Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review #80: Pokemon Y

 After you get over how fantastic it looks, you realize that it's more of the same.
 First things first, obsessive fanboys are disgusting. Secondly, whoever's been playing Pokemon since Blue and Red doesn't get the right to complain about Call of Duty or Dynasty Warriors being the same every year. What I mean to say is, this game is more of the same, if you like Pokemon, you'll like Y and X, if you don't, this game won't change your mind.
 The newest installments place you, a teenage Pokemon trainer, in the new region of Kalos. Pokemon has never had much of a strong narrative, but they tried to change it this time around. The supporting cast is larger than any other game before, and you'll get to interact with them much more than in previous installments. This time around, for example, you don't get a single rival, instead, four other kids set out alongside you, and each one has a different goal in mind. As you go from town to town you'll occasionally run into them, sometimes they'll want to battle, sometimes they'll just run alongside you. I like this change, while they don't get a whole lot of development, they do have their own personalities and you'll get to grow fond of them. The story also touches a few darker subjects, at least when it comes to Pokemon, such as wars or the whole point of Pokemon Battling, the latter never amounts to anything, but it's interesting none the less.
 The game plays just like any other Pokemon game. You must go from town to town, capture Pokemon and earn all 8 Gym Badges in order to gain the right to challenge the Elite 4 and their champion. Battles are turn based and come in to types: Random encounter or Trainer Battle. Trainer Battles are battles-to-the-death(Or rather, 'till one faints), while Random encounters let you capture the opposing 'mon if you have a Pokeball. While going from town to town, you may sometimes have to use a Pokemon that knows a specific "HM", like Cut, to cut bushes, or Surf to traverse the water. Luckily, HMs have been kept to a minimum(5, and you don't really need Fly). Besides HMs, there are also TMs that let you teach your Pokemon techniques to use in battle, and just like Pokemon Black and White, these can be used indefinitely
 The game is not too easy and not too hard. Very early in the game you get the Experience Share, an item that gives the Pokemon that fought full experience gain, and gives half of it to the rest of your party. It can be turned off, and if you want a challenge you probably should. I actually like the new Exp.Share, as it makes it easier to grind Pokemon levels, but next time, give it much later into the game, maybe before or after the Elite 4. Lastly, the game has over 600 different creatures now, up to Ruby and Sapphire, it was easy to remember every Pokemon type, or you could roughly tell at a glance the type of the enemy Pokemon... not anymore. It'd be nice to have some kind of way to know the type of the enemy Pokemon, maybe let you access to the Pokedex during battle?
 Finally, one of the most requested features has been introduced: Customization. At the outset of the game you get to choose your gender, and afterwards one out of three generic appearances. As you go through the game you'll run across Boutiques were you can buy new pieces of clothing. There's a nice variety of clothes, although it'd be nice to be able to take off the hat! You can also get a different haircut and change the color of your eyes. Customization is, ultimately, pointless, but it's oh so much fun to finally be able to more-or-less taylor your character to your liking.  As for gameplay, the most important addition is a whole new type, Fairy. and the addition of Mega Evolutions. Some older Pokemons type has been changed to the new Fairy type, and while it's no the gamechanger  they make it out to be, it's one more type to keep in mind. Meanwhile, Mega-Evolution is a temporary(Lasts for the duration of the battle and you can only use Mega-Evolution on one Pokemon per battle) form that gives you a couple of stat boosts, nothing too mind blowing. Then there's also the new horde battles, in which one of the random encounter may pit your Pokemon against five others, these are a novelty and drag on for so long, waiting for each of the 6 'mons to finish their turn, not fun at all, and "Sky Battles", in which you are only allowed to use flying Pokemon, gimmicky at best.
 For the first time ever, the game shows you and keep tracks of IVs. Previously, you had to, if you wanted to undergo specialized EV training, keep track of these yourself, not anymore. One of the three Touch-screen features shows how your EVs are distributed. Then you also get Super Training. Super Training are minigames, all have you drag your Pokemon around with the analog stick while you tap on the screen to shoot. Doing this allows you to increase the EVs in whatever way you want, and even if it's time-consuming, it sure as hell is faster than finding the enemies that drop the EVs that you want. You can also use the touch-screen to pet your Pokemon, Nintendogs-style, feed it muffins or play some minigames that raise their happiness level. Raising their happiness means less missing and more dodging in battle.
 The game is very easy on the eyes, actually, it's drop dead gorgeous. The game is incredibly beautiful, so much so that for the first few hours it will feel like a completely different game from previous installments, which is not. As pretty as it is, animation is a bit inconsistent, the animations for certain attacks are smooth and pretty, but other moves, Double Kick for example, just move the model up and down with no real animation to speak off, which comes off as a bit disappointing. Graphics are a bit too much for the game too handle as well, so much so that you can't turn on 3D on the overworld, 1-on-1 battles, however, can be played in 3D without affecting the framerate, however, when you choose which moves to use and what have you, the game makes use of a dynamic camera on the battleground, which does gets some pretty cool angles, but when it closes up on both Pokemon, the framerate stutters quite a bit, luckily, it doesn't get in the way of the game. Music is excellent, what were you expecting from a Nintendo franchise? Oddly enough, every Pokemon still keep their growls from their older installments... except Pikachu who now says "Pikachu", it feels quite out-of-place.
 The game is a bit shorter than previous games, but you do get post-game content, such as the Battle Maison where fight for points to trade in for items. You can also battle at restaurants in order to get money(There's an entry fee, but between the trainers and the sellable rewards, you earn your money back and more)  Almost every post-game activity is battle-related, but there are some quirky activities like helping out at a Hotel for money, by making beds, finding items and remembering the orders of some customers. I also found the story to have a few pacing problems at the start, you'll get through two-three towns in a row with no Pokemon Gym or Boutiques of their own, so it'll be a while before you can really start customizing your trainer.
 Pokemon Y and X are not bad games, if you've loved the formula so far, you'll still love it now, especially thanks to the new coat of paint. Most new additions are gimmicky(MegaEvolutions, Horde and Sky Battles, Pettin Pokemon) or merely cosmetic(Albeit customizing your trainer is really fun). Being able to see and train your EVs without having to fight is a godsend, though. As a whole, it's a great game, but it's a bit slim in content when compared to other games in the series, and it's the almost same game I've been playing since Pokemon Blue.
 8.0 out of 10.

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