Power Hour Review: Pokemon X & Y
Power Hour Reviews are a new NYMG feature in which we spend one intense hour playing newly released games in order to get a sense not only of the game’s mechanics and characterization, but its narrative as well. Let us spend our time first, so that you don’t have to waste yours.
Let me confess something before I dive into the world of Pokemon for your reading and reviewing pleasure; I played well over an hour’s worth of Pokemon Y prior to writing this article. I bought it on release day, October 12th (bless Nintendo for insisting on releasing Pokemon on weekends), and have spent every free moment I have had playing the game. I believe I am at 18 hours of gameplay. With that being said, I am not even halfway through the game so this review should still stick to the basics of the game.
On January 8th, 2013, Pokemon fans around the world rejoiced as they learned that Nintendo would be releasing a Pokemon game solely for the 3DS (and later the 2DS) and that this game would fully utilize the 3DS’ 3D graphics. As a girl who grew up playing Pokemon on her purple Gameboy Color I was and have been extremely excited for this game to come out. A lot of my memories growing up come from playing Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. When I realized that none of the ladies at NYMG had picked up the title to review for October, I quickly snagged it and waited anxiously for the game to come out.
So here we are a week after release and a whole lot of gameplay later. I picked up Pokemon Y because I like the legendary Pokemon better, Yveltal is a Dark/Flying Pokemon and those are two of my favorite types in this game, but that’s not to say Xerneas isn’t awesome as well! There are a few distinct differences in the gameplay of the two versions, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you do want to know click through this link to see the differences
My initial reaction to the game was that I actually enjoyed the 3D aspects of it. Normally I turn the 3D off on my 3DS as it tends to make my head hurt, but since this was a Pokemon game and they put effort into making it 3D I decided to keep the feature turned on for as long as I could stand it. The first sequence was beautifully crafted with the camera following a bird flying through the home of your character. As you progress through the game the 3D elements come and go depending on what your character is doing (3D is active during battles for example, but not while you are walking around areas of the map) and this made me enjoy the 3D aspect that much more. The parts of the game that were 3D were well thought out, enhancing the scenes where it is active. This is something that I feel a lot of games on the 3DS are lacking; they make every part of the game 3D and it becomes overwhelming after a while. This 3D is something I could stomach for extended periods of time.
The specified 3D elements are just one new element to the game that has me hooked. While a majority of time is spent looking at your character with a view similar to the top-down view we are accustomed to with the old-school Pokemon games, this version utilizes a camera that changes view depending on where your character is at within the map. The first few times the camera changed angles I liked it, but when my character walked into “Reflection Cave” I was totally blown away by how big of a difference the changing camera angles can make on the game play. If you haven’t picked the game up yet I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that it opens up the possibilities for how the Pokemon can attack you!
Another new element that has caught a lot of attention is the added interaction with your Pokemon through “Pokemon-Amie” and “Super Training.” These additions to the game allow you to interact with you Pokemon on a level separate from battling. “Pokemon-Amie” allows you to place a Pokemon from your main lineup into a room and interact with them on a couple of different levels. You can play games with them, feed them, and pet them. The petting aspect has led to some silly memes and pictures on the internet, but the benefits of using “Pokemon-Amie” are tremendous. Not something you could figure out in an hour’s worth of play time so you’ll just have to trust me on that one. “Super Training” allows the player to increase the stats of their Pokemon through punching bags and a mini game where the player shoots balls into a moving net. This is a pretty great feature, especially for people who compete, because it allows the player to train specific stats of their Pokemon anytime outside of battle. While you still have the ability to use items that increase stats during battle, this new feature offers the ability to increase stats over the long term.
One more new element that adds to gameplay is the “Player Search System” which allows players to interact with each other via the internet or the wireless feature that Street Pass also uses. You can trade and/or battle with your friends or with random people via your internet connection. An interesting feature that I have yet to try out is the “Wonder Trade” where players offer up one of their Pokemon and receives a random Pokemon via someone else in the world who is participating in the feature. It’s a neat idea, but I’m wary of receiving a Pokemon I already have and not gaining anything in the end. But that’s just me!
Aside from these bigger items, the rest of the game play is almost identical to the older versions. Players are introduced to their starter Pokemon right away, sent on their mission to fill the Pokedex, and become the best Pokemon Trainer in the Kalos region. There are a few quirks along the way (you obtain roller blades right away, you get to pick a second Pokemon from the original starters) but the mechanics have stayed pretty rigidly the same. I found myself using the D-Pad controls much more than the Circle Pad because when you’re roller blading or biking it’s difficult to stop at a specific point, plus it added to the nostalgia factor for me. Graphics have been amped up significantly since the originals, and the added 3D takes it up another step from Pokemon Black and White versions 1 and 2.
Overall, I’m hooked. I’ve loved Pokemon for a long time and this game feeds that love. I think this game is still very kid friendly, there isn’t much to squabble about as far as violence and the dialogue goes; the content seems pretty safe to me as well. If you’re a Pokemon fan I’m sure you’ve already spent some time in the game and you know whether or not you’ll be allowing your kids to play, but if you haven’t dived in yet I urge you to go out and purchase the game!
Since you more than likely have started the game, I’m curious as to which two starters you picked? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!If you like the work we do here at Not Your Mama's Gamer and would like to help support us, please check out our Patreon campaign or the Kickstarter campaign for our video series looking at race and racial representation in video games, Invisibility Blues .