Review: “Pokemon X/Y”

“Pokémon X and Y” is a product of the same general formula that has served developer Game Freak so well in the past. But that formula has been polished into the shiniest, prettiest formula it’s been in years. I’m a big fan of the “Pokémon” series, and I’m not going to hide my personal biases: If you don’t like “Pokémon”  in general, you may not find the game worthwhile. However, if you are remotely interested in the game or have enjoyed any of the earlier iterations, you’ll likely be as impressed as I am.

It’s not any one specific improvement or feature that sets this game apart from its predecessors. It is both a culmination of everything good about the franchise over the years combined with several new features that enhance the experience further. Add to that a certain level of top notch design and high production value and we have what may be the best generation of “Pokémon” thus far.

It’s a shame that only 70 Pokémon have been added to the universe, as some of the new designs are fantastic. (This number does go up if you count the new “Mega Evolutions” as separate from Pokémon.) We still have a few odd choices, like the key-ring Pokémon, Klefki, (surprisingly adorable) or Avalugg, which is literally the bottom half of an iceberg with legs. Even so, all of the ‘mons look fantastic on the new 3D hardware.

Only select areas (usually caves), and single battles between two Pokémon are viewable with the 3D functionality. This is disappointing enough, but what makes it worse is that even when the 3D feature is on, the game suffers severe and noticeable frame-rate drops. I kept my 3D switch off for a majority of the game, only turning it on occasionally during gym leader battles or legendary Pokémon encounters.

All of these are still minor gripes though, as the game shines in so many other aspects. Multiplayer functionality has been heavily refined, giving the game far more replay value now that interacting with friends and strangers is more convenient and compelling than ever before.

Features like PR videos, “Pokémon-amie,” and super training are diversions with their own levels of depth that manage to be deep and interesting additions. (Should not be crossed out“Pokémon” has always had its share of diversions from the normal battling and training routine, but X and Y take it so much further. The number of things to do here can be mind boggling at times. At over thirty hours into the game, there are still features which I’ve only scratched the surface of, and still more that I haven’t even tried yet.

“Pokémon X and Y” are more than worthy additions to the franchise. I have not experienced the same sense of discovery and wonder in this saga since the original “Red and Blue” versions, and I’ve played every generation of Pokémon. I highly recommend this game to anyone with interest in the series or anyone who owns a 3DS and is willing to give the game a fair shake.

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