I haven’t touched a Pokemon game since beating Pokemon White 2 earlier this year, but the unwritten rule in my heart still says that I will purchase every new Pokemon game that comes out, no hesitation. And so, on Saturday, after learning that Sears was booked up for hours and unable to take my car for an oil change and a busted brake light, I swung by the GameStop and stood in a line made up of mostly young kids, trying to decide right there and then which version of the game to get. And then the moment was upon me: Pokemon X or Pokemon Y? I went with the latter because Y not.
Anyways, I’ve already dropped about four to five hours into the colorful beast, defeating the first gym leader with ease and waking up a sleeping Snorlax and learning a bit about the mysterious O-Powers that reside deep within me. My team currently consists of mainly a Fennekin, a Squirtle, a Fletching, a Farfetch’d, and two spots filled with random Pokemon that I’m giving a trial run, to see if they are interesting enough to stay. Not yet sure of what my dream team is going to look like in the end, but I know that the Fennekin and Squirtle are definitely staying. Sure, it’s early on and Fletching’s just a bird, but pretty cool-looking if you ask me.
This won’t surprise any of you: Pokemon Y is a Pokemon game, and if you’ve played one before, this is all that and a bag of chips, with a few new minor twists to either enhance your experience or detract from it. You pick your starting Pokemon, get handed a Pokedex, and are asked to fill it full of data while exploring the Kalos region. There’s also a mystery about mega evolutions to investigate, but it’s this iteration’s throwaway sub-plot that pops up frequently in these adventures. In Pokemon White, there was a whole bit about treating Pokemon ethically, and HeartGold has members of Team Rocket chasing after you. I’m sure it won’t come to much, but that’s okay, as battling and collecting pocket monsters is continuously a joy, and the graphical overhaul really makes the fights come alive. Seriously, Fennekin’s flame attacks look absolutely stunning, helping you forget that you simply just pushed a button to make it happen.
Your mileage may vary, but some enhancements to me are that you get rollerblades (instead of a bike) very early into the adventure, and they are always on and usable via the circle pad; if you want to walk, use the d-pad. Also, let’s give it up for the refined EXP Share, which is now a key item that you can turn on or off. Here’s a tip: never turn it off. Before, you had to give this item to a specific Pokemon to hold, and they’d gain a percentage of EXP after a battle, even if they didn’t participate. Now, with the item always on, every Pokemon in your party gains EXP after each battle, which helps keep your team balanced and roughly around the same levels. I’ve already seen some folks online crying foul over this, that it makes the game far too easy, but I don’t see a problem with it. Trainer customization seems neat, too, but there isn’t much available to select from just yet besides a new hat and maybe a different shirt; I can’t wait to dress like a true lumberjack pretending to be a Trainer.
Because I entered Pokemon gaming fandom fairly late in my twenties, not counting a few times I tried to play the TCG or watch the TV show, I recognize very few of the critters that pop out of the grass, save for the most iconic ones, like Pikachu and…um, that other one. A lot of people are excited for Pokemon X and Y as it shows off the original generation over some of the more recent incarnations, but they are all mostly new to me, which I’m loving. I mean, from what I can tell, my teams have all been strikingly different across the various ‘mon games in my collection, and I’m hoping to find a really cool Fairy type to use down the road (sorry, Flabébé), as they are humanity’s only hope against a Dragon-based gym.
Still haven’t messed around with the new mini-games like Pokemon-Amie or whatever else they have hidden in some city building. These are generally decent distractions, but I only ever got really invested in Voltorb Flip from HeartGold, which was an addicting mix of Picross and Minesweeper. Still haven’t had a sky battle, but I did experience a horde battle, which felt a little underwhelming. It’s only been a day or two, but haven’t connected with anyone online to battle or trade, and have always found this process to be overcomplicated in previous games so I’m genuinely curious to see if the 3DS is able to make interactivity easier. Also, still haven’t found a Garbodor yet. Sigh…
All in good time, hopefully.