Pokemon doesn't normally go out of their comfort zone. When Pokemon Red/Green released in 1996, the series hit the ball with an excellent little top-down adventure featuring a young boy on his journey to being a Pokemon master. Gamefreak has kept that formula for future portable titles to come, from Red/Green to Black/White. Now with the new generation, comes new innovation, for X/Y, comes a new region, a new adventure, and one of the most drastic steps the series has ever taken.


With the new generation, comes a new dimension; a new way to play Pokemon. This isn't the first time a Pokemon game has experimented with 3-D, but this is the first time Pokemon has integrated full 3D throughout the entire game. This is a welcome change to a series that has kept the same formula for so long. In previous games, only certain parts of the world remained in 3D, while the rest of the world kept at a 2D top-down prospective. With every building, character, and terrain in full 3D, there is no more separation, keeping the game fluid and consistent.

Along with a full 3D world, comes full 3D Pokemon as well. The Pokemon no longer are restricted to 2-D sprites, but instead all have fully fleshed out models and animations. Each Pokemon has their own idle animation as well as attack animations bringing the Pokemon to life on the small screen. The Pokemon finally feel truly alive during combat. With the help of a fully active camera, battles feel even more engrossing as the camera pans across the combat arena, showing off each Pokemon as they attack and take hits.

The new world is still as fun to explore as previous games. Walking around and tracking down wild Pokemon in the tall grass is still exciting. That excitement remains whenever you encounter a new Pokemon you've never seen before or finally capturing that Pokemon that has eluded you for so long. Training, putting your Pokemon to the test until they level up and finally evolve into a new creature is just as satisfying as ever and just as rewarding.

As you explore the new Kalos region, you will encounter hundreds of trainers who wish to test your skills. My personal favorite was a woman who approached me within a route covered in fallen leaves to say “Pokeballs are round. The world is also round.” Then we battled. These interactions can offer a chuckle at times while other will leave you simply confused.One of the main new hooks for this game is the new Mega-evolutions. These come into play about a third of the way through. Once you find the appropriate item and attach it to the appropriate Pokemon, mega evolving can be performed during battle. Its a free move that makes your Pokemon stronger during the battle, and seeing the evolution is always exciting. You can only use one mega-evolution per battle, so a player should plan accordingly. It doesn't make or break the game but its a nice addition to the mix.

One of my personally favorite new features is the new trainer customization. The player isn't forced to use a default character model as previous entries have, this time your trainer is fully customizable. Throughout the game, you will come across boutiques within certain towns. Here you can purchase new clothes, hats, and bags, with inventory changing every day. Along with the boutiques, you can find a salon where you can change your hair style and color, as well as an item that allows the player to change the color of his/her eyes. It isn't as diverse as other games that let you spend hours customizing ever little detail of a character, but its a nice change of pace having a trainer that feels truly yours.

The touch screen holds new features as well, including the traditional shortcuts to bag, Pokemon, and saving. One screen holds Super Training, where a trainer can play mini-games with their Pokemon allowing them to gain buffs on certain stats. Another screen holds Pokemon-Amie, where a trainer can interact with their Pokemon personally, feeding and petting them like you would in Nintendogs. The final screen is the “Player Search System” which allows a player to interact with friends, passerbys, and acquaintances. It is here where a player can access online battles and trades without the use of a Pokemon Center. The online system itself has its issues however. During playthrough, I have been dropped from online battles and forced to shut down my system due to communication error while trying to trade with someone. It isn't deal-breaking, simply a minor frustration I ran into a few times.

X&Y doesn't radically change the formula players are used to, but instead continue to make strides in welcoming new, inexperienced players while still remaining familiar to veterans of the series. It still feels and looks like a Pokemon game, but with its new graphics, colorful art style, 3D gameplay, and scale of depth in the new region, it makes the game more fun, attractive, and inviting. It's a fantastic first step for new players, and one worthwhile adventure for long time fans.