Pokémon is a series that we probably all remember from our youth. Whether you played or not, it’s been around for quite a while. With the cards, the anime and the bevy of games that have been released the series continues to grow, seemingly without end.
There isn’t a lot to say about the games that most people don’t already know. You start the adventure as a kid who wants to explore the world and capture as many Pokémon, or pocket monsters, as you can. You train them and eventually succeed in your goal of becoming a Pokémon master, usually while stopping some evil scheme in the process.
In terms of the mechanics of the games not much has changed. You catch Pokémon and fight other trainers’ Pokémon. They level up, evolve and learn new moves as they grow into more powerful creatures.
Each Pokémon also has one or two types, which work in a rock/paper/scissors kind of way. You can use the weaknesses in battle to have the upper hand—a well-rounded team will sail through any challenge, and help you be the best.
The small changes they made to this game are what really make it feel new and exciting again.
For starters there is a new type, Fairy. The fairy type was added as a balance to the Dragon type, which had been a difficult type to take down in past games. The addition of this new type will add more strategy to battles, as well as planning your roster.
Another new addition is the Super Training system. In past games you could train Pokémon through the IV system. You would have to go and fight wild Pokémon that would give you certain IV points to raise certain stats the next time the Pokémon leveled up. X and Y make this easier by making it a mini game for you and your Pokémon to play. You can choose which stats to boost, and different levels of the games will raise the stats different amounts.
My favorite new addition is the Pokémon-Amie system. This allows you to play with your Pokémon, in a manner similar to that of Nintendogs. You can pet them, feed them and play games with them to increase their affection for you. It’s not all just fun though, if you are able to max out your Pokémon’s affection for you then you get some pretty good perks—more experience gained, and your Pokémon will be in sync with you in battle, doing more damage and avoiding more hits, as well as a chance to shake off status effects in battle.
The best change that was made to the Pokémon formula is the pacing. X and Y starts strong and doesn’t really let up at all. Older games felt like a massive grind compared to this one. You can start the game and have the first gym taken care of in about 20 minutes. For the first few gyms you can trade for the perfect Pokémon to take on the gym somewhere in town. The trades aren’t something ridiculous either; you can usually just walk right outside town to catch one.
All in all, Pokémon X and Y are great additions to the franchise. They made the Pokémon experience feel fresh and new, like popping in Red or Blue for the first time. It’s what the series really needed, not a fresh start, but a new evolution.