The forthcoming Pokémon X and Pokémon Y videogames are surely two of the most highly anticipated titles coming to Nintendo 3DS this year. In a year that has seen the likes of Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 2 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, that’s quite an achievement to have made, however based on the sample presented to Electronic Theatre it’s easy to see why that may be the case.
A very short demo created for the Pokémon Game Show, this sample of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y was designed to aid even younger players to progress from start to finish. It was a straight forward ride through each aspect that makes a traditional Pokémon videogame appealing: exploration, battling, meeting new characters and evolving your Pokémon. This was a microcosm that defined the Pokémon experience, and it looked fantastic throughout.
The visual design of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y is a significant change for the series. Now featuring fully 3D character models and world design, each Pokémon comes to life in a stunning fashion unlike any since the original Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64. The entire videogame is presented in a cel-shaded fashion with bright colours and silky smooth animation, truly making use of the added horsepower the Nintendo 3DS offers over previous handheld consoles. The Pokémon still don’t directly interact with one another in combat, but in Electronic Theatre’s opinion this is a minor blemish on an experience that looks set to reach far further than realistic depiction of fictional creatures.
The core gameplay saw the player moving along a linear path from the bottom of a field, battling through the long grass and against a rival trainer, to reach Professor Sycamore at the far end. There was no XP to worry about, no level-up system and no potions or items. There was you and your Pokémon and a bunch of challengers, and nothing else. Upon reaching Professor Sycamore the player was introduced to the Mega Evolution system. Though it worked very differently in this preview build as to how it will in the final edition, it was still interesting to see Pokémon pushed in a brand new direction with temporary status changes: this isn’t a case of buffing an ability or stat point, this is bringing a whole new beast into battle at the cost of a single turn.
In addition to the main experience the preview build offered a taste of Pokémon & Me. A brand new addition that offers a Pokémon virtual pet for the first time since the Pokémon Pikachu devices, the gameplay mode has obviously been based on the technology incorporated into Nintendogs + Cats. Little mini-games in which you can directly interact with your Pokémon will surely provide hours of entertainment for those so inclined, and even in this short demonstration provided a nice respite from the intensity of battling.
With Pokémon X and Pokémon Y quickly approaching release date more and more gamers are looking set to become intimately involved with a world apart once again. Many have tried to take the monster battling crown over the years but none have even come close to competing with the Pokémon franchise, and here with Pokémon X and Pokémon Y it’s easy to see why. The Nintendo 3DS has had an incredible year filled with fantastic videogame titles, but it’s clear that 2013 is far from over while Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are still yet to arrive.