I’m a serious fan of Pokémon. I’ve played since the Red and Blue versions were released in the United States (I’ve been tempted to find an imported copy of Green version and play through it, but I don’t have the money or time). So, when Nintendo released information regarding versions X and Y, the sixth Pokémon generation, I knew I had to play one of them. I picked Y, based on the appearance of the legendary Pokémon associated with it, Yvetal, and I haven’t looked back.
Game Freak, the development team which has worked on the Pokémon game series from the beginning, completely revamped their latest titles. No longer is movement based on a very strict grid; for the first time, you can move diagonally. With the addition of rollerblades, which—for the most part—override the traditional running shoes, your movement around the Kalos region is significantly more fluid than movement in any previous generation of the game.
Graphically, the game is also leagues ahead of its predecessors. Gone are the days of character sprites with massive heads and minuscule bodies. With the use of the Nintendo 3DS’s 3D technology, Game Freak was able to finally provide a true feeling of scale. As such, the Kalos region is massive. I don’t mean it’s much larger, laterally, than the other regions of the Pokémon world; I mean that every structure and landmark are similar in scale to what you’d imagine an exotic world to feature. This is especially true along the coast of the region and within the confines of the Pokémon League (i.e. where you take on the Elite Four).
The story, admittedly, isn’t significantly more substantial than the last few generations. There’s an evil team, with some eccentric leader, hoping to create a “better” world through some means—again, they turn to using the power of the region’s legendary Pokémon. However, this time around, there’s a well-written subplot involving Mega Evolution, a brand new concept introduce in this generation—essentially, several Pokémon which have already reached their final stages have been given an additional, temporary evolution. Additionally, there is very little story post-game. Sure, there’s a Battle Tower-esque feature and a few legendaries to catch around the region, but that’s about it.
Unfortunately, the Kalos region did not come with very many new Pokémon. In fact, only 69 new Pokémon have been released, thus far. Thankfully, the crew of Game Freak stepped off the path toward mediocre Pokémon sprites; some of this generation’s Pokémon are actually aesthetically pleasing.
If I had to pick one thing that I was actually disappointed with, though, it would be the game’s level of difficulty. Granted, none of the games in the series have been difficult. But, the levels of your opponents’ Pokémon don’t scale nearly as quickly as they should to provide any modicum of a challenge. They have also seemed to change the catch rates of various pokeballs and the region’s Pokémon. In the past, catching the game’s iconic legendary Pokémon took effort. You had to have a significant supply of Poké Balls and the willpower to continue after multiple failures—that is, unless you decided to use your master ball.
However, all of these negative aspects of the game don’t even begin to match up to the positives. For the first time since the second generation, I felt like I was on an adventure in a new, exciting world. The level of detail included, as well as the amount of semi-hidden content, was superb. I spent more than 30 hours along the way to the Elite Four—a good bit longer than I spent in previous games. By the end of the game, you actually feel a connection to your rivals—this time, there’s one main rival, with three others whom you compete with along the way.
Outside of the main game, there’s also quite a bit of online interaction already. With the advent of the Wonder Trade system, it’s easier than ever to trade Pokémon with people around the world. The other online features have also been streamlined since the fifth generation.
Additionally, the 3DS system also allows Game Freak to create downloadable content in the future. There have already been rumors of massive downloads with immense amounts of new content. For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.
If you’ve enjoyed any game in the Pokémon series so far, Pokémon Y is a must-play (as is Pokémon X, which is virtually the same game). If you haven’t, you’ll want to give it a try; it’s worth the $40 price. For the first time in a while, I’ve been impressed with Game Freak’s progress, and I look forward to more in the future.