"There's no reason not to be excited about Pokémon X and Y. The upgrades and new mechanics should bring back old players tired of the same formula, while the improved graphics are sure to entice first-time players."
Do you wanna be the very best? Like no one ever was? Is catching them your real test? Is training them your cause? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you either watched the Pokémon anime or are excited about the upcoming Pokémon X and Pokémon Y games on 3DS (or both). If you haven't heard any news about these upcoming titles, you can think of them as an overhaul for the series that include new mechanics fans have been waiting for. Oh, you want more detail? Then put your cap on backwards and let's go!
Take one look at those screenshots over to the right and one of the biggest changes should be apparent: 3D graphics. For the first time in the handheld series, 3D models have been used and the game is entirely three-dimensional. The environments, notably towns, take on exciting new depth, and that wonderful sense of exploration is amplified. This is carries over to battles too, where the new Pokémon models are vibrant and fun. Attacks in battles are newly animated too. The intensity of a flamethrower or the blast of a water gun looks brilliant.
Aside from the visual overhaul, regular battles play out just as they always have. Pokémon will fight each other by taking turns and using moves they have been taught through levelling up or other means. There are new twists, namely the new Fairy typing, which was specifically introduced in order to balance the overpowered Dragon type. A few new Fairy Pokémon have been announced, including a new evolution of Eevee called Sylveon. Older Pokémon have been retyped too, such as Marill, who is now Water/Fairy. Adding a new type is a great addition and sure to shake up the current metagame.
Two all-new battle mechanics have been added too. Horde encounters feature up to five wild Pokémon appearing at once against just one of the player's own Pokémon. Some attacks, such as Rock Slide, are capable of hitting all five foes at once, but, in turn, the player's Pokémon must survive attacks from all the wild Pokémon. Winning these battles rewards greater than normal experience, but little else is known about them. The second new battle type is Sky Battles. These airborne battles can be fought exclusively by either Flying-type Pokémon, or Pokémon who have the ability Levitate. It's great to see some new variety!
Nintendo have said that there will be at least one new way to evolve Pokémon, but there's no word yet on how it will work. One new mechanic that may play a role is Pokémon-Amie. This new feature will let players pet, feed and play with their Pokémon. This increases their friendship, which may make them more powerful in battle. Understandably, some players may find this to be a slow system, but it does add new depth to spending time with Pokémon friends. So far twenty-six new Pokémon have been announced. These include the three starter Pokémon Chespin (Grass), Fennekin (Fire) and Froakie (Water), and the two legendaries: Xerneas (X) and Yveltal (Y).
This time around, Pokémon X and Y take place in the new, France-inspired region named Kalos. Not many locations have been revealed yet, but we know the player character's home town is named Vaniville, where they live with their family and pet Rhyhorn. The next town to visit is called Santalune, which happens to be the location of the first gym. Run by Leader Viola, the bug-themed gym is built with a maze-like spider web to navigate. Nothing we haven't seen before, but it looks great with the new graphics. The final confirmed settlement is the grand Lumiose City. Aside from the Eiffel Tower-like structure at its centre, little has been revealed about it yet.
Moving around the region is now easier than ever. The grid-based movement of past games has been changed so that the player can now move diagonally. No bike has been shown, but rollerskates are now available and allow the player to grind and navigate certain obstacles, along with moving faster. In addition, certain Pokémon can now be ridden, such as Gogoat and Rhyhorn, and can break down barriers such as rocks so the player can pass through. There has been no announcement as to how HMs will work this time around, but perhaps new methods like these might, at least in part, replace that clumsy mechanic.
Communication with other players has been changed and improved yet again, this time with the new Player Search System, or PSS. Like the C-Gear in Generation V before it, the PSS allows trainers from around the world to come together to battle and trade. The Holo Caster technology replaces the Xtransceiver (or cell phone, if you're old-school) and allows the player to contact other in-game characters and view them as holograms. Players can also use it to receive news bulletins and Pokémon-related updates. Battle Spot allows for local or online free and ranked battles (even with random opponents). The Global Trade Station is back, and the new Wonder Trade lets players offer up a Pokémon for trade and gain a random one from another player in return. New O-powers that give boosts to experience earned and can increase stats can be managed and traded with other players via the PSS too. It's great to see the new features and improvements the PSS provides, and hopefully it will mean a smoother online and multiplayer experience!
There's no reason not to be excited about Pokémon X and Y. The upgrades and new mechanics should bring back old players tired of the same formula, while the improved graphics are sure to entice first-time players. For us fans, well, we were always going to buy it anyway. Pokémon X and Y will be released worldwide on October 12, and we'll be reporting all the newest news in the meantime!