Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pokemon X and Y: The Last Hurrah

Well, here we are. For the first, and hopefully last, time, I will be writing a no-holds-barred, full-speed-ahead, other-hyphenated-phrase review of a game. It should come as little surprise that the game in question is Pokemon X. If you've come here for a review of Pokemon Y, then I'm afraid you'll have to go elsewhere. I'm not part of that mess.

I suppose I might as well focus on the good things. Good thing number 1: I don't have to play it anymore. Witty jabs aside, It really wasn't that bad of a game. It was a Pokemon game, and it had all the good things that come with the territory: pockets, monsters, attempted xenocide, mass graves, you know, the usual. The music was pretty-top notch, as is to be expected from Gamefreak. The biking song was particularly memorable. Speaking of bikes, in this game, you can bike and skate around smoothly, uninhibited by the opressive squares that constrained us in the past. It's pretty nice. There's also a really neat sidequest at the end where Detective Looker learns you what it means to be a hardboiled man. He's a pretty cool guy. Easily my second favorite fictional character that looks like David Tennant.

The first being Barty Crouch, naturally.

Moving on from the good things, let us now speak of the actual Pokemon, and the battles between them, and the real substance of the game. There is no doubt in my mind that 6th gen introduced the least change to Pokemon of any Generation. Of primary concern is the number of new Pokemon. Up until 6th gen, each new generation added at least 100 new Pokemon to the mix. The number of new Pokemon introduced in Pokemon X and Y is 69, which is alarming for a number of reasons. First and foremost, hahaha 69 is a funny number. Second and fivemost, that is not enough Pokemon. Granted, even number generations have historically introduced fewer Pokemon than odd numbered generations, but the amount of new Pokemon with each new generation has generally been increasing. So why did Gamefreak reverse this trend? Well, because there are too damn many Pokemon. People have said it before, and I agree with them. We don't need 800 Pokemon. So, in a way, I get where Gamefreak is coming from when they decided to only make a few Pokemon, and then just make the game a smorgasbord of mostly Pokemon from previous generations. I guess my main problem isn't that there are so few new Pokemon, it's that there are so few new Pokemon that I don't actively hate.

I am the 99%.

This is Diggersby. His prehensile ear-arms (earms?) are well suited for digging, allowing him to burrow into the anger glands of your brain and play them like a fiddle. He is just one of many new Pokemon that I could accurately describe as "revolting". Another such pokemon is Slurpuff, who impossibly manages to live up to his disgusting name. When I first heard that there was a cotton candy Pokemon, I thought it was a fun joke on people who wouldn't shut up about how stupid an ice cream cone Pokemon was. But when I heard the name, and saw its form, I immediately knew that it was no joke.

Serious Business

Keeping these fellas company at the bottom of the barrel are Quilladin, which just looks like a fatter Chespin, Dedenne, which is Pikachu except it's a Fairy-type this time, and Klefki, who is a key ring. Now that I'm out of Pokemon to complain about, and I'm realizing that there actually aren't that many Pokemon that I hate, I guess I should talk about the good Pokemon. That instance of the word "Pokemon" might as well have been singular, because Aegislash is THE good Pokemon of 6th gen.

Aegislash is the first Ghost/Steel type Pokemon, a great type that would be even greater if Gamefreak hadn't nerfed the steel type, removing its resistance to dark and ghost, with the explicit intent of keeping Aegislash from being overpowered. As you can clearly see, it is cool as hell. When Aegislash first takes the field in battle, he keeps his sword sheathed, giving him incredible defense stats. Then, as soon as he attacks, he draws his blade, giving him incredible attacking stats. Then, if he uses a defensive move, like King's Shield, (a new, overpowered-seeming move that, as far as I can tell, is like Protect, but it also sharply decreases the Attack of anyone who hits him with a contact move.) he goes back to shield mode. Unfortunately, he's pretty slow either way, but this is mitigated by his potential to play mind games with his opponent. He can also use boosting moves to beef up his attack and/or speed stats while tanking hits in shield mode, then switch to blade mode and put his enemies to the sword when he's in blade mode. In addition to the possible competitive implications, it cannot be stressed enough that this Pokemon is cool as hell. And speaking of Pokemon who are cool as hell...

