Send help, I did it again. Ever since Pokémon Ruby, I have always told myself; No More. Stop, each game is the same, save for a graphical face lift here, a slew of new monsters there. You’ll never “catch ‘em all” I tell myself bitterly. 151, maybe even 300 was doable but I’m an old man now. I’ll be long dead on the fateful day they reveal a new pokedex, bringing the number up to a round one million Pokémon.
But of course I bought Diamond and loved it. I bought Black and Black 2 and I loved them. I sat there squinting at my DS through teary eyes, wondering how Game Freak can still coerce me into buying the same game on an almost annual basis. Pokémon is like heroin, with more strange colourful monsters. Or maybe less, come to think of it.
And so Pokémon X and Y were announced, with their promises of brining the series into a fully resplendent 3D world. I looked on cynically, cackling from beneath my Pikachu bed sheets that I don’t really have. “It’s the same game!” I cried. “How much can 3D really change things? I am 100% not getting this one”.
I bought it. Of course I did.
Although as it turns out, 3D really has made this iteration of the age old series the freshest since Gold and Silver. The graphical update has given the game a level of detail that adds a certain degree of engagement with the world that I’ve never really had before. This is helped in no small part by the brilliant character customization system. You choose what you look like right down to the socks, and it’s fantastic entering a new city to see what new clothes you can track down.
The battles in particular, are finally interesting to watch. Instead of looking at a selection of static sprites and a slowly moving health bar, we finally have dynamic, swooping fights, with Pokémon reacting to pain and being impressed when they dish out a brutal attack. I guarantee you will care more about your Charmander when you actually see it in pain.
The region of Kalos itself is a great looking place. For the majority of the time, we play in the usual top down perspective which is a little disappointing. But when the camera swoops down as you cross as a river or approach a large building on the horizon, you’re reminded just what the 3DS can do. This is undoubtedly a pretty looking game. Think Pokémon Colloseum but less shit.
While we never expect much from a Pokémon story, X and Y really drop the ball here. I barely cared or remembered what was going on, or even who the real bad guy was. Team Flare were a generic, uninspired bunch with no clear motivation. Bring back Team Rocket and be done with it.
It would be remiss of me to finish this review without mentioning Mega Evolutions, the new gimmick for this entry in the series. For a start, it looks really, really cool seeing your Charizard or Gyrados power up and get even more brutal. However, there are only about four other people in the entire game who can also mega evolve, so it feels like a bit of a cop out in 99% of battles.
And therein lies my biggest problem with these new Pokémon. It is far too easy. I’m far from being even halfway good at these games, yet I finished them without losing one battle or even coming close to doing so. This was in part due to Mega Evolutions and in part due to Super Training, a new series of mini games which let you bump up whatever stats a Pokémon has that you feel could be better. While this is great for getting an edge in online battles, it ensures that you’re all but invincible for the main game.
After you’ve knocked back the main game, there’s precious little to do. Three legendaries to catch, one pathetic side quest and next to no new areas to explore and we have the most disappointing post game experience since Ruby/Sapphire. On top of that, there is essentially nowhere to train up your 70+s besides the Elite Four and that’s just a ballache.
Sure, there’s the daunting task of catching them all and the great online features should keep things interesting for a while, but exploring new areas was always my favourite part of finishing a Pokémon game, so I’m a little let down. Maybe Game Freak will release some kind of update with new areas and a little more to do.
Pokémon Y is by no means the best game in the series, but it is the best looking and the most engaging. Let down only by a shoddy story and an easy difficulty, I’d recommend it to fans of the series, but I know you’re probably already playing it.,
Even the game cartridge sparkled with promise. I mean, it looked like it was made out of fucking crystal how cool is that? Of course, now I’m aware it isn’t crystal but don’t go telling that to an eight year old me.
That’s what Pokemon Crystal is to me. Memories. Really, really great ones too. It was the first Pokemon game I ever played, brought from the top floor of a strange smelling comic book store in Nottingham second hand.
The cardboard box was all crumpled, the previous owner was called Sam and he had a level 98 Meganium he had tastefully nicknamed tits.
I can remember throwing my Master Ball at a Skarmory because I thought it was a legendary Pokemon and I very vividly remember getting massively stuck on the second gym every time she brought out Sycther and getting my big sister to do it for me.
Maybe it’s just because Crystal was my first Pokemon game that I remember loving it so vividly and that it is the only Pokemon game I can happily replay without getting bored one bit. But I think it’s more than that. I genuinely think that Crystal was the pinnacle of Pokemon.
For a start, there were some welcome additions to the Pokedex but we hadn’t yet reached an overwhelming and ridiculous number. The starter Pokemon weren’t as cool as the likes of Charmander or Squirtle but they weren’t completely shit either.
The introduction of baby pokemon was also a nice inclusion, even though they were pretty shit and Espeon and Umbreon were and still are the dons of the Eeveelutions.
Then there was a natty little day and night system, a radio and a phone. All awesome things that were weirdly dropped for Ruby and Sapphire. Clock based events, like only being able to catch Lapras on a Friday night added to the immersion of a huge game.
And what more than anything else made this game feel so colossal? Two motherfucking regions. I pretty much lost my eight year old shit when a fat guy first told me I had set foot in Kanto. Further shit was lost when I realised that I could pick up eight more badges and explore an entirely new land just as big as Johto was.
Frankly I have felt cheated from every single subsequent Pokemon entry. I always expect to be told I can go off and explore another land and every time I am dissapointed. An extra eight badges and the chance to go off and lay the beat down on Red, the all time pimp daddy trainer deluxe? I’ll take that over getting to go see maybe one or two more towns or a shitty little island cheers.
I literally cannot get bored of playing though Crystal. It is a faultless game that tugs at my nostalgia strings to the max and has destroyed hours of my life (in a good way, I think).