News Article

First Impressions: Pokémon X & Y

Posted by Martin Watts

Katy and Martin go hands-on

We were recently lucky enough to get some hands-on time with Pokémon X & Y, and see in advance what sort of impact the new 3D engine and gameplay has had on the core Pokémon franchise. As two of us were able to attend the event and both experience the game individually on some shiny 2DS systems, our first impressions piece has actually Mega Evolved into two previews for you. Aren't you a lucky bunch?

Our ever-diligent Events Correspondent Katy Ellis has shared her thoughts below, followed by Retro Reviewer Martin Watts' views further down the page. We'd also like to send our thanks to Nintendo UK for hosting this event.


Katy Ellis

For those of you concerned that this is yet another all too familiar Pokémon iteration, it's time to put those worries aside. Not only does Pokémon X & Y look like a brand new experience, but it plays like one too.

It's easy to undermine how radical the inclusion of 3D environments is to X and Y; heck, we've had polygonal 3D Pokémon games since the N64 days. However, by bringing to life the overtly French region of Kalos with the wonders of 3D game design, X and Y truly feels like a proper RPG, a true adventure, and one which you will be exploring in depth thanks to those flexible new camera angles.

Aside from its awe-inspiring 3D make-over, Pokémon X &Y boasts a good selection of interesting new features for trainers to get to grips with. Core and Super Training aims to take the hard-work out of EV training (also known as Effort Value training), a rather long-winded method of raising base stats to create a stronger, more specialised offensive or defensive Pokémon. Core and Super Training provides players with mini-games, which will help enhance specific elements of your Pokémon’s stats. For example, there’s a mini-game where you must use your 3DS circle pad and touch-screen together in order to direct footballs into the back of a net, with a giant balloon Geodude as a competitor. By regularly completing different mini-games you'll be able to raise your Pokémon’s HP, Defense, Speed, Sp. Attack or Sp. Defense outside of battle.

Pokémon-Amie is another feature new to the Pokémon series, and one which Director Junichi Masuda is really excited about. Pokémon-Amie uses the 3DS’ 3D technology to make you feel like you are truly interacting with your Pokemon. In this mode you can feed your Pokémon different colour PokePuffs, give them a good stroke using your touchscreen and stylus and play copy-cat mini-games with them too. Feeding your little Froakie and playing with your Pancham every now and again is not only a heart-warming and delightful experience, but is also beneficial in battle, as your Pokémon may begin to evade attacks more often or deal out more critical hits.

But it’s not all new. Older fans of the series will really relish that sentimental moment when you first encounter a wiggly Caterpie in the long grass, only paces away from your new home in Vaniville town, or face plenty of other Generation I and II Pokémon in battle before even reaching Santalune City and Viola, the photography-obsessive first Gym leader.

From our playthrough of the start of the game, up until the end of the first gym battle, we did notice one small issue. The health bars of Pokémon in battle are now noticeably smaller, and hold less of a presence on-screen than in previous games. The issue with this is that it’s now all too easy to accidentally take your eye off of your own health, especially as text often pops up at the lower section of the top-screen, completely covering your Pokémon’s on-screen stats. It’s a small issue, but one which we really felt detracted from the otherwise incredible experience we had with the game.

Martin Watts

There’s no doubt about it: Pokémon X & Y look absolutely stunning. Seeing a core Pokémon game rendered in full polygonal 3D for the first time was always going to be a special event, but what makes Pokémon X & Y truly spectacular is that it still retains the same level of authenticity and charm for which the series has always been renowned. Nothing has been butchered in the transition and this is a game that truly makes the most of the graphical grunt afforded by the 3DS system.

From the moment you set off on your new adventure in Pokémon X & Y’s Kalos region, it's clear that a lot of effort has gone into the overall visual presentation. In particular, the game’s introduction is uncharacteristically cinematic for a Pokémon game. GAME FREAK has stated in the past that it approached the development of these latest instalments with the theme of beauty in mind and, as a result, drew inspiration from the real-world location of France. We could certainly see this influence in the early part of the game that we tried; café culture permeates the many cities and towns you visit during your adventure, each of which is filled with plenty of outdoor seating and delightful little menu boards containing Limonade and Chocolat Chaud. It’s perfectly suited to the vibrant and colourful world of Pokémon and gives this new region a look and feel that’s quite distinctive from what we've seen before.

