The lights are on
When I was in ninth grade in 1998, I remember a few kids that would sit in class before the bell rang and play Pokémon Red and Blue on their Game Boys. Despite owning the console, the thought of playing a Pokémon game never crossed my mind. I was never a big fan of JRPGs (especially back then), and I quickly dismissed Pokémon as a game for little kids. This was the same holiday season that gave me Metal Gear Solid and Ocarina of Time, so why would I want to waste time with some kiddie game that I (incorrectly) assumed was based on some crappy anime?
As the years went by, I became less stubborn and expanded my gaming horizons by giving new genres a chance. Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy Tactics blew me away, and I revisited and loved past classics like Chrono Trigger when they were re-released on the DS. JRPGs never became something I naturally gravitated towards, but I learned to recognize their value. That said, Pokémon always remained a franchise that I never gave a second thought to.
That finally changed in the last couple of weeks. Here at Game Informer, I started hearing plenty of excited chatter about X and Y from Kyle Hilliard, Tim Turi, and Ben Hanson. Their enthusiasm got my attention, and Kyle’s review made me realize that this new installment was as good of a hopping-on point as any if I wanted to finally give the series a chance. On Sunday, I bought my first Pokémon game.
I’m only about two hours in, but I’ve enjoyed most of it so far. It’s light on tutorial, which is kind of a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I hate lengthy, hand-holding openings to games. On the other, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. Basic concepts of the franchise are completely unknown to me, and I’ve had to learn several things through trial and error. When I tried to capture a rival trainer’s Pokémon, my Poké Ball simply bounced off its head. Having never seen a chart of strengths and weaknesses, I don’t know what Pokémon to pit against which type of enemy. I can reasonably assume that fire is good against ice and that water is good against fire, but other matchups are less clear (Should I use electricity against water or water against electricity? What the hell are fairies weak against?). I’ll see something like “tail whip” in my move list, and attempt to use it to finish an enemy off, only to find that it’s a non-damaging attack. Many elements of the UI and menu system seem confusing to me, and I’m still learning how to perform needed functions within them. I have no idea what boxes are, or why I need to go to a computer terminal to access my Pokémon. During most of my time with the game, I’ve had Bulbapedia on the laptop in front of me just so I have a little more of an idea of what I’m doing.
Being new to the series, it’s also harder to appreciate the numerous improvements that have been made to X/Y. The other guys in the office have raved about the 3D battle animations and the experience share system, but the impact of those features can’t be fully felt by me considering I never knew what it was like before.
Despite my confusion over many of the game’s elements and inability to put the improvements in the proper perspective, I really have enjoyed my brief time with the game. Each time I enter a battle in the tall grass, I’m excited to see if I’ll be greeted with a new creature that can potentially join my stable of Pokémon. Considering I was only familiar with the creatures that had previously appeared in the Smash Bros. series, there are over 700 Pokemon that I’ll be seeing for the first time while I play X/Y. It’s a unique experience that immediately feels different from any other JRPG I’ve played in the past, and I’m starting to understand its appeal. If my enthusiasm keeps up throughout the duration of the game, I’ll have no problem considering myself one of the millions of Pokémon fans.
Are you a beginner to Pokemon like me? Check out Kyle's guide for newcomers here.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Welcome to the family, Dan!
Wow, as a Pokemon veteran from the very first days of the franchise, this was a very interesting article to read. A total beginner's perspective on the game's oddities, and learning the ropes that are very confusing at first. It's strange to follow your thought process since Pokemon is so ingrained into me, but I understand it and can totally see some of the confusion for a beginner. Keep at it Dan, I'm sure you'll have a great time with the game.
Awesome, welcome into the fold Dan!
Fairies are brand new, don't worry. Figuring things out for yourself is one of the series' biggest draws, and I'm surprised and extremely pleased that Nintendo seems to be moving away from the excessive hand-holding that so many of their franchises seem to employ.
I'm glad you're enjoying Pokemon Dan! That's great to hear that you decided to try your hand at a new series.
I really enjoyed reading this, Dan. I don't know too many gamers who haven't played at least a little of any Pokèmon game, it's cool to see an outside view, as someone who has played at least 90% of the games released. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Stick with it, it's one of those games that keep getting better as it progresses.
I felt the same way Dan except when I was a kid and Pokemon was just beginning I though the show was kinda cool but could never watch it because of crappy Tv reception. Later I just thought it was weird. But recently because of my friends who love the Show and are always telling me to watch it, I finally gave in and started watching the show and have thoroughly enjoyed it(Mewtwo Strikes back is awesome!) And so when October rolled around I finally decided to make the plunge and buy my very first Pokemon game on my first handheld console ever, the very awesome 3DS. I have been very impressed with the game so far even though I haven't even left the first town yet because I am having to much fun with the random online trading system,(I even got my favorite starter Pokemon, Charmander through it) but I am eagerly looking forward to what else the game has in store for me.
Hah, half of Dan's features will now revolve around his confusion about games.
I literally LOL'd when he mentioned throwing a pokeball at a trainer's pokemon. What a noob. Hahaha. Glad you're enjoying it, Dan.