Pokémon X And Pokémon Y’s Overworld Feels Much More Alive

By Laura . October 11, 2013 . 12:07pm

Aesthetic improvements for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y extend far beyond just the games’ battles, since the overworld is entirely modeled in much more detailed 3D now, too. With “beauty” being one of the main themes in X and Y, overworld appearances received the royal treatment. Every window in Santalune is lined with pink flowers, and fountains are intricately designed with Pokémon motifs.


In the Parfum Palace, the walls are covered with gold filaments lining them and the outside, providing a grandiose background for the multitude of golden Bisharp statues standing at attention, one after another, down the corridor. Meanwhile, out in the wild, instead of just having tall grass and very tall grass, you also have flowering grasses, where the tall grass is topped with purple lavender, red roses, or yellow Goldenrod flowers.


Changes have been made to the day and night cycle, too. The transition from day to night has been made real-time, making the switch between the two more convincing. Oddly enough, however, in the overworld it may be difficult to tell at times whether it’s day or night, just because the difference between the two is far more subtle for some reason. You may not be able to tell for sure until you run into a Pokémon battle, which have backgrounds to reflect the time, location, and weather condition. Additionally, backgrounds aren’t static. Wind will blow through the grass in the background, and petals will sometimes flutter across the screen.


Despite all of these improvements in appearance, though, the most noticeable enhancement comes from the change in camerawork. Previously, Pokémon has always used a top-down camera, making even the tallest buildings appear flat. Black and White tried to fix this with Castelia City, where the camera changed to a more dynamic side view depending on where you were, but somehow the pseudo New York-inspired area always managed to feel empty and lifeless. The camera showed that the city was big, but it didn’t feel grand.


With Pokémon X and Y, the camera is dynamic and accentuates the “wow” effect of everything you encounter for the first time. Just one minute into the game, as you leave your hometown of Vaniville Town for Aquacorde Town to meet your new neighbors, the wooden door of the gate swings open and the camera smoothly but swiftly shifts to sit behind your shoulder, as though you the player were taking the first step beyond the door with your character.


When you travel to Shalour City and see the Tower of Mastery for the first time, the camera sits low to show the scale of the structure in the distance. As you approach, you find that you can’t see the entire building because it just won’t fit on the screen.


The same holds for the Gyms. We’ve come a long way since the flat ground of the gyms in the previous generations (with some exceptions in Black 2 and White 2). In Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, the Gyms seem to focus on vertical height, with you usually scaling something or the other. For example, in one Gym you have to scale a tall pillar with rock climbing wall mazes. In another, you have to swing across and climb up vines to reach the top of a tower. Almost every puzzle—even the ones that can be carried out horizontally—have more verticality to them now.


And then there’s Lumiose, which brings everything to another level. Here, the game adopts a decidedly different method of gameplay and camerawork from usual. While you usually don’t have any control of the camera, in Lumiose the screen is always sitting behind the character and swivels to look whichever way the character is facing. All the buildings tower over you, but because you’re looking from the bottom up and not top down, everything feels overwhelming—awing and confusing, even, because you have to focus to get your bearings. Thankfully, you can always reset your camera by pressing B and facing a new direction, and a simple map appears on the top screen whenever you enter a new area. Plus, if you’re still getting lost, you can always either call a cab or ride the Gogoat to reach the destination of your choice.


Actually, a cab is a very good idea because, for a relatively small fee (compared to where you are in the game), the cabby will drive you where you want to go, which you select from a long list of names. I said that Castellia in Black and White felt empty with its couple of office buildings and endless stream of NPC who ignore you, but Lumiose doesn’t give one this feeling. While there aren’t NPC flooding the streets, there are still a sizable number. Some will chat with each other as you skate by, and others will challenge you to a battle when you talk to them. (And they come back!) Every main street and side alley has something of interest, and there are even small alleys that twist between the buildings where “punks” are lurking.


Almost everything you could want is in Lumiose. For starters, the Pokémon Lab is situated here. So are the hair salons for you and your Furfrou, specialty shops for Evolution Stones, herbs, berry shakes, a studio where you can film your Trainer PR video, restaurants where you can do Double, Triple, and Rotation Battles, a very expensive boutique (which you’ll get kicked out of in the beginning because you’re not “stylish enough”), and about 15 themed cafés dotting the circular city, each filled with people and Pokémon.


The feeling of scale isn’t just for appearances, though. Because we’ve accumulated quite a Pokémon roster, in the past many Pokémon were excluded from games, and it was relatively simple to capture every monster the game had to offer before having to resort to trading with friends. Here, however, every patch of grass is jam-packed with different species, and even after spending many encounters in one route, I still found new Pokémon when I revisited. Perhaps it’s because of this that you gain EXP for catching Pokémon—otherwise you’d probably be underleveled.


For example, in the very first patch, you’ll find the usual new Pokémon—the flying Fletchling and the standard mammal Bunnelby. You’ll find the games’ insect, too, which this generation’s equivalent of Caterpie. If you’re persistent, though, and you run around some more, you can find Zigzagoon, Sentret, and Pidgey. Some of these take quite a long time to find since they’re so rare, however. To help you along, the encounter rate in grasses seems to have been raised quite a bit. (Note that this isn’t the case in caves. Cave encounters are exceedingly low.)


A high encounter rate may not seem pleasing to everyone, but Game Freak have a way to deal with that, too. Almost every route in the game has the grass being optional. If you want to hurry through but not waste Repels, you can just avoid the grass almost throughout the whole Route. Never is this more evident than in Route 6, where there are three routes. The two on the outside are filled with tall grass and trainers, but the one in the center is a dirt path with only a few trainers.


