When I got the opportunity to review Pokémon Y for oprainfall, I was ecstatic! This series is obviously a big deal, and I’ve been part of the gotta-catch-’em-all craze from the very beginning. I fondly remember using link cables, black and white sprites and Mewtwo-cloning glitches. So it goes without saying that I had high expectations for their transition to almost-3D graphics. Obviously, the graphics are beautiful, but any Pokémon game is about more than the style—it’s also about the gameplay.
One thing that Pokémon Y does very well is streamlining everything. The menus make a lot more sense, and I found the changes very welcome. For example, now, when you toggle up the Bag option, it shows a list of your Party Pokémon next to the selected section, such as Items, TMs and HMs, Berries, etc. So when you go to select an HM to give a new move to your Pokémon, it will list whether or not each member of your party can learn it. This saved me a ton of time compared to even the last generation.
Another useful feature that was streamlined is arrows on the bottom screen that toggle left and right between PSS, Pokémon-Amie and Super Training. Suffice to say, navigating menus is very intuitive and colorful, allowing for easy touch implementation.
Speaking of Pokémon-Amie and Super Training, another interesting new aspect of X and Y is the lack of hand holding. Sure, there is still a lot of NPC chatter, but no longer does the game go out of its way to explain every new detail. While I welcomed that for the battle aspects I have long since internalized, it would have been helpful to have a Professor or an NPC explain these new features in better detail. Luckily, once you do try them out, the game will explain how to do so. It’s just a matter of how long it takes you before you decide to do so. It also bears mentioning that both of these features are crazy-addictive as well as helpful to making more well-rounded Pokémon.
Not every new aspect of the game was improved, however. With the beautiful 3D graphics came a host of camera quirks that range from easily dismissed to irritating. This was especially noticeable in Lumiose City, the largest residential area in the game. As you skate around, you will find the camera veering off in odd ways, such as away from the doorways you are standing near. Far from game breaking, but an annoyance for sure. Luckily, in the wide open areas, this is never a problem.
As far as challenge goes, I found the game to be a reasonable challenge but also somewhat easier than Pokémon White 2, the last entry I played. I found all the gyms in White 2 more difficult than those in Y, and I also think there were more trainers to battle in the process. That’s not to say they were pushovers, just that veterans of the series will get through them with little issue, excepting perhaps the new Fairy gym.
Another aspect of the previous games I found more interesting was the plot. Without going into spoilers, it just seemed dramatic and more involved. There is still a lot to be said about the plot in Pokémon Y, not to mention cool cutscenes, but ultimately, it’s been failing to deliver. Not that this is the end of the world, since, after all, no one really expects amazing plots from Pokémon games.
Now, I also know many of you are probably curious about the new features most touted prior to the release, such as Horde Battles and Sky Battles. Sky Battles were surprisingly tricky and required some real problem solving to master. Horde Battles, on the other hand, were little more than annoyances, as your Pokémon are chipped away by a bunch of low-level wild Pokémon.
Mega Evolutions were a very well-implemented and cool new feature. They aren’t overpowered, but they essentially provide a 10-to-15-level stat boost temporarily. Not that this makes the Mega Pokémon unbeatable, mind you, just harder to beat.
One new type of battle that I heard absolutely nothing about previously and that I ended up loving was the Inversion Battles. These are exactly like they sound: super effective becomes non-effective, and vice versa. Fire decimates Water, and Normal destroys Ghost. These provided an interesting challenge, and I am eager to find more of them.
In closing, I’ll talk about the graphics. Finally, Game Freak shows off their Pokémon to the fullest. Now we can see each critter’s unique personality in their movements and facial mannerisms. They’re full of nice touches, like Azurill bouncing on his own tail and Klefki dropping his keys when KO’ed. It is also worth noting that the Fly and Surf moves, which previously utilized proxy animations, now show off the unique Pokémon using the attacks to astounding effect.
Furthermore, for anyone concerned about the small number of sixth-generation Pokémon, I will say that this is not an issue, as seeing all my favorite old-gen Pokémon in action makes up for it. Also, the sixth generation is very unique and cool, as far as I am concerned.
So that’s where I stand thus far. Tune in next week for our dual reviews of Pokémon Y and X; for now, be sure to check out Crystal’s Pokémon X impressions!