Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pokémon X and Y

Yes, Pokémon X and Y have been released!

And now that I have finished a playthrough of X, here's a brief review and summary of my experience. Please refrain from reading my traditional review below if you have not yet finished the game... Or do so anyway, for you have the power of free will.
*** Obligatory Possible Spoiler Warning ***
I wandered down to Big W at approximately 11:20am on Saturday, 12th October in the hope of purchasing both games at the lowest price. Thankfully I managed to narrowly secure a copy of each version, taking the very last copy of X and the 10th last copy of Y available in stock. All for the bargain price of $AU 83.60. Lucky me!
The inclusion of previous generatiion Pokémon in these games was a very welcome addition. In fact, this was half the reason why I purchased both X and Y versions on the release date. I have not bothered to do this since SS and HG. Like with most previous generations from 4 onwards, I didn't have much love for any of the new creatures, and therefore avoided all of them like the plague.
xy unopened
I chose Fennekin as my starter, raising it to play through the early part of the game until it evolved into Delphox. Afterwards, I reshuffled my team with Charizard at the center, gradually replacing Delphox and my two other Flying types with Lapras and Salamence. Unfortunately, I never really managed to find any suitable Pokémon for my 6th party member slot. So I stuck Absol in that last slot for False Swipe and Strength. Ordinarily, I would have just traded over a bunch of Eevee Eggs to serve as my starters, but there was no way for me to do that in this instance.
team1  team2
There are several improvements in this generation, with the most obvious being the new 3D Pokémon models and animations. The Super Training function improves EV training somewhat, although there still doesn't seem to be any way of immediately seeing all your Pokémon's IV or EV numbers. Also, it looks like you still have to reset all your EVs and start all over again in order to change your Pokémon's stat spread.
A very convenient addition is the new Player Search System, which enables players to instantly connect with one another instead of having to go into a building each time. Trading and battling is now accessible at any time through this menu, saving everyone time and effort. The Wonder Trade function also allows new players to exchange their more common Pokémon for a huge variety of different species very early in the game. This is also a wonderful tool for those breeding rare Pokémon to send unwanted babies to players who actually need them, instead of being forced to release all of them for more PC storage space.
As for the gameplay itself, I found it to be a clear improvement from BW, despite the story being fairly disjointed and spontaneously confusing. Thanks to the early access to an improved Exp. Share and Lucky Egg, raising your party of Pokémon has never been easier. Gym Leaders often only have 3 Pokémon of the same type to battle with, and defeating them with an effective opposing Pokémon type is simple. The new Gym Leader battle music is very out of place and unusual. It's kind of an odd, techno trance thing. Unlike the older musical themes and most of the other themes in this game which clearly have a hummable tune, I couldn't quite catch the actual melody for this replacement. I did vaguely feel like I had an ADHD induced seizure after hearing it though, so it did at least make the battles seem more exciting.
You can customise certain aspects of your trainer character in this game, including hairstyles, eye color and clothing styles. So far as a female trainer, I've got a choice out of:
Short/ Medium/ Long/ Pigtails /Ponytail
Blonde/ Honey/ Orange/ Brown/ Black
Bangs/ Sideswept
P.S - The hair salon doesn't even give you a preview of these options. So I wasted $6000 just trying to change my hair color the first time.
Blue/ Grey/ Hazel/ Brown/ Green
Mix and match from about 9-12 different outfits in various colors.
P.S - No, you can't not wear a hat. I think it's because you desperately need to hide your strange fringe at all costs.
blue-set   cj-trainer-now
I did struggle to locate doorways and navigate my way through the new 3D environment, especially with the camera randomly changing perspectives on me and spinning around. I just can't recognise the streets, and probably will always be forever lost in Lumiose City because of this. Thank Arceus for the terribly expensive Taxi service.
There were also many paths blocked off by random people spouting nonsense excuses such as, 'I lost something. You may not pass.' At times, this was bewildering and I wasted time wandering about trying to find out where I should actually be. Team Flare is similarly abruptly random in that they are trying to 'keep the world beautiful' but appear to be simultaneously trying to blow it into a smouldering crater. From what I could gather, their plan was to wipe the slate clean because the population had become too large for the world's limited resources. Except then wouldn't they have to blow the world up every 20 years or so, therefore causing it to be hideously ugly? I still have no idea what they were all about.
The Elite Four proved to be a cakewalk, as each trainer specialised in a specific Pokémon type, as is the tradition. As with all Elite Four members from generation 3 onwards, I don't really recall the names or personalities of any of them. The Champion's character is slightly less forgettable, but I still can't conjure up the correct spelling of her name. Maybe I just suck at facial recognition. I do remember that Drasna was unusually smiley. This actually made me feel quite afraid.
