Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ghost's Angry Reviews: Pokemon X and Y PART 1

This is your standard spoiler warning.  If you don't want Pokémon X and Y spoiled then I suggest you read with caution or just simply walk away.

Note: This review has been split into two parts due to it's massive length

Ghost here, thanks for joining!

Knock Knock - Who's there?


That's right ladies and gentlemen on October 12, 2013 Nintendo released it's latest in a long line of Pokémon games with the brand new Pokémon X and Y version for the 3DS.  Being such a fanatical nerd I had to get the new title even though that meant purchasing a 3DS which I had held off doing.  Nevertheless I bought my 3DS and my Y version and began playing.  Every version just like every game has it's ups and downs and this was no different.  Game Freak took several risks this time around which is refreshing to see.  Some of them pay off while others... not so much.  So which parts soar like Ho-oh and which parts stink like the underside of a Bidoof?   Let's dive right in and see as I review...

Pokémon X and Y

Pokémon X and Y has quite a few unique qualities about it.  It has several brand new features, it's the first handheld game to utilize the Pokémon Colosseum fighting sequences, it's the first Pokémon game in 3D, and it's got a brand new region that is 100% completely original that is in no way inspired by anythi...

Or it's just France... whatever

But rather than wander aimlessly through the french riviera... let's take this game in categories shall we?

The Characters
You can't play a role playing game without first having a character to play as.  Just as every game since Pokémon Crystal version you can choose the gender of your character.  However in X and Y you can also choose your gender... sort of.  After you pick your gender you get to select between three looks; light skin with blonde hair, light skin with black hair, and dark skin with dark hair. 
Now, I do realize this leaves those among us with a more "in between" skin tone left to choose between one or the other... I think this is a step in the right direction.  I've always wanted customization of my character and we're finally getting it.. Pokémon as a whole is moving in a more diverse direction and seeing as how they only in last generation even acklnoweldged the existance of people with dark skin then I'd say we're moving towards a good goal.  I'm sure here in a few games we may even have a full range of customization cause Pokémon as a whole isn't one to be racially insensitive or succumb to stereotypes right?

The main character's name are Calem and Serena... Don't even get me started on "Calem" cause that's quite easily one of the dumbest names I've heard in awhile.  It's on par with someone naming their child "Ashelee" just cause they don't want it to be spelled "Ashley"... but I digress.   I won't really go into anything else about our mains cause they are basically nothing more than a grab bag of previous generations lumped into one. 

So instead let's look at some of the other characters briefly.

Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor
I'm calling it now... the fat one is going to be a joke

Shauna, Tierno and Trevor start their journey with you and your rival at the exact same time and help you along the way by fighting the villains, giving you stuff, or just having slightly sentimental moments like walking across into your first route with wild pokemon all together. 

Shauna is the girl who desperately needs some longer shorts.  I sure wouldn't let my 10 year old out the door wearing that!  She is the more helpful of the three as she partakes in the main story line a bit, helps you get the pokeflute, and is just a generalized best friend/love interest in the story.  She's just glad to be along for the ride and is loving every second of being on a grand adventure.

Trevor is the short kid with the helmet hair.  His goal is to fill his pokedex and... that's about it.  I really don't know why he was included in the bunch cause he was so forgettable I had to look up his name. 

Tierno is the rotund child.  He doesn't really care that much about pokémon battles whatsoever.  He just wants to dance and show off his sweet moves.....  I...   Oh alright go ahead and play it.

Shauna is the only one of the group who is honestly worth the effort spent on them.  Forgettable Kid and Truffle Shuffle should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Professor Sycamore
I'll cut straight to the point.  Professor Sycamore is kind of a douchebag. He's easily my least favorite professor and that's saying something since my dislike for lazy frat-boy Professor Birch is fairly high.  I understand wanting to change the formula just a bit from the constant set up by Red and Blue but when you change a character into someone the players can't stand, you've changed too much.
First he doesn't even show up to give you your starter or your pokedex.  Now I realize Juniper didn't either, but she wasn't as annoying as the rest of what this guy does.  You don't end up meeting this guy till around the half-way point towards your 2nd gym badge and when he first sees you he fights you with 3 starters from another region.  WUT?  He does give you one of those starters but then he mostly minds his own business till after you've defeated the villains.  He then fights you again with the fully evolved versions of the Kanto starters and says that he has a treasure hidden in the town he fights you in.  A treasure huh?  Maybe it's another mega stone or something really awesome for your journey.  NOPE instead you find in the train station where his younger self had VANDALIZED THE WALL with a message to his future self asking if his dreams had come true and he had a good life. 
.... I don't have words for this level of douchebaggery.  Treasure??!!  PSSSHH