Despite this rather impressive visual overhaul, Pokémon X & Y should feel instantly familiar to veterans of the series. While the game is obviously filled with new features and Pokémon, the gameplay is more or less structured in the same classic way. Those of you who are eager to get going on your quest will be happy to hear that the story in Pokémon X & Y gets going a lot quicker than in previous games, and is free from long-winded narratives and excessive tutorials at the start. Moreover, you are gifted roller skates by a kind soul before you even reach the first gym, which makes travelling around a much quicker affair – not only that, but they’re also pretty of fun to use!

When it comes to the battle elements, GAME FREAK has clearly opted for minor refinements over major innovations, which is by no means a bad thing. From our short time with it we were pleased to learn that each of the starter Pokémon has one of their own base-type elemental moves (such as Water Gun or Ember) from the moment you receive them. This certainly helps during the early stages as you come across a surprisingly varied mix of Pokémon types almost immediately.

With regards to how the battles are presented, your Pokémon are now fully animated in a similar fashion to the Pokémon Stadium series; they make small movements when attacking and taking damage, but are otherwise rooted to the spot – a bit disappointing given the otherwise grandiose level of presentation. Nevertheless, it’s still a vast improvement over existing games and as Pokémon trade blows, their expressions change to reflect the situation. It’s really hard not to feel bad when you see an adorable little Pokémon faint, with it usually stumbling a few steps before finally hitting the deck.

Finally, Pokémon X & Y makes it much easier to battle friends and even random people in your vicinity. The touchscreen contains a menu that enables you to battle and trade with these people on the fly. We were able to try this out and it worked seamlessly; simply sending an invite to your opponent and them accepting it would immediately set up a battle. It's may seem like a relatively small improvement, but the fact that you can do these things so effortlessly and without deviating from your in-game path is a real blessing. This is where customising your trainer comes in handy, allowing you to stand out from the crowd!

Steeped in nostalgia and boosted by its lush graphical style, Pokémon X & Y look set to offer a deep and exciting new chapter in the core Pokémon series.


Both versions of the game will launch worldwide along with the Nintendo 2DS on 12th October. Are you looking forward to starting your own new adventure in the Kalos region? Let us know in the comments section below, and keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming interview with Game Director Junichi Masuda and Designer Hironobu Yoshida.

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User Comments (56)

CosmoXY

#1

CosmoXY said:

Looks so great! I wish they'd put that demo on the eShop to hold us over until Oct. 12!

Sanquine

#2

Sanquine said:

Hopefully it releases fast in Europe. I want this. Last time Nintendo is killing it. I went from a avid sony fan to a guy who loves Nintendo like the same way i did to sony:D

EpicMegaman64

#4

EpicMegaman64 said:

Honestly, a few weeks ago, I had no interest in this game. However, I pre-ordered it yesterday thanks to some intriguing additions to the the series. Hopefully this game won't disappoint!

LordJumpMad

#7

LordJumpMad said:

By regularly completing different mini-games you'll be able to raise your Pokémon’s HP, Defense, Speed, Sp. Attack or Sp. Defense outside of battle.

So EV training has become mini-games? hopefully there a faster way to train them in EVs, sounds like a lot of work.

@Katy and Martin
Just wondering, what pokemon did you guys pick first?

chaos_

#8

chaos_ said:

CANNOT wait to get this game!!! This will be the best selling 3ds game hands down and maybe even outsell gtav (which I'm hoping it will cuz me and my friend had a bet lol)

Pokefanmum82

#10

Pokefanmum82 said:

So excited for this game. I have a feeling that this will be my favorite Pokemon game ever and my game of the year.

juanpeixoto

#14

juanpeixoto said:

Hi there, there is one thing I need to know, will pamcham, dedenne, fletching or another pokemon I forgot to mention be available early in the game? (Before the first gym of course)

Ernest_The_Crab

#16

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@zeldagaymer93 It'll most likely outsell the individual platform sales of each GTA V game. If we're talking about combined, then no. Though I doubt many people would compare a single platform's software sales vs 2 platforms.