While I certainly enjoyed scouring the grasses for Pokémon and watching the battles, exploring the world for the first time and marveling at its scale was my favorite aspect of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y.


Food for thought:


1. Perhaps I was just incredibly unlucky, but I feel like the catch rate for wild Pokémon has plummeted.


2. Every now and then, you’ll come upon a sign with a camera. If you press A at the sign, you are then asked if you would like to take a picture. These pictures, where you can manipulate the camera for your desired wideness and blurriness, can be saved to the SD card.

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  • konsama

    Dammit day, FINISH ALREADY!

  • JuhRo

    Can’t wait to get my grubby hands on this in 8.5 hours.

  • Xaltmas

    I am giving serious thought to staying up until midnight to download this form the eShop.

    • Betrayer

      I’m doing that, hell I’m pulling an allnighter for this, even though I work tomorrow morning.

      • kthanxyousuck

        I wish the 3DS had a feature similar to the PS3 which has the system automatically shut off when downloads finish.

      • ZetaSiren

        I feel ya man :P

    • eShop does midnight downloads?

      • PreyMantis

        It does.

    • abysswalker

      Don’t or do it at your own risk.

      I stood up untill 1:30 am to download Rune Factory 4. It never became available. I don’t know the exact time when it was but I downloaded it after 6 pm.

      Maybe because is Pokemon you get lucky and they enable it on time.

      • School Idol Addict

        It’s pokemon this time though, i’m sure they want to rush to release pokemon on eshop :P

      • Zero_Destiny

        Some Nintendo games like Fire Emblem get a midnight release on the eShop. No clue if Pokemon will or won’t. But it’s likely, we’ll see.

        Third party games don’t usually seem to get midnight releases though. The eShop is usually updated around noon time (EST), so for third parties, that’s about the time to start looking, give or take.

        • Steven Higgins

          It will. i saw a notification on the store last night saying “Download Pokemon X and Pokemon Y at Midnight on Saturday October 12th.”

          • Zero_Destiny

            Then there we go. Let’s see the flood of downloads now! lol

    • Mnstrzero00

      Is there any chance that the eshop will be overwhelmed and mess with downloads? I wish we could have downloaded prior to release like grand theft auto five

  • Revorse

    I bought the game. Still don’t have a Damn 3DS though. I’ll probably play when I get use my little brothers. As long as he stays on punishment. Hahaha

    • kthanxyousuck

      lol I do the same thing. It’s actually a good strategy. Buying the games when you have the money and during sales ensures you have a collection to play when you finally drop the money for the system. It was great having to spend only $199 when the time came instead of over $300 because I needed to buy everything at one time.

    • abysswalker

      Why do I get the feeling you have something to do with that punishment…

      • Revorse

        It would seem like that. But nah he’s just been as ass lately. And that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. So it’s practically mine.

    • Learii

      you 1 bad brother =( lol

  • 3PointDecoupage

    Dear God please say you can take pictures with your pokemon like in HeartGold. I loved that, watching my team evolve over time.

    Also, how early can you buy clothes?

    • DuskSharkEX

      As early as getting to the town that has the first gym in it. Nine times out of ten, any town/city with the gym is bound to have a boutique.

    • Placido Michael Cortorreal Flo

      As earpy as the third town…thats…15 minutes of gameplay if you rush it. But i heard that clothing is expensive xD hopefully you can use play coins like Animal Crossing

  • kthanxyousuck

    Almost wish I was in the UK, It’s almost 11pm there!

  • Guest

    More different types of pokemon in the grass!? This just made my day. Tomorrow cant come soon enough

  • J_Joestar

    getting so hyped up, still 6 hours in my area till i can get it…

    • Spectacularity

      Same here, I’m so hyped I can’t even stay still.

  • i have roughly 15 hours to wait…and this will be the hardest sleep i have ever tried to get!

  • Learii

    I already pay for it today at gamestop so I can just go pick it up tomorrow I can’t wait oh and gamestop get me a pokemon poster I was just in time for the poster too because I saw a shipping track infront of gamstop when I got there =D

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    HEART IS RACING this day needs to end

    • J_Joestar

      it’s no long just an option but a necessity.

    • neocatzon

      2DS is perfect for Dawn.

    • Zero_Destiny

      I prefer this one.

      Way less then 24 hours now though! lol

  • EinMugenTenshin

    How is it compared to Ni No Kuni?

    • Steven Higgins

      I don’t think you can really compare the two. Their very different. Sure Ni No Kuni has monster raising aspects, but it isn’t the main focus and often seems to be put on the back burner. It’s entirely possible to complete the game without using a familiar.

      • EinMugenTenshin

        I mean the world and how you interact with it. How you fight/the battle system is only one aspect of a game.

  • rurin

    This sounds so fun!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO GO EXPLORING!!!! <3

  • Placido Michael Cortorreal Flo

    Rats…T-Ti preordered this a month and half ago…and i still have to wait 2 weeks in order to play it. You guys dont know how envious i am of you all who got this on day one.

  • doubleO7

    Its interesting that Laura thinks the encounter rate has been increased. Based on my own experience, and that of a few other reviews/previews I’ve read, I’d think the encounter rate has been dramatically decreased.

    Casually walking through the grass I’ve barely run into any Pokemon. I’ve had to basically run several laps around the grassy areas until I finally encounter something.Then again, it is all random right?. Maybe its just by chance that I’ve actually had to put a good bit of effort into finding wild Pokemon >.<

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