Water Guy gets angry at anti-artists and is completely weak to Thunderbolt. Fire Girl is rude and destroyed by Waterfall/Surf. Steel Guy is actually the most annoying one because of Sturdy Probopass, who can actually land a hit on you. But Flamethrower will easily OHKO him otherwise. And Lapras eats the Dragon Woman for breakfast with Ice Beam. The Champion is more challenging, but mostly because she uses new Pokémon which I didn't know the exact typing of. At this point, most of my party were already naturally at the level 70+ mark due to Exp. Share, even though I had changed my core Pokémon team twice during the game.
team3  hall-of-fame
So after defeating the Elite Four for the first time, you actually get a parade thrown in your honour. (By the way, the end credits are pretty long and bland, so make sure you have a cat on hand to stare at until it's over.) During this, the final few scenes of the game play out. I found it all to be quite surreal and fragmented. I won't ruin it entirely here, but this is what happens in the final moments expressed in one phrase:
A 3000 year old, giant emo bum is finally reunited with his long lost weed.
Behold, the ultimate pay-off after 30+ hours of gameplay! Who was he? How did he gain eternal youth? What did he even build that weapon out of? Could he not think of a way to power it with a more renewable energy source? Where is he going now? I dunno!
Yup, there doesn't seem to be anything to do after after the end credits roll other than catch more Pokémon. You will be invited to the last town in the game, where you can partake in more battling and Safari hunting. I was expecting there to be an actual Safari Zone type system where you could go out into the wilderness and seek out rare Pokémon, but the truth turned out to be a thousand times more effortless. Except for the fact that you can't even go on Safari without having any friend codes registered. Thankfully for all the angry loners out there though, it is extremely easy to find players who want to exchange your FC code for theirs online! Not only that, but every Pokémon caught in the Friend Safari is guaranteed to have 2 IVs maxed out at 31. Hurrah!
ditto-collection  eevee-high iv
Naturally, suddenly having access to all kinds of rare Pokémon with 31 IVs in two stats or more just screams for you to breed them until you get the ultimate team. Luckily, breeding for high IV Pokémon in this generation is easier and more achievable than it has ever been. With Destiny Knot guaranteeing 5 inherited stats and Everstone locking in Natures when held by any gender, it is now very plausible to breed a Pokémon with 5 perfect IVs of 31. As an added perk, baby Pokémon now arrive in the same Pokeball type as their mother was caught in, further personalising the process. 
There have been rumours about the effect of 'tipping' in Pokémon X and Y. Tipping the photographer, waiters, and other characters in Lumiose City are said to increase the rate of a shiny encounter. I tried this myself after 90+ hours of game time without encountering a single shiny Pokémon. I tipped Phil the photo guy $1000 on Route 7 three times as I was riding the Bike back and forth, hatching about 12 Vulpix Eggs during that time.
I was hoping that this would increase my chances of hatching a shiny Pokémon, but this didn't occur. However, as I was riding along on Route 7, I accidentally ran into the grass on the side of the road. I immediately encountered this Shiny Croagunk:
shiny croagunk-tipping
Therefore, based on my experience here, I believe there is some truth to the rumour that tipping increases shiny wild encounter rates somewhat. This would be too much of a coincidence otherwise.
Alarmingly, there only seemed to be 7-8 storage Boxes for placing Pokémon in the PC when I began my game. Fortunately, more PC Boxes unlocked as I finished the game and began to fill my National Pokédex - I now have access to 31. I am not sure that enough Boxes exist in total to contain nearly 730 creatures plus all their offspring. This may have been designed so that players would need to use the Pokémon Bank, an online storage system which will not be released until the end of December this year. To use this new mass storage system, an annual fee of about $5 will be charged to players. The main issue with this is the unknown fate of stored Pokémon after a player cancels their annual subscription. Hopefully, all their stored Pokémon will not simply be erased as a result.

Nintendo has hinted at harsh consequences for attempting to move hacked Pokémon between games and into the new Bank. Many of all Pokémon received through the GTS in previous games seem to have some level of modification via Pokesav or PokeGen, so essentially innocent players who are unaware that they are carrying hacked Pokémon could be unfairly punished. However, this news has yet to be tested or proven.
To finish, Pokémon X and Y are truly a cut above the last three previous generations (DPP/BW/BW2). The games owe this largely to improved game mechanics, revised animations and particularly the new streamlined online system. It is not entirely perfect - the GTS does not allow you to specify the Pokémon you are looking for in much detail. Other than adding trade comments which are easily ignored by other players, it can be quite difficult to trade for a desired DW Ability or high IV Pokémon. There is also no way to communicate with other players during random trades, so a lot comes down to guessing, honesty and chance. Flaws aside, everything about Pokémon is now more easily acquired, which is great for players who lack the time and patience once required to raise a true competitive team. Of course, since there is no Pokesav to edit stats immediately for these games, most players will probably spend many hours breeding, trading and raising their Pokémon the standard way long after they defeat the Elite Four.
  CJ Trainer Card

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