Pokemon Finally Grows a Backbone

I already wrote about my history with Pokemon in the Philosophy of Pokemon panel write-up from Quinni-Con. I didn't mention that I own a game from each generation, though I think that's implied. Pokemon X/Y, the sixth generation of Pokemon games, will be released this October all over the world on cartridge and digital download for the Nintendo 3DS. Like every generation, the inspiration for the game shifts around the world. Generation V was supposed to be the NYC+ area. VI is inspired by Europe.

The exciting part about the changes is that finally, for the first time, Pokemon will be rendered fully in 3D. I'm not even talking about the stereoscopic 3D on the 3DS. I'm talking taking the step up from 8-bit or 16-bit animation and actually adding the third dimension onscreen.

Pokemon is a game that, even with significant changes in style, character, and side quests in each new title, gets pegged as never evolving or changing. The common misconception is that every game is the same. You set off on a quest to catch Pokemon to beat the eight gym leaders, the Elite 4, and the champion.

Pokemon X/Y GameboyThe reason behind that is the graphics. The last time we had a major change in the look of Pokemon was the shift from barely there sketches on the Game Boy/Color to full screen color graphics on the GBA. The graphics have been refined since--Black/White saw the introduction of 3D perspective shots; the DS titles had better graphics and more color--but it was merely superficial improvements on the existing property. The generations were marked by new towns and new Pokemon more than significant changes to the style of the game.

Check out the new trailer for Pokemon X/Y below to see why the generation shift is so significant this time around.

The 3D Pokemon battles alone got me excited. It's like playing Pokemon Stadium on the N64, only with better graphics. Then I realized that the trainers--the boy and the girl--have completely new designs and are 3D as well. There's more interaction with the environment and maybe it will even be easier to figure out where you're going and where you've been with the varying perspective shots.

Pokemon X/Y GraphicsLooks aren't everything, but this is a major change in the Pokemon series. We've had 3D Pokemon games before--Snap, Stadium, Hey, you, Pikachu!--but never a 3D handheld game. Even the Dungeon series stuck with the same flat graphics.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the new game in the fall. If they put this much into overhauling the look of the series, they probably made some significant changes to the gameplay again. What new features and creatures await on the European-styled adventure? I'm excited to find out.

Thoughts on Pokemon X/Y? Share them below.

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GameFanShop Round Up: 13 May 2013