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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Review: Pokémon series catches 3D update

Pokémon X and Y

Nintendo

Pokémon is undoubtedly one of the greatest-selling videogame franchises of all time. Since its debut in 1996, each Pokémon release has been met with unrivaled hype. Now on the sixth generation of Pokémon games, “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y,” a special two-game release, unveil a new cast of Pokémon in a new setting, the franchise’s first release to the Nintendo 3DS and the series’ transition to 3D, breathing life once again into the Pokémon franchise.

“Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” are set in the new Kalos region. The difference between the two versions, like most entries in Pokémon series, is minimal, altering some of the Pokémon, trainers and items found in the world. The player is tasked with performing the usual routine in Pokémon games: beating the eight Gym Leaders, stopping the enemy gang’s villainous plots and, most importantly, catching all the Pokémon.

The gameplay formula has hardly changed. Pokémon battles are largely one-versus-one fights. The player and the enemy choose their Pokémon’s attack at the same time, with the faster Pokémon performing first. Taking advantage of enemy types to exploit their weaknesses and making a well-structured Pokémon team form the base of the strategy elements.

While never straying from the series’ trademark staples and quirks, “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” manage to remain fun and fresh from the vast improvements they added. They mark the franchise’s complete change from 2D sprites to 3D models. The world, the player and, of course, every single Pokémon have been rendered in a 3D environment. The transition is very much appreciated — Pokémon are now animated and lively in battle, players have 360-degree movement for the first time and the world feels more immersive and large. While some of the Pokémon appear a bit awkward in 3D, most of the models capture the Pokémon wonderfully.

“Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” add 69 new Pokémon and the new Pokémon type Fairy, leading to the emergence of new strategy elements. Mega evolution, which allow the player to temporarily evolve certain Pokémon during a battle, is also introduced in the games. Only able to be activated once per battle, mega evolutions give the player’s Pokémon more powers and strengths. Many of the mega evolutions belong to previous generations’ fan favorites, such as Charizard, Gengar, Ampharos and Tyranitar, allowing them to become even stronger.

The main flaw in these games is that they seem too easy. Both games give out many useful Pokémon and items fairly early on, giving players more of an edge than found in previous titles. Mega evolutions, while useful, give players a huge advantage over the enemies they will encounter over the course of the game.

Overall, “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” take much of the polished Pokémon formula and improve it. A new setting, new Pokémon and new aesthetic make the games perfect for those who want to get into the series. While the overarching storyline is hardly deep or complex, the focus of Pokémon games has never been to analyze the themes of the story. Pokémon is about travelling the world, catching as many Pokémon as possible and becoming the greatest trainer. In that aspect, “Pokémon X” and ”Pokémon Y” capture the Pokémon dream wonderfully.