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Pokemon X and Y review

Game Freak's series still has the X factor and here's Y...

Every generation, we're told, is going to be the one. The big step forward. One giant leap for 'Mon-kind. And, let's be honest, it never quite materialises. Black and White promised much and offered the most substantial changes to the formula since Generation II. Ultimately, though, while they were prettier, heralding the largest influx of new beasts, improved online features and a few minor bonuses besides, it was the same old Pokemon we'd been playing since Red and Blue.

If X and Y are a step forward, it's a small one. The basics remain. Fire/Grass/Water Starters. A Professor named after a tree. Eight gyms. The Elite Four. A battle against the regional champ. An auxiliary plotline that climaxes just before Victory Road. A Pokemon that's a household object with eyes. All present and correct.

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Is that such a bad thing? Like a broken parking meter, Pokémon continually resists change, but that's because, like so many Nintendo games, it emerged from the egg almost perfectly formed. Put yourself in Game Freak's shoes: do you risk rebuilding with new foundations, or adhere to a tried-and-tested structure? It's a no-brainer, particularly since each new game is designed with newcomers in mind.

X and Y, then, are not about to reinvent the wheel (or even stick a pair of eyes on it), but they are about to refine it in ways that smartly, subtly make these two games not just the biggest advance for the series since Gold and Silver, but the best Pokemon has ever been.

Squirtle Power

It begins with one of many tiny surprises that will mean more to veterans than to beginners. You choose your starter from a selection offered by one of your four-strong group of friends, rather than the region's professor. When Professor Sycamore arrives you'll get a second choice, this time picking from the Kanto starters from Red and Blue. It's a nice touch that says while this might be the start of something new, Game Freak isn't about to forget where it all began.

These early tweaks don't fundamentally change the experience, but add a fresher flavour. The quest to become champion has always felt like a solitary pursuit, but there's a greater sense of connection to others. Your four friends will contact you on your new Holo-Caster, or catch up with you for a chat or battle. Meanwhile, if you're playing within range of a Wi-Fi signal, you're connected to online friends through the Player Search System (PSS), a spiffy new update to Black and White's C-Gear.

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It helps, of course, that you're making that journey at the same time as the rest of the world. X and Y are the first Pokemon games to get a simultaneous global release, which means everyone will discover the same things together. That element of surprise is a big part of what made our time with X and Y so special: unexpected Evolutions and hidden secrets giving us that tingly thrill of discovery. Rarely have our lips been quite so firmly bitten - wouldn't want to give the game away, would we?

Dex is On Fire

There's a steady flow of fresh sightings in what might be the best-paced Pokemon games so far. Though Game Freak still can't resist wrenching control from us as it tells us how to catch a Pokemon, it's mercifully brief about it, getting to the point much quicker than its predecessors. The plot soon gathers pace as bad guys Team Flare reveal themselves: their leader's maniacal scheme is surprisingly dark, yet there's an intriguing method to the madness which seems to nod towards the biggest issue Game Freak may have with its own franchise.

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  1. Mariostar222 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 09:24

    O yay comments are back

  2. drahuligon Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 10:16

    Got Pokemon X yesterday, and really loving it so far. Started off with Chespin + Squirtle :D

  3. geengy Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 10:22

    Somehow I'm really disappointed that this didn't get more than the first Black/White games. Oh well, I'm hardly expecting it to trounce Mario Galaxy, am I?

  4. HughPR Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 10:50

    Well it sounds pretty awesome to me. I have to do SOME work today (it's my first week at uni, don't want to get behind!) but then the rest of the weekend is ummm...already engaged!

  5. ThePokekid78 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 11:08

    Got Y yesterday but I won't open it until I've thought of some good nicknames...

    Judging by everything on Serebii though, Gen 6 seems undoubtedly the worst generation of Pokemon ever, but luckily there are just enough cool ones to fill a team with! Some of the new features are sounding great and the graphics look good - despite being worse than what the console can handle, but really, that's to be expected of Pokemon by now...

    Still, having just beaten the National Dex on White 2 yesterday, looking forward to starting a new adventure today!

  6. TheSlenderman Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 11:37

    Somehow I'm really disappointed that this didn't get more than the first Black/White games. Oh well, I'm hardly expecting it to trounce Mario Galaxy, am I?


    The scoring system is different from when those games were reviewed.

  7. Time-Bomb Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 12:12

    I'd love to give my opinion but Amazon's screwed me over. I opted for first class and pre-ordered ages ago, and they still didn't get it to me today! I had this weekend all set aside for Pokemon fun :(

  8. Sex Bob-omb Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 12:52

    Got Y yesterday and it's incredible the soundtrack is awesome

  9. Mr. Sinister Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 13:26

    Well it sounds pretty awesome to me. I have to do SOME work today (it's my first week at uni, don't want to get behind!) but then the rest of the weekend is ummm...already engaged!

    Same here, I've just started my MSc course and I've got a tonne of pre-course reading to do which I can't fall behind on. :cry:

    Still gotta make time to play it though... :D

  10. stealth1497 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 14:13

    Should be higher than AC at least...*opinion*

  11. Nintendolover999 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 14:57

    Dont forget about link between worlds!

  12. Satamer Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 15:35

    How can these games not have gotten a better score than Black and White! They are just so awesome, have been playing X all day.

  13. stealth1497 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 15:37

    How can these games not have gotten a better score than Black and White! They are just so awesome, have been playing X all day.

    It's due to a change in the scoring system since the new ONM team came in (as explained above as well).

  14. SeismicToad Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 17:12

    Personally I think you scored it too high, the 3D only turns on during battles!!

    It's been hyped up a lot and falls short, Route 1 is only 34 paces long and in a straight line with no grass at all.

    I expected sooo much more but still, it's great an a different take on the classic (if you ignore all the niggles).

    85 - 90 % In my opinion

  15. fisher2007 Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 17:42

    I got pokemon X yesterday from game and I'm enjoying it caught 20 pokemon. :D

  16. HughPR Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 17:46

    Nothing in the mailroom for me... :(

  17. Mr. Sinister Saturday 12th Oct 2013 at 19:03

    I just realised something. I want to see a shiny Charizard (or any Pokémon for that matter), in fully rendered 3D!!! :shock: :mrgreen:

  18. Toastie Thursday 17th Oct 2013 at 21:39

    Is this a shortened version of the review from the magazine? It seems a bit strange that the review doesn't mention Mega Evolution, Poké-Mon Amie or Super Training, 3 of the new major features.

  19. Brawlftw Sunday 27th Oct 2013 at 00:48

    93%? Wow, I'd heard it was good but wasn't expecting it to be that high. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the highest a pokemon game has been rated in a long time, as far as I know.

  20. soopahgamer Monday 3rd Feb 2014 at 11:20

    Yeah I liked the game but I think it was too easy!!

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