Menifee Plugged In: Pokemon X/Y Carries on the Tradition

By Neil Kristjansson

It’s been such a long time since I picked up a Pokemon game. But with all of the hype surrounding the newly-released addition to the series, Pokemon X and Y, I had to see what was going on.

Now on the 3DS, developer Game Freak has given us a new world with new Pokemon to experience. So let’s see what's with all the hubbub.

Back in the late 90s, when I was probably 3, I remember getting a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Red. I swear, I had to have played it for hundreds and hundreds of hours on my front porch. At 3 years old, I was still able to finish the story, and I continued to play until I had several of my Pokemon at level 100. It was such a groundbreaking game for its time, and oddly enough, it hasn’t really changed much since.

I picked up Pokemon X/Y with the knowledge that it was quite a graphical update from my last experience. What was once a bird’s-eye view of a 2D, 16-bit world has become a beautifully rendered 3D world with varying camera angles. Right off the bat, that caught my eye. It’s nice to look at, most definitely.

And finally, being able to see almost every Pokemon that’s ever existed in 3D? Well howdy-doo, that’s exciting. And now I can customize my character? I get a name and a nickname? I can run without running shoes?! Well howdy-doody-doo, that’s even more exciting!

But, unfortunately, notice how I said almost every Pokemon? That’s right. This has been a gimmick of Pokemon for years now, but I will never enjoy the segregation of Pokemon from one game or the other. It’s, in my opinion, a really shallow marketing ploy to get you to buy both games. It shouldn’t be that way. But luckily, if you have friends who play as well, it isn’t really a problem.

It’s just silly to have one Pokemon available in one game, and have its (new) mega-evolution only available in the other. It’s hogwash, I tell you. Hogwash.

Speaking of which, the mega-evolutions are a really cool new feature. Essentially, evolution is a huge component of Pokemon. Level up, your Pokemon evolves into a new form – a new evolution. But these mega-evolutions take once previously maxed-out evolutions and evolve them even further. It’s a temporary change for, say, when you’re in the middle of a difficult battle.

There are quite a few mega-evolutions, and it’s up to you to go out and find out what’s it's capable of. Fortunately, these make up for the lack of new Pokemon added. At an underwhelming approximation of around 65, that’s a far lower count that previous titles. Oh well. I’d exchange an ice-cream looking Pokemon for a black Charizard any day.

My only major gripe with the path Pokemon has taken is this new, more obvious complexity behind Pokemon stats and types and gender. Way before when I used to play, it boiled down to which Pokemon looked the best. This could be a personal thing, but even as an adult, I cannot grasp this idea of how a Pokemon’s attitude plays in, or all of these (seemingly) secret abilities happen. I guess they’re for competitive players. You know, people who like to battle each other in tournaments – that kind of thing.

For a casual fellow like me, somebody who’s just jumped back in after a decade vacation, it doesn’t matter too much. I can wrap my head around the items necessary to evolve certain Pokemon, which Pokemon has the best stats, yadda-yadda. It’s not difficult, just complex -- to better players than I.

As for everything else, it plays exactly like I remember it. Pokemon has had a long habit of being incredibly formulaic, which is good. Well, sort of. It’s been a great game from the start. Changing it too extraordinarily could have been a huge mistake. In other ways, though, an almost 20-year run of the same game play can get boring. Good job, Gamefreak. You made a fun, lasting game. And for once, I can honestly say: I hope it doesn’t change.

Neil Kristijansson's "Menifee Plugged In" column appears each Monday. He writes about two things of interest to most of the younger generation -- music and electronic gaming. He welcomes your comments here or though email at


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