For those who've never played a Pokémon game before, it's an RPG which involves collecting a team of animals, known as Pokémon, by capturing them in the wild and using them to fight other people's Pokémon and defeat the teams of bosses known as Gym Leaders in their Gyms around the region, then eventually challenging the Elite Four and Regional Champion to become the best Pokemon trainer ever, overthrowing a terrorist organization in the process. Your Pokémon also evolve into new Pokémon as they grow stronger. I'll start this review by listing the things which frustrated me the most. Firstly, the Pokémon count. At the moment, there are currently 718 known Pokémon species (yet to see what future Nintendo events may hold). If you do the math, you'll realize that this is the lowest number of Pokémon in any generation. With 450 Pokémon overall in the Kalos regional Pokedexes, math nerds will figure out that this means for every new Pokémon you'll encounter during the main story, you'll find at least five that you've already seen before. This is very frustrating when you want to play around with new Pokémon and is further compounded when you realize that with the routes being so overpopulated, finding the Pokemon you want to use just becomes stressful (I spent a whole hour in the early game forest and didn't find a single Scatterbug because of those elemental monkeys from generation V kept appearing) Secondly, the balance and the new Fairy type in general. I know that it was mostly introduced to bring balance to a competitive metagame that has completely centralized itself around a single type, but ingame, they're kind of over-powered. The two types that beat Fairies, Steel and Poison, aren't exactly common attack types. Other than that though, this game is way too easy. Partly because the gym leaders are like in Black and White and are afraid of having a reasonable number of Pokémon on their team and partly because so many of the new features are just broken. The XP Share now affects your entire team, not that it's even needed because XP earned by combatants in battle isn't divided between them anymore; they all earn the full amount. While it's a lot less frustrating than in fifth generation's double exponential, it does make the game considerably easier. And then there's the Pokémon Amie and Super Training. Super Training isn't really as broken as it is a training tool for competitive battlers. It's basically EV training (specific stat improvement) simplified, though if you know what you're doing and use it early on, it could make things a bit too easy. But not nearly as much as Pokémon Amie. A tip for newbies, if you're really struggling at this game (somehow), play Pokémon Amie with them for a while. It boosts evasion and other stats, makes Pokémon friendlier towards you, gives effects similar to Lum Berry (restores all statuses) and the Focus Band (survive KOs with 1HP remaining) and boosts XP growth. Given that the Lucky Egg is once again given to you in this game by an NPC, You should have no trouble out leveling the champion by the time you beat the final gym. And then there's Mega Evolution. In my opinion, of all of the broken things in this game, this is one of the only things that it looks like Game Freak actually tried to balance. Basically, after a certain point in the game, if you have a Pokémon hold a stone with their name on it, you can have it temporarily evolve mid battle. This lasts until either the battle ends or the Pokémon is KO’d. Unfortunately, that's where the balance ends. The statistical boost given by Mega Evolution is so great that it's very unlikely that most Pokémon will be beaten by NPC trainers at all. Not only that, but most of the Pokémon that get a Mega Evolution are already extremely powerful, especially compared to the Pokémon introduced in this game. Of course you don't have to use any of these features if you don't want to. Lastly, there's the fact that many features of the game feel almost rushed. Asides from the new Pokémon shortage, there's so much missing from this game. The gyms, while aesthetically pleasing are very linear. Two of them are rehashes of gyms from past games, while most of the rest have no puzzle at all. In one gym in particular, the most puzzling part was trying to find the entrance. Then there's the return of the series staple Safari Zone. I was so happy when I found out this made a comeback, but unfortunately, this is probably the most rushed feature of the game. There's only one patch of grass with only three Pokémon in it, and it doesn't follow any of the usual safari zone mechanics, in that battle has nothing to do with food and rocks, rather a regular battle plays out. And to get more Pokémon you need to make friends with other people. I was hoping that the game would make up for this with some amazing post game content. But this was not the case. The fact is that Kalos is a very small region, despite needing three Pokedexes, and there is very little post-game content in this game. Find a few legendaries (One of them being known for its location in high level dungeons this time sitting alone in an empty room), play around with Battle facilities and as far as I can tell that's it. There is nothing else in this game to come back to other than catching them all. After the brilliance that was BW2, X and Y just seems lackluster. Hopefully there'll be an expansion available when they release Pokémon Bank in a couple of months. That said, this is still a Pokémon game through and through. Just because I feel like there's so much wrong with the game doesn't mean there's nothing right. As you've all probably seen already, Character Customization makes a debut, and what a debut it is. This is honestly the first time in a game where I felt like I was genuinely customizing my appearance. You have to buy your own clothes and pay for haircuts out of you own (ingame) pocket, but it feels like it's actually worth it. The graphics in this game look absolutely spectacular and the music is wonderful. The Pokémon themselves are also brilliantly made and animated. Other things like boulder puzzles, spin tiles, and sliding ice also make a return. Oh, and did I mention diagonal movement? Yeah, it's a thing and it is glorious. Especially if you can pull it off during an ice puzzle. Running shoes are obtained automatically, but you won't need them once you get the roller skates, which not only boost your movement speed but also give you full analogue movement. (Switch between them using the circle pad and digital pad) While making the game too easy, Super Training and Pokémon Amie are still very fun and addictive and it feels very rewarding maxing out your Pokémon’s affection and getting all thirty training medals. Then there's the story itself. I don't want to spoil anything, but based on the recent trend of Game Freak focusing more on the story I expected it to be amazing. While kind of predictable at times it is by far the best story in a Pokémon game yet. All in all, it's an amazing, yet easy game that's fun while it lasts.
October 31, 2013