Oct. 12, 2013 marked the release of the newest Pokemon games, “Pokemon X” and “Pokemon Y” for Nintendo 3DS. Pokemon X and Pokemon Y offer many new features that were unavailable in previous games, rendering their scenes more realistic and making avid fans all the more excited for them. By combining advanced features that make the game more visually appealing while maintaining the original Pokemon structure, the franchise has done well to attract new, young players to the world of Pokemon as well as to maintain the loyalty of long-time Pokemon players.
One of the most notable features of the new game is that the graphics are in 3-D. For the first time, players can see what the Pokemon characters look like in three dimensions.
“There’s something called Pokemon-Amie that lets you interact with one of your Pokemon one-on-one,” junior Brandon Pogrob said. “I know it sounds kind of silly and ‘Nintendogs’ kind of territory, how much [players are] attached to [the Pokemon] even if it’s a video game character. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s quite a big deal.”
The Pokemon themselves are changing as well. The new games feature “Mega Evolution,” a brand-new type of evolution that has never been seen before. While Pokemon previously could only evolve outside battle, Mega Evolution allows them to temporarily transform in a way that is only possible in a specific region of the Pokemon world. There are also Super-Training Regimens in which you can work with your Pokemon to reach goals and improve their skills.
“Absol is my favorite Pokemon, but I’m really looking forward to getting Mega Scizor,” Pogrob added.
Beyond their innovative features, “Pokemon X” and “Pokemon Y” have also made a conscious effort to maintain the old storyline structure, so individuals who have played the earlier versions in the series can still feel a sense of connection with the new games.
“It’s just fun to catch Pokemon and train them. You kind of develop an attachment that you don’t get out of other games,” said Pogrob.
Freshman Oliver Feng added, “I started liking Pokemon around second grade when I was first introduced to it. The concept of being able to explore a huge world and build my own team fascinated me. Ever since then, I’ve always been a fan.”
The Pokemon franchise also recognizes that there are younger kids who will just be starting to play Pokemon for the first time, and thus it is still possible for “Pokemon X” or “Pokemon Y” to be the first Pokemon game they have ever played.
“I think that Nintendo tries to cater to both older and younger fans with every game,” Feng said.
“They have to make it fun and rewarding for…those who have played all along and also how to make it a unique experience and introductory exercise for people who are new—young or old,” Pogrob agreed. “It feels very reverential toward the earlier games—there are a lot of references in just the spirit of it.”
Yet no matter what age you are or how much previous Pokemon experience you have, one thing seems sure: once you start playing, you can’t help but become attached.
“I think the reason why Pokemon is so close to my heart is that playing the game is very immersive. You play it and you feel like you’re the trainer,” sophomore Andrew Yu said. “Pokemon is timeless. It’s a game where you form a bond with the creatures you train. And I mean, who wouldn’t want to battle with imaginary monsters?”
“I started with Pokemon Yellow when I was younger, and I’ve always been playing since I grew up. The reason that I kept up with it is that around release time there is such a great community that comes through the woodwork,” Pogrob said, adding that when two new games came out four years ago, “all of my friends and all of their friends had it—on top of being a game, it became this great big social thing.”
Pokemon seems to retain its hold on loyal fans because it constantly provides them with new adventures in the same magical world. One might even say that it offers the perfect combination of innovation and nostalgia.
“I think one of the reasons why Pokemon is so cool for our generation is that we grew up with it. It’s an accessible game, you can come back to it and there isn’t really a learning curve to it. It’s a game that’s still fun even if you play it when you’re old because it doesn’t take itself very seriously,” Yu said.
“The attachment you get to your Pokemon is meaningful and worthwhile. It’s just a really rewarding game, and it’s a lot of fun,” Pogrob said. “There’s not much to say about Pokemon except to play Pokemon.”