PN Contributor: Getting Ready For Pokémon X/Y
It was only a matter of time before Pokémon would hit Nintendo’s 3DS. The franchise has released numerous iterations and remakes for the last 15 years, but one thing seems to have always stood out in a somewhat negative light. Outside of the Pokémon Stadium and Battle Revolution games, Pokémon has never tried to be a fully 3-D experience, choosing instead to stick to its roots of a fixed overhead camera in the field, and flat 2-D sprites in battle. While it’s nice to appreciate a company showing reverence to its past, it’s just as nice, if not more so, when they evolve in a meaningful way. Enter Pokémon X and Y, taking place in the French inspired Kalos Region, and the first fully realized 3-D entries in Nintendo’s long running monster catching series. Game Freak, the series’ developer has worked tirelessly to both create a Pokémon experience like never before, and to fine tune the addictive mechanics that made the games so immersive in the first place. Here are the important details you need to know about the latest Pokémon game.
Starter Pokémon and their Evolutions
As it is with every new generation, there are always three brand new monsters to pick from as the starter that always revolve around Pokémon’s rock-paper-scissors-like dynamic between Grass, Fire and Water. X and Y are no different as new trainers will be greeted by Chespin, Fennekin and Froakie.
Chespin: Chespin is the grass type Pokémon of the sixth generation. Game Freak has given Chespin a very happy look which continues into its second stage, Quilladin. As it evolves, its physical development appears to be focused around the armored shell that originally covers only its back and head in its first stage.
Fennekin: Fennekin has been likened by many long time Pokémon players to the original Fire Fox, Vulpix. Fennekin doesn’t stay Vulpix-esque for very long, as it becomes a more humanoid bipedal when it evolves into Braixen. You can also see that Braixen holds a stick in its tail, which indicates that it could be used as a wand for special attacks, potentially breaking the streak of Fire/Fighting starters.
Froakie: Froakie has seemed to be the popular choice amongst most players, in the time leading up to X and Y’s release and it’s easy to see why, especially when it evolves into the very sleek looking Frogadier. My original assumption was that Froakie was going to follow the path of “The Frog Prince”, and that it would be the one that would turn into the bipedal, however, Frogadier’s evolution does not indicate this to be the case. Froakie’s physical development appears to be centered on its head, where the initial focal point of the character is its big, bright eyes, which then evolves into a helmet of sorts.
Potential Stage 3 Leak[expand title=”Click for Spoiler”]
While Nintendo has yet to confirm this, it’s worth noting that an article on October 2nd, 2013 from escapistmagazine.com reported a leak of the final stages for X and Y’s starters. This leak also revealed a new and interesting dynamic between the starters. Chesnaught (Chespin), Delphox (Fennekin), and Greninja (Froakie), as they’re called all have subtypes as well. This by itself, isn’t particularly new, but it’s the fact that the subtypes also have a similar “Rock-Paper-Scissors” dynamic as well. Chesnaught will be a Grass/Fighting type, Delphox will be a Fire/Psychic type, and Greninja will be a Water/Dark type. What this essentially means is that whatever starter you pick will have a double disadvantage against your rival starter. While it certainly won’t be too difficult to counter this with other Pokémon you’ll encounter, it does create a more interesting aspect in terms of team building.[/expand]
In case you never played the original Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow games or the FireRed/LeafGreen remakes, Game Freak has decided to give fans yet another reverence to the franchise’s past. Not only will the player be able to choose between the new Generation VI starters, but will also be able to choose one of the beloved original three starters, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander. On top of that, all three starters will have unique Mega Evolutions that will make them even more powerful in battle. Their inclusion is a very natural choice, since Game Freak has already come out and addressed the fan demand for the inclusion of older Pokémon in newer entries. The Kanto starters simply take that demand, one step further.
Mega Evolutions are arguably the hottest topic about Pokémon X and Y, and easily the biggest game mechanic tweak Game Freak has implemented. During battle, select Pokémon have the ability to temporarily transform into new forms, called Mega Evolutions. Mega Evolutions not only change the appearance of your Pokémon, but they significantly boost their stats, and in some cases even change their types.
