A new generation, a new introduction
Pokémon XY, the 6th generation of the Pokémon franchise. Was an interesting game, to say the least. I had not played the series since generation 3, and my girlfriend at the time back then was a mega Pokémon fan. Always sitting and playing it every day, to which one day I came over and watched along while trying to be high and mighty, spouting off the glory days from the older generations that were in the franchise.
Instead of being annoyed, she asked if I wanted to try it out. Surprisingly I said yes, she let me borrow a copy of Pokémon Y and from there it was an introduction to a new generation that I hadn’t felt since playing Pokémon Gold.
Set in the Kalos region, you start out your Pokémon journey two years after Black and White. A place that mostly was isolated from every other region of the previous Pokémon games. So it had the advantage to start with a clean slate for the player as well.
Choosing either female or male as the tradition is with these games, you begin your journey in a house in a small town, and from there it simply opens up with grand stories all around the world.
To be honest, the story itself of the main game wasn’t really that memorable but the side story told of something that happened many years prior kept me motivated to figure out what exactly happened and how it tied into the main game itself. I won’t spoil much here but when it finally clicks with the mysterious man you often meet in the game and the story from the past, it hat me stunned for a good while as the conversation was playing out in front of the screen.
New friends, a new adventure
Being in line with Pokémon games it was normal for the main character to have a rival of sorts or being accompanied by a few friends along the journey to champion. Yet while in this game XY does give you that. It felt more like a mixture of the two, you would have the typical opposite from the gender you pick in the beginning. However, at the same time, you also had three other people that each had their own dreams, worries, and goals they wanted to achieve.
I quite liked most of them. Shauna especially was the type of friend where I kept having the feeling that there was something more than simply being a friend but the vagueness kept it to the point where you had to make your own headcanon, of a certain scene you get with her in the game.
Tierno and Trevor kept me laughing a few times but in the end, I just didn’t care much for them as they didn’t seem to evolve as much through the storyline.
New team, who dis?
As is the tradition, a new team always gets introduced in a new generation of Pokémon. This time it was Team Flare… and much else wasn’t remembered about them. At least in the game that is. Since all they wanted was to create a beautiful and better world, yet they never delved into really why they wanted it.
Even the main villain Lysandre while looking intimidating like a big lion. Not much else about him is memorable other than being evil for evil sake. His vision didn’t really align with his actions or the ideal of Team Flare’s mission. However, him creating a weapon and had it set up where everyone could see it but not realize it was a weapon was actually brilliant.
In a way, the main character helped him set everything up by “solving” the problems in various areas of the region.
Music while thematic not much is remembered except
Pokémon music is famous for many of its musical scores in various games and generation 6 isn’t any different. So while the theme is always the same but with a few new added instruments, and some like the Pokécenter theme stayed mostly the same.
Not a lot from the game was to my ears remembered fondly or something that I would just hum out of nowhere while doing different kinds of chores. Yet still, a few were stuck there. A few, in particular, were Snowbelle City, Jubilife City, and the theme for battling the legendary Pokémons Xerneas/Yveltal, also who cannot forget I’ll go with you.
Some of these are simply captivating and catch you in a magical moment, where you just forget your surroundings and that you are playing a game about becoming a champion for a minute or so.
While there might be more I’m forgetting here and I’m sure a lot of other folks will point to different musical themes in the game that resonated with them. It was at least these few that will stay with me for a long time.
Become a Grand Duchess or Grand Duke
Since XY was heavily set in a Europe-inspired world called Kalos, there was this interesting place right along route 7 called the Battle Chateau. A two-floor building that looked more like a castle than a simple house. In there, trainers from all across the region would come and battle it out with each other, and where you as the player could come in and rise through the ranks from a baron/baroness, to a Grand Duchess/Duke, the highest rank in the game.
Earning rewards, cash, and a title to gloat about, you also got the chance to fight against the gym leaders, the elite four, and even the previous champion of the region. Which was a nice added bonus but personally I didn’t do much other than rush through the place so I could continue on with the journey.
Go beyond the final stage
If there’s one thing that came from Pokémon XY in terms of evolutionary mechanics, it was none other than Mega Evolution. Simply the ability to have some (not all, unfortunately) of your favourite Pokémons gain the ability to go further than their last evolution. Was mind-blowing, as it gave a fresh, new addon for combat to be had in the game.
From the way I saw it, it was great the first 20 times you used it until you later realized that all you had to do was mega evolve in the game and basically you won all your battles from thereon.
Now it wasn’t a mechanic where you activated it and from there your victory against other players was guaranteed. There were changes in some abilities that Pokémon could use which didn’t get granted as long as the mega evolve was in play for that specific Pokémon you used.
Also, only one Pokémon in your roster could hold a Mega Stone. So you had to really think about which one needed it the most.
