With every major platform, there are certain IPs that attract the masses to said platform. With Xbox there’s Halo, with PlayStation there’s Uncharted, and with Nintendo consoles there’s Mario and Zelda. While those last two apply to the handheld Nintendo devices as well, the main draw to the Game Boy and DS platforms for the past two decades has arguably been the lovable and accessible, yet rich with seemingly unending depth, Pokémon series.
The latest entry into the Pokémon franchise promises to push the envelope even further, as Pokémon X and Y look to introduce even more monsters into the franchise. In addition to the more than 70 new Pokémon making their debut in this entry, select monsters will also be able to perform Mega Evolutions which will transform them into the fiercest incarnation of their evolution lineage.
“Each Pokémon, in order to trigger its Mega Evolution, has to hold its corresponding Mega Stone, and the Mega Stone is unique to each type of Pokémon, so Blaziken has Blazikenite, Mewtwo has a Mewtwo Mega Stone just for itself, Lucario has a Mega Stone just for itself. Going through the game, you’ll have to find their Mega Stone in order to get their Mega Evolution.”
- Joel Simon, Product Marketing Coordinator, The Pokémon Company
During our demo with Pokémon X and Y, we had a chance to take the Mega Evolution of Mewtwo for a test drive. Once the menacing legendary monster hit its Mega form, its appearance changed, but most importantly, it gained new-found power. Using the Mega Mewtwo’s set of attacks, along with its greatly-increased stats, I was able to vanquish several level 100 Pokémon with ease.
In addition to the Mega Mewtwo battle, we also had the opportunity to play through a few regular battles with more typical Pokémon. The first action we saw was in defeating a lonely wild Pikachu, which was easily done away with. The battles got a bit tougher, however, as a trainer approached us minutes later.
The animations of Pokémon X and Y are gorgeous, and more complex than anything the series has seen to date. When entering a battle, the player sees both trainers throw their Pokémon out from the Pokéballs, adding a feeling of connection between the trainer and the Pokémon. That concept is further explored through the Mega Evolution mechanic, as the transformation requires both the trainer and the Pokémon to possess the correct items.
Once the Pokémon are out in battle, they interact with each other more than ever before. We saw the effects of attacks make a greater impact on the receiving Pokémon, down to the little details such as the monster’s face reacting with pained or frightened looks. The animations make the battles seem closer to what was on display through the original Pokémon Stadium, only in the context of a full-fledged Pokémon title.
The animations were undoubtedly gorgeous, but they could potentially lead to issues for the more hardcore fans. While the framerate was smooth as could be with the 3DS in 2D mode, as we slid the 3D setting higher we noticed a slight chugging in the animations in battle. In addition, many of the animations took longer than in previous versions of the title, meaning that battles could see an artificial increase in length. When asked if the animations could be turned off, the representative stated that he believed the finished game would include an option to do so.
Another interesting caveat of the presentation of Pokémon X and Y lies in when the 3D option is available. In fact, the only time that 3D visuals are an option (that we saw) is during battles. While exploring the world, the game is locked into 2D mode. The representative assisting us with the demo informed us that this was due to the fact that most Pokémon play sessions extend far beyond the recommended time for 3D use on the device. He also acknowledged that it could have something to do with performance in the world.
In addition to the main game, players can also take their captured Pokémon into a Nintendogs-esque mode where they can pet and play with them using the 3DS stylus. The 3DS will also track the player’s head and allow the Pokémon to mimic the motions of its trainer. This all plays into the central theme of the connection between trainer and Pokémon that Pokémon X and Y seems to be accentuating even more so than previous titles in the series.
While the list of Pokémon has become more bloated than some can keep up with, there’s an odd accessibility and familiarity that comes with Pokémon X and Y. Perhaps it’s the beautiful graphics and animations that harp on our fond thoughts of the Pokémon anime, or maybe it’s just the fact that we encountered so many familiar faces during our short time with the game. Either way, Pokémon X and Y look to be a great reentry point for anyone who has gotten lost along the way, as well as one of the biggest leaps forward in franchise history for those who have followed the series all the way to 2013.
Pokémon X and Y will be the first Pokémon games to see simultaneous worldwide release. The titles are set to hit the Nintendo 3DS in all regions on October 12.