It's time to go ahead and do what we've been doing since the Game Boy days
I've said countless times that a handheld is synonym of Pokemon. I don't believe only a few of us were completely hypnotized on how grand and unique Pokemon felt on Game Boy at that time. magazines telling you where you could capture certain Pokemon, where you could find items, it seemed too massive to be true. Fortunately Pokemon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow was everything we could hope for and more.
Now every time Nintendo decides to launch a new handheld the big question is when Pokemon will come out. It looks like the big updates on the series are indeed out, Pokemon X and Y -- and we can expect a Pokemon Z in the future. The world of Pokemon has gotten a pretty big revamp. Actual 3D has been added, not those nifty camera angles, right as you exit the first city you can have a glimpse at what's to come. Sadly that first arboreal corridor is unique and that control scheme won't last. Well, actually, not sadly at all.
The control stick allows players to have more flexibility moving around and they've done quite a nice job adding it but still maintaining the old, rounded style. It's strange how they took the time to make moving with the digital pad so much like the previous but the analog moves like a 3D game. It's pretty cool they've took the time to do it, though.
The world map has the 3D slider turned off, so don't even bother. The graphics are decent, definitely there's no focus on this. While replaying previous games it becomes apparent that a lot has changed over the generation gap. Everything seems more detailed, but still retaining the functional simplicity of Pokemon. Of course they couldn't lose the opportunity to add a few clips or in-game takes to enhance the product.
In Pokemon White/Black they tried to take a simple case of a 10-year old boy in a world of fantasy battling being chased by the quirky criminal mob of the moment into an almost sentimental take on a story about a guy that sees people mistreating Pokemon by letting them battle. Seems so in-place taking everything in consideration, the series that has stories carbon-copied generation after generation suddenly felt like trying something deeper. It wasn't 100% successful, but wasn't bad either.
The story is almost as convulated as last time. The tale of a guy that loved a Pokemon so much it sacrificed many to bring it back to life, how that Pokemon felt bad about it and left the person until his heart was back to normal. The guy actually built a machine to end the great Pokemon war by, eliminating all. Talk about an objective person.
Team Flare, main baddies, is thriving to awaken this danger and eradicate all life from the planet with the obvious exception of themselves. Of course this is Pokemon so the reason for them to be doing it is primarily presented as follows: they think there isn't enough beauty in the world and by eliminating everyone except them the world will be full of blistering pretty individuals. Yes, like I said, it's Pokemon after all. Every time Team Flare is on screen you're instantly reminded of that.
Silliness of villains aside, what I thought was an actual improvement over other installments is the group of friends you make when first starting your adventure. Contrary to most games you don't really have a rival, at least not in the truest sense of the word. One of the girls (maybe a guy if you chose to be the girl yourself) is your primary adversary. She seems pretty bugged by constantly losing to you, to a point where I wish I could lose just so I wouldn't feel like "that guy". The guy that wins constantly and seems not to make a great effort for it anyway.
The group of people consists of 5 individuals, including yourself. It's made of some interesting little kids, that make you feel part of something. Fights happen against all of them along the adventure but some of them seem more inclined to be good at other things than battle. Like the chubby guy who enjoys dancing, or the guy who wants to complete the Pokedex.
The map reminds me of Kanto a little bit. At least when it comes to having the massive city of Lumiose as center of everything, kinda how Kanto had Saffron. Lumiose city is pretty much any of the major cities in Pokemon taken to a whole new level; it's been stated that it far exceeds the population of any city in the history of the games. It's huge indeed. Sometimes you have to wonder why so many types of Cafés, they could add different establishments instead of Cafés for every type of person.
Lumiose functions different than the rest though. It features 3 distinct locations -- south, north and center -- and have transitions between them. The perspective changes to third-person instead of the usual drop-down and you can traverse through several streets and alleys. Due to the city being immense, at first you only have access to one part, the south. More can be unlocked as you go on.
The battle screen has been improved much. The 3D environment makes appearance when the Poke-ball is thrown and the Pokemon gets out in all its glory. When it comes to it it's not quite as 3D as Pokemon Stadium was for example, I never thought the evolution of main games were the Stadium scenery anyway so it works for me. The moves used by the Pokemon are much better seen from this improved graphics perspective, it demands a little effort as always to find ingenious turn-arounds as always. For instance, the move Mean Look, a hell of a job to make all 700-plus Pokemon have their own animations of eyes turning evil, especially to those who barely have eyes to begin with. Sop a mean-looking pair of eyes appear on screen as always. Some things never change and hardly ever will even with all graphical prowess.
One thing that have always bothered me about Pokemon is how recyclable it seems. A new generation comes about and everything you worked hard to get is lost and gone. With accessible internet they have a wonderful reason to make this much less inconvenient, and they kinda did it. Shortly after release they introduced the Pokemon Bank, an online storage system that can store up to 3000 Pokemon! Unfortunately they went "that way" and made the service -- if you can even call it that -- cost a few dollars a year.
