Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pokémon Y : First Thoughts

It's finally here.
As of the 16th October this year, I've been glued to my Nintendo 3DS. Over the past week, I've piled in over 35 hours of Pokémon Y. I have 7 of 8 badges. I've caught the legendary Yveltal, exclusive to version Y. And here are my thoughts.

With a formula as strict as that of Pokémon, it's the little tweaks that are in keeping of the series style (but improve the game) that are the most welcomed changes. Catching Pokémon awards you with experience points. Speciality Pokéballs are available earlier in the game. The EXP Boost, earned after the first Gym, allows each Pokémon in your party to earn half the experience points earned in battle, each. New features, such as the Pokémon Amie, actually provide tangible stat and experience boosts, as well as improved Pokémon catching rates, Pokémon that (over time) can heal themselves of status ailments, dodge attacks and even tough it out to 1HP instead of being killed off in a one-shot attack.

With a character finally able to move in eight directions, the environments in Pokémon Y  are no longer made up of blocks. There are sprawling streets, sweeping camera angles and seen-to-be-believed special effects in some of the Pokémon Gyms. All of the Pokémon are modelled in 3D, animated authentically and look like they were plucked straight out of the animated series. Soundtrack is, in an odd way, quite unusual for the Pokémon series, yet also eerily familiar. 

I do feel that at times Pokémon Y has been too easy. Some of the gameplay tweaks have made the game less challenging, especially when it comes to the experience boosts that allow Pokémon to level up very quickly. For a feature the game is advertised on, Mega Evolution feels almost tacked on and pointless. Even when using it, I really don't see that much of an improvement in the abilities of my Pokémon. Dungeons are definitely shorter compared to those in Pokémon Fire Red which was recently the last Pokémon game I had played. The layout of dungeons seems easier, and there are NPCs that are more than happy to regularly heal your Pokémon, making carrying items unnecessary. Also, wild Pokémon, trainers and gym leaders don't appear to employ any strategy.

What I Like: Over 400 Pokémon are in the game, available to see or capture. Pokémon Amie allows you to get closer to your Pokémon and really bond with them. From what I've heard, there is a post-game scenario at least as long as the main scenario. TMs are reusable. Traded Pokémon get double XP.

What I Dislike: Team Flare, the antagonists of the game, are not very intimidating. Trainer variations tend to reuse the same Pokémon, for instance, Team Flare use a lot of Mightyena and Houndoom. Rebalanced battle rules mean I have to relearn the type advantages from scratch. You can't move three feet in the desert without encountering a Trapinch.

On a related note to Pokémon Y, I'm returning to PokéBlogging. I'll might move the blog, and its posts, manually to my own website, or I might not. But I'm definitely bringing this blog back, as I feel my love for Pokémon has returned with a significant push.

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