but wait there's more!!  Throughout the gameplay Sycamore keeps hanging out with this guy called Lysandre.  A tall menacing dude who dresses sharply, talks about ideas that Team Flare keeps holding dear to them, keeps being mysterious and openly voicing opinions that are a bit dangerous.
Obvious villain is obvious
Yet for some reason Sycamore can't put 2 and 2 together to realize that he's the head of Team Flare and his encouragement of Lysandre may have prompted him to continue with is plan.

The Story
 Obviously the "story" of any Pokémon game is a kid going on an adventure defeating 8 gym leaders and becoming the most powerful trainer in the region.  That's a simply copy/paste that all handheld Pokémon games will have.  Any story that presents itself that one can actually talk about is completely centered around the villainous team which this time is Team Flare. 

When you first meet Team Flare they are hanging out in Glittering Cave which is right around the time you get your second gym badge.  What sort of dastardly thing are they doing?  They're just sort of minding their own business trying to get fossils to collect/revive/use.  Yes they're being massive douchefaces with their bad attitude but they aren't really harming much of anyone just telling people they want to do what they want to do and if you want to stop them from minding their own business then you'll have a battle on your hands.
Which... If you think about it isn't exactly that far off from what YOU are doing throughout the game.  You're just doing whatever you want to do you just aren't having a bad attitude about it.  Just think of the number of children and elderly people you've met along your way that you've crushed their little friends just to progress on to being the top trainer in the world.  Think of all the poor little feinted pokémon out there lying in the grass just to give you experience.  After clearing out Team Flare from this cave and beating the Champion you too were back in this cave finding fossils yourself.  Who's to say what's really good and bad here and
PIKA PIKA PIIIKAAA  (Translation: Get on with it!)
 ... nevermind that then moving hastily along

Not long after that you meet Team Flare again on route 10  examining some ancient stones that are sticking up from the ground.  And if they find the hole in the center of the stones by avoiding the bears and cave men then they get to go an a trippy adventure through the lair of a bunch of aliens and..
oh wait.. .wrong game my bad... where was I?

Earlier in the game you noticed the town of Lumiose City (A.K.A. Paris) has had a large electrical outage.  Well it turns out that Team Flare is in charge of that so you go to the power plant to see the admins discussing that it was powering some sort of device but leave promptly when you defeat them restoring power to the rest of the city.  It's only now that you've met them for the 3rd time are they actually doing anything that would be seen as villainous and it's only now that they get mildly interesting.

The next place you meet them is something I'm honestly surprised we haven't seen before now.  Team Flare has taken over the PokeBall Factory in order to steal as many pokeballs as possible to capture lots and lots of pokémon.  After navigating the factory you send them packing despite them having already stolen as many as they need.

Jump forward a couple of cities and we reach the Frost Cavern where Team Flare is doing something incredibly odd.  A team mostly ruling with Fire and Poison types an admin wishes to catch the Abomasnow (a grass/ice type) which was guarding the cavern because he was "brimming with energy"  whatever that means.  After you defeat her, she leaves the Abomasnow alone and leaves the cavern entirely.

They are then silent for awhile before the final confrontation happens.  Inside Lumiose City is a secret door to Lysandre Labs, the home of Team Flare.  After battling your way through you'll come across someone standing in a jail cell who asks you to listen to his story.
This man's name is Az.  He explains that 3,000 years ago there was a King who loved his pokémon very much.  There was a war however and the pokémon died.  Being so distraught with grief the King commanded that a machine be built to overcome death.  And so such a machine was built.  Using the life force of hundreds of living pokémon, the pokémon came back to life and as such the machine became a weapon which could destroy all life force around it granting life once more. The pokémon left the King out of shame for his actions and the King began wandering the world in search for the pokémon and for meaning to life.  Az explained the he was in fact that King.  
Now wait a minute... this sounds really familiar.  Where have I heard of this before?  An ancient man with apparent immortality running around the world thanks to some sort of circular machine/device that stole the souls of those around them to power it up.  HMMMM OH THAT'S RIGHT

This is directly ripped off of Hoenheim's story from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.  Which... doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as I figured it would. Brotherhood is one of the greatest television shows ever created and if you haven't given it a chance then I highly suggest you do so.  It's long been my philosophy that if you're going to rip something off, don't rip off something you've already done, and rip off something that is great, so maybe some of its greatness will build your product up.  In this case it payed off.