Exhibit A

Hawlucha is a hawk that is also a luchador. And that's it. The prosecution rests. Case closed. In the trial of Hawlucha for the crime of "Being the most baller Pokemon ever", we find the defendant guilty. Hawlucha also receives the dubious honor of being the only Pokemon to learn the only dual-type attack, Flying Press, which is simultaneously a Flying type move, a Fighting type move, and a not very good move, since you can't hit Rock or Steel types super effectively with it. Or Bugs, I guess.

If you look closely enough at Hawlucha's face, you'll notice that he has regular mouth under his beak. This seems to imply that his beak isn't a real beak, and is just for show, like part of a mask. Notice also that it has a physique similar to a humans, and that its wings don't really look like wings, but more like arms with feathery things coming out of them, like Charizard X. Hawlucha is also very small, only 2'07'' tall. Now, I'm not saying for sure that Hawlucha is actually a 3-fingered little person who dresses up like a Pokemon to beat the crap out of other Pokemon, but it gave me the idea that that could happen, and for that I am extremely thankful.

In terms of actual new things added to the game, there isn't too much to talk about. Shiny Pokemon were made considerably more common. This news put quite a damper on the lavish party that I had thrown in celebration of the shiny Tentacool that I caught on my second day of playing. There's now a Fairy-type, whose arbitrary-seeming type-effectiveness match-ups were the cause of much confusion and frustration. Riding Pokemon is a thing that people apparently wanted, because they didn't realize that it would be clunky and unenjoyable. The fact that they are stupid may also have been a contributing factor. Competitive worries aside, Mega Evolution is pretty useful if you want to use one of a small handful of Pokemon to wreck absolutely everything. Not that you'll necessarily need a mega Pokemon to do that. Just about everything has been made easier in this game. I don't think there was a single time in the story where I was in any kind of danger of losing a battle. The new and improved Exp. Share allows all of the Pokemon in your party to get experience, without any being taken from the active Pokemon. Breeding changes and Friend Safaris have made it much easier to get Pokemon with good IVs. Super Training let's even the most plebeian Casualry EV train their Pokemon. The aforementioned increase in the odds of getting a shiny Pokemon is another example of something made easier. There is, however, one thing that stands in stark defiance of the trend towards everything being easier: Hordes.

A horde is when you fight 5 wild Pokemon at the same time. Remember how annoying Zubats were? Now multiply that by 5. That's what a horde is. Because, make no mistake, there are no "normal" hordes. Every single horde will have something about it to make killing it even more annoying than it has any right being. Like paralysis. You better pray to the RNG gods that you aren't fully paralyzed. That goes double for confusion. You may be able to OHKO pokemon that are half your level, but what if they keep lowering your attack? Or, God forbid, your accuracy? And if they have Sturdy, then I hope you brought some reading material, because it's going to take you at least 10 turns to take down those assholes. And to top it all off, since the Pokemon are half your level, they barely even give any experience. Rideable Pokemon was another failed attempt to introduce something cool and new, which ended up just being clunky and unenjoyable.

Not bothering with any kind of transitions, I will now talk about gym leaders. Specifically: I don't really remember them. I think there was an electric gym leader named Clemont? He was a dorky kid who made gadgets and lived in the Eiffel Tower. His name has nothing to do with electricity, so I have no idea how he passed the Gym Leader test. The terrifying thing is that they're all like that. To the best of my knowledge, none of the gym leaders really had pun names, so I guess I'll have to wait another day for Ace Attorney to get my fix. In general, I found most of the characters to be rather forgettable, other than Looker, and one of the Elite Four members that made a particularly strong impression on me. Rather than a singular rival, you're given a whole posse of children that I really couldn't care less about. Though I did get them to call me "H Bomb" as my nickname, and they had some pretty great music, so I guess that's a plus. I also found the main villain to be rather compelling, though I seem to be the only one who thinks so. He wasn't as sympathetic as N, or as deplorable as Ghetsis, but I think he managed to make the story with Team Flare a bit more interesting than some in the past have been.

I feel that I would be remiss if I were to talk about this game and fail to mention how unbelievably French it is. It is no secret that the Kalos region is based on the Fantasy Kingdom of France, similar to how Unova was based on our very own United States. But while the US's influence on Unova was mostly restricted to the existence of a huge, NYC-esque city replete with towering skyscrapers, every bit of Kalos is inundated with French culture. The capital, Lumiose City, is literally Paris. They have a freaking Eiffel Tower, the place is littered with cafes, there's a fancy art museum, everyone has poodles, and people even ride goats as their primary method of getting around. Routes, plazas, and towns are commonly given French names. They even have Stonehenge, complete with an ominous Underhenge.

All in all, if you were considering buying this game, you've probably bought it already. If you were hesitant enough about buying it to wait a week, then perhaps you're better off not playing it. Pokemon is often panned for its inability to keep things fresh and new, and it's especially noticeable in this generation, where there really isn't much to keep the games fresh. At the end of the day, though, it was still a Pokemon game, and I still had fun, even if it wasn't as much as I had hoped. I refuse to give it any kind of quantitative score or grade, such is the extent of my rugged individuality.

Now that that's out of the way, I thought that I might as well share some of the best nicknames that I gave some of my Pokemon. I nicknamed all of them, but I won't share all of them, because I caught more than 100 Pokemon over the course of this game, and so many of them were not given good nicknames. I will also include a small blurb about why I chose the name, or what it means, or something. So, over the course of Pokemon X, I had:

A Greninja named "Slippy Toad". It is a frog, you see.

A Honedge named "Edgeworth". This one was actually my sister's idea. I've never been more proud.

A Talonflame named "Guillotine". I'm actually rather proud of this one. It's a reference to my assertion, earlier on this blog, that execution by Talonflame is the most humane form of execution. Also, it's French.

A Litleo named "Burnin' Leo". I'm sure this is hilarious to those of you familiar with archaic Kirby Mini-bosses.

A Zigzagoon named "Class". Originally, it was supposed to be named "class C0", an esoteric math joke referring to how his stripes are not differentiable. But C0 was censored for some reason, and this is what I ended up with.

A Weedle named "420 hes bi". Rather than try to explain this myself, I'll just leave this here.

A Kecleon named "TheGreatLeon". Sadly, he never dogfought with my Greninja.

An Oddish named "Evenish". I am a weak man.

A Skiddo NOT named "Gogoatse". Evidently, Gamefreak is wise to my tricks. Instead, its name is "Gogrohst", because I don't even know how to spell made up words.

A Spoink named "CaptainHooke". Because jokes about Hooke's Law and springs never go out of fashion.

A Hariyama named "E. Honda". 'nuff said

A Hawlucha named "El Fuerte". I traded this one to my friend. Unfortunately, I did not name any other Pokemon after Street Fighters.

A Streetcar named "Desire". Hahaha jokes.

A Mime Jr. named "Grady Jr.", and a Mr. Mime named "Grady Sr." This is really funny if you remember the names of all the people in Bastion.

A Miltank named "Teatmeat". One of the less pleasant combinations of words I've ever come up with.

An Electrode named "Elecchode". Easily the dirtiest thing I got past the censor.

A Magneton named "Bohr", because there is a real life physical constant called "Bohr's Magneton". This is because Physics is radical.

A Durant named "DurantDurant". Like those music guys

An Aipom named "Raipom". Jesus, whose idea was this?

A Minccino named "Crimson Chin". Because he's a Chinchilla

A Psyduck named "Diesuck". I'm actually surprised I was able to get away with this.

A Plusle named "Anode". I actually got this from a Wonder Trade, and I give the guy an A for effort, but the Anode is actually the negative one.

A Solosis named "Felix Walken", because I'd love to see you figure out why.

I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I loathed not being able to proceed until I gave the 4th new Pokemon on this route some stupid name that I'd just be ashamed of later. Seriously, there are a lot of damn Pokemon in this game.

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