Monday, January 21, 2013

Pokemon X and Y - What Will This Game Need?

Hopes and Fears pepper my excitement for the new generation of Pokemon

  In case you haven't seen it yet, Pokemon X and Y were recently announced, setting up a new generation of Pokemon, finally moving to the 3DS. Here's a look at the trailer to catch you up:

  This trailer shows that there are a lot of things Game Freak is doing with their series, and the bold direction they're taking it in. I would hesitate to say it's a bold "new" direction at this point. From what I can tell, and from previous track records, I'm expecting a big safety net under this game. I remain hopeful, but cautiously so, that this game is going to be more than a graphical update with a few dozen new critters. Honestly I'm a little bit -too- reserved, I think. There are aspects to the game shown in this trailer that have me nervous. They tug at raw chords in my heart left over from games like Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD, a game so aware of how bad it is that it is literally laughing at you in it's title for buying it.

  The best way to approach this is to do kind of a step by step analysis of the trailer and go from there.Let's start with that hideous yellow rodent who has become the face of Pokemon. I hate him. I always kind of have. He isn't that cute, he's supremely annoying, and there's a lot of residual spite coming from Smash Bros. Melee. More importantly than my animosity  though: if you watch the video, he appears to be standing on the Eiffel Tower. This is backed up by the epicenter of his doomsday thunder bolts being shot across the globe, and then later when you see the tower in the background. It appears that we're going to Europe this time, and that's pretty interesting. I love Europe. It has a lot of flavor and style, and I think GameFreak is good at capturing those types of elements and bringing them to the forefront.

  I'm not a fan of these new forward facing camera angles. The scene in particular of the male character running at the camera looks painful. I'm really hoping that's just showing off the engine and not indicative of the actual game, because running towards the camera with only inches between it and your character makes for some terribly frustrating gameplay. You can't see anything in the direction you're going and end up bumping into all sorts of crap.

  I'm not sure how to feel about that weird space building in the middle of a displaced canyon, either. Is it a new city, or some villain HQ? The taste that won't wash out of the back of my mouth is how much the structure reminds me of Pokemon Colosseum and XD designs. It reeks of the Orre region, and I have spent years trying to erase that from my memory. But I can never erase the save files those games have imprinted on my soul. I really wanted that Lugia, damn it.

  New starters, let's talk about them. At first glance I have to say this may actually be the best set of starters I've ever seen. I don't dislike a single one of them, and they all show some promise. First, we've got Chespin, the Grass type.

I shall call him Chesapeak. 

  Look at that adorable mother fucker. He's so happy to see you! Him and his weird leafy coat and flipper paws. He looks like some kind of otter covered in seaweed. It might be a bit of a unique twist if he actually becomes a grass/water type, but the two-toes leads me to believe he's actually supposed to be more like a mole or prairie dog. So I'd put my money on another grass/ground starter for this li'l guy.

You will be Miss Terious.

  Then we have Fennekin, whose name I'm not terribly fond of. Was Fennix too "low fruit?" Fennec fox + pheonix? Hm. Anyway. I don't really know where this thing's going to go. It might pull a Typhlosion and stay pure fire, or even go fire/normal, which would be kind of weird. How about fire/psychic? How cool would that be? This is clearly the "for the ladies' starter, but that's fine. I think it's still pretty precious, but then Fennec Foxes are fucking adorbs. Seriously. Look at this shit:

  Hulk Hogan himself would be reduced to a quivering pile of girly shrieks in the face of this thing.

Benjamin Froaklin, at your service.

  Now I will gladly admit that I have favoritism towards water types. I like water and I like sea animals. Blaziken was the first time I ever started with a fire type, and I still default to Mudkip every time since. But this guy. Holy crap do I love him. I was a bit "meh" at first, but once I realized he looked like Benjamin God Damned Franklin, I was on board. Don't quote me on this but I wouldn't be surprised to see him go water/ poison if he does anything than stay water. Which I hope he does. As a water lover, nothing is more boring than the fact that the first two generations were strict water. Then again, I would never have guessed water/steel for a penguin, so anything is on the table at this point.

