Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pokemon Y and Feelings

Hello all, and welcome to the very first game-related post of Arcadexpoints. 

We've decided to start off with "games we've already finished lately" trend for these, so I'm going to be talking about my Journey to Become the Next Pokemon Champion experience™ in the Kalos region of Pokemon Y; c'est magnifique (really horrible google-translate French. I have never learned or spoken the language. I apologise greatly)

I'll definitely be talking about the game play, but I won't go through a lot of it. Primarily I'll be talking about the different aspects of this Pokemon generation that makes it very different. And I'm not talking about the 100+ new pokemon they introduced.

(image taken from http://inside.anime-expo.org)
I mean really, same battle system, and same feeling of utter excitement when you start on your journey how many years and games later.
Now, games as of late have finally picked up on how much people love customising their main protagonists. Harvest Moon has finally done it with it's latest game, after the whole Tree of Tranquility-Animal Parade amazing dress up feature, Animal Crossing has almost always done it (with the rather vague question and answer type which has spawned a LOT of guides on how to get the look you want), and Elder Scrolls wouldn't be Elder Scrolls without their many races, background on the races, and their rather terrifying Daedra and equally terrifying Aedra. 

Pokemon finally picked this up with their latest (as of now anyway) generation, Pokemon X and Y.

Look, choices!
Sadly, I'm actually rather disappointed with the limited choice for the male clothes. I mean, really Nintendo, you're in Japan. I'm sure there are a lot of trendy pieces you could've made for the male character, especially since the Kalos region is based in Europe! Or centers around France. Something. Anyway, it's still a country where there are dapper, smart-looking, and trendy outfits exist. Even Harvest Moon had a lot of clothing options for A New Beginning, and we're talking about a farming game and non-mix-and-match pieces! And don't get me started on the lack of hair styling options. It's just. Wow. Really bad.

Character customisation aside, Nintendo has definitely made Pokemon X and Y different from it's predecessors. For one, rather than meeting the Professor of the Region right away, we met with the Rival first. Second, rather than the Professor giving you words of wisdom about the whole field he/she specialises in and giving you your first Pokemon, it's your rival that acts as the proxy for the Professor, giving you your starter. The professor, Sycamore in this new region of Kalos, still gives you a Pokemon, but it's the starter from the First Generation, another first. Thirdly, a new pokemon type had been introduced, the Fairy type, as a way to battle the huge advantage Dragon type pokemon seemed to have over the other types. 

Also, you can walk diagonally. I assure you that this was one of the biggest freak out for people because you go beyond up, down left, right. SERIOUSLY.

If this doesn't make you believe that Nintendo trying to bring in a whole new generation of Poke-addicts, I don't know what will.

Now I move on to the plot. Plot in the Pokemon games have never really been overly complicated when you strip it down to it's barest essentials; a team wants to take over the world/conquer the earth using pokemon one way or another, and it's up to the barely-into-their-tweens protagonist to foil the plot of the evil organisation leader who is possibly twice or thrice their age. End of story. The newest generation sort of answers this by making the new protags a tad older then their usual counterparts, adding a sub-plot in one of cities for after defeating the elite 4 and champion, sort of giving a more realistic touch as to why current villain wants to wipe out the world, and making sure that the legendaries of this generation are just freaking horrifying.

Let me expound a bit on that last point.

It's absolutely no secret that some pokedex entries of certain pokemon are rather terrifying. We have pokemon whose IQ surpasses super computers, internal core temperatures that rivals that of active volcanoes, pokemon with so much untamed psychic energy that they need to keep their ears closed unless they want to rip a new space-time continuum accidentally (sorry about that Dialga, Palka and Giratina), pokemon who can rip your soul out because you're petting it wrong, and pokemon who are the ghosts of children, ghosts of toys filled with revenge to go  AFTER the children that left them, and children-snatching pokemon.

Now let's look at the entries of Xerneas and Yveltal, two of the three legendaries: (both entries taken from Pokemon Y)
Xerneas - When the horns on its head shine in seven different colors, it is said to be sharing everlasting life.
Yveltal - When its life comes to an end, it absorbs the life energy of every living thing and turns into a cocoon once more.

In short, we literally have legendary pokemon of LIFE and DEATH. One who "shares" eternal life, and another who absorbs the life-force of EVERY.LIVING.THING. This power in the hands of someone barely touching 18 is horrifying enough, but it's even worse when you realise just how often you use the Pokemon of Death as your trump card. Sure, Oblivion Wing definitely heals your legendary at the expense of the other pokemon, but what pokemon move doesn't do that? :D

Let's now look at Zygarde's entry, the last of the trio: (also taken from Y)
Zygarde - It's hypothesized that it's monitoring those who destroy the ecosystem from deep in the cave where it lives.

Yeah. Giant snake-like pokemon who looks like it's made up of codons, watching as people destroy the environment deep within it's cave, and who is probably the middle ground between life and death is such a relief. Have I mentioned that people call them the "Mortality Trio"? No? Huh. Probably should've started with that.

No one actually knows what Zygarde was doing in the cavern where we find it. There is no mythos, unlike that of Xerneas and Yveltal, that showcases what it does, and if it's truly as terrifying as the duo. All we know so far is that it's there, monitoring the ecosystem, and taking note of everyone.