Now, if there was one thing from the Mega Evolution that I found awesome but also a bit annoying belonged to one Pokémon… Charizard. The non-dragon flying fire breathing totally a dragon but not, got two evolutions one in each game. There was the dark Charizard with blue fire coming out of its mouth that actually made the Pokémon a dragon type and the more kingly looking version with tattered wings but the added ability for its fire special attacks being more powerful than before.
I personally enjoyed it but was quite sad that more stable starter Pokémons didn’t get two as well for each game in the generation.
Still, being able to go beyond the final stage of your Pokémons evolutions, was awesome from the get-go and one that has cemented itself into the franchise as an extra ability to use in combat.
A missed feature
If there’s one thing that I found extremely fun to do on a regular basis was running to the PokéMart and hoarding a ton of honey. Run to a big patch of grass area, rub some of that honey out or use the Sweet Scent ability from one of my Pokémons, to initiate a normal encounter… or at least I thought so in the beginning.
See one of the best features in my mind that came out in Pokémon XY is the Horde Battle system. Where you with some honey or sweet scent could with one Pokémon fight a horde of other Pokémons. Which not only was it a great way to train EV but it was just so cool being outnumbered sometimes 8:1 and that was just an amazing feeling, especially if all were at equal levels.
The horde battles were also a fantastic way to go shiny hunting, with the extra numbers if cut down the amount of tries but just a little bit. Then again, shiny hunting is always about that randomness (which of course could be made easier with the shiny charm as well). Yet you could while doing a good amount of horde battles, also carry eggs with you and just slowly but surely work on hatching some Pokémon as well.
It could be done mostly anywhere as long as a patch of grass was available to you and you had the required item for it.
Something about horde battles just had this epic, magical feeling about that sadly is something you don’t see was brought to the newer games in the series. It’s a missed feature that I surely hope will come back again in the future of the franchise.
I see fairies all around me
Generation 6 brought not only Mega Evolution to the game but also the new Fairy type which was the first new type for more than 12 years of Pokémon history. Mostly it was to be a counter against the always powerful dragon types, however, it also gave a good boost to Poison and Steel-type Pokémons.
After researching it through I also found out that several old Pokémon got their type changed and some new was introduced. One of my favourites was a new evolution to Eevee, who is my favourite Pokémon in the whole franchise. It gave a breath of fresh air in the community for the competitive scene and personally a lot of the fairy types were actually very cute in their designs. Dangerous in nature, but cute in looks.
3D being used correctly
Since Pokémon XY was set on the Nintendo 3DS, the team really went above and beyond to really use the weird gimmicks that the handheld console had. When you got holo calls, you could use the 3DS’ movement to move the picture around. It was a neat little thing but fun in the overall scheme of things.
A rotating camera that in battle showed off the background, close-ups of the Pokémons and the new abilities and their animations.
Not only that but if you had the 3D slider activated on the handheld console, the image would at the right angle really pop with colours and characters. It’s a bit sad that the games didn’t follow much along with it from thereon.
A world with grandeur, all tied to the center
The Kalos region was in my opinion masterfully crafted, no matter where you went in the region. Let it be the coastal areas, the mountains, the plains. It all came back to the main hub which was called Lumiose City. It was the place for the electric gym leader but also the final battle stage when it came to the main villain of the game.
Something about Lumiose just screamed with vibrant life as if you had been transported to France, specifically Paris. You could go to shops, take your time at a café, talk with various strangers that were actually walking around. Grab a taxi from one end to the other, or simply use your roller skates to get around, darting in and out of small alleyways.
Many of the locals of Pokémon XY really stand out because the gyms and its towns surrounding them are in close with their type Pokémon theme but it also felt like natural wonders of the regions that served as tourist attractions as well.
Truly, every single place was set in this world with grandeur and yet they all tied back to the center of the map in Lumiose City. Something we can only hope will be used again in newer generations of Pokémon.
Pokémon XY is the type of game that comes into your life at a special moment when you need it most. Gives you plenty of things to play with while getting frustrated with a bunch of others. The constant lag in battles, but that might just have been the fact that XY was the first full-on main 3D game on their new engine.
A story that was the same old spiel but had a few interesting new tales to be shown. The one for me was the old story of what happened in the region many years before what is happening at the moment and how it ties into the main story still. It wrapped up really nicely at the end of the game.
New types to try and play with, new starters to use and even some interesting mechanics to utilize where one is still sorely missed to this day.
A town that served as the main hub area, while you exit at multiple points to deal with various situations on the different routes, yet always came back to the hub again. It was creative and something I hope will be used again in a different Pokémon game.
Personally, I really recommend playing or at least watch a playthrough of Pokémon XY. You might find something different in it than I did, but it’s something that I will remember and probably go back to in the future.
Truly it came when I needed it in my life and left with something that I still miss to this day.
Stay Cozy, and Go Catch ‘em All!
This post is a collaboration with NekoJonez about celebrating Pokémon in various articles. Want to read more? Head over to the main hub area and see the many amazing writer’s contributions to the Pokémon series.