What's cooler than being cool? Steel Cold.

  Initially, I was a bothered by the new attack animation stuff. I kind of hated it in the Pokemon Stadium series. It always looked... off. With sprites, it's easy to just kind of let it go. Seeing things like Froakie actually jump in there and mess a Pokemon up kind of makes me a little happier. However, between this and what appears to be a needless "wild such-and-such has appeared" animation, I'm just the slightest bit worried that combat is going to slow down in favor of wasting my time with constant zooms and drawn-out animations. 2D sprites in a 3D plane is indeed a favorite look of mine in games, so I'm kind of bummed to see it go fully polygonal, but we'll see how the final thing shapes up.

  It looks like the new gyms are continuing the tradition of one-upsmanship that the series has been taking with it's gyms lately. The gyms of Pokemon Black and White 2 were indeed the best gyms in the series to date. Each one felt unique, had it's own rendition of the standard gym theme, and were each a set piece all their own. Hopefully that kind of pomp continues onward.

  How about those new mascots, eh? The sort-of-titular Xerneas and Yvvetal are already pointing me to the belief that this generation will continue the ever-worsening Pokemon names. I loved a lot of the 5th generation, but the names were just getting worst with each one. Also, sword-leg rainbow stag? I'll try anything out, but that's kind of weirding me out.

  So a lot of that laid out my fears of the series, which basically amounts to it being more the mocking visage of Pokemon XD than a Pokemon proper. Considering it's the actual Game Freak company behind it, I remain positive that I'm being paranoid. Although, how quickly this is being turned around is unusual. Barely a year after the last release, and only two and a half years after the last generation? I'm sure they've been working on it for a long while, since they've had their hands on the 3DS tech, if I had to guess. So it's probably not as "rushed" as it feels like it might be. In fact, given the general distance between localization stints, I'd say the game is closer to done than not, and that Japan is going to have to wait for the localization to finish around the rest of the world.

  I wanted to also just throw out this little article I read, discussing the likely etymology of the names X and Y. I love crap like that. Overall, though, I don't know. At the risk of sounding greedy, I need more to get excited about this. I need to know that there are going to be cool Spot Pace and Street Pass features. I need to know that there is going to be something new about this besides a Dragon Quest camera angle. I need to see that I won't have another dozen rock/ground and grass/poison Pokemon. I'm not asking for a revolution here, but it's Pokemon. Some evolution is in order, I think. Also I want to see what the new ghost Pokemon are. I love those guys.

  So how about you? What are your hopes and/or fears for a new Pokemon game on the 3DS? How many new little guys do you think we're getting? How do you feel about what you've seen thus far? I'd love to get a discussion going in the comments!



  1. I'm willing to bet we're going to see a transitional generation similar to Gen II. From the previews it seems like a lot of Gen V critters were shown not only in combat but in the background, ie the statue of Golurk. I'll be surprised if we get more than 100 new pokemon this go around but that being said I'm holding out for some new and exciting type combos! Maybe we'll finally get a poison type legendary (Hey, I can dream can't I?)

    I think I'm okay with the new battle scenes. While I do anticipate a little more flash to make battles a little longer I also expect to turn off the battle scenes option My biggest concern is the camera angle, but this can easily be resolved in a 3D adventure game with use of the L and R bumpers Which would make for some awesome mechanics. Did you see that Gengar in the shadows? No? Rotate the camera and WHOA there he is up against that wall! Follow him for a chance to catch the bugger.

    Honestly I'm excited. I've been preparing a team for this and I'm excited to finally see my EV trained battle team in 3D.

    - Siliced

    1. Now that you mention it, I think Poison is the only type that hasn't had a legendary, huh? What we clearly need is more Dragon types. Oh, and final evolutions for the starters? Twist ending: They're ALL fire fighting.