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Power Member - Level 8
About a year ago, I wrote my wish list for features I hoped would appear in Pokemon X and Y. The games came out almost half a year ago now, and they're my favorites since Gold and Silver, but there's still room for improvement.
Let's recap my old wish list and see how many of those wishes came true, and how the franchise can continue to grow in the future.
1.) Backwards compatibility with Gen V
My most basic wish, I wanted the ability to bring my favorite Pokemon from Black and White to X and Y.
It didn't come at launch, and it didn't come when it was supposed to months later, but Pokemon Bank eventually launched in February, and along with it, the Poke Transporter app, which allowed Pokemon from Black and White to make a one-way transfer to X and Y via the Bank's cloud storage.
It didn't arrive on time, and there's an annual $5 fee for the Bank service, but my faithful Sceptile who's been with me since Pokemon Sapphire can make the trip to my 3DS, so I'm happy.
2.) Multiple save files
It's frustrating to want to re-play a Pokemon game, but not want to give up the Pokemon you've already caught on your current save file. The ability to save multiple files on one cartridge is a potential workaround for this dilemma, but Nintendo has again chosen to limit your save file to one per copy of the game.
3.) Difficulty settings
For the veteran Pokemon trainer, the main story of most Pokemon games are a snap. The real challenge for these players comes with post-game battle challenges (such as X and Y's Battle Maison or Black and White's Battle Subway) or in competitions with other players.
Black 2 and White 2 introduced difficulty settings which raise or lower the strength of NPC opponents, but they were only unlocked after beating the story, which sort of defeats the purpose. X and Y abandoned Easy Mode and Hard Mode, but essentially implemented a difficulty setting by re-working how a classic Pokemon item, the Exp Share, worked.
From its introduction in Gold and Silver through Black 2 and White 2, the Exp Share had been a hold item that split experience points between the Pokemon that actually participated in battle and the Pokemon holding it.
In X and Y, the Exp Share was changed to a Key Item that could be turned on or off. When turned on, battles gave half the normal experience to Pokemon that didn't battle - but still gave full experience to those that did participate. Rather than splitting the experience, the Exp Share now increases the net experience gained each battle.
The end result is that, with the Exp Share turned on, the player's party gets leveled much quicker than normal, making the game much easier than its past games. Players who like to be challenged can always leave the Exp Share off, but this doesn't make the game any more difficult than its predecessors - it just brings the difficulty back to par.
Wish: Half granted, but not the half I wanted - Easy Mode makes a (sort of) comeback in the form of Exp Share, but Hard Mode is gone
4.) Built-in rulesets for Nuzlocke and solo challenges
I admit, this was a pipe dream, but it would have been cool to have an option to have game-enforced Nuzlocke challenges, or allow the player to import a Pokemon from another game to be their starter for a solo run. They could have even added ribbons or other awards for players who completed one of these challenges, adding extra incentive to try them and giving players something to show off to their friends. Oh well. Guess I can keep dreaming on that one.
Wish: Predictably denied
5.) More evolutions of pre-existing Pokemon
Black and White left a weird taste in my mouth after I was done with them. Each new generation before had introduced new evolutions or pre-evolutions of Pokemon from previous games, but none of the new Pokemon introduced in Gen V had any evolutionary ties to any previous Pokemon.
What I hoped for in Gen VI was new evolutions for older Pokemon, particularly ones like Lapras or Absol that weren't legendary but still had no evolutionary relatives.
I didn't get that wish in X and Y (the only new Pokemon in X and Y that evolves from an earlier Pokemon is Sylveon), but I got something I didn't see coming: Mega Evolutions.
Absol still doesn't have a proper evolution, but its Mega Evolution, which is only attainable in battle, is pretty close. And of the 26 Pokemon that were given Mega Evolutions, 8 of them have no other evolutionary relatives. Some of these Mega Evolutions, like Kangaskhan's, have particularly strong new abilities, making Pokemon that were previously overlooked in competitive circles suddenly very playable.
Mega Evolutions aren't what I wished for: they're better.
Wish: Better than granted
6.) One-way transfers between games
Moving a collection of Pokemon from one game to another has always been a chore. Aside from the Game Boy Advance generation, which had a Box application for GameCube that allowed mass transfers of Pokemon to and from a memory card to any Gen III game, the only way to move Pokemon between games in the same generation was trading. This meant that if I had a box of 30 Pokemon on my White game that I wanted to move to White 2, I would have to find 30 Pokemon on my White 2 game that I didn't need there anymore, and trade them one at a time.
To the Pokemon trainer with two or more games and a large collection to manage, Pokemon Bank is a lifesaver. The cloud service allows storage of up to 3,000 Pokemon from any number of copies of X and Y.
It isn't without downsides - like any downloadable Nintendo product, it's tied to the console you download it on, not your account (which is a problem I'll discuss more in-depth on a later day). This means if you and a friend both have downloadable versions of X or Y and you want to give your friend a box of Pokemon, you can't use Bank to do so, since you won't be able to access your Bank on their 3DS, or vice versa. In a scenario like this, you're still stuck trading.
Also, items can't be transferred through Bank, so if you want to move your X-exclusive Mega Stones to your Y copy, you'll need to give them to some Pokemon and trade those Pokemon (which requires another 3DS).
Despite its shortcomings, Bank is a fantastic tool for managing a single player's Pokemon collection. An entire PC's worth of Pokemon can be moved from one game to another in minutes, exponentially faster than it would take via trade.
Overall, X and Y lived up to my expectations. It had its shortcomings, particularly as far as story was concerned. But it gave me many of the things I wished for, as well as some I didn't even know I wanted, like Mega Evolutions and the Friend Safari. And the fact that there are still some wishes unfulfilled means that the franchise still has room to grow and opportunities to surprise players, which is exactly what any long-term game franchise needs to keep players engaged.
(Disclaimer: I am a GameStop employee. However, the opinions expressed in this blog are exclusively my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GameStop or any of its affiliates.)