects. However, these extra effects are disabled in Wifi, Team Testing and Battle Maison battles, so it’s only useful for boosted experience or evolving Eevee to Slyveon (ニンフィア).
After playing Pokémon Y for a little over 100 hours, I have to say it’s probably one of the best-looking Pokémon Games in the main series. The graphics look pretty, but it’s not perfect since I noticed a lot of dropped frames when the 3D is on. Also, there is only 69 new Pokémon. Although this might disappoint a few, at least they are going more for quality over quantity. But still, if you are big Pokémon fan or interested in getting it, don’t hesitate and just get it as there is a lot of things to like about it.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: Beautiful graphics and lack of power creep (mostly because of nerfing/balancing). Effort Values are now visible and can be earned in Super Training. Very good character customization options for female characters. Custom Battle Rules, return of the Safari, more Wifi game modes, selectable language, berry growing, breeding improvements, new typing and Mega Evolutions.
Weaknesses: The game might be too easy, especially if EXP Share is turned on. Generic story and frame rate issues. Individual Values system remains unchanged and broken, thus encouraging people to do RNG abuse or try to cheat (although Poketransfer won’t allow hacked Pokémon).
Also, If you want to do any Wifi Battles and Trades with me, then see the Pokemon page, which will have my 3DS friend code and other information.