Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pokemon X Is Actually Good So Far

At this point, I don't even need to point out that I have been vocal about my dislike for many aspects of Pokemon games past and present, and those definitely lowered the bar for Pokemon X going in.  However, while it's a bit of a stretch to say I have been suitably impressed by X, I -have- been pleasantly surprised at the very least.  Granted, I haven't really bitten into any of the actual meat of the game - I haven't met the Professor yet, even - but I've spent some time in the first areas, got my first badge and have generally started up a preliminary team with the few pokemon I've come across that I like.  It is by no means something permanent, but merely something that exists until I can switch out the stragglers.

My starter was Fennekin the fire fox, whom I scummed for an hour for to get a Female that I could name Cierra.  Because she's a fire-starter.  (Read the Riviera: The Promised Land LP for the reference and to realize that it's quite brilliant and I'm proud of it)  The fire starters are more or less always the best with some exceptions - if you didn't take a Piplup in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, it's because you're awful since Piplup is a penguin and thus wins.  And Snivy Smugleaf was clearly the correct choice for Black/White.  I've supplemented Cierra with mostly first-gen pokemon out of happenstance I swear, I'm not being a snob or anything.  I caught a Pidgey since they're just a solid Pokemon to have around, and I got a Weedle for a Beedrill since having a fully evolved Pokemon at Level 10 is a pretty neat feeling.  Finally, I've already gotten my standard Pikachu that will eventually be a Raichu, as I have to have a Raichu in every game.  However, this Pikachu is merely a prototype for my eventual Boss Raichu, and I really wish I would've named it Mercer.  Even though it's a girl.

I can't speak much for story so far, but the set-up is refreshing in that it feels a little, more believable than most games in the past.  The 'traditional Pokemon journey' has previously been set up as something of a 'rite of passage' which makes less and less sense as you go on in the series.  While you can't deny that aspect of it in X, it's not as prevalent, and with the addition of four other characters that form a little group with you (no, you guys don't stick together) to make it feel like something of an adventure it just works -far- better than ever before.  Sure, you still have a mother who is perfectly fine with her tween child heading off out into the world all on their lonesome for some reason, and you still find yourself responsible for completing a Pokedex, but it all just -feels- better somehow.

Presentation is better than it's ever been as well.  This is probably the first Pokemon game with camera angles which shouldn't be exciting, but it is.  Not only that, but the graphics definitely take advantage of the 3DS hardware, and everything just seems far less stiff than previous games.  Animations are nice and smooth and enhance the combat greatly (though they take enough time that I've honestly considered turning them off unfortunately), while everything just seems much better defined.  Character designs are rather nice and fit in well with the rather lovely locales that I've seen so far.  It's at least the most visually pleasant and interesting Pokemon world to date, though I'm not quite sure how much of an honor that is to have held aloft.

Even if I end up disliking Pokemon X because of the story, because of Team Flair and such, I can say without a doubt that X/Y is a -definite- step forward for the franchise.  Mechanics haven't seen many tweaks that I've found just yet which is a big problem, but they've broken out of their comfort zone greatly.  At the very least, we have beautifully detailed Pokemon models and animations that they can lift directly into the next iteration, which means they can focus more on...well, other aspects of the game.  Like the gameplay.  Like the things that they've needed to fix for entire generations of the series in general.  For once, I can say that without laughing like a madman since it....well, it -could- happen!

she's a twisted fire-starter

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