Pokémon Y journal - entry four

I’ve come to realize that Lumiose City only has a handful of real worthwhile things to offer. The ludicrous number of cafes act as a series of hurdles, barring you access to the large boutique unless you visit every café and talk to all the patrons within (the correlation between coffee drinkers and your own personal sense of style escapes me entirely, but whatever). The restaurants acting as similar to the Battle Subways from Black and White, albeit more speedy in their delivery of one battle after another, is by far the most engaging diversion I’ve found in Lumiose City thus far. I do get the sense that a few things like the train station will open up more of the Kalos region after the main game has been completed.

I’m definitely a fan of the challenge factor that Y has dished up on the whole, though I’d hardly consider it to be consistent in that regard. The first few hours were notably slower paced in order to provide adequate time for explaining all of the sixth generation’s new features, which is just as well because there are quite a few at play from the get-go. After the third gym, the game seemed to briefly barrel forth at a breakneck speed, but has since settled for a happy medium of a pace. I’ve enjoyed the degree of challenge that the gym leaders have all thrown my way, though a couple of the most recent gyms did strike me as a being a little larger than they needed to be – I appreciate the unique aesthetic angles in each, but I’m visiting the gyms to battle my way to another badge, and I’d prefer to not have to spend fifteen minutes walking between the entrance and the gym leader.

I am rather surprised that Team Flare’s role hasn’t increased much. They did manage a momentary takeover of the Pokéball factory and later bullied one Abomasnow that probably could have pummeled the lot of them, but they’re still being snarky and mischievous. All I’ve really gathered from the Team Flare grunts is that they’re greedy and still don’t recognize my character as a legitimate threat to whatever their grand plans are. By this point in both the generation I and II titles, the Team Rocket goons were annoyed with Red’s constant foils to their thievery, and both Cyrus and Ghetsis had directly addressed the protagonists of their respective generation IV and V games. I get the sense that the story has some grand direction that it wants to take, but man, it is sure taking its sweet time getting there.

The online component runs incredibly smoothly and offers a quick and responsive battle system. While it is possible to battle and trade with your friends in close proximity, battles can instantaneously be offered to anyone around the globe via the scrolling ‘passerby’ row of the Player Search System displayed on the lower screen of the 3DS. This means that you could be walking down a route or in the middle of tackling a gym and receive a random battle request. These requests can be declined if you find the rules are not to your liking, or blocked entirely if you find them to be obnoxious, but they will never interrupt your gameplay on the top screen.

Meanwhile, the soccer minigame used to boost any of your party Pokémon’s stats is intuitive, if not a little boring and monotonous. If you feel one of your Pokémon has a speed stat, a defense stat, an attack stat, etc. that is not up to par with where you would like it to be, you can spend a few minutes training here and there to buff it up – it has a long-term payoff, but can yield very noticeable results. Pokémon Amie is the last of these three touch screen-based additions, and despite my belief that it would be an annoying grind of silly interactions with your party Pokémon in order to make boosting their friendship rating with you easier to keep track of, it is in fact a relatively simple means of building your Pokémon’s affection rating (which is different than their friendship level). A Pokémon with full affection will perform significantly better in battle, landing critical hits, more easily, dodging some attacks, and occasionally gaining boosted experience points, all for the sake of making their trainer happy. While you cannot max out a single Pokémon’s affection rating in one go, a little bit here and a little bit there can make this process super easy and – thanks to the puzzle and berry picking minigames – actually kind of fun.

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