Nintendo has revealed the sixth generation of Pokémon games, subtitled X and Y. While many media outlets are praising the comeback, once you look past the new coat of paint, the trailer has, so far, revealed nothing extraordinary. In fact, judging by the video, this old Pokémon has not evolved.
In a Nintendo Direct presentation, the company’s CEO Satoru Iwata showed off the fully three-dimensional game, a first time for a direct entry into the series. The announcement trailer showed off quite a bit about the game, including the three new Pokémon players that will star in the game. These new players include a grassy colored creature named Chespin, a fox with flaming skin called Fennekin, and a blue amphibian titled Froakie.
The trailer also shows off the game’s new 3D engine. Classic scenes from the franchise, such as the player standing in front of a mirror or ascending the steps in a coliseum-like stadium, are now rendered with complete depth of vision. Some exploration elements, such as the protagonist swinging across gaps using ropes, seem like new additions to the series and it will be interesting to see whether the game incorporate some elements similar to “platformers” such as Mario or Rayman.
The launch video ended with two unnamed creatures, a red bird that seems similar to Pokémon Gold’s Ho-oh and a blue beast seemingly modeled closely to resemble Pokémon Crystal’s Suicune.
“The stunning visuals, a completely redesigned environment, game scenario, music, and communication features will bring smiles to the faces of video game players around the world,” said Junichi Masuda, CEO for series developer Game Freak.
At this point, it is perhaps fair to feel that Nintendo’s changes are, at best, insufficient. The graphics seem to be fairly low resolution and, while they are rich in color, they are also low in detail. So, while the game is now running in three dimensions, the improvement only seems visible when compared with other Pokémon games, not handheld games in general.
The battle system was also momentarily on display and, once again, it seems as if the game will magically transport players to generic and barren combat realms each time rather than utilizing the surroundings in which the battle really happens. Certainly, it’s more practical, seeing as how it eliminates the need to draw up battle landscapes for individual environments, but it tends to give the game some unneeded familiarity and visual repetition.
While this hasn’t yet been explained, now is the time that Nintendo should probably address the game’s somewhat simplistic and dated strategy system. At its core, the series has always followed the formula of the simplest turn-based battle systems: you go, then your opponent goes, and then you go again. Further strategizing, as is now expected of even the most basic turn-based games, is often unnecessary.
Archaic visuals are easy to forgive if the actual gameplay evolves; hopefully Nintendo realizes that and moves past the system it has employed since the 90s (which was, even then, fairly simplistic compared to its competitors).
Before people say this game is for kids and therefore needs to be easy, understand that no Nintendo franchise is truly for kids. Both Mario and Zelda have sequences only adults have the patience to trek through, so expecting an equally mature system for Pokémon is not unfair. Besides, considering its somewhat grim premise, Pokémon is more conducive to a mature tale than any other Nintendo franchise (except for Metroid, of course).
Ultimately, however, complaints with the series are likely to fall on deaf ears. Pokémon Black and White set sales records, so most fans don’t seem to be bothered. However, by lumbering behind in an industry that is consistently growing, the franchise probably shouldn’t test the depth of its fans’ loyalty.
Pokémon X and Y will be released worldwide in October 2013, the first time the series launches simultaneously all around.