This generation received the remakes of the 3rd generation which I'm still debating with myself if it's my least generation of Pokemon ever. As always, there are dozens upon dozens of Pokemon deemed "event only" and can only be obtained by physical events in selected countries (we all know which ones). The Mystery Gift, introduced in the second generation and improved greatly should help the rest of the world to have access to these seemingly impossible Pokemon but there are several that could only be reclaimed physically. So what's the deal? Why can't all Pokemon be possible for catch within each generation? The dual system of Y and X can still be in effect, some Pokemon are available in X and some in Y, no problem. But deprive people from having access to the full content seems idiotic at this time and age.
You want to give special stuff to those who can and actually come to events? Sure, give them shinies, unobtainable versions of existent Pokemon or cool looking items. With the introduction of cosmetic items for your character it seems a good move to give them unique hats, shirts or pants; not Pokemon. At least not making them impossible for regular players to get. The online event should be the only way to go, this way people can actually have access to it somehow. Date limit doesn't help at all, so why not make a whole lot of them? At least gives us one current event at a time, but make it constant; it's been forever since an online event took place.
I know what you're thinking. How could the story possibly be sustained with all guardians and legendaries having their own background within locations. Well, that was all nice and well in first and second generation, but since then so many different Pokemon with similar god-like capabilities that it turned out silly. There was the Pokemon which all genetic codes from Pokemon came to be, then guardians of ocean, skies, volcanoes, thunder. Some of them had similar functions in maintaining the balance of certain aspects of nature. Then a Pokemon that created the Earth, then a Pokemon who could travel through time and had created the entire universe. One might wonder where are they going now. Everything seems just silly if each generation they decide to introduce another god-like being that even more powerful than the previous ones, there's no end but overpowered Pokemon that anyone who uses it will be frowned upon.
I can't really say you'll be amazed on how Pokemon evolved because it hasn't since generation 2. In fact, ever since gen 2 new Pokemon types hadn't been introduced when Steel and Dark types debuted. In X and Y the fairy type makes its first appearance. I can't really see why all this meddle with the meta-game since old Pokemon like Clefairy and Chansey are now Normal and Fairy types. many old Pokemon were reviewed to include the new type. So it's not really ground-breaking, just a pain to rework type-matchups.
To add on the unnecessary or simply broken new stuff are what seem to be the main advertisement gimmick so far; Mega Evolutions. When a Pokemon reaches its highest chain of evolution he can now go even further. This new style of evolution is simply temporary, for as long as he's in-battle he'll be broken as all hell. It's all due to two items, the Mega Ring which the player has to acquire, and the Mega Stone which is held by the Pokemon and is found in side-quests. Charizard, for example, has two Mega Evolutions, Charizard-X and Charizard-Y. Both have different broken stats. At least you don't lose a turn by evolving your Mega, you chose the attack along with the evolution. Remember how Mewtwo and other monsters like Giratina and Rayquaza were already brokenly overpowered? Well, now they just can't be stopped.
Some neat stuff did make in. O-powers for example are to be used to boost certain aspects like capture rate, hatching time or some stat temporarily. It has an interesting but not at all new to the series. The more steps you take with your 3DS the faster it regenerates allowing for handy procedures like more money earned from battles or more experience. Beside the bicycle which has been with the series since the beginning, you can run around on roller-skates; more accurately in-line skates since you have rail points to grind your way through. Even a few tricks can be performed, nothing fancy though.
The online has improved much since Diamond/Pearls as well. You can normally trade, give up a Pokemon and demand a certain other and try your luck at Wonder Trade. In Wonder Trade two players choose a Pokemon to blind trade. It's safe to say you won't see many Mew's coming your way, not should you really. It's online trading that will allow most people to at least try "catching 'ell all" since there are so many absent pocket monsters in the game.
Remember how double battles was the thing back in 3rd generation and how triple battles were so overkill it gave many people terminal cancer? Well, you can still triple battle if common sense is too mainstream but there's two other useless methods for battling. Sky battles only allow Pokemon that can fly. The other is called inverse battle. Basically everything is switched, if an attack normally deals super effect it will be weak, if an attack is not very effective it will be super; Yes, pretty useless.
Pokemon is still worth getting, I can't decide if this is the best installment since Gold/Silver/Crystal; it might as well be. Primarily from being a pretty solid addition to the series it's still a Pokemon game, it's dumb to say this but can we really live out handheld lives without it? Sure it's getting old, sure it's silly most of the times, sure the decisions made by Nintendo and Game Freak are debatable. Still, Pokemon holds the titles of one of the most complex games of all time, its meta-game is pretty much one of the most active in the world and anyone willing to rightfully delve within its contents will not only be overwhelmed by its depth, but also satisfied with the content. It's hard to think of a game so appealing to both casuals and hardcore players than Pokemon.