Pokemon has been a big part of my life since it first arrived on US shores in 1998. It is a game that has captured the imaginations of children and adults alike. For the first time in the series’ history, Pokemon X has made the full transition to 3D. It also offers advancements to the series as never before seen, changing the battle formula and how we battle each other online.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my experience with Pokemon X is speed. Everything about this game is fast and sometimes, in a world where the majority of Pokemon players seem to be young adults, such as myself, speed is exactly what we need. Game Freak has changed the pace of Pokemon like never before; within the first hour of the game, you will have successfully journeyed out of town, won your first gym badge, and received a pair of roller skates!
Even Experience Share is faster and better than previous installments; this item allows you to “spread the wealth” from battles to all of the Pokemon on your team. I absolutely love this feature, because it allows me to train a variety of Pokemon at the same time. I would always resign myself to six Pokemon in past games, because I knew it would be a pain to have my new Pokemon catch up to my starter.
With all Pokemon on the team now receiving experience from Experience Share, I would catch and train two new Pokemon on my team for every new town and region I visited. This one act of experience sharing totally changed the formula for me and has made me feel like a real Pokemon master. If you hate change, don’t be mad; you can turn off this feature at any moment and train like the good ol’ days.
The biggest, most obvious change in Pokemon X is that the series is its 3D graphics. Pokemon have been designed with superb animation and mirror the look of the anime, beautifully rendering each battle. There is nothing more satisfying than looking at Charizard flap his wings in battle and knowing that it’s my Charizard and not just a 2D rendering of Charizard.
The overworld, however, does not feel as “3D” as I would have liked with the actual use of 3D stereoscopic being very limited in this game. I was personally shocked that the game only had 3D enabled for battles. The developers claimed it was turned off so that they could focus on better graphics for the overworld, but I’m not buying it, because they are not that pretty to start with.
I know it’s not a hardware limitation, but a limitation of Game Freak’s manpower. At the end of the day, I feel that they stuck with a “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach when it came to the overworld and played it safe. At the same time, they added lots of railings to grind on with your roller skates to make up for it.
The story in Pokemon X is forgetful, which is pretty sad, considering Pokemon Black and White had a really intriguing story line that seemed straight from the anime. In this game, your protagonist travels with a group of friends who are never actually around until you complete a gym or save the day from Team Flare. I will admit that the story did suck me in at one point when I was saving the world, but it was short-lived. In terms of being an RPG, the storyline does not do enough to carry the player to be interested in what is going. It appears to be focused on a children user base, which I as a reviewer must accept, is the developers target audience. (Even if we all disagree, amiright?)
Pokemon X does an excellent job at making the experience feel more personable, though. In the beginning of the game, you are given the choice for a skin tone, a variety of haircuts, and clothing options to help individualize yourself from the rest of the trainers of the world you will come in contact with on and offline. You can create avatar videos that help express yourself to trainers online and tell them what kind of trainer you are. Even interacting with your Pokemon feels like a personal experience.
While everyone around the world will be petting the same digital Pokemon, it doesn’t stop the player from feeling that they are forming a bond. In Amie, you can pet, feed, play mini-games, and even make funny faces at your Pokemon using the Nintendo 3D’s camera. All this brings you to forming a closer bond with your Pokemon as their affection rank increases from zero to five. All of this has a purpose in battle as well; for example, if my Charizard is paralyzed in battle, he will try to shake out of it as fast as possible because he wants to please me as his master and is eager to battle for me.
Another new edition to the series is Super Training. The concept is pretty simple: you kick a bunch of soccer balls at inflatable Pokemon that have an individual stat you want to raise. After you win each match, you earn a special training bag based off the stat you were training for. As you continue your journey, your Pokemon is free to pound away at the training bag to increase additional stats.
So what makes Pokemon play differently this time? There are the introductions of Horde Encounter, Sky Battle, and Mega Evolution, as well as the aforementioned Super Training. Horde Encounters are where your innocent Pokemon may be jumped by a pack of Pokemon as you explore the tall grass. Sky Battles are pretty self-explanatory: your Pokemon battle in the air instead of on the ground. Finally, there is Mega Evolution, quite possibly the greatest change up to the series ever created.
Mega Evolution is where the bond with a trainer and its Pokemon push it to a higher form than thought possible with the help of a special stone. Mega Evolutions change the characteristics and stats of a Pokemon, adding whole new dimension of strategy. There are rules that have been placed on Mega Evolution to fairly balance the game. It takes place during battle to only one Pokemon on your team, no matter how many may have the ability, and isn’t permanent.
Pokemon has made a slow and steady progress online, just like Nintendo has in general. It has finally made the next big step: as long as you have a WiFi connection, you are never truly alone. The game will have a list of trainers from all over the world who are passing by and you can have random battles or trade with them. You can even add trainers you have battled to an acquaintance list. You will be told when friends are online and want to do battle/trade. The experience is very smooth and is decently fast.
Pokemon X takes a lot of big steps forward within the series and is a sight to behold, as it has evolved into the 3D realm of gaming. I look forward to seeing where the series goes with introduction of concepts like Mega Evolution. At this point, Pokemon X is the greatest Pokemon game released in the franchise and is inviting to newcomers and veterans alike.
- The speed and flow of this game is the best in the series, from training to transportation. Mega evolutions change the series like never before. Online is smooth and easy to connect too.
- Overworld camera and design are far too similar to the 2D outings. Story is weak and relies on the basic premise of Pokemon to drive the player forward.