They can also differ between the X and Y versions. The biggest example of this, especially of late, has been Charizard’s Mega Evolution reveal. When Mega-Evolved in Pokémon X, Charizard goes from being a Fire/Flying type Pokémon to being a Fire/Dragon type. Strategically, this changes things immensely for your team as it can essentially add a seventh Pokémon to your roster. By changing Charizard’s subtype from flying to dragon, it eliminates two key weaknesses from this particular Pokémon, while preventing another. By having the Dragon subtype, Water and Electricity are no longer “Super Effective” due to the Dragon type’s resistance to each. Ice is also prevented from being “Super Effective” by being subdued by the primary Fire type. With the inclusion of Mega Evolutions as a game mechanic, Charizard essentially becomes two Pokémon in one.
Obviously, the biggest hurdle of this mechanic is preventing it from falling into the “Press-to-Win” pitfall. Game Freak has taken this into consideration by creating two very important restrictions. One, trainers will only be able to use Mega Evolutions one time per battle, thus forcing the player to consider carefully before using it. The second restriction is the rarity of the item you need for Mega Evolutions. Each Pokémon that can Mega Evolve has their own special Mega Stone. It has not been fully confirmed how you can obtain all of them, but for a Pokémon like Blaziken, you will need to obtain the Torchic through the special distribution Nintendo will have starting the day of the game’s release on October, 12, 2013.
Another major addition to Pokémon’s core mechanics, is the addition of the new Fairy type. There has only ever been one other time that the franchise has added Pokémon types, and that was at the beginning of the second generation with Steel and Dark types, so it’s been a while. Many have questioned why it was necessary to add a type that adds nothing but cutesy Pokémon, but the answer to that goes below the surface.
When Pokémon first began, there were two types that seemingly overruled all of the others, Psychic and Dragon. Everyone had an Alakazam or a MewTwo in their team back in the day, because there wasn’t much of anything that could nullify the infamous Psychic/Recover combo. This resulted in a lot of teams essentially being the same from trainer to trainer. To counter this issue, Game Freak introduced the Dark type, which renders any Psychic attack completely useless, and creating a better sense of mechanical balance.
Well, Dragons have pretty much carried on the same way, except for two weaknesses, Ice and other Dragon attacks. Even with these weaknesses, there is still one mechanical flaw, Dragon attacks have always done at least standard damage against everything. That is until now. The purpose of the Fairy type’s existence, is merely to create a better balance and keep Dragon types from being over powered, much like Psychics used to be at the beginning.
Much like the Starter Pokémon, every generation has their own legendary Pokémon, a one-time catch that is stronger than any other Pokémon in the land. This generation, much like most of the others, has each game feature its own unique legendaries. Xerneas graces the cover for Pokémon X and Yveltal for Pokémon Y, whose color schemes and designs hint at a Life vs. Death dynamic between the two. And in case you haven’t noticed, they are both shaped like their game’s respective letters.
Xerneas: Xerneas will be the Pokémon world’s first Fairy-type legendary. It will come with the ability, Fairy Aura, which will power up any Fairy-type moves that any of your Pokémon have, including your opponent.
Yveltal: Yveltal is a Dark/Flying type Pokémon and comes with the ability Dark Aura, which works in the exact same way as Xerneas’ Fairy Aura, just with Dark-type Pokémon.
It has yet to be confirmed how Dark types and Fairy types will battle each other in terms of weaknesses, but I would imagine that since they are being pitted against each other as Legendaries, one must be “Super Effective” against the other, and that some sort of subsequent backstory will follow.
One of the bigger concerns for a lot of long time Pokémon fans was how to transfer all of our older Pokémon to the new game. After all, we had spent many hours training, battling, and growing attached to our various teams. Game Freak’s solution to this is the Pokémon Bank, a paid storage service that uses cloud storage rather than your cartridge. While the idea of having to pay for something that pretty much came with your game in the past may sound a little off putting, it does aim to solve one very important problem.
As great as cartridges are, their lifespan is not as long as a digital copy of a game or even a CD or Blu-ray. As a result, you can end up losing all of your hard earned Pokémon when the cartridge goes bad, essentially rendering all of those hours spent catching, training and battling completely fruitless. Personally, I’ve had this happen to me a number of times, and as a consumer, I’ve been looking for a real solution to this problem. Transporting your Pokémon back and forth promises to be easy, but just be forewarned, Pokémon bank will only be compatible with Black/White 1 and 2.
In the end, Game Freak promises to deliver the Pokémon adventure, fans new and old have been waiting for. With a full 3-D world and battle system, as well as customizable trainers, and a cloud storage system that can store up to 3,000 monsters, the franchise is looking to evolve in the right way. Pokémon has such a strong reputation for being a great product, I have no doubt that fans everywhere are going to love X and Y. The only doubt I actually do have is which Starter I want to go with.[poll id=”54″]