Thoughts on Pokemon XY

I quite like Pokemon. I only got into the series in Gen 3 but now I own them all, because you’re supposed to do that I think. I got Pokemon Y and Caroline got Pokemon X back at launch but we have just finished the Elite Four today (70 hours in for me, 80-something for her). So, quickly, the things I like;

  • EV Training is so very nice and easy. So is the affection rating, which actually comes in useful! The minigames to achieve a good affection rating is also quite fun and addictive.
  • Online connectivity is really useful now. Battling and trading as it should be. The “spot” and “wonder trade” (where it picks a random person and pokemon to trade with) is interesting and oddly compelling to use.
  • The game feels like a platform for online features, rather than a Pokemon adventure. Oops, that sounds like a negative, we can’t be there already can we? Ok!

Negative things!

  • The world is awful. It’s France. France isn’t a cool place to set a sprawling RPG. Europe would be, it’d make the place feel a bit more varied. But the world is dull.
  • It feels like a DS game that was ‘upscaled’. Everything from the low polygon buildings and models, the robotic-like camera, the unfiltered textures, the complete misstep with stereoscopic 3D. If I was a conspiracy nut I’d say that XY were intended for the DS originally after BW1, but with the 3DS around the corner it was delayed and BW2 was pushed out instead. Visually it’s just too sterile and rigid.
  • Part of the exploration is the delving into the vast numbers of newly designed Pokemon. 60 new Pokemon is insulting.
  • Pokemon games are famed for introduction of cool new things (phones, Poketch, Auto-run button, following Pokemon…) that get dropped on the next game. Will Mega Evolutions also die off? Items cannot be stored on the Pokemon Bank so unless they update it we won’t be transferring our Blazikenite to the next game.
  • The map isn’t interesting visually. Old Gen 1-4 had abstract 90-degree lines you could follow. Now there’s no such detail in positioning. It makes the map feel more natural, more confusing and way less interesting.
  • Post game really is a let down. There is 1 new location to explore, 2 side quests and that wraps up XY. No bonus islands to explore, no 20% of a map that was previously blocked off, no volcanoes to climb into, no whole second map to play with (Gen 2 really spoiled us, didn’t it?).
  • The music lacks life and energy. Remember in Gen 5 when you’d fight a Gym Leader and you got that INCREDIBLE Gen 1 remix? That’s gone.
  • Realism! It feels like the magic is being sucked from it with realistic characters and plotlines. It’s turned from magical adventure into a drama Gen 5 onwards.

Overall it’s a game I’m forced to continue playing because, yeah, let’s finally “catch them all” now there is the super awesome Bank feature. But let’s hope Gen 7 does something nice.

Go back and play Heart Gold or Soul Silver again. You’ll see.

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