The Team Flare storyline as a whole is very haphazard and random.  Nothing really builds too greatly off the other and nothing is terribly important or interesting.  If they hadn't tapped into Fullmetal, then this would have easily been the worst and most ridiculous team of villains to date.  Even WITH the help of Fullmetal it's weak at best because the only real interesting things that come out of this story are all ripped straight from Hoenheim... but anyway back to the story
After listening to Az, you get a choice to destroy the weapon or to fire the weapon and survive with Team Flare.  However once you get there you ultimately don't have a choice.  If you turn on the weapon you still have to go defeat Lysandre and stop the weapon from destroying the world and if you turn off the weapon then it gets turned on anyway by... the love child of King Kai and Dr. Eggman apparently.


Next stop is Genosage town where Stonehenge was sitting to find a new device in the middle of the town and the rocks that were previously there now holding a door.  Keep battling your way down to the bottom and defeat all the admins to rescue the legendary pokémon of your game being used to power the machine.  After capturing it Lysandre....
Who apparently has turned into Doctor Octopus for no reason whatsoever... challenges you to a final battle.  Defeating him causes him to turn on the machine with its remaining power to, in turn, destroy both the machine and himself.

This story is... weak really.  I know I stated this before but the stuff with I mean Az is about the only interesting bits of the encounters with the villains.  The rest of their actions seem kinda disjointed and random.  Black and White put such a focus on the story that this one just falls flat.  Not to mention that Xerneas or Yveltal... you know THE GUYS ON THE COVER OF THE GAMES are just sorta shoved in at the last second.  Nothing really to build up that they would be of any use.. no mystery to their existence like that of Palkia or Dialgia.  They are basically glorified Electrode powering the Team Rocket base.


Well enough about those shenanigans..  let's get to what everybody wants to talk about 

The New Pokémon
With each new version we get several brand new creatures to collect, love and battle.  Generally this number is anywhere between 100 and 160.  So how many new guys did we see this round? 


Well...that's not terrible I guess...

Let's take a look at some of these new guys shall we?

- Well it's no wonder the Moulin Rouge is closing with this type of thing walking around.  I've literally refused to learn the name of this creature and just call it "Diaper Bird"

 - Rita Repulsa called... she's missing one of her monsters to fight the Power Rangers

 - Geez can those eyes get any more creepy??!!  It's burning a hole in my very existence

 - Yes because that's JUST what we needed.  Another Pikachu


 - Well it's nice to see that Jack Black still has a career with Nacho Libre 2

- YES why that's exactly what we needed as well.  Something ELSE ripping off Princess Mononoke

But at least this one doesn't have Kristen Stewart in it...
*shudders*  Let's not even talk about that

- BAHAHAHA  Those are probably some of the dumbest looking things I've seen in awhile and I remember stunfisk quite vividly.  Look at that evolution.  What on earth were they thinking??!!  Surely this is some sort of joke!  What does this turn into?  Some sort of Grass type snorlax??

ummm... nevermind then

Overall, the inclusions this time are actually not that bad.  There were some very unique ideas out there and all of these truly feel like they are creatures that would belong in this universe unlike previous versions
They chose to go for quality instead of quantity this time around and that's OK by me. With very few exceptions such as Carbink who honestly looks like it should have an evolution they just didn't get around to creating... this generation actually surprised me with the level of quality and genuine feel to the time and care they took with these guys.  However I haven't yet discussed the biggest change with the pokémon yet and that was something they haven't done since the second generation.. introduce a new type.
Now before I start my griping session I'd just like to say that... I actually don't mind the addition of a new type.  It has shaken things up for the first time in a decade with all us older people now on almost the same playing field as new character with us having to learn the ins and outs of a new type.  I don't even mind the fact that the type is "fairy"  it fits for the universe.   It's the execution of this new typing that I dislike.  Let me explain.

