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The Statesman

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Nintendo outdoes many previous generations with Pokemon X and Y

Gogoat (left) and Pancham (right) are two new Pokemon introduced in the new games. (PHOTO CREDIT: AMH NETWORK)
Gogoat (left) and Pancham (right) are two new Pokemon introduced in the new games. (PHOTO CREDIT: AMH NETWORK)

If you’re like me, having grown up with the initial release of the ever-popular Pokemon series, then you know firsthand how much fun the portable games are. The first installments, Red and Blue, were released back in Sept. 1998. Fifteen years have passed since then, and with the production of Pokemon X and Y, we can finally enjoy all 718 Pokemon in thrilling, high quality 3D.

Pokemon X and Y were released Saturday, Oct. 12 for the Nintendo 3DS, and has brought 69 new Pokemon into the series, which is the smallest number of new Pokemon in any new release. In addition, there is a new Fairy type category of Pokemon, unique starter Pokemon, Life and Destruction themed legendary Pokemon, the new Mega Evolution, more than seven hundred different 3D models for all Pokemon forms and gender variations and an overall streamlining of gameplay for the experienced player.

The most notable addition to the Pokemon universe in these games is the new Fairy type, which provides something that is finally effective against Dragon types apart from Ice and other Dragons. The Fairy type is weak to Steel and Poison, resistant to Dark, Bug and Fighting, immune to Dragon, and effective against Dragon, Dark and Fighting. A new type has not been introduced since Dark and Steel in the second generation, Gold and Silver. Not only are there new Pokemon who are Fairy type, but older Pokemon have been acknowledged and changed to include this new type as well.

In each game, the player becomes immediately familiar with the “trash Pokemon,” or the Pokemon that appear most frequently and are the least desirable. What is great about the 69 new Pokemon is that each one is unique, well-formed and appealing, providing no new “trash Pokemon,” and this leaves the player with the appropriate desire to “catch them all!”

Gameplay is how it has always been, with the addition of true three-dimensional movement with the joystick on the 3DS. Graphically the game is stunning; we have been waiting a long time to see our Poke-pals in 3D rather than as 2D sprites, and X and Y do not disappoint. Camera angles change as we explore to emphasize scenery, all of which are visually impressive.

A new non-permanent evolutionary stage has been added in X and Y called the Mega Evolution. After gathering certain key story items, 26 different Pokemon have the ability to Mega Evolve. This evolution occurs only during battle while the Pokemon is holding their unique evolutionary item, and the evolution provides stat bonuses and ability changes. Keep in mind these evolutions are in-battle only and your Mega Pokemon will return to its original form after the fight. Also, you can only Mega Evolve once per battle.

If any readers enjoy min-maxing their Pokemon’s stats, then they know about EVs, or Effort Values. These were hidden stats in every game that influenced the rate at which Pokemon gained stat points as they leveled. In each game, if you were interested in die-hard training, you had to keep track of these values on your own. Now in X and Y, EVs are awarded through fun mini-games, can be earned passively with new Punching Bag items awarded from those mini-games and players are provided an intuitive chart that details these previously hidden statistics. This change is huge for experienced players and makes competitive training significantly easier.

Two other significant gameplay changes that benefit the veteran player were the Experience Share item and Technical Machines. The Exp. Share is now a Key Item (limited to protagonist use) rather than a Hold Item (item able to be held by a Pokemon). Instead of giving the item to the Pokemon needing experience, the player can toggle the item on or off as a whole. Turning it on provides half of the full experience to the battling Pokemon, and the other half to each other Pokemon on your team individually. The change to Technical Machines (TMs) is similarly streamlined, where rather than having them be consumable, we have unlimited uses of any one TM.

Little details have been changed logically as well, such as Electric types being immune to Paralyze, Grass types being immune to status spores (Stun Spore, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder) and Ghost types becoming untrappable in battle by any means.

It is worth mentioning that the starter Pokemon for this generation have unique typings. The Grass starter, Chespin, becomes Grass/Fighting; the Water starter, Froakie, becomes Water/Dark; the Fire starter, Fennekin, becomes Fire/Psychic. Finally, the Fire starter does not evolve into Fire/Fighting after three generations.

Keep in mind players can only trade Pokemon between the Black/White and Black2/White2 games to X and Y; if you have Pokemon from earlier games that you want to move to X and Y, you need to trade them up to Black and White first.

The only real downside to X and Y is that the 3D in certain cases causes visual lag. Some battles get slightly choppy rendering the models and effects. This can be avoided by turning the 3D off, but you’ll miss out on the literal depth in battles provided by the 3DS.

There are a significant amount of other small additions to the game that would run this review ragged, so I’ll leave you to explore and find them for yourselves. If you used to love the series but fell off the bandwagon sometime after Gold/Silver, this is the game to get. If you’re currently still a Poke-fan, this is the game to get. Finally, the fictional creatures of our childhood appear to us in 3D with refined gameplay, fantastic environments and superb visuals. Do not miss this newest addition to the Pokemon series. You will not be disappointed.

Score: 9/10

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