Why I’m still playing Pokémon X/Y

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I’ve just got to catch them all

“I wanna be the very best. Like no one ever was. To catch them is my real test. To train them is my cause.” For anyone who grew up in the 90s these words will be all too familiar. Since those glory days, Pokémon continues to be Nintendo’s money-making juggernaut as an addictive video game, a popular trading card franchise and a never-ending television series. Its global appeal seems to know no boundaries.

Every entry released by Game Freak has enticed young audiences, creating new fans with each passing generation. However, for veteran fans the appeal of Pokémon’s formula was starting to wear thin, perhaps due to the series’ refusal to break the mould. But when Nintendo announced Pokémon X/Y for the 3DS in 2013, fans of all ages were ignited with excitement. Pokémon was making the transition from a 2D game to a gorgeously realised 3D adventure, and it was about time too.

But after it was released to critical acclaim and millions of copies shipped, do the merits of Pokémon X/Y still shine brightly or has the game lost its appeal over time?

No, this is the Pokémon experience that breathes new life into the series, while simultaneously destroying my social life in the process.

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A glorious 3D world

First off, the new graphical changes are still fantastic. Not that the 2D games of the past didn’t have their appeal, but it’s been a while since a Pokémon game has really impressed me with its vibrant warm colours and art style. When journeying through the new region of Kalos, through dense forests or underground caverns, the graphics makes every surrounding environment look constantly charming. One area that really showcased this for me was in the wild Santalune Forest, with the sun barely shining through the trees, as I tread through the lush green vegetation to catch my first Fletchling. For someone who has experienced nothing but 2D in a Pokemon game since the days of Red and Blue, seeing everything come to life with updated graphics is pretty spectacular.

Familiar battle-system and new Pokémon

The elemental based battle-system continues to be entertaining. With each battle that passes, your Pokémon become stronger, improving their stats and evolving upon reaching a certain level. That addictive sense of progression after each victory is always satisfying and I don’t think it will lose its appeal. Mega evolution is also a welcomed new addition to X/Y’s combat system. Mega stones given to the right Pokémon will cause them to briefly evolve into a more powerful form, turning favorites like Charizard into an even more bad-ass looking beast.

I’ve encountered several new Pokémon during my play-through and they are, thankfully, really well designed. I have yet to find a new species that’s an uninspiring mess like a Trubbish or Vanillite. I don’t know what I’ll get by catching all the regions Pokémon and frankly at this point I don’t care. I just want them all. The process of catching and evolving a Pokémon, through battle, never becomes tedious or boring. I wanted to evolve my Pokémon to not only make them stronger, but to complete my Pokedex in the process.

Became champion, now what?

After completing the game’s familiar plot of defeating the villainous Team Flare and becoming champion of the Pokémon league, you might be asking yourself, what’s next to do? Unexplored areas will be opened up to you after your Pokémon learn abilities like Waterfall or Surf moves that allow you to traverse areas that were previously impossible. Beating the league will also cause legendary Pokémon to appear around Kalos, such as the all-powerful Mewtwo or the z shaped Zygarde-found deep within the Terminus Cave. I’m still chasing the legendary bird Moltres around Kalos, which can be only obtained after you’ve encountered it in the wilderness several times.

Remaining trainers will still be around to battle with, but can sometimes be unchallenging when their low levelled Pokémon are unable to compete with your own. This lack of difficulty can sometimes make victories seem a little hollow at times, that is until you open the game up to multi-player. The Player Search System (PSS) is an expansion on the existing Global Trade System where you can battle and trade with online gamers. These online battles are another incentive for you to train your Pokémon to the best of their abilities, as these very real trainers require a fair amount of strategy and effort to defeat them.

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Addictive online-features

An interesting feature of the PSS is Wonder Trade. You can send a random Pokémon through this system and receive another from a random trader, without knowing what you’ll be getting back. I sent my unwanted Trubbish through the Wonder Trade and received a Dratini in its place.

The game actually rewards you for making friends with online players, with the addition of the Friend Safari. This can only be found after you’ve defeated the League and is located within Kiloude City. If you have added a friend, they will appear on a special list, and each list is given a random type of Pokémon. When you enter a friend’s safari, there will be three Pokémon of the same type waiting for you to catch. These new online features are responsive and easy to access, making you feel a lot closer to the rest of Pokémon community.

The time it takes you to ‘complete’ the game depends on your style of play. I often found myself deviating from a given path to explore my surroundings and catch undiscovered Pokémon to register into my Pokedex. There are also several items scattered around the world to collect such as evolution stones or fossils – which can be used to resurrect prehistoric Pokémon like Tyrunt – a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Pokémon form. Think about that for a second.

New additions

A recent addition for the game is the offer of a free 30 day trial of the Pokémon Bank – a storage space where you can deposit up to 3,000 Pokémon. If you already have the separate app Poke Transporter installed then you can transfer Pokémon collected from Generation V (White and Black) into the bank. For us Europeans the free trail of the bank will last until 15th March this year.

There is so much content available to you in the region of Kalos, it’s so easy for you to get lost in it all, as well as in your own addictions. If you’re a Pokémon hoarder like me with a hunger to catch-them-all, it’s going to take time and a lot of online trading. If you want to build the best Pokémon team to send into battle then breeding is the field for you, but that’s a whole different side of the enduring Pokémon experience that I haven’t crossed yet.

 

Images: NintendoThe Pokémon Company

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