Pokemon X & Y Launch – 7 hours in

Whew! While I was excited for the launch of Pokemon’s 6th generation games, and the first on the Nintendo 3DS, I didn’t really expect to enjoy the first day so much!

pokemon xI picked up “Pokemon Y” a day early after a UK supermarket broke the sales embargo, allowing Game to start shifting copies (at £40 a pop, gah), but I was good and didn’t play it until this morning when my similarly-disciplined nephew came over with his unused copy of “Pokemon X”.

Your character’s quest is largely untouched, you are charged with collecting information on all the Pokemon in the new region of Kalos – this time a France equivalent – with a view to challenging regional gym leaders for badges, and ultimately challenging the Elite Four and the Champion to become the region’s latest #1 seed.

First impressions are really good; the visuals are an obvious step up, with immersive 3D graphics and while movement adheres to the usual grid, it feels a bit more fluid this time. Perhaps diagonal walking helps there. I did get in some bother in the Paris-like town as the camera takes a more first-person view and flips around all over the place. That gave me some fairly pronounced motion sickness, but fortunately a lot of the map so far as been more in tune with the old style. Rollerskates speed up the walking even more, though I’d rather it not hog the circle pad as I’m not fond of it, and I hate using the D-Pad for normal walking/running.

pokemon yI’m not going to bitch about the new Pokemon as it seems the internet community are still catching up with how many there actually ARE. But it’s always nice to have some variety, even if the first few hours contain few striking Pokemon to catch, a lot of bugs and forest creatures. I like the starters I’ve seen so far – I picked Fennekin the fire-type fox, and his first evolution is already looking pretty kickass.

That takes me to the character models, the fights are beautifully upgraded now, not just sprites knocking together but full 3D characters doing some spectacular and better-connected moves. All great so far. While it seems none of the other older Pokemon have more than a cosmetic makeover, Pikachu gets a full PIKA!! call when you use him, an adorable touch that will surely revive his fortunes at the figuredhead of the brand.

pokemon x y startersThe story so far is a bit nothingy at the 7-hour mark. So far a guy who looks like ginger Wolverine has said some rather troubling cult-like statements so I presume he will be a misguided ‘baddie’ later on. The normal interactions with characters seem to be dealing with varying levels of snobbishness too (well it IS based on France), but otherwise it’s business as usual so far.

They are spinning this “Mega Evolution” bit out a little, it seems to be the thrust for some of the “go here, then here etc.” quests, even though it’ll be a little while before we level up that far. Saying that, levelling up has never been easier. Following Black & White 2, an EXP share is given quite early, but it’s no longer a hold item, just a setting, and you share with EVERYONE in your party.

pokemon x y kalosFor me, by far the most entertaining improvement has been the web connectivity. It’s as seamless as it is addictive. Your friends are automatically imported, and a constantly updated ticker-tape of “Passers by” throws out players worldwide and their greetings, with the option to make contact and battle or trade. Trading is a bit hit-and-miss and both players have to be in a position to trade at that moment, and the window hangs for a while with no sign of the other person making contact. But it’s an instant feeling that you are part of a worldwide community.

For the impatient, there is also the even more addictive “Wonder Trade” option that allows you to nominate any Pokemon from your team or boxes, and trade them with a randomly assigned user doing the same, and you just get what you’re given. I love it! There are loads more features that I’ve not even tested out yet.

There’s still plenty to discover, the main story arc hasn’t seemingly even begun yet. I wonder what happened to GTS though, I’d really like to be able to request particular Pokemon, and an improved GTS without the big flaws of old iterations would really be the last piece of the trading puzzle in my mind.

Superb so far, better than I could have imagined. Now I’m off to keep playing! Later x

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