Yeah, this is more horrifying than your Creator of the Universe bit, really. No joke.
And the villain of the week who wants to use this sort of power to re-imagine the world into his ideals? Lysandre. Head of the Lysandre Labs, creator of the holo caster, and big maned-boss of Team Flare. Yeah, bad joke on how he owns a pyroar and his hairstyle sorta looks like the mane of the pyroar.

Lysandre, as we know by the story, is a man who likes beauty and wants to preserve it. No, not a specific ideal of beauty, neither does he believe everything must be coloured red in order to be beautiful; just beauty. Beauty in the general sense. Beauty. 

Yeah, I'm not exactly sure how that would've worked out either.

Now here are some quotes from him early on in the game:
"You were chosen to be a movie star, correct? Isn't it your duty to be ever beautiful? Everything beautiful should stay that way forever. I would end the world in an instant so that beauty never fades. I can't stand the thought of the world becoming uglier."
"I want to be the kind of person who gives... But in this world, some foolish humans exist who would show their strength by taking what isn't theirs."
"People can be divided into two groups. Those who give... And those who take... It's just as how the Kalos region's two Legendary Pokémon gave life and took life."
"They are FILTH"

If by some chance you really didn't think that Lysandre was bad guy after that conversation, I applaud your optimism. Sycamore did respond to that entire dialogue of "I am going to kill the entire world because apparently beauty cannot truly be strived for" was with "What a passionate person! Like a burning flame! Oui!" 
Okay, fake French-ed the last Oui. I apologise, but I think you get my point. Bad guy.

What's interesting about Lysandre, though, follows a little later in the game. You meet people who talk about Lysandre as though he's an old friend. Someone who helped them pick themselves up and go for their dream. There was even one person in Snowbelle City who mentions that Lysandre had noble intentions and did his best to help people, but was eventually convinced of humanity's stupidity, as well as his own limitations did he eventually become a cynic.

I have never recalled a Pokemon game talking about their main villain as someone with admirable goals outside of their respective Team. Ever. Here, we were given another side of a usually one-dimensional villain. Really, Lysandre was probably a good person before he let his ideals and pessimism cloud his vision. He's brilliant enough to have made the Holo Caster, that's for sure, what's to say that he probably could've made even better and grander inventions had he not gone down the Path of Villainy™? It was mentioned that he and Sycamore were sort of like friends, or at least a little beyond acquaintances, so we can't say Lysandre went down the path due to loneliness or being outcasted or anything.

Before I end up rambling on, here's the gist of it. We were not given a lot to understand Lysandre, but we were given enough to know that Lysandre wasn't always hell-bent on "cleansing the world of filth." Will we ever know his background? Is he actually dead or alive after the collapse of the underground HQ in Geosenge Town? Is he truly evil and unconcerned of mankind in his battle for beauty? Will there be a Pokemon Z so we can finally understand where Zygarde stands in the whole mythos of Kalos region? Time will only tell.

Finally, since I believe this already much longer than anyone expected of a Pokemon post, I will talk about the Rivals. In short, the Rival character is the gender you did not choose in the character selection stage and get the default name. They chose the starter pokemon stronger against your starter type, and they're there to battle you along the way to become the next Region Champion, irregardless of whether or not that is actually what you're aiming for.

For the purpose of this topic, Serene will be the Rival character, since I tried out the male character in the game. Now, Serena is said to be the daughter of two rather prominent Pokemon battlers, seeing as the group of friends you join see her as amazing, as well as teaching you how to catch pokemon with Shauna. So it's natural for her to be relatively upset that she loses to you every single time. Especially when you battle for the Mega Ring.

Thing is, from what I've noticed, it's almost like you chip away at her confidence every time you beat her in battle. Sadly, I have no proper quotes here, but many times has she mentioned that the two of you "started at the same time" and wonders how you're able to trounce her in battle with (possibly) no trouble. I actually almost felt bad for her every time I was able to beat her, because it looked like everything she worked hard for was pretty much devastated in less than five minutes. 

It's just.
I'm not exactly sure how to feel, since I wasn't really the type to take Pokemon very seriously. Sure, I bred pokemon, but that was mostly for Pokedex reasons, or because I wanted to complete the Eeveelution. IVs were not exactly on top of my mind, and neither were natures and abilities. So for my character to be able to beat Serena without much trying, and seeing her slowly lose her confidence, kinda hits me wrong. Yes, she gains confidence towards the end, to a certain degree, but you and I know that you'll be fighting her using your A-Team as a practice run in Kiloude City.

Shuana. Well. Shauna is someone I don't really consider much of a Rival character. Sure, she battles more than Tierno and Trevor, but it seemed like she was stuck. Tierno and Trevor kind of knew what they wanted to do. Shauna, not so much. I mean, it's great that the characters now are a little more human, but you kind feel for this girl who tags along with her friends, unsure of what she wants to do and how she can help. There just wasn't much.

To wrap up this spew of Pokemon-related feels, Pokemon X and Y definitely took an interesting turn to keep both the old and new generation interested in the franchise. Sure, there will always be issues, such as when is too much pokemon too much and a lot of different sub-plots that will never really be explored, but it certainly catches the attention of people on the internet. Here's to hoping that the next generation won't be the one to stab you in the heart with feelings.

Well, that's it for this entry.
This is definitely the start of an epic adventure, and I hope you guys enjoy it :)

- Alex

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