Fairy types in this generation are walking a fine line that I honestly thought was impossible.  They are teetering on the edge of being completely inconsequential and overlooked while also teetering on the edge of being massively overpowered.  They are acting very similar to how psychic types reacted in Gen 1.  The weak ones were all over in the wild, very few people in-game actually had one but when you finally encountered a gym full of them they have so expertly covered their weaknesses that it becomes quite difficult.
I'll speak from personal experience on this.  Since Fairies are weak to Poison and Steel I decided to train up a Crobat because he's my favorite poison type.  Finally got him evolved and leveled up.  Since fairy types are weak to poison, having a Crobat should make chump change of these guys right?
Everywhere I turned there were electric type moves to destroy my flying type bat... or there were steel/fairies such as the case with klefki and mawile.  So I decided to box up my Crobat and use Aegislash's Iron Head attack since they are weak to Steel type attacks
Oh that's right.  Steel/Fairies everywhere.   So while I realize that they have Fire and Ground type weaknesses I basically had to make sure I was using something that WASN'T strong against the type of the gym whatsoever but instead played off the weaknesses of their secondary type. 

And that right there is where the Overpowered comes from too.  It's silly to attempt to plan for fighting a fairy type because their weaknesses are covered so well all around.  It's not prudent to attempt to have something that can combat them... but then when someone shows up with a Clefable or Gardevior they will rape face with them cause you didn't have anything to combat them because they are too tricky to figure out a defense for especially when they resist fighting and dark type moves (which are often strong against their other type) and they are strong against Ghost, Dragon and Fighting.

OH and speaking of dragon...
Fairy Types take no damage from Dragon Attacks
Yup you heard me right.  Fairy types take no damage at all from dragons.  You know.. the usual saviors of competitive play are now kinda useless against things such as Marril or Jigglypuff.... which honestly has started some rather hilarious shenanigans online

While I agree that dragons were probably a little overpowered before but they were easily enough gotten around for the most part but this is just silly. 

Maybe Fairies will grow on me more as time passes and maybe next generation will balance them out a little better but for right now they're either barely seen or bothered with... or they're absolutely destroying you.  Very little middle ground.

In addition to new pokémon we have a new type of evolution as well....

Mega Evolutions

Yup, there's a brand new type of evolution for these games.  the "Mega Evolution".   What is a mega evolution you say?   Well it's a temporary evolution that only certain pokémon can do.  Each trainer has a Mega Ring that they can use to activate the evolution.  The pokémon in question must be holding a certain stone and then during battle only for the duration of that battle they will achieve a new more powerful level.  Sometimes this changes their typing, their stats, their abilities, or just makes them even more awesome.  After defeating the Elite 4 you can travel all around Kalos to find new stones for a (as of yet) grand total of 26 pokemon that reach their "Mega" form. 

Wait .... so there are items scattered all around the continent that you have to find in order to evolve your partner to the next level during a battle so that they can more easily defeat their enemy.  This evolution happens only for a short period of time and it changes their name to add "Mega" to the beginning of it?  HMM... wouldn't happen to be something like THIS WOULD IT???!!

Have you no shame, Pokémon, have you no shame?  I mean ripping off Fullmetal Alchemist is one thing but taking an idea from what was at one time one of your biggest competitors and utilizing their idea?  That's just...wrong.

Despite now having turned pokémon into digimon now... these mega evolutions are kind of awesome, but I have to question what they were thinking with some of them.   The choices of who gets a mega evolution and who doesn't seems arbitrary at best.  The logic behind the chosen ones makes no sense.  I can understand if you are wanting to make sure certain lesser used pokemon finally get a chance at the spotlight that would be great! Like these examples....

However when already overused creatures get mega evolutions such as THESE
... you just start wondering...   Why did they pick the ones that they picked to get Mega Evolutions??

Well that's it for Part 1 of this review cause I'm sure your patience is more than empty at this point with me having rambled for so long.  Look forward to seeing you in Part 2 but till then ...

This is Ghost fading into the darkness.
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