Pokemon X & Y are the two new versions of the classic pocket monsters RPG-lite for Nintendo's 3DS handheld console. They're out October 12th.
- New 3D graphics designed for the 3DS
- 'Mega evolution' paths opened for some Pokemon
- 'Super Training' gives you a new way to train Pokemon
- Connect with other players on the Player Search System
- Take selfies inside the game with Photo Spots
- New Fairy Type Pokemon
- New types of battles
- Greater character customisation
Mega Evolution is described as an Evolution beyond all Evolution, a transformation found only in the Kalos region. It has also been called the greatest mystery of Pokémon.
'Pokémon X & Y' is the FIFA 14 of the monster-anime completist accumulo-RPG sub-genre, a niche corner of the video game tapestry that is also, somehow, one of the biggest entertainment brands in the world.
Which is to say that in the world of Pokémon, everything is changing - except, well, anything very significant.
Your task in X & Y - as tradition dictates there two versions of the same game, with different Pokemon to collect in each - is the same as it ever was. You traverse a world - this time the France-inspired region of Kalos - collect Pokémon, fight them in a massive series of turn-based tactical battles, and gradually increase your skills and power until you can take on the baddies in a battle for glory, hope and the Pokemon way.
And as you'd expect from such a long-running, honed and classic series of games, everything important is present, correct and rock solid. The game's essential blend of strategy and impulsive just-one-more-battle malarky is as addictive and fun as it ever was, and the range of new Pokémon and 'mega evolution' upgrades is extensive - we had no way to collect even some of 'em all during our time with the game.
There are also some significant upgrades. Most obviously, this is the best-looking Pokémon ever made. The graphics are higher-res, and just as colourful and varied. The 3D effects pop beautifully in battles (though it's a shame not all of the cut-scenes or even regular play areas are fully rendered stereoscopically) and the characters have more chance to emote and develop real personalities. Also, it sounds odd, but the camera is stunning, swooping and zooming with pixel perfect precision throughout the game.
The best of the new bits - aside from the crazy new monsters - are the new options for training. Super Training allows casual players to try and enhance specific Pokemon stats, in a way reminiscent of the EV method used by hardcore players. It does this through a series of mini-games inspired by football, oddly enough, and it's a nice change of pace. There's also Pokémon Amie, which is a little bit like playing with a Tamagotchi - you can stroke your monsters, feed them, and generally schnuggle with your buggle-wuggles. Which is lovely. Also, you now get experience for battles even when you capture your opponent in a Poke-ball. Which is handy.
The rigid adherence to the Pokeformula doesn't mean their aren't issues, though. The game is still a grind, sucking in your time and attention in a way that unless you're a die-hard fan starts to feel a bit unpleasant if you're not fully committed. The tactical depth of the battle system takes a while to emerge, and the story feels thin - especially the sudden nature of your call to arms and journey around the oddly Francophile world.
In essence, though, Pokémon X &/or Y are hard to criticise. They hone an already honed genre, with better graphics, more depth, more Pokemon and serious new paths for experts to trample in search of that very last beastie. But if you've already tried Pokémon and just couldn't hack it - whether it was last year, or 10 years ago, you probably know if this game is for you or not already.