Nintendo's Monstrous Pockets
Pokémon has been around for longer than most today's gamers. In fact, it wouldn't be much of a long shot to suggest that many of the people who will buy Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were either too young to game or not even born when Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue first released. The franchise has sold more than 245 million copies worldwide since its debut, and with the release of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, it doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon.
If you're new to the series (is that even possible?), the Pokémon games revolve around catching wild animals and training them to fight for you. There are generally several other Pokémon Trainers throughout the city, and you'll have to pit your trained pocket monsters against theirs. The winner takes home the spoils.
Pocketing The Future
Pokémon X and Pokémon Y do stick to the formula of what's worked so well in the past. Just enough has changed to make anyone who wasn't quite into the last generation of titles run out to buy this one, but you've got to wonder what's next. You'd like to think a Pokémon MMO is coming, but with the success of the non-MMO titles, and the amount of fun experienced with X and Y, it's hard to imagine Nintendo and Game Freaks changing the formula too much.
With that said, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y do move the franchise one step closer to an MMO experience. The game offers players the ability to battle other trainers online. In fact, it's readily present at almost all times. Whenever you're playing, the Player Search System is active and connected to the internet. It allows you to see other players and divides into one of three groups: friend, acquaintance, or passerby. You can ignore these icons and continue with the single player experience, but the fact that you can almost always play against another trainer is a big deal. Even if you don't want to do battle, you can trade Pokémon or give gifts to the other players.
Touching The Past
Pokémon X and Pokémon Y certainly propels the series into the future with the online capabilities of the title. However, there's also a hint of the past. Using the touch screen functionality of the 3DS, swipe to the right to access Pokémon-Amie. Catchy French names aside, this mode allows you to take a step back into the days of Pokémon Yellow, only with far more interaction than you could experience with Pikachu in the classic title.
You can interact with any of the six Pokémon that make up your team. You can play mini-games with them, feed your Pokémon, or even stroke their fur (assuming they have fur). This isn't just for show either. You can earn special items that will decorate your room and draw in the attention of visiting Pokémon from other trainers. If your room is cool enough, the other Pokémon might even drop off special gifts of their own.
If taking a step back to Pokémon Yellow isn't your thing, swipe to the right one more time to reveal what essentially boil down to a training mode. Here you can partake in several exercises that use a soccer ball to increase the base stats of your Pokémon. The ability to increase stats on your Pokémon is huge for X and Y. You can finally go with the Pokémon you really like and train them to increase any lacking stats that may have prevented you from using them in certain battles.
I Choose You... Pokémon X & Pokémon Y
While Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are solid entries in the series, they are not perfect. As a 3DS title, you'd expect a decent amount of 3D, but it's limited to just the battles. In addition, by the time you're some 60-odd hours into the game, the practice of calling your Pokémon in and out is a bit tiresome and could use some streamlining. And while some would argue that Pokémon is more about adventure and less about being a role-playing game, the story is a bit lacking. If you were looking to get deeply involved in the story of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, you may not find what you're looking for.
That said, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are still some of the best Pokémon titles to hit the series yet. The online enhancements alone make this a must have for any true Pokémon fan. In fact, after playing through Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, it may make the wait for a Pokémon MMO that much harder. Hopefully Nintendo is listening, and we'll see a massively multiplayer online Pokémon title sometime in the future.
GAME's Verdict: 9/10
- The classic Pokémon formula is still intact and better than ever
- Online integration is seamless and enticing
- Additional modes offer mini-games with a purpose
- 3D implementation could be better
- Calling your Pokémon out to battle and back can get tedious
- The story could be a bit more compelling