It's time to get your Pokeballs at the ready once more...
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Pokemon games haven’t changed since their inception nearly 20 years ago.Sure, there have been new batches of Pokemon with each release, (the original generation still remaining the best) but what else has there really been that has made a huge difference to each game?
Much like the many other titles that have fallen foul to ‘Nintendo-exclusive syndrome’, Game Freak have pushed out games that have been more about evolution and grinding than breaking new boundaries and attracting a new audience.
A perfect epitome of the franchise you could argue, however all great games must change at some point and the time has come for Pokemon. It’s time to be about revolution as opposed to evolution.Pokemon has been, and still is, a worldwide phenomenon and for many like me it all started back in the days when Red and Blue were released and trading pokemon had to be done with the world’s most annoying purple transfer cable. Now though, the 3DS is the platform for what is undoubtedly the biggest overhaul of the series to date in the shape of new pairing X and Y; yes the irreversible trend of releasing two games is still happening.
But whilst X any Y are quick to show you everything that is new, there is always a relevant reminder of the old titles and creatures from them. This was one of the main problems with the games of the last few years; they have had the older generation in there as a token gesture, not to play an important role.
Of course the basic formula is pretty much unchanged, with you being tasked with cataloguing as many Pokemon in the region as possible, after selecting your own unique starting creature. You and your group of friends (who are actually friendly this time around) take your Pokedex and off you pop to take down gym leaders and the rogue Team Flare. Sounds familiar right? Well it should, but you aren’t here for the story so this still serves as a good platform to base your adventures upon.
Anyone who has played a previous Pokemon game could pick this up and play instantly without issue, and the simplicity to the whole franchise still remains. After all, the game is mainly aimed at children, but dig a little deeper and there is a huge scale for those who wish to invest the time. Beyond the simple collect, train and battle there is also the possibility to craft your perfect unit by having each element type, special attack balance and new features such as O powers which grant specific stat boosts for a given period of time.
Anyone who has played a previous Pokemon game could pick this up and play instantly without issue
It’s instantly clear that there is very little handholding in these outings as you are off on your adventure within the first ten minutes of gameplay. No chore running or guidance, from the outset you’re told what your task is and where you need to go in order to advance the game forward. Furthermore you are granted helpful items and NPCs at regular intervals which makes acquisition of new Pokemon easier, levelling captured creatures is much less difficult and the entire game that bit more casual.
There are no longer sections where you are bombarded with unwanted random encounters, or areas where you are stranded creatures that are on the verge of fainting. To that end, the diehard fans of the series will probably find this title less of a challenge than those that have come before it, but somehow X feels better for these new features being included. It feels right.
Pokemon takes a bold new step into 3D territory this year too, leaving behind the pixelated 2D animations of old and making use of the 3DS’ power. Finally, the 3DS owners out there have a Pokemon game to crow about without having to cope with an un-optimised DS cartridge. Cities are a sight to behold, with much more detail being displayed than before but the animations and detail of the Pokemon is where the biggest changes have been made. Black and White followed the old recipe of having basic 2D animations but here in X we have full on 3D models of each creature and dynamic 3D environments for them to battle in.
Think along the lines of Pokemon Stadium back on the N64 and you won’t go far wrong, but it’s a little change that makes battles that bit more engaging. Pokemon show their prowess against one another, the camera flits between angles depending on the attack used whilst the weather and attacks are both well animated and a welcome inclusion.
The world in which you collect and battle has also had something of a change-up with new towns, Pokemon, characters and quests. Despite cities being different in many of the Pokemon outings, you could draw similarities between them all and not straying too far from the principle set way back when in the GameBoy titles. No longer do the gym battles seem to occur in the same order, or the map layout being near identical as they all have had a revamp. Gym battles aren’t located in all the towns you visit as there are plenty of subsidiary towns to visit and side quests to complete. The gym battles are much better now, as the gyms themselves are heavily detailed and reflect the elemental style the leader battles with. For instance the bug gym is one giant web, and the rest are equally interactive and well designed.
There’s a host of new features within X that slowly advances the Pokemon franchise on that little bit more such as Mega Evolution (taking maxed out Pokemon up another notch), multiplayer connectivity via the internet and local connections and, of course, the inclusion of 3D. Now there was a lot of scoffing when the 2DS was first announced, but since the new Pokemon games have launched the device makes complete sense. Kids will want to play new Pokemon, but don’t care about the 3D effects and you’d think they weren’t even included here if you didn’t take a second glance. The only time the 3D comes into effect is in certain scenes and during battles, when unfortunately the frame rate plummets dramatically which is a shame because the battles actually look quite good in 3D.
Catch 'em all
- Upgraded graphics
- Stunning locations
- More depth
- Same addictive gameplay
Caught 'em all before
- 3D is pointless
- Nothing really in it for newcomers
Pokemon X 3DS ReviewPokémon looks brilliant on the 3DS, arguably the best it has ever looked. The game is improved tenfold thanks to the 3D animations and increased detail of the monsters and environments through which you travel. The towns and cities are much more detailed than before as are the creatures themselves - the game has finally stepped out of the 2D pixelated generation.
The handheld's 3D effect is barely used however which is a shame because the battles do look good with the slider pushed up, but it is at a detriment to the frame rate. This can be forgotten though given the other improvements on offer in the story, trading system and player-to-player interaction.
All together, this is a great Pokémon game which will pull in a big crowd of loyal followers and rightly so. If there was ever a time to own a 3DS, it would be now.
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