As we edge closer to Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, I’ve taken on another Pokémon game. My anticipation for that movie is high, I won’t lie.
RELEASED: October 12th 2013
DEVELOPED BY: Game Freak
PUBLISHED BY: Nintendo & The Pokémon Company
Also, on the basis of ‘not lying’, I should also say that this is actually the fourth Pokémon game I’ve tackled since trading in for my Nintendo 3DS. The first game I played was Omega Ruby. Then I played Ultra Sun. I also dabbled with the re-release of Yellow, before the first trailer for Detective Pikachu urged me to explore the Kalos region in Pokémon X.
As such, there were a few facets of the Pokémon game series introduced in X that I had already experienced in Omega Ruby and Ultra Sun, and so playing those games first may have affected my overall opinion of X.
Because if I’m being honest with you Pokémon X (and thus, I assume by extension, Y) just wasn’t that interesting.
Sure, it was cool to see the Pokémon gaming franchise leap forward into full-on 3D graphics and explore the concept of ‘Mega Evolution’, and the Pokémon-Amie feature is a good way to bond with your Pokémon (something I’ll talk more about in my inevitable Ultra Sun review), but other than that, this game is such a formulaic approach to Pokémon that I can’t really think of anything that’s worth raving about.
The Kalos region (based on France) is interesting, as it features more cities than most Pokémon regions, but half the towns you visit feel so empty, as there is pretty much nothing going on in them. The characters are fun, and the idea of having, essentially, four rivals, is a novel one, but with so many to juggle, it was very rare that they actually provided me with any sort of actual challenge or even caught my attention, and they very rarely seemed to catch any new or interesting Pokémon, so they couldn’t even help with filling up my Pokédex.
The Pokémon, for the most part, were fine. I chose Froakie as a starter and enjoyed raising him into the powerful dark-water hybrid Greninja. But outside of that, there were very few Pokémon that captured my attention. I spent a lot of the game thinking I should change my team of Pokémon because the ones in my possession were neither interesting nor all that powerful (obviously, they came through for me in the end, what with me now having finished the game).
Those feelings of having an inadequate team (not inadequate enough to fail, but just inadequate enough to make me feel I could be doing better) also crossed over into how much I enjoyed the story and the gameplay experience. As the only generation of Pokémon without an expansion or special edition, Pokémon X (/Y) feels like a game that just gives you the basics. They haven’t enhanced any of the features or added to the story. They just give you a classic Pokémon story that six generations in isn’t that interesting or even that well-written.
X and Y see a Pokémon trainer from Kanto set out to explore the Kalos region. As they tackle the various gyms and make their way to the Pokémon League, they get embroiled in the crimes of Team Flare – who want to rid the world of the lower classes so that humanity can survive overpopulation.
The bad guys aren’t threatening or entertaining, and you find yourself wondering how the leader of this organisation could come to the conclusion that such a lacklustre bunch of bad guys could be the ones destined to inherit the Earth. Furthermore, while they do pop up a fair bit, the way their story weaves in with the myths surrounding the Legendary Pokémon just doesn’t hold up. You essentially just make your way through an ordinary Pokémon adventure, until suddenly there’s a tree that turns into a godlike deer and an immortal man, who gets undeserved payoff during the epilogue.
All-in-all, Pokémon X provides much-needed visual and technical updates to the Pokémon franchise but fails to deliver on the storytelling front. The new Pokémon are fine, but the villains and legends they interact with are rather lacklustre as if the focus this time around was more about pushing out a new generation than it was coming up with interesting ideas.
With all that in mind, I give it: