Last Level Press

Review: Pokémon X & Y

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

I don’t think there’s much to say about Pokémon. It’s a pop culture phenomenon, it’s a merchandising empire, and it is the most successful second-party franchise Nintendo owns. There has been a Pikachu balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade for over a decade. So you would think a game series that has existed for almost two decades would have gotten stale by now. There are the faithful, the haters, the folks who’ve been around since the very beginning, and those that are just now experiencing this game. So what more needs to be said? Quite a bit actually, especially for this game changer. Also, it’s October and there are monsters, and this is totally not grasping at straws.


Pokémon X and Y involves the French-inspired Kalos region, where you and four others are tasked by Professor Sycamore to have a journey with Pokémon to discover not only all the monsters of the Kalos region but also to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic Mega Evolution. Along the way you discover the flashy Team Flare, whose goal is to make the world beautiful. A noble goal, sure, but they are the antagonists, so it’s less than pleasant.

While Game Freak, the developers behind the Pokémon games, have dabbled with 3D models before in the previous generation of Pokémon games or even in their eShop exclusive of HarmoKnight (coming soon), this is the first time in the main line of the Pokémon series where nothing is left as a pixelated sprite, and sweet mercy is this game gorgeous. Before almost every battle you are presented with character art for each class of trainer and gym leader whose vividness makes you hope there will be an official art book. The 3D character models are immensely faithful to Ken Sugimori’s art style, and the battles remind me of what I hoped a Pokémon Stadium 3 would look like, with active models of each Pokémon waiting for their turn in actual backgrounds. There was some disappointment that such things were absent from the fifth generation games, but the wait was well worth it. Even beyond these things, the Kalos region is huge and filled with a wide variety of different areas to explore, and it’s all worth taking in. And, before it’s forgotten, the 3D looks outstanding. You might not have it on all the time, but to see battles play out in the 3D is a great little novelty.

The game has only one bit of voice acting: Pikachu. Not since Pokémon Yellow has this happened, and since Pikachu is the de facto mascot of the franchise and one of few Pokémon whose name is the same across the planet, it’s appropriate that the iconic mouse gets such a privilege.

Your favorite moment in every Pokémon game, and you know it.

The rest of the monsters have their digital in-game calls, many of the older ones finally updated to sound more modern and less 8-bit. All that really leaves is the music, and it is both catchy and wonderful. My personal favorite tracks are Lumiose City, because you’ll get the song stuck in your head after traversing the largest city in Kalos, and Dendemille Town, because its airy and upbeat sound fits magnificently with a town with a massive windmill.

The controls are, for the lack of a better phrase, inclusive of all the buttons. There can be a bit of a disconnect as you learn how to move around efficiently since the camera angle may sometimes change radically and the fact that you can now move diagonally is, at least for Pokémon, a pretty big deal. The touch screen is used frequently, so keep the stylus handy, especially if you plan to do anything like online play or Wonder Trading. It’s worth nothing that in addition to getting a bike you will also receive a pair of roller blades, which can be activated by using the control stick and deactivated by pressing the control pad. This can be a bit annoying since you can’t turn the roller blades off, and you can’t change the controls, so you’re stuck using the control pad to move around with some semblance of motor function. However, the roller blades are essential to access some areas, and the movement, once you get a grasp of it, is actually much smoother than being on a bike or running.

Riding your forcibly captured “partners” into battle as glorious war steeds,

however, is far more rewarding.

As mentioned, Kalos is big. Really big. It not only has the largest city in the Pokémon world, but until you get the National Pokédex you have three for the entire region: the Central Kalos Pokédex, the Coastal Kalos Pokédex, and the Mountain Kalos Pokédex. In fact, I was worried that it would take me forever to get all eight badges if only because I was twelve hours in and only had two. Luckily, I didn’t spend over sixty hours to get each badge and defeat the Champion, but I did do it about fifty if only because I spent a lot of my time grinding. Incidentally, leveling is much easier now since you get the Exp. Share very early on as well as gaining experience from catching Pokémon. The whole game felt pretty easy in fact, even when you consider that this game introduced the new Fairy type and should add to some difficulty, but the ease could be attributed to me playing these games for over a decade, and that I was a solid fifteen levels above the Pokémon League Champion’s best team members. Excluding hours of grinding, the massive post-game, and even the interactive Pokémon Amie, where you can feed and play with your team members or the super stat training, you’re looking at about forty hours to beat the story.

If you’ve played a Pokémon game before, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Even if you haven’t played a single game since Red/Blue/Yellow, you know what to do. Pokémon X and Y don’t break the mold of what you should expect and, for what it’s worth, that’s not a bad thing. It’s an easily accessible game that isn’t too hard but it’s not holding your hand all the way. If you have a 3DS and love Pokémon, you’re only reading this to see what I think. If you love Pokémon but don’t have a 3DS, you’ll do yourself a favor in buying this. If you want to get back into the series, welcome back. And if you don’t like Pokémon or anything I just said, you’re probably not going to play this. Thanks for reading anyway.

Rating: 8.8

Visuals: 10
Audio: 9
Controls & Mechanics: 8
Atmosphere & Experience: 9
Entertainment Value: 8

You’re probably also a sad, hollow husk of a human being, devoid of all things

bright, happy, and joyful in the world.  Or a member of PETA.  

Same thing, really.

  Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

  Developer: Game Freak

  Publisher: Nintendo

  Release Date (U.S.): Oct 12, 2013

  Release Date (U.K.): Oct 12, 2013

  Release Date (JP): Oct 12, 2013

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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