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Pokemon X/Y Review

  • First Released Oct 12, 2013
  • Reviewed Oct 4, 2013
  • 3DS

The chosen one.

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The foundation upon which the Pokemon series stands is firm and unyielding, meaning that catching critters and taking them into turn-based battles is its very essence. Pokemon X/Y--the first of the main series to make it onto the 3DS--is the same Pokemon experience at its core, which means it's a compelling adventure driven by complex rock-paper-scissors-like gameplay and a charming cast of hundreds of creatures to capture.

However, Pokemon X/Y is not just a copy of what has come before. Pokemon X/Y's foundations are surrounded by a scaffolding of new features that build upon its gameplay fundamentals. You will love the new ability to tinker with each individual pokemon's base stats, for example, and some gameplay frustrations have been ironed out to create a more enjoyable experience for old-school players and newcomers alike. For example, the ability to tinker with each pokemon's base stats is a great addition since it affords you an opportunity to optimize individual combatants for your play style. Perhaps you value speed above all else for the pokemon that you send out first but prefer others in your party to focus on damage output or survivability; these traits are malleable, and can really make a difference when you're well-trained team has its back to the wall. Whether you're a pokefreak or a trainer who hasn't played since the days of Red and Blue, Pokemon X/Y is easily the most enticing entry in the franchise in years.

Some moves look pretty epic. Some just look like dancing.
Some moves look pretty epic. Some just look like dancing.

A lot of what makes it immediately enticing is its upgraded visuals. The move to full 3D environments and characters--a first for the main series--makes Pokemon X/Y not only the most gorgeous-looking Pokemon game ever, but also one of the better-looking games released on 3DS to date. It's impressive to finally see your pokemon battle it out as more than low definition 2D images, and the nicely detailed character models truly add to the connection you feel with your little critters. You'll wince as your expressive pokemon grimaces in pain after being struck, bite your lip in anticipation as a pokeball struggles to contain a freshly caught creature, and marvel at some of the sights you see in your travels.

Kalos, the region in which this particular adventure is set, is lush and green for the most part, with fields of colorful wildflowers adding vibrancy to the countryside. Some of the buildings you find yourself in are impressive as well. The bug pokemon gym, for example, sits atop a delicate spiderweb with dew hanging off its threads, while the electric gym puts you in a series of gaudily lit game-show-like sets. The camera does a good job of keeping things visually interesting, shifting angles as you move from location to location to give you dynamic views of the environment.

But the highlights of the game are the pokemon themselves. One of the hallmark features of the Pokemon series has always been the charming designs of its creatures, and they're shown off to great effect here. There are, unfortunately, quite a lot of shared animations in battle (such as the butt-facing shake of Tail Whip or the forward hop of a Charge), but the hundreds of pokemon feature enough unique moves and twitches that their personalities shine through regardless. You know an Azurill is a happy chappy by the way he bounces on his blue balloon, for example, while a little wag of Fennekin's bushy tail signals she's impatient for you to make a move. Pokemon attacks have some serious visual impact, too. Water pokemon lift high into the air on a column of blue water when initiating the surf attack, while the devastating laser-like beam of an Oblivion Wing looks like it could hurt. Pikachu and his pals have never looked so good.

With Super Training, trainers can now significantly alter any of their Pokemon's stats, boosting areas where they're weak or further improving on their strengths.

Its looks may be a major step forward, but Pokemon X/Y is still rooted in the series' classic tropes. Little about the core gameplay or the adventure you undertake is wholly new. You're a young trainer travelling the region and collecting data on pokemon, and along the way you run across a nefarious scheme being concocted by a group of villains (in this case, Team Flare). Team Flare has an interesting evil plot, and you'll come across a few lovely moments involving a major character and his beloved pokemon, but for the most part, the narrative, as always, plays second fiddle to the gameplay itself.

