Taking A Deeper Look At Pokémon X/Y

By Jared Scott on January 20, 2013, 3:34PM EDT

The internet suffered from a huge case of the fan-boy giggles when Nintendo President Iwata announced the next Pokémon installment on the 3DS. But not just that, he also announced that it would be called Pokémon X and Y and would released worldwide simultaneously this October - a first for the franchise.

After the announcement, Nintendo presented the official trailer for Generation 6, staring Pikachu in his most adorable appearance. After his cute introduction, some gameplay was shown revealing full 3D models, changes to the battle system, and new visual perspectives for players when exploring. In a nutshell, the trailer was chockfull of both obvious and subtle changes to the series. For the first time in a long time, I found myself looking forward to the upcoming games. The trailer has brought about in me some great expectations for the next generation of Pokémon.

As I said, it has been a while since I was excited for a new Pokémon game. Doing the same thing over and over can become tiresome, but it appears that Game Freak is pushing themselves further this time by introducing many new features that fans have wanted since the release of the 3DS.

Battles are no longer viewed from behind the shoulders of your Pokémon. Instead, battles will now be more similar to the anime where the Pokémon are mobile and not stationary. As seen in the video, the Pokémon will sometimes disappear from their assigned circle and attack the enemy in his zone. This is very different than the usual "sprite twitches to attack" and "enemy sprite twitches to take damage". Also, attacks are more fleshed out. Fennekin the fire fox actually breathed fire into his opponent's face. When this happened, we see the fire traverse from his side to the opponent's ring as the opponent reacted to the attack.

Speaking of more fleshed out battles, the Pokémon themselves are no longer flat sprites, but full blown 3D models. I was concerned at first that the 3D models would not be a good example of the 3DS's power, but Nintendo quickly put my fears at rest. The models in Generation 6 are easily the best out of the 3DS' entire library of released games. The edges of the Pokémon are fairly smooth with little jaggedness or roughness. Now in all fairness, outside of the battles when the protagonist explores his or her surroundings, objects do become a bit jagged. However, when viewing the gameplay and not the photo stills it becomes far less noticeable.

After viewing both the trailer and photos without the 3D effect, I have noticed that the game still has a strong sense of depth. Take the scene of the female protagonist running on the bridge past the mansion and large statue. It is clear that a great effort has been made to create more of a sense of depth, even when the 3D effect is off. They make it seem that both the mansion and statue are clearly behind her. While the DS installments of Pokémon did this to a degree, it was not even close to the depth created in this particular scene. This effect is also used when the male hero skates away from the supposed Eifel Tower. It's very encouraging to see this attention to detail, and I hope to see this throughout the game.

Now while there is much left to speculate, there are some elements both old and unannounced that I expect or at least hope to see. One of them is global, online battles. While this is nothing new to DS Pokémon fans, it is also good to note that this feature is not only convenient, but necessary for the growth of the Pokémon franchise. Street Pass is another feature that would greatly benefit the series. Something of a cross between the Pokéwalker and the Street Pass battles of Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition would add a new layer to battles and trades.

Of course we can't have a 3DS game without 3D, but seeing how much focus has already been invested into different depths and perspectives, I feel certain that the 3D effects will not leave much to be desired.
What about the gyroscope? 3DS launch title Steel Diver used this feature for the periscope. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the world of Pokémon through the eyes of your flying type as you soar to the next city? If anything, it would be a nice change of pace to view the map in such a way instead of looking at a 2D map.

For battles, it would be reassuring to know that there would not be an obnoxious reuse of the same attack sequences for different attacks. By that I mean the attack animation for Jump Kick would not be the same as Ground Pound. My only reason to suspect this is the fact that Pokémon X and Y were announced rather quickly after Black 2 and White 2's release, which makes me curious how long this game has been in development.

I would welcome regularly released DLC for the game as well. Now before you rage about how they could go the way of Capcom, let me point out another upcoming Nintendo game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The game will receive a constant stream of DLC, but for free. It would make sense for Game Freak to a similar follow suit, and not limit the DLC to items but to special events. Many Pokémon games have events such as Bug Hunt and rare Pokémon spotted on certain days. DLC would be a creative way to continue such events after the release of the game.

It goes without saying that Pokémon has always had a decent story and this time around I am expecting no less. What I have always admired about the story is how it's relatable to everyone. The message tends to be the same: stop the bad guys from abusing Pokémon, the environment, or both, and bring harmony between people and Pokémon. The story is simple and meaningful, but try to send a message like that anywhere else and immediately it becomes political. But that's the magic of the series. Game Freak is one of the few groups of people who don't just tell us, they show us how to take care of what we have without getting intrusive. I may be looking a bit deep into the game, but you have to admit you can't help yourself when there's a Pokémon or trainer in need.

This is starting to sound all good, right? Well if Pokémon X and Pokémon Y want to be the best, I believe there are some mistakes that need to be addressed as well. Since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl a balance has been shifted. That balance is the balance of cute and adorable to fierce and intimidating Pokémon. This has been a subject of debate, but you can't deny that recent Pokémon, especially the legendary ones, have gotten silly looking. A prime example comes from Pokémon Black and White's legendary monsters: Cobalion, Terrakon, and Viziron. They don't really scream "I'm super rare and dangerous" as much as they say "I'm adorable and relatively harmless!"

There's also the three genie-inspired Pokémon named after cloud formations. They're dumb. Sorry, but you know it's true. Yes, I know Victini is cute, but every generation has their Mew.

Another thing to be careful of in the design is that some of the Pokémon don't look like they were inspired by animals, but that they are just regular animals themselves. Worse yet, some Pokémon are blatant rip offs of the previous generations. I believe this is an easy fix, but it's a necessary fix that I hope to see in October.

Overall, I believe that Nintendo made a good impression when they made their announcement. At the end of the day, there's a reason for all fans old and new to be excited for Pokémon. This is a step forward for Game Freak and their insanely popular franchise. Whether they succeed or stumble, I am excited to join the world in October to venture out to be the very best.

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