Sorry for the delay everyone. I ran into a few problems last night and couldn’t get this finished in time for Sunday. Either way, let’s talk about Pokemon! Oh yes Pokemon. The word alone brings so much nostalgia to the mind of so many. Most of our childhoods (myself included) can remember a time when the only thing that really mattered in the world was your collection of holographic Pokemon cards and ensuring that you got the latest games to play. Yes, for several years Pokemon ruled the world and the craze has not died in the slightest as the years have gone on and adults still enjoy playing the game where you collect little creatures in balls and have them fight in competitions. In the most recent installment of the game, Pokemon X and Y seems like the creators, Game Freak have finally started to pull out all the stops and change the tried and true method that they have had for their games since Red and Blue and on to White and Black and brought a fresh look to the games.
Pokemon X and Y is the story of the ‘protagonist’ who lives in the Kalos Region of the Pokemon World (heavily based on France). Like other Pokemon games, it follows a very linear path. You as the protagonist set off with your group of friends into the Kalos region to catch Pokemon, defeat gym leaders, and eventually beat the Elite Four and the Champion to claim the title as the Pokemon Champion. But all is not well on your journey. No, like the other times there is some group of people ready to fuck up everyone’s day. In this case it is the nefarious Team Flare whose goal in this game is to wipe out all of humanity in order to keep the world in its pristine beauty so much in the way of a pseudo philosophical Final Fantasy villain.
The New Graphics
The first thing that has to be noted is the new graphics which is an amazing step forward for the franchise. Ever since Red and Blue’s original release on the Gameboy, the graphics and look of the game has been a very slow evolution. Game Freak seemed to really like the two-dimensional world and only really started playing with something new when White and Black were released. But with X and Y it seems they really pulled out all the stops bringing in brand new 3D graphics to make the world of Kalos really come to life. Interaction within the world and Pokemon battles themselves have been noticeable altered to create a more immersed experience.
This has been a long time coming and the extra work has really paid off for Game Freak. These new graphics are something that have been a drawing point for the game and have encouraged many gamers to upgrade their Nintendo DS’s into either 3Ds or the conveniently released 2DS. This really is the case when going the extra mile pays off in the end.
What really makes a Pokemon game unique from the other games around it is the side content. While all the games follow a very similar linear narrative it is the side content and the new series of Pokemon that sets them apart for the most criticism. The new line of Pokemon I really have nothing major to say about them. They are Pokemon, I like them, no complaints, no extreme praise, Yay megaevolutions. But the side content…. This is an area that is pretty amazing.
You notice right out of the gate that this is going to be a new experience with the ability to customize your character in ways you could not before. In previous games, the most you could do is decide what gender you were before you started your journey. But now your character can choose from a number of skin tones, hair color, and later can even change outfits. Not the most customizable character creation in the history of games, but it really is the little things that can make a game spectacular. The ability to customize your character when in the past this was nothing more than a lofty fantasy is a tremendous addition to the game.
Then there is other content like Pokemon Amie, which will receive some of the highest praise I can muster. Jesus, this was a brilliant idea. A system where you can interact with your Pokemon, play with them, feed them, and interact with them as if they are your actual companions… Holy hell this is probably the greatest idea that Game Freak has ever had for this game franchise. Now yes there are a few bugs that go along with it, most notably when the face recognition goes wrong creating some hilarious reactions from players… But overall a system where you truly can interact and play with these creatures in a game that is all about companionship and friendship between Pokemon is an amazing idea and I cannot wait to see what the next generation has in store in the realms of player/Pokemon interaction.
This is the criticism of the game franchise in general and I can understand that many people would cry foul on this front but please hear me out. I have seen several critics use the lines ‘It feels too much like a Pokemon game’ to attack the game which is a pretty poor means of criticism. A Pokemon game should feel like a Pokemon game. I think the real criticism here is the linear narrative. It is the fact that I can explain the plot of all Pokemon games with this synopsis:
A child starts their Pokemon journey from a small town. They go from town to town beating gym leaders, collecting badges, and collecting Pokemon on the way. A villainous organization arrives to accomplish a nefarious deed. The protagonist defeats the nefarious organization, defeats the Elite 4, the champion, and becomes the Pokemon Master.
It is a very predictable series of events and yes you can make this claim about a lot of gaming franchises. But really I think I and several other would like to see a little deviation from this path than the same ole same ole every time. Granted they do make up for it in the tremendous side content and new Pokemon… But seeing as how the franchise has come this far. I would enjoy seeing some new story lines and new takes on the Pokemon world.
The game is a lot of fun and one of the best in the franchise. The side content is amazing, Pokemon Amie could be one of the greatest decisions in the history of the franchise, the new graphics immerses the player into the Pokemon Universe, and overall the game is just fun and nostalgic. It does follow the regular narrative yes, but overall this game cannot be dragged down by a system that clearly works. It is a must own for Pokemon enthusiasts and a good buy for any gamer out there.
Final Score 4/5
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