Author: Max Linskey
Pokemon X and Y hit shelves October 12th, and right away, players engulfed themselves in the Kalos region, battling trainers, Team Flare, and the 8 gyms, while collecting the new Pokemon created for this installment. And with a huge popularity, treading the following topics could lead to potential dislike, but it is a chance worth taking to explore some of the troubled spots of the latest 3DS installment to the series. Pokemon X and Y is burdened by a cheesy villain, lazy Pokemon additions, overpowering simplicity, and “new” and “innovative” battle styles that ultimately hinder what is otherwise a great game.
Team Rocket will always be the first main enemy in Pokemon. The debut games featured the black-clad gang terrorizing the Kanto region, under the control of the mobster-esque character Giovanni. Giovanni has a lucrative crime syndicate under his thumb, and still found the time to do Pokemon battles as the eighth gym leader of his region. Oh, he also captured the legendary creature, Mewtwo.
In his wake, there was a Rocket revival, teams Magma and Aqua with their geo-morphing plots, Team Galactic from the first DS games, Team Plasma’s plot to separate people and Pokemon by telling them it was wrong to do so, and finally, Team Flare. Team Flare flaunted around with dumb poses babbling on about being trendy and attractive and not doing much else. Then the story leads to the player catching Flare stealing energy for a mysterious device, which could have been a giant beam that zaps everyone into their ridiculously red outfits. Finally, in the last scene with the boss reveals Team Flare’s actual plan, and it is a shocker. The designers could have elaborated on this more and created a more bad-ass repertoire for Flare instead of making them a joke until their waking moments of defeat.
Team Flare’s other problem stems from the boss of the group, who is laughably obvious from the first encounter, when he is supposed to be just a friend of Professor Sycamore’s. It’s not even ruining the game for any player to say that Lysandre, the guy with flame-like red hair would be the leader of Team Flare, whose symbol is a fiery “F”. After the final battle has ended, and the player has continued to collect badges and battle, Sycamore meets up with the player and, nonchalantly in conversation, brings up the fact that he had the power to stop Lysandre, but didn’t because he forgot to have a conversation with him. The entire plot of the enemy could have ended if he had just sat down at one of the 20+ cafe’s in the region and had a damn heart to heart with the man. Team Flare sets the new standard for crazy criminal groups.
Ignoring the plot, Pokemon trainers love to catch and trade, especially in a new region, where every encounter could be something never seen before. The developers decided, instead, that nostalgia would win the Kalos region battle, and only 69 new Pocket Monsters were added (not including Mega’s). This means that most wild encounters will be with a Pokemon from one of the five other explored regions, which quickly becomes old. A quest for the new Pokemon becomes a burden more than an adventure as trainers scour endlessly for one rare creature. Too many of the same Pokemon begs for an answer, and all the developers can give to answer is Mega Evolutions of Pokemon.
Mega Evolutions are pleasing to players who enjoy extra spikes, wings, hair, or elongated parts of already capable Pokemon, but are much too overpowered to make the game fun. The game comes with a free download on a Torchic, complete with a mega stone for when it becomes a Blaziken, mixed with the fact that Professor Sycamore gives players a Kanto starter, again with a mega stone. This means there are already two Mega evolutions available without even doing anything. Later in the game, the Mega Evolution portion of the story leads the player to get yet another Mega Evolution-ready Pokemon, Lucario. The game is basically handing them out for no effort on the other end. Later, there are others that need to be found specifically in certain places or in one game or the other, but those are just extras for collectors and are unnecessary for completion.
Something that does seem necessary though, is the use of the new Exp. Share. Instead of being an equip item like it used to be, instead the item is in the key item pocket, and shares earned experience with all party Pokemon. Essentially, it’s easy mode. With all the Pokemon earning experience, while training them still needs to happen, it is significantly less than if the Pokemon fought for all of it on its own. And aside from the regular battles and occasional battles for earning that experience, the other “new” ones are a mess.
A trainer, running through the grass, searching for a new companion, or maybe a new addition to the Pokedex, gets into a wild battle. Finally, something! What could it possibly be? Something new or maybe a classic? Nope, it’s a whole group of Pokemon.
While that might sound great at first, it quickly gets old. Five Pokemon surround a trainer’s one Pokemon, and if they want to catch one, they have to thin down the herd. This gives the opponents free range to abuse your lead Pokemon as they all attack. Thankfully these don’t happen all the time, because that would be unbearable as a trainer in the Kalos reigon. The other new battle type is just as annoying, however. It comes in the form of Sky Battles. Again, sounds awesome, plays out much less so. A trainer asks to battle, and who lets down a challenge? Then, the battle takes to the air, where only flying type Pokemon can be used. Now, this is a challenge on two fronts. One, usually, trainers have a diverse team of Pokemon types, meaning there’s probably only one flying type, against a Sky Trainer, who has between one and three (usually). Second, and this happens later, the trainers battle with Emolga, the Flying/Electric type flying squirrel Pokemon, who has a type advantage over Flying types, and usually boasts high Speed stats due to its small size. These factors combined make for a battle type, that thankfully, does not need to be experienced. In fact, a trainer can just say no, which makes it that much easier to avoid these flying battles.
Pokemon X and Y are the first attempts at a Pokemon game in 3D. Much like Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum were the first games on a new system, things have to start at the bottom before the developers improve. Maybe Pokemon Z will add to the lacking Pokedex. Maybe it will solve the lame story issue. And maybe it will remove the other problematic portions of the game. But as players have seen (Pokemon Black and White, Black 2 and White 2), improvements are always on the horizon when it comes to Pokemon sequels.