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COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Pokémon X & Y 3DS Review

Updated: 10/15/2013 11:12 AM
Created: 10/15/2013 8:54 AM KSTP.com
By: Aaron Chalich

If you are a fan of Pokémon, you are going to really enjoy Nintendo’s latest Pokémon games for the 3DS.

“Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” have just been released for the Nintendo 3DS, and they are, by far, the best Pokémon games that I have ever played.

One very appealing thing about the new Pokémon games is that they are entirely in 3-D and look fabulous.

Both “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” are the same game, but each one has a unique legendary Pokémon.  In “Pokémon X” the legendary Pokémon is named Xerneas and looks like a deer. The legendary Pokémon in “Pokémon Y” is called Yveltal and looks like a phoenix.  They also have a few different Pokémon that only appear in “Pokémon X” or “Pokémon Y.”

The story takes place in a region called Kalos.  You and your mom just moved to a village called Vaniville, and you soon meet some friends.  You learn that a professor named Sycamore wants you and your friends to become Pokémon masters.  Your goal is to try and capture as many Pokémon as you can to fill a book called the Pokedex and to win all eight gym badges that are held by Pokémon champions in eight different towns.  You also learn that the Pokémon have been evolving and you need to figure out what is causing this to happen.

When you first meet your friends, you get to choose a new and unique Pokémon that you will be able to start training with.  You can choose either Chespin, Fennekin, or Froakie.  I chose Froakie who looks like a frog.  Then after you meet the professor for the first time you get to choose another Pokémon.  You can choose either Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirttle.  I thought that this was pretty cool, because you get to choose a new Pokémon right away to play with, and then you get to choose a Pokémon that you are familiar with.

I thought the story was pretty simple and basic. It was not too complex, but it was entertaining and was exciting.

The graphics are spectacular.  This is one of the best-looking Pokémon games I have played.  Everything is very detailed.  The Pokémon are unique and look great.    The characters that you meet in the game are very well drawn.

3-D is the way to play “Pokémon X” & “Pokémon Y.”  The Pokémon battles look great and you feel like you are actually there watching all of the action.  I also thought just walking around Kalos looked great as well.  

The controls for “Pokémon X” & “Pokémon Y” are very simple, and everyone will be able to play.  You move your character with either the circle pad or by using the directional pad.  Eventually you will get a pair of roller skates that will make you move really fast, and you can use them by moving your character with the circle pad.  If you want to move around like normal then you can use the directional pad.  If you want to run, you can push the “B” button.  To talk to people or to interact with objects, you push the “A” button. 

To bring up a menu, you can just push the “X” button or just look at the bottom screen.  In this menu you can save your game, see your Pokedex, use items, see your stats and change your game settings.

I thought it was a little quicker to use the menu icons on the bottom screen. 

The icons are:
 - Pokémon Ball: This shows you which Pokémon you are controlling at the moment.
 - Pokedex: You can read about all of the Pokémon you have caught so far and where you can find them in Kalos.
 - Bag: This shows you which items you have like potions to heal, technical machines (TM) & hidden machines (HM), berries, and your key items such as the map of Kalos.
 - Trainer Information:  Shows your stats like, how many Pokémon you have caught, how much money you have, how much time you played the game for, and when you started your adventure.
 - Options: You can change the text speed, battle effects, battle style, battle backgrounds, and button mode and if you want a forced save.

A new feature that is really amazing is the Player Search System (PSS).  You can view this on the bottom of the screen.  This allows you to connect with other players that are playing “Pokémon X” & “Pokémon Y.”  You can add friends and put them into categories like friends, acquaintances, or passerby. 

When you have added friends you can send each other messages, battle against each other, trade Pokémon and see each other’s profiles.

I thought this was awesome and a great idea, because I know a lot of people will want to play against their friends and will want see who has the strongest Pokémon.

You can try to capture Pokémon by walking in grass and other terrain.  You cannot see where or what Pokémon are in that area and they will randomly challenge you.  In order to capture a Pokémon, you will have to have a Pokeball and you need to use it when the other Pokémon is almost defeated.  You choose the Pokeball from your items, and then hopefully, it will capture the Pokémon.  Sometimes it doesn’t, and you have to try several times before you can capture it.  There are many different Pokeballs and nets that you can buy and use.  The more powerful Pokémon will require stronger methods to capture them.

Once the Pokémon is captured, it is automatically added to your Pokedex, and you can use it to battle other Pokémon.

As you play, you will encounter many different challengers.  It seems like everywhere you go there is someone who wants to challenge you, so you have to fight a lot.

Once a battle starts, there are a few options that you can choose from.  You can fight, go to your bag (get items and heal your Pokémon), run or view your Pokémon.

If you choose to fight, you get to select one of your special attacks.  Both Pokémon have a certain number of hit points, and the goal is to take away all of their points. The first one to do that, wins. 

Your Pokémon can have four attacks, and each one has certain amount of power points (PP).  That number lets you know how many times you can use that attack. If the number reaches zero, you can use an item or go to a Pokémon Center to get it back up to the max number.

When you defeat a Pokémon, you will gain experience points, and your Pokémon will level up.  As they level up, they get more powerful, they learn new special moves and they also can evolve.  If your Pokémon already has four special moves, and they learn a new one, you can switch out moves.

Another thing that will sometimes happen during a battle against an opponent is that they will sometimes have more than one Pokémon, so when you defeat one, another one will appear.  You can tell how many Pokémon your opponent has by the number of Pokeballs they have at the top of their name.  Once you defeat their first Pokémon, you will have the option to keep fighting with that Pokémon, or you can change to different Pokémon that you are controlling.  You can control up to six Pokémon at a time.

I mentioned earlier that one your goals is to get gym badges.  They are very challenging, and there are eight of them.  Every town has a gym leader, and you must find them and defeat them.  Each gym badge has a theme and will let you control all Pokémon up to a certain level.  For instance, one of the gym badges is the “Voltage Badge.”  If you get it, all of the Pokémon that are level 70 and under will obey you.  Once you reach the gym, you have to go through a bunch of difficult battles before you get to the gym leader, and the gym leaders are pretty hard to beat.
 
Another really fun feature is the “Pokémon-Amie.”  This allows you to interact one on one with your main Pokémon.  You can access it by pushing either the right or left triggers on your 3DS.  You can play with your Pokémon by petting it and giving it snacks (Poke Puffs) and you can use the camera on the 3DS to make faces at the Pokémon, which is a little mini game.

If you push the left and right triggers again, you can access a super training menu where you can have your Pokémon hit a punching bag, and by training you can increase their stats.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nintendo’s “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” for the 3DS a lot.  The games were a lot of fun to play and very challenging.  I really thought the graphics looked great, and the 3-D was amazing.  I thought the controls were very easy to learn and felt that anybody would be able to pick up the games and play them without any problems.  The battles were fun, and it was also a lot of fun trying to capture as many Pokémon as I could.  I know that fans of Pokémon are going to love both of these games a lot.

“Pokémon X” & “Pokémon Y” are rated “E” for everyone because they contain comic mischief and mild cartoon violence.

Aaron Chalich is a KSTP.com entertainment columnist.

Photo courtesy of Nintendo.

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