We also have to factor in this is the most hyped Pokemon game in a very long time. Enough so that I've been seeing plenty of people in recent times (within the last week or so), picking up 3ds' for the games.

rjejr

#19

rjejr said:

@Ernest_The_Crab - 80 million each of PS3 and Xbox360, 33 million 3DS, so I'm not sure it can even outsell GTAV on either system. Maybe close after the holidays and kids have gotten X or Y for Christmas. GTAV doesn't seem like a very good stocking stuffer to me.

Ernest_The_Crab

#23

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@rjejr Well you do kind of need to factor in the distribution of each platform. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the GTA 5 sales are for the 360, and frankly the PS3 has a much lower NA fanbase than in any other region.

Then factoring in there's going to be a bunch of people buying more than 1 copy of the Pokemon versions (for collection purposes) and not everyone's going to buy GTA 5 on the PS3, it becomes notable that it is "feasible" that it can happen in North America, for Pokemon to outsell GTA 5 on 1 platform in 1 specific region.

However, we won't be able to verify that until the reports come out and that means sometime in November, 1 month after Pokemon is released in North America.

DarkKirby

#24

DarkKirby said:

Aside from its awe-inspiring 3D make-over

Looks at topic picture of the main character moving in the overworld.

Untitled

belmont

#25

belmont said:

@Superconsole From the technical point of view how is the game visually? I have not seen the most recent trailers but former ones showed that the game was looking sort of very bad and very pixelated (both in the field and in battle) for the 3ds standards set by other games. In fact it looked like some pixelated version of Dragon Quest Monsters in DS. I know that Pokémon were never the best looking games but I thought I would ask since I am still undecided on the games even though I have enjoyed most of previous generations.

A demo would help.

rjejr

#26

rjejr said:

@Ernest_The_Crab - Well I know for sure X+Y will outsell GTAV in my household 2 to 1. Maybe b/c we don't own a 360. I may pick it up on the PS3 someday, after the "all DLC" included greatest hits version comes out.

Kmno

#27

Kmno said:

This game will probably boost by some millions 3DS sales to be sure. But probably not half of GTAV numbers, that series is just some special case.

ueI

#28

ueI said:

Katy's writeup makes X and Y sound like a virtual pet sim.

DestinyMan

#31

DestinyMan said:

Reading impressions about upcoming 3DS games I'm interested in is always interesting and exciting, but I imagine it really takes me seeing the game in person in order to really understand how this game is. 3DS games have always been that way, so hopefully I will also agree that the overworld will look great when I get to play the game.

idork99

#32

idork99 said:

I've yet to play a Pokemon game. With all the hype at the moment, I'm wondering if now is a good time to start? The only Pokemon game I've dabbled with a bit would have to be during the GBC era. My nephew was a huge fan and needed my help to pass some puzzle in a cave he couldn't get out of. After seeing him play, I just couldn't find what all the fuzz was about. My background is arcade games so it seems I have a huge attraction for action platformers and such. The only action RPG games I'm attracted to is The Legend of Zelda series.

For a person who did not like the GBC versions of Pokemon, do you think Pokemon has evolved enough with this latest iteration to create a fan out of me?

I'm probably going to pass until I can play the game and make a decision. So, yes, a demo would be nice.

SuperconsoleAdmin

#33

Superconsole said:

@ueI It isn't?? ;D Haha
Some features of X and Y have definitely taken inspiration from Nintendogs that's for sure...

SuperconsoleAdmin

#34

Superconsole said:

@belmont I agree that Pokemon games have always looked a little behind visuals-wise, and although I can't comment about the 3D (played Pokemon Y on a 2DS), from what I saw it's a definite improvement from the last generation, which in my opinion was a bit rough around the edges. I didn't have enough time with it to sit quietly and note down any technical graphical issues - that will come with the review later on :)

belmont

#35

belmont said:

@Superconsole Thanks, I will wait for the review to see the final verdict in the game.

