Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Platform: Nintendo 2DS XL
Released: October 12, 2013
I bought Pokémon Y in and around 18 months ago, and I have finally completed it for the first time. What with everything going on at the moment, I find myself having a little more time for gaming than I usually make for myself… so here I am writing this! I’ve had probably a dozen false starts with this game. This isn’t a reflection on the quality of the game by any means, more so my own indecision when it comes to party composition, and choosing a starter pocket monster. For reasons unknown even to myself, I felt compelled to use a party that contains only dual-type creatures and would accept no single-type Pokémon, even to my own detriment. This requirement that I forced upon myself, combined with developing cold feet over my choice in starting monster, resulted in many restarts for me, ultimately leading to me abandoning it entirely for months. Last week I booted up my Nintendo 2DS XL, popped in the cartridge, and chose Froakie in the opening minutes. Much to my surprise, I found myself playing the same game hours later - No restarts and team-building in progress. This was finally it, I was hooked in and there was no stopping me now!
Prepare for trouble, and make it double
I was now determined to keep going with this game, and fully confident in my decision to use Froakie. That is of course, until I arrived in Lumiose City. Memories of previous attempted playthroughs came rushing back to me - I am about to be waylaid by another decision, of a familiar type...
Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander?
The choices from the very original games, Red & Blue. An age old question, answered and backtracked upon by countless people of my own generation and younger. Choosing one Pokémon at the beginning is always a difficult choice, but choosing a second one from the original trio?! This is an onslaught of nostalgic joy but a choice needs to be made. While immediately unbeknownst to me, I already had my choice made, by virtue of the party I had built so far. Froakie and it’s evolutionary line cover Water and Dark typing, and Fletchling and it’s line covered Flying and Fire typing. The choice was clear, Bulbasaur it was! I admit I nearly gave into temptation, to discard Fletchling and select Charmander, but this proved to be a fleeting thought and drove on with my half-assembled team of creatures.
Teamwork makes the dream work
So far I had very little to complain about with this game. The combat is as pleasing as it ever was, complete with all the more modern enhancements such as abilities, and the visuals even seven years after release are not to be overlooked. Some of the gym designs in particular are exciting and really stand out in the series as a whole. At this point I had reached Ambrette Town, a small town built upon a cliff, leading to route Route 9 and Glittering Cave. I gained a new addition to my team at this point, in Helioptile, the Normal/Electric type - Who happens to have one of my favourite designs from the more modern games. Trudging through Route 9. I recalled from previous, failed playthroughs, that I was about to formally meet the evil team! This is always a memorable moment, meeting the team whose affairs you will no doubt become wrapped up in, whose fate is intertwined with your own.
Visually, and quite rightly so, Team Flare look great with their heavy use of a striking red and… ahem… unique (?) hairstyles. While I understand that these games are made for children and the story is not the most important factor, their motivations were looser than normal - They’re looking to make the world more beautiful, while also generating revenue. I started and stopped caring about the team’s goals there and then, and made my playthrough more enjoyable because of it. Whatever sinister plans they had in the making, I knew I was going to be the one to have the satisfaction of dismantling them, and that was enough for me.
What is old is new again
I found this generation of games to be an interesting step for the series, coming out of Black & White, and to a lesser degree Black & White 2. I always thought of the Black & White entries as a reboot of sorts for the series. There is only brand new Pokémon in them, and none of the monsters from generations past appear (Black & White 2 are the exceptions). This would suggest to me a desire to move on from what has been done before, and move the series in a new direction. I find X & Y interesting as they seem to lean quite heavily on classic critters, down to being given one of the original starters. There are some comparisons to be drawn between Team Flare and Team Rocket as well. Both teams try to enact their dastardly plots using their respective regional power plants, a cave that houses fossils, and a hostile takeover of a Pokéball-producing facility. After playing this now, I can see that it is in fact X & Y are the reboot entries in the franchise. They bring things back to basics in terms of plot, and the focus on much more vaunted monsters from older chapters that we all know and love. Perhaps this was a required step, after the more mixed reception to decisions made for the previous games, but personally I recognise Black & White as some of the better games in the vast collection of Pokémon games out there, and kudos to Game Freak for straying off their tried and true, if somewhat narrow path.
Evolution is the new black
Game Freak did a commendable job in creating something that feels familiar yet fresh - The gold dust of developing a video game sequel, in this writer’s opinion. New additions include Mega Evolution, the new Fairy type, and a new Eeveelution in the form of Slyveon. Slyveon acted as a poster child for new Fairy typing. I didn’t actually use it myself as the method of evolution seemed a bit too involved for this playthrough (keep it casual), but I respect Game Freak for cleverly using a popular monster like Eevee, to help launch this new type. Fairy refreshes some older creatures such as Jigglypuff and Clefairy, who have been changed from Normal, and provides plenty of motivation to use them once more. Mega Evolution is interesting and produced some great new, expanded designs of much loved characters, but altogether I found it to be unnecessary to actually use. In fact in this playthrough, I once used Mega Evolution, and that was just to check it out. There were no subsequent points in the game where I needed it to win a battle. With that said, credit needs to be given to the development team for including these enhancements, while not completely changing the game at the same time.
Gotta play em all
I didn’t continue writing every step I made for a reason. We all know the score - You build a team of Pokémon, defeat the evil team, and conquer the Elite Four and regional champion. It’s the same story being told but through differently tinted lenses, as with the rest of the main generational chapters of the franchise. Be that as it may, much like it’s the same story as before, it’s also the same quality as before. When I was a kid I stopped playing the newer entries and it’s only in recent years I’ve started to catch up (Still haven’t played Diamond & Pearl, don’t @ me), and I can honestly say this has sparked enthusiasm in me to play all of them again, especially those I have missed throughout the years. From the mystery of the Burned Tower in Gold & Silver, to catching Mewtwo in the originals, I can’t wait to relive these memories again and in a way connect to that time in my life, when everything was much simpler.
I’d encourage any fan, old or new, to play this. If you do, check out this thread here. This helped me immeasurably when building out my team, especially as someone who was not overly familiar with the more modern critters.
Not in the spirit for playing Pokémon? Well, you will be after this. Go forth and be the very best, that no one ever was!
Play this game if…
You were a child of the 90’s
You are indecisive, and crave your indecision being fed
You played any other main series games
You enjoy jaunty, upbeat soundtracks
You like colourful, wholesome characters
First image taken from the Pokémon Y presskit here
Remaining images taken from pokemon.com here
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