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Pokémon X – 3DS

Pokémon X – 3DS

Pokémon XPlatform: 3DS

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: The Pokémon Company

Release Date: October 12th, 2013

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by The Cubist

I picked up both Pokémon X and Y at GameStop’s midnight release last month on a whim; I had planned on getting them anyway, but my son was with me and overheard one of the employees talking to me about coming back later that night, and 6 year old + midnight + Pokémon = awesome.  So we went.  There were upwards of 150 people in line, maybe even as many as 200, but we were smart, and got our place in line at a cool number 7.  Got a free poster too.

Fast forward to the present, and I literally haven’t even touched aside from opening it, removing the card, and sticking it in my 3DS case.  With X however, I’ve been using it as a way to pass the time sitting in the long, slow carpooling line in the afternoons.  There is plenty to do here, and ultimately it follows the precedent set by other titles in the main Pokémon series, but it is by far the best looking of the bunch.

Pokémon XThe 3D feature is somewhat restrained compared to many of the games for Nintendo’s 3DS, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.  I rarely use the 3D for extended play, but I do sometimes crank up the attenuation slider to see what it is these clever folks have come up with.  Most of the overworld is laid out in a three dimensional manner anyway, and as such, the stereoscopic 3D of the handheld is unavailable.  During parts of the environment where the perspective is more closed in, 3D can be used, as well as during the Pokémon battles.  Beyond this I really have no comment on the matter; I appreciate the technology that went into making the 3DS and it’s seen some of Nintendo’s best recent releases, but truthfully I have little desire to experience the games in 3D even if it wasn’t sort of a pain.

Pokémon XAnyone with any experience with other Pokémon games of the main series (Red, Blue, LeafGreen, Crystal, Pearl, White 2, etc.) will feel instantly familiar with Pokémon X.  It follows the same pattern of previous games where the player assumes the role of a trainer and sets off across a particular region (the Kalos Region in this case) catching and battling Pokémon while also testing their abilities against gym leaders. Walking around in the overworld is as fluid as ever, and there is a huge map to explore.  Several towns and areas have their own unique feel and are of course filled with specific Pokémon.  A wide variety of natural features are used to showcase various aspects of play: mazes and darkness in caves, buried treasure along the beach, fishing in the sea, growing berries (or rather the plants that produce berries) in forests, and smashing boulders for hidden items in the mountains.

One feature that I’ve welcomed with open arms is the “Exp. Share,” or “experience share.”  This ability is gained fairly early in the game and distributes experience points among all of the Pokémon currently held.  In past games, only Pokémon which had participated in battles and remained conscious were awarded exp points.  Now, even creatures that don’t join the fray are awarded a fraction of the total points allowing for a more balanced and even team without the need to constantly switch out Pokémon.

Pokémon X

Another new feature utilizes the bottom touch screen to play a sort of mini-game as an alternative to leveling up Pokémon through battle.  This training mode allows the player to focus on specific stats of a particular creature and increase them through the use of various punching bags which the Pokémon will then use to train with.  This can be extremely helpful when one needs a Pokémon with an enhanced ability such as speed or accuracy and doesn’t necessarily need to go through the lengthy process of increasing all stats during the course of battle.

Pokémon XFundamentally the battles between Pokémon haven’t changed, but man have they come a long way since the simple shapes of Red, Blue, and Yellow.  The animations are all done well and in vivid color.  The range of purples and pinks in some of the “psy” attacks and the subtle effects of sand or rain on the screen are just a few of the intricate details that show what the 3DS is capable of beyond stereoscopic 3D.

There’s far too much going on in Pokémon X or any other Pokémon title to explain here, and this particular installment exemplifies the best possible version of the concept, at least for right now.  As with each other “new” Pokémon game, there are even more items to find, buy, and use, and even more Pokémon to catch.  A wealth of information is contained in the dialogue of NPCs, but one might have to keep a record of the staggering number of comments offered to unlock the full potential of what can be done.

Pokémon XPokémon X (and presumably Y) takes an interesting approach to the conventional notion of difficulty, (as do most all of the Pokémon titles I’ve experimented with), and elevates it to a whole new level with its many items to be found and mysteries to solve.  The player can largely determine how challenging and immersive the experience is.  Portions of the game do require the player to complete some actions before others can be performed, but for the most part there’s no clear path to follow.  There’s no “one” or “right” way to play the game.  Players can overcome adversaries by cleverly using items, or rely on brute force to level up their own creatures.  Much of the map can be explored without going up against any gym leaders (the equivalent of “bosses”) and rarely does the game force one into a situation where there is only a single objective left.  This level of freedom can be equally frustrating and liberating, but the importance of having a game that can appeal to adults and kids, veterans and rookies, isn’t something that many franchises can claim.

Some aspects can become tiresome.  Endlessly fighting wild Pokémon takes up a ton of time, and yet a lot of battling is necessary to level up one’s own Pokémon.  Also, attempting to “catch ’em all” requires a tremendous amount of patience and dedication.  It would be nice if there was away around doing the same things so many times, but for right now at least I can’t come up with any practical solutions.  At least having different Pokémon in different areas keeps these events as varied as possible.

Although I’m no expert when it comes to earlier Pokémon titles, I have taken a peek at several others, and X is easily the most beautiful, user-friendly, and comprehensive.  Long-time fans of the series will have a few new features and an all new region to explore, and for newcomers, getting started couldn’t be easier.  I still have a very long way  to go, and there’s also Pokémon Y which will remain largely the same with only a few changes in details.

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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