I have a confession to make. I must admit I wasn’t fussed whether I got to try the latest Pokémon at Eurogamer or not. For a start I was aware that the game uses the same turn-based, 4 move battle system its had since the very first Pokémon titles on the original GameBoy. While some will disagree I am of the opinion that this format is damn tired and really needs to be put to bed.
My second gripe was an assumption that the graphics wouldn’t be much of an improvement over the DS incarnations. The action, after all, still predominantly takes place in a topdown universe.
However it seems I was extremely misguided on this second point, misguided to the extent that I was utterly shocked with what I played. Playing Pokémon X/Y looked so good it almost felt like playing an anime cartoon. The protagonist skates around (yes, skates! Nice touch Gamefreak!) in glorious 3D. The backdrops look amazing, with a gushing cartoon fountain providing the central piece of the picturesque area your character finds herself in. No effort has been spared on the surrounding foilage, and shadows are used expertly to really help create the aforementioned overall anime appearance.
The presentation of the battles themselves are a massive departure from any of the Pokémons before it. Indeed I experienced deja vu of the PS3 title Ni No Kuni while they were taking place. The Pokémon characters themselves are huge and hi-res, presented in a cellshaded style with a very impressive framerate. The special effects which accompany their moves is nothing short of spectacular, with abundant explosions and flares, for example, accompanying fire-type moves.
The menus are super slick, and gliding along them with the stylus felt like an absolute pleasure. The textboxes for dialogue were similarly pretty.
This all goes a long way to compensating for the staleness of the battle system. While fighting I was so bowled over by the game’s sheer prettiness that I largely forgot I was going through the same draconian motions I’ve been going through since the 90s with this franchise. However I can imagine the outdated system increasingly annoying me if I were to bite the bullet and buy this.
In conclusion Pokémon X and Y is a surprisingly gorgeous game that, after Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, is actually the best looking title on the 3DS. Its a shame that it still uses the old battle system (the main series could learn a lot from the Pokémon Rumble spin-off games) but that is my only gripe in what otherwise appears to be a wholly excellent title. As a final point I heard many Nintendo fans on the shopfloor describe this game as their Eurogamer 2013 Game of Show, and if I’m honest I must admit it was mine. Very Recommended!