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10/16/2013

Reflections: Pokemon X&Y



When something you enjoyed at the age of 12 is still just as good when you're 25, it can mean a lot of things, some may call it immaturity, ignorance, or whatever else....but as for me, I just call it lucky. I think it's fortunate when something you enjoyed so passionately at a young age can still invoke the same feelings no matter how old you get. If you have something like that in your life, regardless of what anyone says about you, consider yourself a very lucky and fortunate person. 

Pokemon X&Y was unleashed worldwide just a few days ago, and I couldn't resist being part of such a historic event. It's been a long time since I really got into a Pokemon game, because quite frankly I never saw any of them evolve significantly beyond Pokemon Gold&Silver, two games that were just so damn good that they were remade nearly a decade later and were still just as good. That's the thing about Pokemon, as great and solid as it was, it never really changed or evolved too much over the years. Fans such as myself, who have been following the series since its inception with Pokemon Red&Blue, we dreamed about the future of the series but never really got anything remotely close to what we hoped and expected, especially considering the powerful technology that helped so many other franchises reach new heights. Pokemon remained stagnant, but all that said they were still just as fun to anyone who approached them for the very first time, and die-hard fanatics who couldn't get enough of it.

I was in the camp of stuck up entitled fans who wanted the big changes now, and at the end of the day there were two things that cynical fans really desired: 1) a fully 3D game, and 2) a massively multi-player online community experience. With Pokemon X&Y, the developers have managed to knock both birds out cold with one big stone. If you were still waiting out for that dream sequel to Pokemon Gold&Silver, then this game is it, and now that I finally play it, I realize why it couldn't have happened sooner. Now is the right time and the right platform for a monster sequel like Pokemon X&Y, the 3DS hardware alone is the sole reason why this sequel, and all its ambitions, came to fruition with such ease. At first I had the feeling of "it's about bloody time!" when they first unveiled the game, but now that I've clocked 30 hours I realize that there is a time and place for everything, and now was the perfect time for a game like X&Y to be released. Had it happened any sooner, it would all have been in vain. 

I'm 30 hours in and I've only just scratched the surface, it's jammed with so much content that you could play this for a really really long time. The game world is fully 3D and cel-shaded, and each and every one of the 700+ Pokemon has been given new life in 3D. It's visually a very astounding game, one of the best looking and technically impressive titles on the 3DS, one that could just as easily have passed for a WiiU title. I'd compare the quality of the visuals to a Level 5 game, a studio that is known for gorgeous cel-shaded 3D. In particular, X&Y has a similar quality aesthetic as Dragon Quest VIII. It's a fully realized world, with each location detailed and brimming with unique personality. The 3D battles, and the unique and detailed models for each of the Pokemon, are so entertaining and impressive to witness. They really went all out here.

The online features alone warrant a purchase, the fact that you are literally connected to every single person in the world who owns the game is mind boggling. The online features are available from the moment you start playing, with none of the DLC or season-pass nonsense that has plagued the industry. You are connected with everyone playing the game and you are constantly interacting with them. You can do battles, trades, chat, and all sorts of things. You can search an online database where you can find Pokemon listed for trade, and even put up some of your critters as if it were an open market. You can also exchange gifts and stat boosts on the fly, the stat boosts in particular can come in any time, so you can get some unexpected but appreciated help from a stranger when you're caught up in a heated battle. You really feel like you're part of the Pokemon community in such a profound way. The online features work, there's no silly gimmickry, as everything you could want from a Pokemon MMO is present here. Sure the main quest is effectively still a single player game, but you are never really alone.

It's still Pokemon, but at its absolute best. Some people will probably cringe at the idea of it still being Pokemon...but isn't that the point? I fail to see why that is a flaw. Gran Turismo will always be Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy will always be Final Fantasy, and Pokemon is what it is, why would you have it any other way? For fans who have been following the series since Red&Blue, they will no doubt find that X&Y rejuvenates the series in such a big way. For many this will be their first Pokemon journey, and what a great place to start.

A game like Pokemon X&Y feels like a gift to mankind, I can't find a better way to describe just how special this landmark video game release is. I feel fortunate to embark on this unforgettable adventure, and more than that, it's a great feeling to share this magical and beautiful experience with so many like-minded people from all over the world. I can't get enough of it, there's just so much enjoyment you can get out of it.

The Pokemon franchise is here to stay, and X&Y just added another two decades to its lifespan. 









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