I guess I will play some Tales of Xillia or Time of Eternity to satisfy my j-rpg needs till then!

Ernest_The_Crab

#37

Ernest_The_Crab said:

So going by that picture that stick Braixen has in its tail seems to actually serve a purpose. It becomes a torch?

MegaWattsAdmin

#38

MegaWatts said:

@belmont The visuals in X and Y are definitely a lot smoother than the videos suggest. On a standard 3DS/2DS, it's all very smooth. I was quite surprised, as I too had previously been a little unimpressed by the videos.

kondabasu

#39

kondabasu said:

@Superconsole Any sign of play coin features? I've been hoping for something that uses the 3DS pedometer similar to the HG/SS Pokewalker.

Really happy to hear that the workflow for battling friends has been so vastly improved. That's fantastic news. Thanks for the preview!

ChoppedLiver

#40

ChoppedLiver said:

Really don't like the sound of having to go through mini games to boost your Pokemon's stats.

Xaltheron

#42

Xaltheron said:

@Red302
From what I understand I don't think they're removing the old method of EV training, they're just adding this for those who don't want to get deep into calculations and mechanics.

Now if only they would make IV breeding easier...

GamerZack7

#43

GamerZack7 said:

I don't give Squirtle enough love, so I may choose it as my Kanto starter. If so, I'll likely pick Chespin as my Kalos starter. :)

ZeroxGT

#44

ZeroxGT said:

@zeldagaymer93 hmmm u must not underestimate the pokemon series.. and its huge fanbase... it will do better than GTA5 . Dont get it twitsted.. I love the GTA series and I love how 5 is right now but be real... this is pokemon... its always gonna sell millions unless they do something horribly wrong

zeldagaymer93

#46

zeldagaymer93 said:

@ZeroxGT I never said that it's not going to sell well. It's going to sell millions and it's probably going to be the best selling 3DS game. I am very excited for it and I know millions of people are as well. But there's no way it can outsell GTA5. Especially since GTA5 is out on PS3, Xbox 360, and soon PC. It made $800 million within the first 24 hours of release. There's no way Pokemon can beat that.

SNESuperior

#47

SNESuperior said:

I'm still completely crushed that the overworld isn't in 3D. Actually, I'm shocked at myself by how much that has affected my enthusiasm for this game. The news is still fresh though, gimme another couple days to process it. @MegaWatts Was the 2D to 3D switch in-game jarring?

But they better fix the lack of 3D for the inevitable "upgrade" installment.

JMC

#48

JMC said:

@Sanquine
It will release globally on October 12th. I'm also looking forward to playing this and already pre-ordered both versions (got a pretty good discount), so I hope the day arrives soon.

MegaWattsAdmin

#50

MegaWatts said:

@SNESuperior Unfortunately, we weren't able to experience the 2D/3D switch as we played the game on 2DS systems. I imagine it probably would be quite weird though, especially as you wouldn't consciously be trying to maintain the sweet spot when playing the overworld segments.

I imagine our upcoming review will cover this in more detail :)

Kit

#51

Kit said:

Sneaky that, only showing it on 2DoorStops so you don't notice that the whole over-world is only in flat 3D, not stereoscopic 3D. I see what they did there! :-(

Konata

#52

Konata said:

Very excited for this game. Which is weird because I wasn't interested in it until recently.

Doma

#54

Doma said:

@idork99 Not much has changed in the way of mechanics or layout since then. So no, it won't appeal to you. Also, there won't be a demo, Nintendo never bother for games they think will sell regardless.

Kitsune_Rei

#56

Kitsune_Rei said:

I have to say, I just feel more excitement for this game as it approaches. I wasn't excited for the B/W generation games much though I played through most of White 2 after it'd been out for a while. I'm glad I pre-ordered it.
I really hope there is a way to get all 3 starters without much hassle, because for once I like them all. Although Fennekin will be my main. I usually don't care that much about legendaries, but I'd like to get both of those too.

Also to those I keep seeing going on about hopefully the assumed "Pokemon Z" will have full 3D, I think the Black/White generation has proven it is NOT inevitable. I wouldn't judge so hard on one graphics feature until you play it yourself.

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