I did a bit of recon before picking up a New 3DS and Pokemon X. My favorite game shop brought me up to speed on Nintendo’s latest portable hardware and the most recent Pokemon games. We discussed Omega Ruby and the X and Y series. Being that X and Y were the most recent original titles in the series and the clerk described it as fan service for folks who had been there for the original series, I decided Pokemon X was the way to go.
What the fuck is happening!? I remember the introduction of being able to choose a male or female trainer, but now I get to choose skin color too!? Uhh… YES! As I got deeper into the game, I found more and more ways to customize my avatar and it was great! I found myself getting a bit more excited than I’d like to admit when I got to a town that had a clothing store. Trying different combinations of hats, bags, tops, bottoms, shoes, even socks took more time and in game money than one would expect. That brings me to another point, in an age where it’s common place to spend real world money for virtual goods, the Pokemon Company could’ve easily made the trainer’s clothing and accessories DLC, and I’m so glad they didn’t. Kudos to them!
Playing Pokemon X was almost beat by beat to the original games. Choose one of three Pokemon at the beginning, catch and train against wild Pokemon to earn experience in order to evolve and to be strong enough to defeat a gym leader in the eight gyms across the region. Face the Elite Four and eventually the all time greatest Pokemon trainer that ever Pokemon’d. The skeleton is still the same as I remember and very easy to jump into. The rest however…
You are not alone
What? I have friends? One of the most notable changes is the fact that even though you start the game (again) as the new kid in a new town, it doesn’t take any time at all for you to meet four other kids who were chosen to receive Pokemon and begin their journey at the same time you do. The best thing about this group is that it’s not just four other trainers who want to battle all the time. There’s the big guy who wants to create the best Pokemon dance team, the girl who just wants to fill her Pokedex, the one who is always singing, and then there’s your rival (who’s gender is the opposite of your own I assume as I was a guy and she was a girl). What I love about this is the fact that it makes the human-Pokemon relationship seem like more than just capture and battle for me. The kids actually talk about how being the best trainer means different things to them and that’s awesome. Eventually you do battle each of them at least once; however, your most consistent opponent will be your rival. I don’t know why, but the battles against my rival always meant more. That was how I measured how I was doing as a trainer. They wrote that character well. Your rival wants to beat you which makes you want to destroy them.
It’s all about perspective
So, Pokemon is no longer enjoyed from a top down perspective. The game has depth and it’s awesome. Of course with the change in prospective comes the inevitable camera issues. It’s not horrible just annoying at times. During the battles it’s nice that your Pokemon won’t look like a random collection of pixels from behind. They look really well and the battle animations… Where have you been all my life?
You’re always connected
Pokemon has always been about connecting with others. One of the features I was most excited to explore was how the internet was implemented into the world of Pokemon. I was not disappointed. I was able to trade Pokemon with a complete stranger, search for a Pokemon I really wanted and trade for it, battle with a stranger, and receive two legendary Pokemon from the Pokemon company as they celebrate 20 years. If there was one series that was going to do internet connectivity right, it was Pokemon.
Fire, Water, Grass
It’s the question that begins each Pokemon experience, which one do I pick the fire type, grass type, or the water type? I was always a fire type guy, so that’s what I went with. Imagine my surprise when mid-game I got the opportunity to make that choice yet again, this time with the ORIGINAL three! That’s right Pokemon numbers 1, 4, and 7 are available as well! Being that I picked the fire type Pokemon to begin with, I chose Bulbasaur to join me on my journey mid quest. This was one of a few Pokemon that are given to you throughout the game AFTER you’re given your initial pocket monster. It’s a nice little perk to go along with all the Pokemon you’re capturing the whole time. While I’m on the topic of building your collection of Pokemon, I have to say my absolute favorite addition is the EXP Share item that you get which makes it SO much easier to keep your party Pokemon at or around the same level and for low level Pokemon to gain experience without putting them in front of a level 50 and wasting a turn in battle.
Not all of the changes are considered improvements. I’ve mentioned the camera issues that come along with the behind the player perspective. Along with that, I was really disappointed with the lack of replay value in this game. I remember after you beat Pokemon Gold, you had the chance to fly to the region from Red/Blue/Yellow and face those Gym leaders and catch Pokemon exclusive to that area. After beating this game, I gained access to another city which has some stuff to do, but not new region stuff. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed.
Do I continue down the road to be the very best, like no one ever was? You bet I do! This is the Pokemon game that I’ve dreamed about and I’m looking forward to the battles and adventure in the next game. Pokemon X did a great job a re-introducing me to the world I fell in love with as a kid. It’s almost like the first film in a rebooted series and it has me itching for the sequel.