Before we start this article, are you a boy or a girl? That’s right Pokefans, your favourite creatures are back for the biggest instalment the franchise has ever seen. For the first time in history, these monsters will be hitting the pockets of fans worldwide at simultaneously. At Nintendo‘s booth at EB Expo 2013, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a demo for the newest Pokemon adventure: X and Y. A demo specifically constructed to showcase the new elements of the game, it included a mix of elements that will assuredly pique-achu your interest.
Alright let’s talk about the Donphan in the room: the graphics. For the first time ever, the handheld versions of Pokemon have received a visual upgrade and they. Are. Awesome. The 3D graphics are very clean and simple in their presentation, retaining an old school feel whilst bringing it into the next gen. I’ll admit, when I heard about the 3D graphics, part of me worried how they would come across on a 3DS screen. But my fears have been put to rest. The style came across well on the 3DS XL, the system I demoed the game on, and is in no way visually imposing or confusing. When exploring the overworld, the game no longer locks in a top down perspective. X and Y sees the introduction of a more free form camera, shifting from an angled glimpse to behind the back perspective, depending on the situation. The game also receives some new variation in its assets, for example flower patches have been added to the list of areas where you can discover Pokemon.
In addition to the visual enhancements of the overworld, the control scheme has also received a few enhancements. First of all, characters are no longer locked into a four direction movement grid. Feel free to move in any direction you want, left, right, left-right, right-left…south. These new travel options can be aided by the brand new pair of roller skates your player obtains. These allow you to glide pretty quickly around areas, like the running shoes of previous generations. In X and Y however, the roller skates are used automatically when you use the analog stick. This removes the tedium of having to equip your bike or hold down B to run. A small complaint I know, but Pokemon fans will understand the benefit of the upgrade. You are still able to walk if you so desire, by using the D-pad. But why bother when you can skate or better yet ride around on a Pokemon? You heard it folks you can now use your some of your select companions as mounts to dash around the Kalos region. The demo I played provided me with Skiddo, half goat, half motorcycle, all boss. Only the Skiddo, Gogoat and Rhyhorn have been announced rideable at this point and, in the demo, I didn’t get a chance to experience the true benefits of these mounts, being locked in an enclosed area. Still cool though.
Ah, the battle system. That turn based realm where dreams are made…then possibly eaten. Just like the overworld, battles have had their graphics ramped up considerably. As much as the 3d style affects the pokemon, their movement has also been improved. Pokemon will now react to attacks, both used and received, livening up the visuals of battle. The camera will also react to attacks, cinematically zooming in and out as battles wage. Just as in the console releases, your Pokemon also possesses a brief fainting animation, another small touch that adds to complete the experience.
My brief excursion into the new world of Pokemon also gave me some time with the new mechanic that’s taking the world by storm: Mega Evolution. Provided with Mewtwo because why not, I was thrown into battle against a terrifying foe: Crobat. (Who, sarcasm aside, is an awesome Pokemon) Naturally against impending doom I had not choice but to unlock the true power of Mewtwo. One of the greatest aspects of Mega Evolution is that it does not use up a turn in battle. Before you choose your attack, simply click the Mega Evolution button, your Pokemon will then power up and strike. Efficient and deadly.
I was only granted a brief audience with Pokemon X and Y, but i relished every minute of it. This next endeavour into the world we all know and love so much will prove to be a memorable one. Get ready Pokemon trainers. Mega Evolution, Fairy-type…goatorcycles. The game has it all and we…Gotta catch ’em all!