Pokémon is easily one of the most popular franchises in the world, having over 800 TV episodes, 16 movies and a very successful video game series. Its almost crack-like addiction has spread across generations with its near 15-year run. The games have rarely deviated from the system set up in the first games, only adding a few new features in each generation and a few new Pokémon.
However, Generation VI Game Freak, the developer of the handheld Pokémon games, has decided to take their game into the new generation of technology, and slightly improve the Pokémon formula with “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y.”
To reflect the new theme of beauty, Game Freak has taken the stagnant graphics of the previous games and completely overhauled them. This means the pixelated duels between Pokémon are a thing of the past. Each attack comes with an animation, and with the Nintendo 3DS, decent 3D effects.
The overworld has also gone through a drastic renovation, with the new world having different camera angles, and being three-dimensional in certain areas instead of only being over the top, looking down on the world. This gives the game a fresh perspective and helps really convey the world in a fresh light. Appearance customization has also been introduced, allowing a player to make fashionable, purely cosmetic changes to their character’s appearance.
New features and some much needed tweaks to the Pokémon formula have greatly enhanced this generation. Sky battles are exactly what they sound like — only flying Pokémon can participate — and horde battles, when the player must take on multiple Pokémon at once.
Dragon types also have a new kryptonite with the edition of Fairy Pokémon. For a new twist in gameplay, certain Pokémon may now “mega evolve” which temporarily evolves the Pokémon into their mega form. Mega evolving Pokémon increases their stats, gives them a new ability and may even change their type. Several Pokémon can have different evolutions, depending on the game . Another new feature, super training, allows the player to train a specific stat through several minigames.
As with each new generation, the setting is changed to a new region in the Pokéworld. The new games feature Kalos as the new world, a star-shaped region based off the geography and beauty of France.
Every town has very French look to it: café’s, the occasional French phrase, high fashion and the game even goes far to add an Eiffel Tower. With this new region players are also offered three new starters, which are all pretty decent. While the 3DS cannot generate graphics like the PlayStation or Xbox, the game still looks like a masterpiece compared to other Pokémon titles.
While this generation is an improvement, there are some very frustrating flaws that have made it into the game, such as the friendship system. While this mechanic does give helpful boosts to stats, it is very tedious.
3D is also a problem. This is the first game in the franchise to abandon the over-the-top display, and naturally there are some problems that have risen, such as the roller-skate debacle. Where the old games used a bike to give players speed boosts, this generation debuts roller-skates which serve the same purpose, except the roller skates can be used almost anywhere. Doors and narrow path ways can be frustratingly difficult to navigate, especially when on roller-skates.
The game also suffers slightly from the bland storytelling in almost all Pokémon games. Basically, there are some bad guys who want to use Pokémon to do bad things like steal and bully people, except they have a secret, much more evil plan. The theme in this one turns out to be a little more sinister, but continues to follow the same basic ideas established in the earlier generations.
Overall, the game succeeds in bringing Pokémon into the next generation. The game suffers some minor problems, but the system remains effective, and the small tweaks keep the game fresh, and lets you indulge your inner child.
Speakeasy Rating: B+