Monday, January 20, 2014

Pokemon Y Review

It is somewhat difficult for me to review Pokemon games, since I view the original Red/Blue/Yellow with the prettiest shade of rose colored glasses. The original trio were definitely my favorite games for years and years, and what got me interested in the RPG genre. Since then, there have been hundreds of new Pokemon, but not much change to the overall look and feel of the games. I enjoyed every Pokemon game very much, up through the semi-recent Black and White releases. While I'd rate almost all the Pokemon games a solid 9 or 10 out of 10, I'd rate Black and White at a 7, or even a 6.5. I purchased White 2 a few weeks ago, but it is still sitting (sealed) on my shelf. I'm not sure when I'll get around to it...or if I even want to after having played Y.

I heard a lot of hype around Pokemon X and Y, and admittedly kind of ignored it. There is an obvious graphical overhaul in the change from 2D overhead to 3D third person views, but it didn't really "wow" me like it seemed to everyone else. Apparently that was only because I hadn't played the game myself. Although the stale taste of the series certainly wasn't limited to its dated visuals, the fresh feel of a new perspective really did make a difference. I generally turned the battle scenes off in the previous games. I didn't care about a small animation for the moves, and it usually took up more time than the novelty of seeing your Pokemon twitch and some colors shoot around was worth. I left it on in Y, and didn't even really think about it until I was more than two thirds done with the game. Battles are incredible in this new game, and really refresh the feeling of playing Red for the first time so many years ago. Everything about the new graphics makes the game so much better. Basic gameplay is starting to look a lot more like (how I remember) the show. By the end of all of the previous installments, I grew bored with the battles and they felt like a chore. I just clocked in 20 hours of Pokemon Y, and every battle somehow seemed as interesting as the first one. 

There are many other small tweaks to the game, which stand out immediately upon playing, but are easily blended into the experience that you'll forget they ever weren't a part of the series. The addition of "roller skates" (used via the thumbstick) take the running shoes upgrade, and push it further and faster than ever before. Traveling is a breeze in this game, and I can't imagine how going back and having to hold down the B button for a slower pace is going to feel. The experience share item now applies to your entire party...the battling Pokemon receives full experience, and the rest of the party gets half. I can't begin to explain how much of a welcome addition this was for party was actually very well rounded by the end of the game, and nobody was miles ahead of anyone else. This can be turned off for the Poke-purists, but I don't know how anyone could be masochistic enough to want to turn it off. The "mega evolutions" don't really seem as tacked on as I had anticipated, and add another layer of strategy to the game. I did find myself forgetting they were something I could use, but they helped me when I remembered it was an option.

Most importantly of all, getting from point A to point B wasn't obnoxious at all. I only encountered a few places where I was required to use HM the game is taking a step in the right direction. I believe the only two I actually needed were Surf and Strength. These still cannot be forgotten (so you don't trap yourself) and I had to stick them on my team. Surf has always been OK with me, but strength made me kinda mad to take up a slot. I still wish it'd be an item you obtained that gave you the skill instead of an (mostly) unforgettable move, but not having to waste a party slot on a Pokemon that could learn Flash was awesome. I also didn't encounter as many wild Pokemon. Traveling through caves wasn't awful like it used to be, and I didn't even hate the game too much by the end of the infamous Victory Road! I only bought a handful of Super Repels, and used them very sparingly. Paths often gave the option of circumventing the tall grass. I hated battling wild Pokemon in previous games - they give horrible experience, and came far too often. This is one of the best changes in X and Y. 

The story this time around is pretty much exactly what you expect a Pokemon story to be, but it threw in a few other elements that made it a little more interesting. I won't spoil it, but I'll just say it was different. There were also a few actual cutscenes! It seems odd to have to mention that, but I believe it is the first time they have been included. In addition to a more interesting story, the game world seems much more alive than before. Towns were appropriately small, cities were appropriately large. I actually lost my way a few times in the giant Lumiose City. People are running from place to place, and everyone seems more like people than static NPC's. 

My only real complaint (other than the vastly improved HM's) is the post-game content. I haven't done any just yet (I actually just beat the Elite Four minutes ago) but after having taken a peek at a walkthrough it seems a bit lacking. I guess I mainly just miss the second set of gyms in Gold/Silver. As I mentioned, I finished the game at 20 hours in, so I paid a little over a dollar per hour (I think it was $34?). I figure by the time I breed a few starters, finish the post game content and catch/evolve enough Pokemon to be satisfied, I'll have a solid 25-30 hours in, which brings me to about a dollar an hour for my entertainment. I'd say it is more than worth the investment.

I'll be leaving out my opinions on the global online gameplay and the new Pokemon. They are both OK, I'm sure...but I don't play the games for that. I play for the single player experience and to have fun while I do it. I'm sure both features increase the longevity of the game, and if you're into that, awesome. I will say the new Pokemon seem better than the ones introduced in the last generation. There seem to be fewer of them, but they are higher quality. I think Black/White introduced a Pokemon that was literally a pile of garbage. Literally. In conclusion, if you are a person who enjoys RPGs, doesn't mind something a little more relaxed, has a special place in their heart of the nostalgia of Pokemon and already has a 3DS...well, you probably have already bought and beaten the game. If not, definitely pick this up. You will not be disappointed. And, on the off chance you are, you'll have no trouble getting most of your money back for this one. Pokemon games rarely (never?) fail to hold their value. I liked this so much, I'll definitely be picking up X to play through again...

SOLID 9.5 out of 10. 

No comments:

Post a Comment