Seventeen years and the Pokemon series is still going strong. It's almost impressive to think that over the years, the series has been able to stick with the same basic formula and still bring in droves of fans, new and old alike. Then again, maybe the simple concept of catching them all (and maybe getting a special colored Pokemon) is enough for Game Freak to keep pumping out the different versions, but series veterans began to complain of the Pokemon games getting stale... after all, you can only collect eight badges and become the Pokemon League Champion so many times before it gets old.
With the fifth generation of Pokemon, Game Freak made some small, but noticable changes to the formula, including the attempt to create a more meaningful plot, as well various improvements that helped make battles and exploration less slow and tedious. Now, with the series first entry on the 3DS, Pokemon Y offers yet more changes to the tried-and-true formula to help keep interest alive in tired Pokefans--most prominent of which being the series' jump from the pixel standard to fully 3D. Does the sixth generation of Pokemon rekindle lost love for the series (or keep the loving blaze strong), or does Pokemon Y fizzle and leave much to be desired?
However, most people aren't going to be playing a Pokemon game for its engaging plots, and Y improves in almost every other field. The biggest change to the Pokemon formula this time around is the jump to 3D graphics, and this jump succeeded wonderfully. The Pokemon now feel more alive than ever before, and the attack animations have more power behind them as well. The actual 3D effect is a bit lacking, though: It's only available in battles and a few specific areas, and when you turn the slider up the fps stutters pretty dramatically. It's best to not use the 3D with this title, despite the effects themselves not looking bad.
Another big upgrade is how easy it is to connect with other players via the Player Search System. Any time after you start the game, you can connect to the Internet and see friends playing online at the same time, as well as passerbys from around the world. From there, you can choose someone to trade or battle with, as well as access the GTS and the Wonder Trade, where you trade a random Pokemon for another random Pokemon. That's right, you no longer have to trek back to a Pokemon Center to trade Pokemon, nor do you need a Friend Code for a spur of the moment battle: As long as you have an Internet connection, you're good to go. The only awkquard thing about the PSS (and other online functions in the game) is that you'll lose your Internet connection if you put your system into standby mode; seeeing as the 3DS typically holds its connection even in standby, it's somewhat odd that Pokemon Y doesn't.
Super Training is another addition to this new Pokemon game, and helps to get the average Pokemon player into a more competitve scene. Super Training is available at the start of the game, and essentially allows you to train Pokemon in Effort Values, a previously invincible stat that required a fair amount of research to understand. EVs determine how much a Pokemon will gain in a given stat, so it's helpful in gaining an edge over other players online, though not nearly as important in a normal playthrough. Essentially, Super Training takes gaining EVs down to playing through some mini-games and your Pokemon hitting punching bags, making the process overall much faster and less tedious. Unfortunately the game itself doesn't offer much explanation on Super Training, which somewhat ruins the point of it, but anyone that fiddles with it will be able t o get the gist of it quickly enough.
Of course, there are other small upgrades to the general game. Little things like different grass colors having different Pokemon apperance rates, the ability to customise your trainer's looks, and battle changes like Grass-types not being affected by spore moves all add a bit to the game and simply make it that little bit more fun to play.
We can't forget about the new Pokemon type, either. The Fairy-type, the first new Pokemon type since the advent of Dark- and Steel-types in Pokemon Gold/Silver, has a big affect on how people can use weaknesses and resistances to their advantage. Fairy types help take down some of the previously difficult to defeat types (Dragon- and Dark-types), as well as give Steel-type moves a bit of a boost be being weak to them. Overall the new type is an interesting addition to the formula, albeit one that only series veterans may truly apprecaite.
Also, there is an overall lack of post-game content, especially compared to the fifth generation of games. After you complete the main story, you get access to the Friend Safari, a neat little twist on the Safaris of the past involving the friends registered in the 3DS and whether they're also playing Pokemon. But, other than that and the typical couple of extra caves to explore, that's about it. Other than trying to fill up the Kalos region Pokedex, there's little incentive to keep playing unless you're interested in trying to battle with others online.
It's important to mention that there are also a relatively small number of new Pokemon for this new generation: There are only 69 new Pokemon this generation. While that may seem disappointing, Black/White brought in so many new Pokemon it makes sense that the number is cut down a bit this time around.
So, how does this new Pokemon generation stack up? For the most part, it's another fantastic entry to the series. Moreover, it's a great game to re-introduce old fans of the series with its graphical and mechanical upgrades. If Pokemon X or Y interests you, consider picking it up; unless you're completely turned off of the franchise, you'll find much to enjoy in this 3DS game.