Gamer Drama: A Story Review of Pokemon Y

 

Before you say anything—I know. Pokémon isn’t meant to be played for the story. The point of any Pokémon game is the Pokémon themselves—catching them, (EV) training them, and making the best team you can put together. The goal is always to beat the Elite Four, and then the Champion. It is to be the very best, like no one ever was (yes, I went there).

In case you don’t know, Gamer Drama is the name for my collection of video game reviews. In these reviews, I typically focus on the story-telling aspects of the game—setting, plot, characters. Obviously, this is why the Pokémon Y edition of Gamer Drama will be shorter—the setting and main characters are nearly indistinguishable from edition to edition. Sure, you go to different regions, but they all look fairly similar. There are different Pokémon and different gyms, but the story experience of playing the game doesn’t really change significantly from game to game. This is why I’m only going to focus on the storyline.

In Pokémon Y, your character (and four of your friends) receive starter Pokémon from Professor Sycamore. The ladies’ man prof is more laid back than previous professors, and encourages each of you to pursue your own Poké path. Shortly after meeting the professor in the Kalos region’s central city, Lumiose, he introduces you to Lysandre. This man is Kalos’s wealthiest citizen, and a genius inventor. However, he seems a little downtrodden, and he bemoans the state of the world. It’s obvious that something’s up with him.

But that’s not your concern at the moment. You continue to make your way through the Kalos region by completing quests, catching more Pokémon, and defeating gym leaders. You begin to clash with the flamboyant members of Team Flare—who make vague references to the end of the world, and assert that they’ll be safe. While you and your rival are willing to fight Team Flare members when they pop up, you’re only mildly curious about what’s going on.

After the seventh gym, though, you receive a message on your Holocaster. Lo and behold, Lysandre announces that he and Team Flare are going to kill almost everyone (and every Pokémon) in the world.

Sure, there are hints of what’s going on, but they remain at the same level throughout the game. It’s only after getting seven gym badges that you’re suddenly contacted by Lysandre and the main conflict of the game crashes over your head. In Pokémon Black, the conflict between your character and Team Plasma evolved over the entire game. It almost seems like they completely forgot about making a storyline for Pokémon Y, though, and just tacked one on at the end.

The only thing that shows the developer had plans for this storyline is the integration of the legendary Pokémon, Yveltal. Yveltal awakens every few centuries to rain death upon the world, and he powers the machine (originally created by a mysterious giant man). The only opportunity for you to catch the legendary Pokémon comes when you try to stop Lysandre’s genocide.

The mysterious giant, I think, is the single worst part of the storyline. You see this guy once while wandering the “wilderness” of the Kalos region. The next time you see him, he’s locked up in Lysandre Labs. You witness him telling the story of an ancient war, in which he lost his beloved Pokémon. Unable to deal with its death, he builds a machine to resurrect his Flabébé. In order to do this, though, the machine kills a bunch of other people and Pokémon. Tortured by guilt, the giant’s Pokémon abandons him, and he begins to wander the wilderness for hundreds of years with the goal of finding the Pokémon again. After defeating the Elite Four, you battle the giant—the ancient King of Kalos—and in doing so, the example of your love for your Pokémon redeems him. His Flabébé floats down from the sky and rejoins him.

The entire plotline could have worked without this character and his story. Sure, Lysandre is using his ancient machine to kill everyone, but Lysandre could have built a machine himself. He’s a genius, after all. If the main conflict was sudden, the importance of the giant is completely out of left field. It just emphasizes the lack of effort that was put into the plot of the game.

All in all, the plot of Pokémon Y is one of the weakest in the series—at least, of the games that I’ve played (I got lost somewhere between Leaf Green and Soul Silver). As I said, though, the Pokémon games are not meant to be played for the plot. They’re just there to add a little flavor to the experience. So while the story behind Pokémon Y isn’t very good, the game is still a great experience. The innovations in the sixth generation are certainly worth checking out. 

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