The latest Pokemon adventure, Pokemon X and Y, features a number of firsts for the series. One of the biggest additions is fairy type Pokemon, with Xerneas filling the role of the legendary Pokemon in Pokemon X, and a couple other great additions to the Trainer’s team, like Swirlix, rounding out the type. Their attributes help to balance out the other existing types, with their defense weaknesses being poison and steel, while they are immune to dragon and resistant to bug and dark. The new fairy types are a welcome addition to Pokemon X that add a distinct flare of majesty and fantasy to the kinds of Pokemon that can be collected, as some of the other types can frequently come across as mere animals.
Perhaps even more exciting than the new fairy type Pokemon is the introduction of Mega Evolutions. This is essentially an extra step of evolution that can be obtained through the acquisition of appropriate Mega Stones for certain types of Pokemon. Attempting to evolve a number of Pokemon to this stage is even more addicting than the task of collecting a wide variety of different Pokemon, as both the process of the evolution itself, as well as the resulting Pokemon, prove to be magical experiences and some of the most intriguing, satisfying visuals in the game.
And the graphics are another area where Pokemon X moves a step ahead of its predecessors, as the title is rendered in 3D polygons for the first time. Nowhere is this more apparent than when the Trainer is traversing Lumiose City, as the city’s treasure trove of beautiful sites and landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, are all lovingly detailed, taking full advantage of the processing power of the 3DS. The near-disorienting scrolling effects in the city are almost reminiscent of old SNES titles like Super Mario Kart and Star Fox. In addition to the graphical content, a player’s experience in Pokemon X can be almost endlessly customized, as the Trainer’s entire appearance can be altered, and fun mini-games can be played like creating a commercial video featuring a Pokemon on the Trainer’s team.
While the game does feature the most up-to-date graphics in the series, its extremely rare use of the 3DS console’s 3D effect throughout the majority of the game was a significant disappointment. Many of the battles and a few other sequences are enhanced by Pokemon X’s minimal employment of the 3D, however, much is lost in places like the corridors leading into Lumiose City, where an added 3D effect would make the already rich content of the visuals truly striking.
But making up for the lack of 3D is the game’s music, which is altered in tandem with the action of the game in a way that perfectly captures the sometimes abrupt stylistic gameplay changes from RPG-style exploration to intense, eye-popping battle sequences. Speaking of the RPG elements, this is an area where Pokemon X’s developers may have been able to take greater risks. While the emphasis in a Pokemon game is, of course, collecting the various Pokemon and engaging in some thrilling battles, and the badge collecting that allows for command of higher level Pokemon makes for a decent objective, the narrative in the game can at times feel tacked on.
But ultimately the thin narrative and lack of 3D amount to minor complaints in a game that more than lives up to the Pokemon brand. The new features and overall design of Pokemon X advance the series in ways that will sustain the interest of old and new players alike.