The core mechanics of capturing pokemon, using them and leveling them up in battles, exploiting type weaknesses, all to eventually defeat eight gym leaders and become the regional champion, remain the same. Pokemon games have long had a knack for bringing out latent compulsive tendencies, and X/Y is no exception. The game is still a compelling mix of strategy and collection. Pokemon X/Y adds a new type of creature to the mix, meaning its rock-paper-scissors-like mechanic of exploiting specific type weaknesses has become even more intricate. The thrill of playing out a well-executed battle where you successfully manage to prey on your opponent's weak points while minimising yours has long been one of the main joys of Pokemon, and it's still strong in X/Y.

You can train your Froakie to be the toughest little blue frog he can be.
You can train your Froakie to be the toughest little blue frog he can be.

There's more pokemon to catch than ever before, too, with this game's Pokedex spanning all of the previous games in the series. This means you'll see plenty of new and familiar faces.You'll find yourself relentlessly scouring patches of wild grass to try to capture that one elusive pokemon you know is hiding there, and you'll curse your bad luck when a random battle begins with a type mismatch against you. You'll become obsessed with your pokemon's stats, analyzing and comparing one creature against the other to see which is superior. And while the game's returning mechanics remain invigorating, other core aspects of the series remain frustrating. For example, the random encounter nature of dungeons and grasslands can still get annoying when all you want to do is make it to the next gym, and the storage system that you're forced to keep all but six of your pokemon in at all times is unwieldy enough that individuals can be difficult to find unless you devise your own system for organizing them.

Thankfully, there are positive additions too, the most significant being super training. In previous games, a pokemon's base stats could be only marginally affected through the use of specific items. With Super Training, trainers can now significantly alter any of their pokemon's stats, boosting areas where they're weak or further improving on their strengths. Stats can be improved by playing a series of minigames, and pokemon can even continue to train while you're playing the main adventure, through the use of gym bags you find as you play. You can concentrate your training on improving a Venusaur's special defense rating, for example, giving you a grass-type creature that can survive long enough against a fire type to eventually escape. Or you can significantly improve your Lucario's speed, making sure this heavy hitter always hits first. Super Training adds another complex layer of strategy and planning to the game, and is sure to be especially important when taking on other real-world trainers in Pokemon X/Y's multiplayer modes.

It's a great-looking game whose visuals can finally match the inherent charm of its many potential Pokemon protagonists.

The other new additions Pokemon X/Y brings are somewhat less impactful. Mega evolutions let certain pokemon temporarily evolve past their final stage during a battle. A mega evolved Pokemon's stats get significantly boosted, so for the most part, you always want to trigger these as soon as you get into a scrap. Mega evolutions play into your battle strategy only when you have more than one pokemon on your team with the ability, since you can mega evolve only one creature on your team per match. Another addition is Pokemon Amie, a Nintendogs-like mode where you can pat and feed your pokemon and play minigames with them to boost their affinity with you. It's admittedly charming to try to find where your fiercest-looking pokemon likes to be tickled, but while there are tangible benefits to having your pokemon like you, Pokemon Amie feels like a distraction at best.

Other changes make the game less of a grind. For one, you receive an Experience Share item early in the game that can split experience points among your entire party. This, coupled with the fact that you'll find a good range of pokemon types within the first few hours, means the grind that used to be necessary in previous games as you tried to cover any weaknesses you had before an impending gym battle is, for the most part, gone. It's quicker to move around the world now, too. You're given rollerblades very early in the game this time around, and you'll receive a bike soon after. There's also a taxi service that can take you to major points around Kalos, making it easy to quickly jump from one spot to another.

This Skidoo just longs to be free.
This Skidoo just longs to be free.

In fact, Pokemon X/Y is a less-challenging game than previous entries in the franchise. You're given some pretty solid pokemon by characters within the game, so it's likely that the team you have within a few hours in the Kalos region may be good enough to take you through the lengthy single-player campaign. The game, however, does an admirable job of tempting you with new creatures. Each different area you come across features a good mix of new pokemon to capture, and as always, they're levelled up sufficiently to match any challenges you'll find in the location you're in, making swapping to newly caught creatures a viable and attractive option.

