Before I start, a small disclaimer: Though I am the editor in chief, I’m probably much closer to those my age who go “Pokemon started going downhill after the first 150.” I generally append that with “Gold and Silver were the best games ever.” I’ve poked around Ruby and Sapphire, got to the elite four in Diamond, sorta touched black and white, though I don’t remember it. White 2 is still shrink wrapped. Pokemon games… have gotten a bit stale as a franchise.
The way I see it, every game has one mission, entertainment, for two audiences, familiar and new gamers. Familiar, I should mention, are those who are familiar with the franchise. Games that only favor the new alienate the base and games that favor the familiar alienate the new. And if you don’t bring in new players, slowly, your base of avid fan goers shrinks. It’s an age old problem for developers.
So how does it stack compared to the former games, with gold and silver being the … gold standard (pun intended). Read on after the break for my initial thoughts. [Though be warned, there could be spoilers!]
Like my fellow writer Pokemon Trainer Sarah, I decided to not do research into the game before picking X or Y, to the chagrin of the game consultant (read: cashier) at GameStop. I just chose Y. Why? Because I could make puns like this. I faintly recalled others picking X, so I like to ‘take the road less travelled by,’ though my girlfriend picked up Pokemon X. Hey, she has an iPod. I had a Zune. It’s all the same.
After playing for approximately 15 hours, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually played for so long. That’s partially a mark of a good game, that one can be immersed in it without any sense of time. Not bad. Here are my thoughts on why and here are 7 observations by our leader Harry
5. Pokemon are high in variety
If the goal is to catch all the Pokemon, then… all is a lot higher than 150. It is nice to be running out of Pokeballa and to be catching them constantly. It makes running in tall grass… fun again. So many times I would start carrying repels in the past to get myself by the monotonous zubats and ratatas. Now, I think Pokemon has created a large enough ecosystem where you can have so much variety on each path. I actually go back now to hunt for some, ala bug catching style. My intention was to catch more Pokemon from the beginning (more on this in a future article), but the vartiety on each route is nice.
4. Built for the familiar player, still good for the new player
Although I’ve had some hiccups on how to manage certain things (Pokemon Amie and PSS), overall, the dreaded walking and slogging though the beginning has really been shortened. This is a massive improvement from previous games where the first half hour was spent re-learning how to catch Pokemon, using potions, using items, etc. You’re out in the open much faster now. You know how to run right from the start! (though I didn’t realize this until my girlfriend wondered if you could run…)
3. Experience seems easier to come by
My Pokemon are leveling faster. It just seems that way, though I have two traded Pokemon. But all my Pokemon are consistently higher than other trainers, even gym leaders. That’s been new and it could be my playing style, but the experience points from catching Pokemon is a nice addition and incentivizes the primary objective of the game…. Overall, leveling seems much easier.
2. Interface improvements.
In the original Red and Blue, the reason why you had to switch boxes and save constantly was that there simply wasn’t enough memory to allow you to have more than a box worth of Pokemon easily accessible. Now, with crazy amounts of memory, everything is smoother. Trades have been divorced from the Pokemon Center and are not limited to those in your party. That seems in line with the 21st century. Interface and touch improvements make menus much easier to navigate. Saves are super fast now. You can register up to 4 items!
1. Running, Skating, and Biking from a great camera angle
This is a two parter. The camera angles and the zoom effects really help drive this game. Things seem so much more smooth now. The technical improvements and removing requirements that you walk orthogonally makes the game so much nice. Running and skating feel like it those actual actions, not a super walking movement. Watch your bike turn. It actually turns into a corner, not pops in the direction when you turn. The camera angles make exploration of the territory so much more joyful than in previous games. The use of these higher mobility items really makes the world a little bit smaller and a lot more fun.
Overall, I think that Pokemon Y will be on par with Gold and Silver based on my initial thoughts. New, yet familiar and more fun so far.