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Preview: Licking everyone in Pokemon X and Y


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Steven Hansen

Features Editor

9:30 PM on 08.16.2013

An insane scientist, goat riding, pet neglect, Mega Evolutions, and more!

Pokemon X and Pokemon Y are currently playable in Japan at the Pokemon Game Show. We got a look at the same hands-on demo, minus the 10 minute time limit and the assuredly hours-long line.

The demo opens with you as a random trainer -- there are six core options that can be customized -- with one of the three starter Pokemon. I began as the delightful, pink hat clad Yvonne, with a Fennekin. It's been a long while since I've had a fire starter and I have to admit that the cute little guy warmed my icy heart.

Pokemon X and Y (3DS) 
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 12, 2013

The demo is just an amalgam of different game elements, not tied to an actual part.of the game. Certain things -- the X and Y buttons entirely, amusingly -- were locked.out. After speaking to a journalist who told me a professor was waiting for me, I marched directly.forward and encountered a Pikachu. Of course.

What did surprise me about this first battle was how good X and Y looks. The transition to 3D models is seamless, unlike the early polygon days, and the art style itself lends a familair flatness to the pocket.monsters' perspective anyway. I was also impressed by the animations and battle effects. Flamethrower and Fire Blast look proper deadly. The 3D also lent the game a decent effect when on, especially with the HUD. I'm still not terribly inclined to play with it on all the time, but if that's your thing you should enjoy the subtle effect.

When I went to move, I instinctively went for the circle pad, this being a 3DS. The four directional walk (and run) are mapped to the d-pad, which feels a bit strange to use on the 3DS. The circle pad handles multi-directional, quick movement on inline skates (no word on if the bike returns). Rollerblading is still cool, right? I traded all my pogs to buy these blades!

After dispatching the Pikachu, I mounted a stupid looking new Pokemon and rode it in rapid circles around some majestic fountain, but I couldn't take my beast of burden further than that. What followed was standard fare. I fought wild Pokemon amidst floral grass and ran through hedge mazes to talk with the wild Pokemon that were flitting about. A "kekekekekeke" to you, Marill.

I also iced a trainer named Shauna who wore a pink top with three stacked, black bow ties like a Hot Topic Frosty the Snowman. Oh, and I caught a Pikachu out of spite. Pokeballs are released in a slightly disconcerting first person view, which I enjoyed.

The other new feature I noodled around with was the Pokemon-Amie, which lets you interact with your Pokemon on the bottom screen. It too was neutered for this demo, but I did get to pet my Fennekin before it became indignant that I didn't give it its food correctly. Then I opted not to feed the little Prima donna. That'll learn it.

To what extent the Pokemon Amie will affect the game is under wraps, but it does do things, like give higher chances for critical hits. I'll leave it to the avid Pokemon metagamers to figure out how to properly game the mechanic.

After dispensing of my stupid-looking, much too amiable rival, I went and talked to the insane Professor Augustine Sinclair. I'm still puzzling over the quantum mechanics quandary that is his hair. He also either has cat whiskers or a beard less impressive than even mine. The very animated lunatic then told me I was The One to unlock the power of Mega Evolution and forced a Mewtwo on me. I didn't even have to save up a Master Ball.

With my level 100 Mega Mewtwo, I easily dispatched his level 100 Crobat, Chandelure, and Dragonite. He struck a pose of scientific ecstasy and I wondered why Pokemon professors were getting younger and zanier every game. He looks like a rockstar or a Space Dandy. He's like Charlie Day's character in Pacific Rim.

I think his hair is alive.

I also ran through the demo a second time for kicks and wound up with a Froakie, my potential eventual starter. It knew Lick. So I licked everyone

X and Y is Pokemon, no doubt about it, but it did leave me with some surprises. Particularly, I was impressed with the visuals. I love 2D art and sprites, but this looks a lot better than I had anticipated. It also looks better on the 3DS than in screenshots, though I am curious to see if it suffers at all stretching for the 3DS XL. I skipped Black and White, the first time I'd missed a mainline Pokemon release. X and Y seem as good a place as any to jump back in.



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