There actually exists a Pokemon game that I do not absolutely love.Don’t get me wrong, I love catching all my beloved fighting creatures and trapping them for eternity within a computer system. Who doesn’t? The thrill of seeing those three stars pop up after a shake and a wobble is indescribable. But Pokemon Black did not have me glued to the screen of my Nintendo DS like others in the series have done so before. This may be my fault. I did what gamers know they shouldn’t. I played out of sync.
My first brush with a Pokemon game was Yellow inside a kick-ass purple game boy colour. My trusty Pikachu and I roamed the lands, training magikarps until we could defeat the Elite. My next encounter wasn’t until I bought a third-hand Nintendo DS Lite, and played HeartGold – arguably my favourite for one, tiny feature. Well other than being able to catch Shinx in the first grass and so wiping out the competition with Luxray all the way through: You could choose the sprite that walked behind you! I’ve played Pearl as well. The talent show was fun, but got boring pretty quickly.
Ever since HeartGold I have waited for them to return my beloved walking partner. I want Lucario to run beside me. But alas. (Watching Mew and Rayquaza wonder about town and pick up seashells was also great).
Then, last year, I played Pokemon X. Although I still couldn’t walk with my darling pets in my tiny two-inch screen, I loved the game. For the first time ever my character was customisable. I kept changing my hair style every week, and a new outfit almost every time I snapped open the 3DS. Even the storyline was addictive, with plenty of extra missions after the Champion was done and dusted. And I found it so difficult to choose who to carry around in my six-pack, I frequently changed so I could have a different team.
This month I bought Pokemon Black. It was only £12 in Argos. I had been waiting to play this game, I wanted Reshiram and I had seen the ice cream Vanillite! But, as soon as I loaded the opening all I could think was ‘Pixels’. The graphics in Black were so, SO bad after the beauty that was X. But I could put up with it. However, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Pokemon choices. Sure, some were cute, but I didn’t have any of my favourites. In fact, I reached the Elite 4 and still didn’t have a full set of six, even though I had caught every Pokemon I came across. I was missing none on the local Pokedex. Professor Oak would be proud, or whichever tree was in this one.
I also realised I had grown used to X’s team experience feature, where every battle and every catch helped raise the level. With Black you had to try to find individual exp. share items. I only got two, so could only level up three, maybe four if I could switch out, at a time. And you didn’t get anything if you caught the pocket monster you battled. It was time-consuming. In X, I was mighty and powerful. In Black, I was a few levels ahead for a while, but after the fifth badge I suddenly became six levels behind everyone. And it took forever to build up! It got boring how weak I was. Luckily, being the Pokemon pro that I am, I defeated the game even though my Pokemon were underlevelled by almost 10 against the Elite 4. Type strategy KOs.
Even though you could get strong quick in X, it didn’t mean an easy ride. This was the generation Fairy Type got released, but the bad guys mostly work with Dark Pokemon – and fairy got nothing on dark! You’re there cultivating your team of pretty pixies, and a grunt could wipe you out while his Houndoom keeps laughing. I may not have been acres ahead in Black, but from grunts to Gym battles, I pretty much could you one Pokemon until the pp ran out. Which wasn’t often as one hit KO was so frequent. That doesn’t get your heart racing.
I adored my rainbow deer Xerceas too. She was powerful, and always looked cute. And although I had waited for a long time to catch Reshiram, his fire butt wasn’t all that. In fact, I preferred playing with the other legendaries that were oh so easy to find and catch.
The final point that made Pokemon X beat Pokemon Black hands down has to be the friendship screen. In Black, once you catch a Pokemon, that’s it you never see their face again. In X you can pet them, feed them cakes, and play games! I probably spent more time in this screen than the actual RPG.
So, if you are buying for a friend or child, get them Pokemon Black or White as they won’t be addicted and will still get on with hanging out with you or doing their homework. If you are deciding for yourself, then definitely just skip to Pokemon X or Y. But say goodbye to social life and work for a week.
Of course, if you aren’t a cheapskate like me and/or can afford the latest, then Alpha Sapphire is out. Let me know how beautiful it is.