Things only get truly challenging near the end of the story missions, when the game throws trainers and gym leaders at you that take some careful planning to defeat. Pokemon's postgame content is actually some of the best it has to offer, with new areas opening up and even more challenges appearing, significantly extending the life of the game past the 30 hours a straight run of the main campaign takes. Pokemon X/Y also has several multiplayer features, including a variety of battle modes, a global trading system for captured pokemon, and ways to support your friends through the awarding of temporary boosts. It's a comprehensive online offering, and it makes you feel more connected than ever before to other pokefans for battling or trading.

To put it in terms a Pokemon professor would understand, Pokemon X/Y is a welcome evolution in this long-running franchise. It's a great-looking game whose visuals can finally match the inherent charm of its many potential pokemon protagonists, and its engrossing core has been enhanced by the new additions to its gameplay. Pokemon X/Y isn't quite a mega evolution of its numerous predecessors, but like a dark move played against a ghost- or psychic-type pokemon, it doesn't disappoint.

Back To Top
The Good
Core gameplay still solid and compelling
Super training adds more strategic depth
The hundreds of Pokemon look great
Less grind than in previous games
Compelling core gameplay
The Bad
Same core experience means same core frustrations
Less challenging than previous games
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Pokemon X / Y

About the Author

Randolph Ramsay played Pokemon obsessively in his youth, and particularly loved the original 151 in Red/Blue. While he skipped the Black/White games, he still managed the watch the anime, so he’s Team Snivy all the way. Randolph finished Pokemon X/Y in around 35 hours for the purposes of this review.
707 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for zaber9

I have only one thing to say to all those who contradicted me,


Avatar image for zaber9

I have only one thing to say to all those who contradicted me,


Avatar image for Bleach1926

pokemon x >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Avatar image for judzarana143

how to download pokemon x or y? help.

Avatar image for headknocker13

love the game, hate the "off button" on 3ds always hitting it....

Avatar image for mooooo99

bought a 3ds for pokemon x and y.. fantastic game, looks great on the 3ds as well!

Avatar image for thezhe

Gotta Catch em all!!!!!

Avatar image for Camoth2

What might have been good to mention in this review is the fact that most of the game is actually NOT in 3D. Walking around in towns is 9 times out of 10 in 2D, mainly battles and supertraining are in 3D. But almost everything else is 2D.

Avatar image for zaber9

Come on, when will pokemon be on the xbox?

Avatar image for StickFigures720

@zaber9 On the Xbox? What kind of mindless, illogical question is that? Pokémon is a Nintendo franchise.

Avatar image for zaber9

@StickFigures720 @zaber9 I know it is. But is it wrong to have a dream?

Avatar image for mikz_nyc

@zaber9 @StickFigures720 Not at all,i have a dream too,well i can't tell you on here because it's inappropriate

Avatar image for Zero-regret

@zaber9 It will never be on the Xbox because it is owned by Nintendo not by Microsoft.

Avatar image for zaber9

@Zero-regret @zaber9 Can't a guy dream around here?

Avatar image for honeycomb06

@zaber9 LMAO this Post is the funniest post I read all day

Avatar image for zaber9

@honeycomb06 Are you talking to me? If you are, thank you, if you aren't, then who are you talking to?

Avatar image for Dragon_Nexus

@zaber9 Same day Halo is on the Wii U.

Avatar image for zaber9

And gameplay like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3.

Avatar image for poobumbutt

@zaber9 Shut the Hell up, I can't keep spending this much money on dry cleaning. You know how hard semen is to get out?

Avatar image for dzimm

Less grind is always a good thing. Very happy to see those changes introduced.

Avatar image for sugrim

Should have done it like Ni no kuni.

Avatar image for Biron5k

Good review that touches on pretty much everything I have to say about it. My main gripe about the game is the frame rate when 3D is on. It's frustrating to have it be choppy on the device it's designed for.

Avatar image for neowarrior121

the thing about pokemon games are this if you played the original or any of the games for that manner, no matter who you are over time you will end up buying the game and this is no exceptions. its the nostalgia/want ability affect, its either a thing you want to play because you wanna feel the excitement again or the fact that you have all the other games and this ones is the only one left out. the thing is no matter who you are it becomes a nagging thought in the back of your mind like a splinter you can't get out, its the reason why the sales of 2ds and 3ds skyrocketed when this came out for these reasons. its somewhat of a dirty tactic from nintendo cause they know they're gonna get all their money because people will need to buy a 3ds to play and people out there will do it just for one game.

