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It’s time to revisit Pokémon X and Y before it’s too late

Key art for Pokémon X and Y.
The Pokémon Company

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to revisit Pokémon X and Y, the announcement of Pokémon Legends: Z-A just gifted you a perfect excuse to do so.

Released for Nintendo 3DS in 2013, Pokémon X and Y are important but quiet entries in the RPG series. They were forward-looking games that brought the series into full 3D and took significant steps in making Pokémon even more approachable and easy to play online. A lot of problems more hardcore fans have, like the games being too casual-focused or having a bevy of technical issues, also got their start here. That makes Pokémon X and Y fascinating games to revisit — and I recommend you do so soon.

Nintendo plans to shut off the online services for the 3DS in April. When it does that, some core features of Pokémon X and Y will be gone forever. As such, you’ll need to play one of these games very soon if you want to experience them in their full glory before Pokémon Legends: Z-A releases and takes us back to Kalos in 2025.

A new era

Pokémon X and Y are the first 3D games in the series, and they look the part. Replaying the RPGs now, the chunky visuals and constantly dipping frame rate certainly show their age. They feel like a warning shot for the technical problems that would eventually come to plague the series on Nintendo Switch, too. Although their exterior can be rough, there’s a lot to appreciate when digging deeper.

The player rollerblades through Lumiose City in Pokémon X and Y.
The Pokémon Company

The games are set in the region of Kalos, which is based on France. Its centerpiece is the Paris-inspired Lumiose City, which remains one of the biggest and most entertaining places to explore in a Pokémon game. I’m not surprised Game Freak is fully setting Pokémon Legends: Z-A there. When X and Y launched, it still felt like the series was punching above its weight class, considering the hardware it was on, and not falling behind the times like it is on Nintendo Switch.

Visual design is a highlight, with detailed towns and many charming monsters. X and Y also emphasize their narrative and wide cast of characters, many of whom are on a journey alongside the player. While the writing isn’t exceptional, this is one of the few Pokémon games where it feels like you’re going on an adventure with friends and coming of age as you take on a very adult threat. Its villains, Lysandre and Team Flare, are such hammy capitalist critiques that come back around to being hilarious.

On the gameplay front, Pokémon X and Y may not be as refined as their Unovan predecessors, but they introduced some ideas that would go on to define the series. This is the first game where the experience share applies to all Pokémon on the player’s team, and catching Pokémon offers up experience. Although those features may frustrate players looking for a more challenging experience, I remember that those features made this the first Pokémon game where I felt inspired to “catch ‘em all,” something I still strive to do in new entries.

A trainer uses Mega Evolution in Pokémon X and Y.
The Pokémon Company.

Mega Evolution, which unlocks a new form of Pokémon like Charizard or Mewtwo, is also a fun battle gimmick and one I enjoy using more than Z-moves, Dynamax, and Terastallization. The reveal trailer for Pokémon Legends Z-A teases that this feature will return, so it’s a good idea to replay this game and get a refresher on how it all works. Still, when it comes to story and gameplay, those are things you come to understand and appreciate at any point in the future. There are parts of Pokémon X and Y that will so go away forever.

End of an era

Pokémon X and Y were the first games in the series to make online play a truly ever-present part of the experience. If you’re connected to the internet, the Player Search System constantly appears on the 3DS’ bottom screen. From that, players can see their friends, acquaintances, and passersby from around the globe. This bottom screen menu is a hub for trading, battling, and exchanging gameplay buffs called O-Powers. I sunk countless hours on Wonder Trade-driven runs where I’d get random Pokémon from players I didn’t know, and I’m saddened that I won’t be able to do those things anymore very soon.

The Player Search System in Pokémon X and Y.
The Pokémon Company.

After April 8, 2024, those Player Search System features won’t work in Pokémon X and Y anymore. It marks the end of support for quite a few games. Thankfully, Nintendo says that Pokémon Bank will still be compatible with games like Pokémon X and Y after the online services shut down, so it’s at least possible to transfer any Pokémon from these games forward to titles like Scarlet and Violet for now. That doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed that part of the Pokémon X and Y experience will be gone forever in just a few weeks.

Some of these features could potentially return in some fashion, but that’s still not the same as the original. That can only be experienced in its initial form, without hacking, for another month or so. As such, you shouldn’t wait to revisit Pokémon X and Y. Hopefully, you’ll find more to appreciate about the games this time around, or at least get a proper primer so you’re excited when Pokémon Legends: Z-A drops sometime in 2025.

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Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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