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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pokemon X Review

Aside from Super Mario, Pokemon is the Nintendo series. First appearing in 1996, it has spawned many games, spin-offs, manga, and a successful anime that is still going today. (And all the movies!) Like many, when I was younger I used to watch the show back when it was actually good. Unlike most however, I've actually never sat down and played a game straight through. I corrected this mistake with the latest release in the series, X/Y. These games when first unveiled received a lot of hype. Pokemon always does, but this was going to shake up the formula. Instead of sprites, CGI would be used, with a fully realized 3D world. There was going to be a new evolution called 'Mega Evolution.' And finally, a new Pokemon type, Fairy, was unveiled. X doesn't disappoint in the slightest. It's the perfect gateway into the addictive Pokemon world.

The story follows a trainer you name and his/her journey to becoming a Pokemon master. (Officially their names are Calem and Serena.) It's the same thing for every game, but what I like about this one is that there's also a story happening alongside it. Team Flare (basically the Kalos region's version of Team Rocket) led by a man named Lysandre has a plan to make the world 'right again.' Lysandre is the only real character of the bunch, the rest are just minions with some of the cheesiest lines in existence. The writing makes an attempt at making him a compelling character, he even sheds tears at one point. So I give props to the team for having this story within a story. Ultimately however, the most interesting thing is the emotional flashback with the Pokemon war. Now there's something that should get an anime adaption.

The main story ultimately however is the journey to becoming a Pokemon master, and it's a satisfying one. It's an 18 hour journey, and you'll be hard-pressed to put down your 3DS. Unlike Final Fantasy where leveling up is a chore, here you actually want to see your Pokemon become stronger. There is no greater feeling than watching them evolve, you develop an attachment to your starter and main team. Some might find it too easy, since it's a piece of cake to stock on items. The Elite Four isn't really as challenging as they're made out to be. The only real major difficulty I had was getting passed the final battle against the Champion's pokemon Gardevoir. But, it's still a fantastic journey no other game series can replicate.

Arguably the biggest thing that got fans excited about X and Y was that along with the Kalos region starter, you were going to get a second starter. The choices would be Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle, the original three. This was pretty exciting, especially for people like me that grew up with those characters. As you go through the game along the way you'll run into many of the classics such as Pidgey and Caterpie. So while being a whole new thing, these games grab some of the old, which is great. This brings us to the factor that will revolutionize Pokemon for years to come, the Mega Evolution.

Mega Evolution on paper is a pretty awesome concept. Basically select Pokemon have a fourth transformation where they unleash their true power once every battle. The results are quite impressive. Sadly, even though the trailers made a big deal out of it, you can go through the whole main part of the game without encountering Mewtwo, which is definitely disappointing. But, let's talk about the new Legendary from the X version, Xerneas. He has a very majestic and awe-inspiring design. He doesn't get to do much in the story, but his scene with destroying the Ultimate Weapon was pretty great. Xerneas easily has one of the best designs in recent years. Hopefully the anime will capture this deer's grace and power.

Overall, Pokemon X is a fantastic game. There's so much heart put into the journey. Sure, a lot of the dialogue between the main character and his friends is pretty cheesy, but it doesn't bring down the experience. There's not really anything negative. Sure, I could point out little things, such as the Pokemon themselves having very generic sounds. (Seriously, they couldn't use the sounds from the anime or create more unique ones?) And for some reason, the frame rate drops sometimes and the battle becomes a little choppy. But ultimately it succeeds in giving the player a journey of a lifetime.There is no satisfaction greater than watching your Pokemon evolve and earning the title Pokemon Master.


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