Avatar image for wizardboyus

@neowarrior121 lol just got a 3ds xl today for this reason...

Avatar image for ma-ti89

@neowarrior121 You are correct, I haven't played a pokemon game since firered, and I've been considering getting a 3ds just for this game. It looks like enough things have changed from the previous games to warrant a purchase.

Avatar image for jacksamuk

Who cares about the score?

The numbers are showing... Nintendo is selling millions with this new release.

So... an eight score in a review will destroy their sales and your joy?

Then you should not be gamer at all...

Avatar image for jophy

all the past gens pokemon look horrendously ridiculous..... until they appear in 3D motion on this new game, omg, they just look so awesome and so right

Avatar image for jacksamuk

@jophy What can we say...}

Everything looks better in 3DS Point of view!


Avatar image for turtlethetaffer

THe only downside I have seen is that there isn't as many new Pokemon as in previous games. Still, this is one of the best ones.

Avatar image for solidniko

@turtlethetaffer I actually really want this first time im gonna boot up my 3ds in a while and the amount of pokemon added wont even matter cuz i havent played any pokemon game since diamond so i wont even know of any knew pokemon after that game

Avatar image for HowlPendragon

@turtlethetaffer I'm fine with less Pokemon if it means their designs can look like these, cause they're great. Most Gen 5 Pokemon looked ridiculous imo. Its the first gen I've completely skipped, but not just for that reason. Never even finished my copy of Black.

I finally have a reason to buy a 3DS (XL).

Avatar image for saosebastiao

When can we finally catch them all Nintendo? Ten years from now I bet we'll have 3000 Pokémons to catch...

Avatar image for dlm93

can someone tell me from where in the story you can start to trade with your friends? I want the 3 starters to be in my team

Avatar image for purplemushroom_

@dlm93 From the very beginning! It's right there in the bottom screen. Major changes in that area made trading/battling with friends and strangers via WiFi really easier.

Avatar image for YearoftheSnake5

@JOTLD @YearoftheSnake5 @mkdms14

That's both illegal and unethical, so no. If word got out that Gamespot, or any other site engaged in such practices, it would destroy all their credibility, they'd be slapped with fines, and they'll more than likely lose a heft number of investors. The reward isn't there for the risk.

Avatar image for TacticaI

I stopped playing Pokemon after Crystal, and for the life of me I can't seem to figure out why I want to play this one so badly.

Avatar image for ma-ti89

@TacticaI Same I've been having an urge to play pokemon again and I am 25 years old! The last game I played was firered nearly a decade ago. Though I don't know about the new Pokemon, my favorite was Gen 1 and 2.

Avatar image for HowlPendragon

@TacticaI Mega Charizard

Avatar image for Yamakoichi

@HowlPendragon @TacticaI *X

Avatar image for saosebastiao

@TacticaI Nostalgia.

Avatar image for the22for4

i wnna play it

Avatar image for Paulf001

Really they should of used sound effects and pokemon voices from the tv show instead of using the same sound effects from the gb versions. Is it really that hard to have better production values now?

Avatar image for Zero-regret

@Paulf001 They changed the cries for some of the pokemon in fact Pikachu now says "Pikachu" instead of the noise it made before though it is the only one they did this with.

Avatar image for jacksamuk

@Paulf001 I really don't like the idea of using the pokemon voices from the show.

They sound less aggressive and a little childish. I mean the TV series was made for younger crowd. " 8-10 years old"

Avatar image for Yamakoichi

@Paulf001 They do for Pikachu at least

Pokemon X / Y More Info

  • First Released Oct 12, 2013
    • 3DS
    Pokemon X and Y are the first mainline Pokemon games made for the 3DS and will feature a mix of Pokemon old and new as well as a trio of new starting Pokemon: a watery toad Froakie, a fiery deer Fennekin, and a grass monster Chespin.
    Average Rating473 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Pokemon X / Y
    Developed by:
    Game Freak
    Published by:
    Management, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence