Pokémon X And Pokémon Y: Battles Are Faster And Tougher

By Laura . October 8, 2013 . 11:01am

With the introduction of 3D animated models to Pokémon, battles in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y have certainly become flashier. In fact, they’ve become downright reminiscent of Pokémon Stadium, Colosseum, and Battle Revolution, down to the attacks and fainting animations. Having not played those games in a long time, it was an unintended trip down nostalgia lane for me.


While there are no idle animations for Pokémon during battles, the camera travels around a lot, which helps keep things feeling alive. It will pan around, zoom in on the opposing Pokémon, and essentially do its best to make the scene look cool as the Pokémon stand around waiting for you to finish inputting your commands. In trainer battles, this effect is intensified, with more intense close-ups and a fancy face-off screen reminiscent of fighting games.


As for the animation of the Pokémon themselves, X and Y’s animation is amazingly fluid, but with a catch. The game will lag if you have either the stereoscopic 3D turned on. Additionally, if you have more than two Pokémon facing off such as in Double or Triple battles, the 3D effect will turn itself off. Perhaps this is why the game seems to actively avoid any Double Battles, even if it would make more sense in a situation…


Battles themselves are sped up quite a bit in Pokémon X and Y, with the flow of battle moving even faster than it did in Pokémon Black/White. Notably, the HP bar drops faster and the text moves faster during battles. In fact, in the case of some attacks like Aerial Ace or Brave Bird, the damage appears almost instantaneously. It’s almost as though they developers were trying to match the force behind the attack animation with how fast the Pokémon’s HP drops.


There are other minor tweaks, too. While your Pokémon doesn’t slow down much when it’s in danger (and the background music doesn’t change), the game will beep to alert you of low health as usual. Unlike in previous games, it will only beep a few times and then fall silent. Perhaps this is another factor contributing to the game’s idea of “beauty?” Peace for your ears?


As for features completely new to battles in Pokémon X and Y, there aren’t many. There are the Mega Evolutions, which are a temporary evolution that can be activated in the middle of battle. When a Mega Evolution is available, you’ll see a button on the bottom screen alerting you. These Mega Evolutions grant a variety of power boosts such as type changes, stat increases, and ability changes. The Evolution activates the turn you press the button, and after you press it, you can also select an attack. Both actions will take place on the same turn, so the timing of your Evolution can be important.


There are also Horde Battles and Sky Battles. Sky Battles are simpler to explain—they’re a battle that takes place in the sky and only Levitating or Flying Pokémon can take part. One thing to note is that, because only these Pokémon can take part, your other Pokémon don’t gain any EXP from the battle. I found it interesting that Sky Battles would almost always catch me by surprise since the opponent was one or two screens away, standing on another ledge, when they challenged you.


Meanwhile, Horde Battles are wild battles that activate either randomly (albeit rarely) or by using a Honey item to attract a group of 5 Pokémon. These Pokémon will all be at a very low level, which is just as well, because they will all take their turn chipping away at you. It can be very frustrating and time-consuming fighting these battles, and they were one of my least favorite addition to the game because of how aggravating it can be to sit through five rounds of Growl, only to find my attack doing minimal damage because of it. The best strategy is to blast them all with a multi-enemy attack such as Surf or Bug Buzz… unless you want to capture a Pokémon, in which case you’ll have to sit through the long haul.


Other than these changes, however, the largest change to Pokémon seems to be a shift in balance. An obvious way the gameplay is shifted from previous generations is the introduction of the Fairy type, and, the game has retroactively added Fairy type to many Pokémon, such as Mr. Mime and Azurill. In fact, Pokémon X and Y seem to emphasize dual-typing involving Fairy or Normal types rather heavily. For example, Grass and Normal or Electric and Normal. This gave me some trouble because I never previously had trouble with Fighting types, whereas now I find myself accidentally sending out Normal type Pokémon because I’m not used to this dual-typing. Fairy types, too, gave me some trouble because they were an unfamiliar, new type. It was surprising how much I relied on familiarity when I found myself actually having trouble battling a Snubbull.


In addition, there are other subtle ways the game has changed. I found it very easy to level my Pokémon. Not only do you have an EXP Share that affects the entire team, but the EXP gained per battle is higher than before as well. My Pokémon’s levels were shooting through the roof by the time I got to my first Gym. Luckily (or unluckily) as time went on, this difference between the opponent’s levels and mine gradually decreased, so I was provided more of a challenge again later. Nevertheless, I continue to remain much higher-levelled than most of my opponents.


That having been said, this didn’t always mean I was stronger. Interestingly, I found that, despite the level difference between Pokémon, I didn’t always overpower my opponent. I’m not sure if there were other factors involved such as IVs (the hidden stats that are part of the Pokémon metagame), but I remember doing more damage in past games to the opponent when I was this overlevelled. Not only is the damage reduced in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, a number attacks have been modified, with status effects, buffing, and debuffing being emphasized, and the AI for enemy trainers takes advantage of these possible strategies.


An example of this is Water Sport being used by a bug trainer, preventing me from making efficient use of my Fennekin’s Fire attacks. Now that’s something you don’t see often in non-competitive Pokémon play.


Overall, I found the game balance in Pokémon X and Y very strange. I was always overlevelled, yet I wasn’t having an overwhelmingly easy time in battles, especially as time went on. In other words, I feel like the game should have been much easier, but sometimes it was even more difficult, especially when I was at a type disadvantage. As a result, wild Pokémon battles, where there were a variety of types possible, presented more of a challenge than Gyms, which focused solely on one type.


Additionally, due to the sheer number of Pokémon that show up, it’s a very good thing that you gain EXP for catching Pokémon. Otherwise, you probably would never level up at all because almost every other encounter ended up being something, new no matter where you were.


I did end up trying out many different Pokémon and experimenting with many of the newcomers. I suspect this was what they intended, too, since one theme of Pokémon XY seems to be “choices”. Usually I would focus on my team of 6, but now I found myself rotating Pokémon out and still having a high-level team.


Food for thought:


1. Something I recently found out is that the more you change hairstyles either for yourself or your Furfrou, more options will open up. Boutiques change their clothing stock over time. I’m not sure if it’s on a rotational, randomized basis or if it’s based on the number of badges you have, which is how regular stores work.


2. According to an NPC, the horde Pokémon sometimes have rare Abilities. Knowing Pokemon, I think these are talking about Dream World abilities.

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  • Captain Levi

    Not bad I guess.

  • ‘As for the animation of the Pokémon themselves, X and Y’s animation is amazingly fluid, but with a catch. The game will lag if you have either the stereoscopic 3D turned on. Additionally, if you have more than two Pokémon facing off such as in Double or Triple battles, the 3D effect will turn itself off. Perhaps this is why the game seems to actively avoid any Double Battles, even if it would make more sense in a situation…’

    Sounds like it’s too much for the poor 3DS with everything that’s going on. Probable proof that they tried to make it closer to what a Wii would want more than a 3DS. It’s probably as gorgeous as it looks in still frames.

    • AuraGuyChris

      Yet still, the cartridges didn’t use as much memory as Metal Gear Solid 3 used. Even SMT IV used less memory but had a lot more than X & Y did.
      But because of the sheer amount of Pokémon, even trying to double the efforts would lead to a memory shortage for anything else.

      • Suicunesol

        I’m not sure how frame rate drops during the game relate to the amount of space used on the cartridge, Chris.

        • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

          but it relate to the amount of objects moving on screen

    • It’s also possible they didn’t program the graphics as efficiently as they could have. If the 3DS can run 3D graphics fluidly in other games, I see no reason why it can’t do 3D graphics here when less is going on. They’ll just have to figure out how / get used to it.

  • John Diamond

    It’s a must buy!

  • Learii

    I wonder if the trainer can still challenger you to a sky battle if you have no flying pokemon

    • Suicunesol

      Good question. I imagine that you are asked first and are given the choice to back out, because if you were forced to fight with only one flying Pokemon in your party, you would be at a severe disadvantage.

    • Jesse

      Nah, since then you’d have no way to fight.

    • No. They always first ask you if you want to participate (the game makes sure you almost always have the opportunity to save beforehand until later in the game). If you accept, they check if you have Flying Pokemon. If you don’t, the person tells you to come back later.

  • LexKitteh

    I still don’t understand. If games like Resident Evil Revelations, MH3U (ported from Wii) etc can run in full 3D, why can’t Pokemon handle it? Does it really have that much going on, or is it bad programming?

    • Suicunesol

      I think that if Gamefreak and Nintendo really wanted to, they could have created models that were more suited to the 3DS hardware, allowing for stereoscopic 3D. But then that would entail not using the 600+ Pokemon models that were already made for Pokedex 3D, wasting both time and money.

      Also, consider the 2DS releasing on the same day, suggesting that Gamefreak didn’t make 3D a priority because Nintendo considered selling a bunch of 2DS’s on launch day a priority.

      • LexKitteh

        Yeah, I almost wonder if X and Y not having full 3D support is what helped motivate them to create the 2DS. Especially since its only for western markets, seems to be how people without a 3DS can easily buy and play Pokemon.

        • kthanxyousuck

          The 2DS is coming out for Japan though….

      • My personal theory is they’re still tweaking things and make it better in time for Z. :D


        (Assuming, of course .. .there is a Z…)

        • Suicunesol

          My other theory is that they held back on purpose to make Z more enticing.


          • *stabs with optimism!*

            It’s also possible. I feel sometimes that X and Y were a bit rushed (although overall great games), and since Z will come later, they’ll have more time to tweak some issues. Didn’t Platinum do the same thing?

            Edit: …Maybe I should change my nick to Naegi XD

          • Suicunesol

            I didn’t play Platinum, but I did hear good things. Version 3 is always the enhanced and improved version, so I’m not surprised that any issues or fan woes would be addressed.

          • kthanxyousuck

            Did they come out with an alternative to Black/White? There’s no guarantee a Z will exist.

        • Anesia Hunter

          I’m kind of hoping they’ll pass up on a Z and go straight to Ruby and Sapphire remakes. I’m just not sure if a second round with Team Flare would be the best idea.

      • J_Joestar

        wait, are you saying that the game is reusing the Pokedex3D’s models? because they aren’t.

        • Suicunesol

          What makes you say that?

      • Lynx

        They’re not reusing Pokédex 3D models.
        If anything, Pokedéx 3D is using XY models.

        Keep in mind they had two separate teams; one working on BW2 and one working on XY.

        • Suicunesol

          …the point is that they’re derived from the same quilt, right? Whichever came first. I think it was obvious enough that the models were all created for X and Y, but Nintendo decided to make an app using those models for some extra cash. Obviously, there’s a disparity in texture quality, so they spruced up the models a bit.

      • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

        They arent using them. Because most model are redone and resize.

        • Just because they’re resized doesn’t mean they aren’t using them. They probably use the same models with slight adjustments and some sort of a toon shader to give it that cartoony look. Making completely different models would be the biggest waste of time and resources, and they’re a smarter company that that.

      • selkiegal

        3d was a fad. A lot of people, myself included, hardly ever have that function turned on because it’s just too hard on the eyes.

    • I think it’s safe to assume that it’s because the game was rushed out. There’s so much that they could/should have added, but isn’t in X/Y.

    • DrShimo

      My RE Revelations had serious lagging problems though. On the cartridge too.

    • kthanxyousuck

      I don’t think the game was rushed. Maybe it had to do that pokemon at it’s core, is still aimed at kids. Yes adults like it, yes they have generations of gamers but still, if it just sold to the 7-13 year olds, I’m sure they wouldn’t care because they assume those are the ones still watching the cartoons to go along with the game. Kids who are advertised to not play their games in 3D.

  • Suicunesol

    Does this game run at 60 fps (or close to it) without 3D, Ishaan?

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      You should be asking if it runs at a locked framerate.

      It should.

      But never underestimate gamefreak coding.

      • Suicunesol

        I was just wondering if Gamefreak made 60fps a priority over 3D, or something like that, even though 60fps is seriously not necessary for this game.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          They prioritized frame rate performance yes.

          Still dips though

          You know why I like 3D? Because it gives you that option. Want better fidelity? Turn it on. Want more performance? Turn it off.

  • Godman

    The whole change in game mechanics is scaring me :{

    Its Gen 3 -> Gen 4 all over again, I’m going to have to readapt and I guess that’s also part of the journey

  • LastFootnote

    Are you saying that Bug Buzz now hits multiple targets, or did you actually mean some other move?

    • Bug Buzz hits the entire horde.

    • Bah. Sorry, it’s not Bug Buzz. It must be another Bug move because my Vivillion used it, but Bug Buzz must’ve overwritten it. Sorry for the confusion.

      Edit: Yup, it’s Struggle Bug. Sorry <_<

  • Zeik56

    “(and the background music doesn’t change)”

    Nooooo. That was one of my favorite changes to B/W. Oh well, at least it doesn’t beep incessantly like it used to.

  • Oh no, no more low health music? :'(
    I really liked what they had done with it in BW/BW2, it made the battle more intense!

    I’m glad there’s a lot of new things battle wise this time around, I was always pretty bad at battling and relied solely on leveling rather than finding advantages/seeing disadvantages (until BW came along) and now that I’ve learned that, it’ll be nice to learn something new!

    • FirstaLasto

      personally, i hated how the music changed at low health. im humming my favorite battle theme and then mid battle it just CHANGES. hated that. that said, i didnt mind the “boss almost defeated” music, because it felt more like dynamic music than an entirely different song (even though i know it was)

    • Ty Arnold

      My problem with the low health music is that it would often interrupt some of the really good music in the game. I’d much rather hear N’s theme over the low HP theme every time, for instance.

      • That I can agree with! I think if they had done something like mixing it together like for Ghetsis (only less creepy…) it would be cooler, but I have heard some of X/Ys music and I guess I wouldn’t want beeping to take it’s place during battle haha.

    • Jettythesunfish

      I’ll be honest, even the Low HP theme got annoying on occasion. But it was a nice touch, I won’t lie. I actually enjoyed it at times. MUCH better than hearing that incessant beeping through a battle track you’re enjoying. So from what I’m reading, it’ll just beep for a second when your Pokemon reaches low HP like in some Kirby games. Even better.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    I’m so hyped!….you don’t even…

  • Jonathan Tse

    “Not only is the damage reduced in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, a number attacks have been modified, with status effects, buffing, and debuffing being emphasized.”

    still gonna have hella scrubs with 4 offensive moves that can’t handle stall teams.

    i’d love some gym leaders to just annoy the hell out of players with tactics like DW Blaziken/Chandelure, Politoed teams, Prankster shenanigans and such. everyone should feel the pain of playing in competitive play….. i miss gen4 so much.

    • riceisnice

      There’s a reason I don’t play Pokemon competitively.

    • Kalis Konig

      nah leave the competitive play for online. No need to take away the fun battles of the main game that allow you to fight as your style sees fit.

    • Raltrios

      I’d heard that people that got early copies got completely stonewalled by the E4, so I’m still holding out some optimism for the challenge.

      • Anesia Hunter

        now you got me worried that they’re using competitive move sets in the end-game.

        • Raltrios

          I don’t think anyone will complain if one or two E4 members use Steal Rock/Spikes. I mean, trainers have pretty much NEVER used those moves in the past, so changing things up would be cool.
          I’ve never played online, so I’m one of the ones who’s never been hit with the terror of SR. I’d like to see if I can deal with it.

          • Anesia Hunter

            in B2W2 there were SR/spike teams, but entry hazards aren’t the only nuisances. with the variety of type combos, natures, abilities, held items and a bazillion move set combinations available you can end up against some pretty deadly teams of pokemon even without entry hazards. i doubt they’d make the E4 that menacing even after the first time you beat them, but i could see some end-game trainers being pretty tough just to give players a bit more of a challenge and maybe even a little practice for real competitive battling.

  • Herok♞

    Is there still the hard mode option?

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu


      Turn the EXP share off.

      • Anesia Hunter

        i think they mean like what B2W2 had.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          Im being an ass. :>

    • I don’t think there is.

      • Herok♞

        well thats a shame back to streamrolling pokemon like no ones business then

  • JohnNiles

    Faster is good; I don’t remember which Gen had significant lag in the health bar dropping, but it was horrible. Tougher is good too, as long as they didn’t implement SMT’s Press Turn system.

    I KNEW Horde battles would suck. I can only hope that they made it easier to run away in X/Y. It’s a pain when you’re trying to level a low-speed pokemon.

    • ShootThatWay

      Gen IV’s Diamond and Pearl I believe had very slow battles and health drops.

    • Lynx

      Diamond and Pearl had somewhat slow battles.

      I found Platinum fixed a good amount of it because they ironed out the engine.

    • selkiegal

      Faster is good…but chances are I’m still going to get impatient and turn battle animations off. Oh the hours that shaves off gameplay after a while…

  • Spider-Man

    I remember several Pokemon having idle animations in the demos in Japan. Such as Gallade occasionally extending its blade arm and posing.

    • You can see them all now! :D

      • Spider-Man

        Amazing. :O

  • 3PointDecoupage

    She says its hard. Another reviewer said it was easy. Not surewho to believe.

    • Play it and decide for yourself?

    • Put it this way. This is Pokemon, so you won’t be throwing your 3DS (or 2DS?!) at the wall in frustration. However, it’s definitely not as easy as BW2, which also had (for me) enormous overlevelling when compared to the Gym Leader parties (which I use as a ruler for how I’m doing level-wise in the game).

      In other words, if you think you’ll blow through the entire game just because you’re 10+ levels ahead of them, you might still get mauled by the stray attack.

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        Uh… Pokeathlon resulted in me cracking the top screen of my DS into a pure abyss of black/.

      • Helepythia

        Oh god, as a casual Pokemon gamer, you make me feel very uneasy. I already started having trouble (near the end game; curse you Red) during the Heart Gold and Soul Silver Era.

        • Anesia Hunter

          i doubt there’s anything to worry about and most likely they kept the audino trick from gen 5 to help people level faster.

          • I don’t even think there’s a need for such a trick. I wasn’t grinding or even trying to grind and I got to 10 levels higher than the gym on 2 Pokemon and about on-level with another 8 or so.

          • Anesia Hunter

            it all depends on how you play the game and when you’re just trying to rush level some pokemon for trading.

          • Lucky Egg is your friend, then :)

            But seriously. I’ve gained thousands of EXP in battles before. I think that’s enough to rush level :)

          • Anesia Hunter

            not when you run out of trainers. i use way over 10 pokemon throughout the game, since i like to use what i like and i like to use a variety to keep balanced and sometimes increase difficulty (like doing monotypes).

        • Suicunesol

          Trouble with Red? That should be no surprise; he’s the strongest trainer in that game, right? :P

    • kthanxyousuck

      She didn’t say it was hard. She just said that it wasn’t as easy as people would expect it to be because of level. Doesn’t mean you might not defeat someone with one try but you might not have your 1 pokemon destroying 6 in a row without having to change.

    • Also (and I realized this as I was playing the beginning again), the beginning of the game is very easy. XY gives you a lot of assistance. It’s as you go past the first few gym leaders that I feel things get difficult.

      Also, like I said, the difficulty greatly stems from what moves you used. It occurred to me just earlier that I may have had a harder time with this game than others because I restricted myself to using only new Pokemon.

  • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

    Hmm does catching pokemon not give EV’s?

    • I can’t really check. If it’s a battle, the simplest is to assume “yes.” However, if you’re at the point where you’re training EVs, shouldn’t you not be worrying about catching Pokemon anymore?

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        I EV trained my whole team I imported in BW2 right outside Homika’s city.

        Full team. Grinding on them Magnemites/magby’s/growlithes.

        • Mm. I had a brain-death. You shouldn’t even need to worry about EV training them the old way (unless you want to, but not because you have to) this way after you unlock Super Training, since that minigame is the shortcut to EV training. You’ll read more about it later.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            So I can re-configure the EV’s with super training?(Like you’d use the berries to reduce them in the stats you dont want?)

          • You can use berries. Recently I just found a Reset training bag, which resets your Pokemon’s stats completely to its base stats, so you can start from scratch.

  • kthanxyousuck

    I think how easy someone is going to find the game depends on how much pokemon knowledge they have as far as strong/weak types. I don’t think Pokemon would have it’s charm if it was so challenging that you cursed at the screen but you don’t want to steamroll through the game to the point where you can’t catch any pokemon to the point where you can’t catch any pokemon because one move kills them instantly.

  • Shane Guidaboni

    Hmm, maybe I’ll actually finish a Pokemon game for once. This sounds like they fixed the problems I had with the battle system.

  • Jettythesunfish

    I’m just hoping we have a lot of new Pokemon this gen. I heard some…unsettling things concerning this…

    • OhMyClarence

      …And they were all true. Sorry. New Pokemon is not what this gen is going to be remembered for.

    • ShadowDivz


  • Ban The Jackass

    I wasn’t gonna buy the game. It’s all your fault! ): So tempted urghhh. Anyway, is there any post-game content to play? Cos its no fun anymore after becoming the Champion…

    • glenngunnerzero

      There is always post-Champion content to play in Pokemon. May not always be much but there is some.

  • Kalis Konig

    Always thought the concept of sky battles to be kind of weird seeing as how any pokemon can fight while in or under water lol

    • VenerableSage

      There’s also the stupid aspect that things that have been shown to be able to hover and fly but aren’t Flying-type and don’t have Levitate are unable to participate in sky battles…

      GG, Game Freak. Way to use that common sense.

  • Kalis Konig

    My only gripe is that the Gym Leaders final pokemon theme does not play anymore. THat was a nice little touch that should have always stayed post introduction.

    • Suicunesol

      I actually didn’t like it that much. Not because I didn’t like the concept, but the theme that played was always a “victory” theme, like you’re approaching the finish line, or you’re about to win. In my opinion, such music sours the mood when the gym leader sends out their strongest trump card, signaling the most intense part of the battle. Like facing a strong enemy. You’d expect even more intense, climactic music, but it just makes me feel like the battle has already ended.

  • Bobby Jennings

    I wanted to ask: Are there lots of double battles in this game? I loved that about Black and White 2.

    • No, it sounds like they avoid too many double battles because of framerate issues.

      • Bobby Jennings

        Damn, sucks..

    • There are some, but definitely not as many as in the past. Triple (and Rotation) battles are location-specific again, like in BW.

  • KOTheWorld

    “Notably, the HP bar drops faster and the text moves faster during battles.” <- This is enough to warrant a must-buy.

  • Fighting a group of 5 Pokémon is surely frustrating.

    • Then again, this is practically what Surf and Earthquake were made for 8D

    • Lynx

      It’s made worse when they have Sturdy.

      I remember Black and White.

      So much rage because of Sturdy.

  • Virevolte

    How come your Fennekin is level 25 ? Do you prevent it from evolving ?

    • 3PointDecoupage

      Is it that weird? I do that too

      • Virevolte

        Ho ? I wasn’t thinking that people were doing this much so I just wondered if (by chance) the evolution was after the level 25.

        So, it’s not weird, I just wasn’t aware. ^^

    • Not mine.

      I rarely prevent mine from evolving because I’m not sure how it’ll affect stat growth. I’d rather learn the moves a little slower than accidentally handicap my Pokemon.

    • Suicunesol

      I prevent evolution at first too. It makes the game a little more challenging.

  • 3PointDecoupage

    Are there any side games? Pokethlon/Contests?

  • There are actually special events between the Pokemon in a horde. For example Zangoose and Seviper, the eternal rivals, would actually attack each other if they’re in the same horde.

  • Vash bane

    i wonder how the music is in this one(seeing as I might not be getting a 3ds til Christmas -_-)

    • willy410

      The music is sooooo good!

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