So, the holidays have been and gone, and this has given me the chance to catch up on some of the latest 3DS releases of the last few months. Despite Pokemon X being released several months ago now, after completing the game I feel that the time is right to throw my opinions into the mix. First things first, this is a Pokemon game. There is almost no need to write a review of any kind as the basic formula of the game has remained unchanged since its first appearance in the nineties. For those who are not a fan of the series, there is little in this latest instalment that will change your mind.
With the move from 5th to 6th generation there have been a few changes, relatively minor though they may seem. First of all, this generation introduces a new type, the first since Dark type. In my opinion the introduction of the fairy type has changed the game for the better and is not, as many feared, just introducing a new type for the sake of it. The introduction of fairy type has corrected the overpowered dragon type that has been prevalent in the last few generations. Not only is fairy type super effective against dragon Pokemon but it is also completely resistant to dragon type attacks. It also has a useful resistance to the numerous fighting and dark type Pokemon and moves in the game. Fairy type is weak to both steel and poison type attacks, which offers an incentive for using these two types of Pokemon which have typically been only of limited use and effectiveness. Considering the nice design of the steel and poison Pokemon this has always been a shame. Overall the type system feels more balanced than ever and offers more variety in terms of strategy and Pokemon choice.
The next important change involves the introduction of the mega evolution mechanic. To some this seemed to be a cheap gimmick to give the illusion of the series moving forward. I don’t agree, however. I think that overall the mega evolution mechanic offers a new level of depth and complexity to battles. The benefits and drawbacks of stat and type changes that can occur with mega evolution activation, and the fact that only one mega evolution per battle can be used, result in a greater variety of tactics that can be used in battles, particularly in online play. Not to mention the fact that most of the most of the evolutions look pretty bad ass. Gengar and Abomasnow’s mega evolutions in particular look pretty great.
Other changes? Well, Pokemon are more varied and easier to find on the game map. In some past generations most areas were populated exclusively with Sentrets, Pidgey’s and Zubats. In this generation more of the Pokemon that you might actually want to use are pretty liberally distributed across the game from the beginning. Not only does this make random encounters less frustrating, but they also encourage people to switch Pokemon more often and come up with more varied Pokemon teams. This is aided by the new experience share system. The exp share is found pretty early on in the game and experience is now shared between all Pokémon on the team rather than just the Pokémon holding the exp share device. This makes it relatively easy to train up multiple Pokémon teams, encouraging players to experiment with different Pokémon. In the past the time it would take to train low level Pokémon was a deterrent to trying out newly caught Pokémon.
In addition to more varied wild Pokémon, there seem to be less areas of forced random encounters in the game (such as caves and so on) which greatly reduces the frustration of exploring off the beaten track and hunting for new Pokémon. The battles themselves look great with the new level of graphics power. Your Pokémon look more alive and realer than ever before.
The only downside to the game is that the main quest feels a bit too easy. This is partly down to the aforementioned exp share system which makes it pretty easy to raise Pokémon. In addition to this, the NPC trainers still do not behave as human battlers would. They still resolutely use types which are weak to your own attacks in the face of coming oblivion rather than switching Pokémon. That said, none of the previous games have been especially difficult and perhaps I have just have experience on my side.
The 6th generation makes it easier than ever to connect to trainers around the world for trades and battles. Battles can be found in the battle spot which matches you up with another random battler. Passers- by on the main game screen can be challenged at any point. The Global Trade system and the Wonder Trade system have made it easy to trade with trainers across the globe and to barter and offer specific Pokémon. The one thing that I have realised from playing this game is that I am terrible at online, competitive battling against other players. There is a huge difference between battling NPCs and human players, as they require totally different tactics and strategies which I, apparently, do not have. Apparently the teams that I put together are not especially competitive, but I am endeavouring to improve. Indeed, the challenge of becoming better at online battling is one which I have become mildly obsessed with.
Back to the game, I would recommend this version of the game to old fans and new players alike. New generation Pokémon have always been a bit hit and miss and reception is therefore mixed. I am pleased to report that the majority of 6th generation Pokémon seem to be hits rather than misses. The new legendaries are well designed and full of character. This game is definitely to be recommended and prove that Pokémon as a brand and a game is far from being spent.