Pokemon is one of the longest running and most popular RPG franchises in the world. The series follows the adventures of the player character and their quest to catch ’em all and become the Pokemon League champion of their respective region. The latest games in the series, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, are released on the latest Nintendo handheld, the 3DS, which allows for one of the biggest steps in design in the franchises history.
The first thing that you’ll notice with this latest Pokemon game is that the opening cutscene is in full 3DS 3D. This gives you some pretty high hopes for the overall quality of the game. Following that, you select new game and go through some talking and then, for the first time ever ever in a Pokemon game, you can customise the look of your character. This is some massive progress for the franchise as you’ve never been able to customise your sprite before. Well, the series no longer uses sprites, really, so this may have made it a bit easier to do.
The game starts you off really high, but then, you’re plunked into the game and suddenly it plays with the 3D off. This is a bit weird as Pokemon Y (and X) is a 3DS title, one that will not play on a regular DS, so it feels majorly concerning because the inconsistency between what we saw when we first started the game and what we got whilst playing was entirely different.
To be completely honest, there is a lot of evidence that points to Pokemon Y (and X) as being fully intended to be in full 3D at a few points in the game. Take, for example, the big main city, Lumiose City. This city is massive, it has alleyways, things drawn in the distance and, on a design level, looks like it was meant to have some additional depth to it. The only sections of the games (adventuring aspect) that run in 3D are caves and some additional levels. Another strange move considering an exterior level is pretty much built the same way as an interior level.
Another example of the 3D being removed or not yet implemented is when you’re in the Pokemon Gyms and have just defeated a Gym leader. What I mean here is that when you get the Gym Badge, and it pops up on the screen, it pops up dead center and is clearly design to be viewed as the pop-out-book style of 3D that the 3DS produces. If you look at the edges of the badges, they’re a greyish colour, the badge itself is shaded differently to the rest of the game, and it rotates in an unorganic way (like it’s running much more smoothly than the rest of the game), add on to that the way it’s overlayed and it’s almost certain that Gyms, at the very least, are supposed to display in 3D.
The main part of the game that you’ll be spending your time in that isn’t the overworld, is the Pokemon battles. Our very first impression of the Pokemon battles was that they feel similar to how they felt the first time you saw Pokemon in 3D in Pokemon Stadium. It was mindblowing. I actually remember remarking over Twitter that the only thing missing from the Pokemon battles was a Pokemon Stadium-like announcer. The only major problem with the Pokemon battles is that while you have the 3D running, there are some severe frame rate issues, which is incredibly odd considering other games are far more detailed and have no issues with the frame rate. What’s even more odd is that the 3D only works for one-on-one battles, which was sorely disappointing.
I think the main concern with Nintendo (and this is just supposition on my part) is that they may have been worried about the battery life of the game when running in 3D all of the time. The only problem here is that the constant switching between 2D and 3D elements, such as in battles, really kills your battery so much more quickly than just playing a solid full 3D or full 2D game. To test this theory, I’ve ran Dead or Alive Dimensions for the same amount of time as Pokemon Y, whilst playing, and noticed a significant decrease in battery life while playing Pokemon.
The soundtrack in Pokemon X & Y is easily the best out of every generation, excluding the simple melodies of the originals. The musical cues give the player a much more in-depth feel to a certain scene, which is something that this latest game excels in. The best example of this is the ending theme song, which while actually lacking backing vocals, is a fully realised song that you can’t help but want to sing along to. It even has lyrics listed and everything. A second example of this would be the battle themes, which give off an amazing amount of intensity and add a sense of engagement and severity to each particular fight.
What’s interesting in Pokemon X & Y is that is the Pokemon game with the most amount of online and social features so far. It’s got so many features that you can’t even take two steps with the internet turned on without being bombarded with requests to do things. The game is constantly asking you to Wonder-Trade, or to do shout-outs or what-have-you. What’s really good here is that the game integrates itself with your 3DS’ friend-list. So you don’t have to manually add friends to your game. Anyone you meet and do things with becomes an in-game acquaintance until you add them to your 3DS itself. The only real issue with online is that when you are conneted online, all of the players playing the game online flood onto the online list on the bottom screen, flooding it with greeting messages and Nippon.
Overall, Pokemon Y is easily the best Pokemon game so far, that isn’t Pokemon Silver, even despite the glaring misuse of 3D elements. Both newcomers to the series and older fans will definitely find this game an enjoyable and fun experience, which is what Pokemon has always been. Go forth and catch ’em all.