There's a reason the Pokémon series is still going strong. After all, who wouldn't like to catch and raise their own team of cute little animal-cum-monsters, as you rise through the ranks on your quest to become the best Pokémon trainer in the region, and save the world in the process? Pokémon X and Y brings the familiarly addictive blend of catching, collecting and battling to the 3DS, with much improved character animations, some new creatures to find and a whole slew of new tweaks and features.
Setting out from your home town with nothing but a Pokédex (a high-tech digital encyclopaedia that records information on the Pokémon you encounter automatically) and a single Pokémon, you're on a mission to help the Kalos region's Professor Sycamore with his research by finding, and catching as many Pokémon as you can. As you tour the country, switching Pokemon in and out of your six Pokémon squad as you go, you'll meet a myriad of other Pokémon trainers and wild Pokémon, all spoiling for a fight in the form of Pokémon's famous turn-based battles. Sending your Pokémon out to stare down your foe, it's up to you to choose from your Pokémon's selection of four moves, use healing items or switch out the current battling 'mon as you try to defeat your opponent. There's no rush to make a move, and you have plenty of time to think things through, which is good, as there's a surprising amount of planning to do. Working out the correct type match-ups for maximum damage (each Pokémon has their own type, with each having their own strengths and weaknesses - for example, water beats fire and flying beats electric) is something children love to do - and you may find your little one turning into something of a Pokémon professor themselves!
Although Pokémon is a great choice for kids, there are a few barriers that may serve as a bit of a stumbling block for younger players. The main thing parents need to know about is that it's very, very text heavy, with absolutely no voice acting, and reams of dialogue to get through. That said, as such an incredibly child friendly game, if you have a little one who enjoys the TV show, and is just starting to get confident with reading, this could be a great way of helping them get up to speed, as they'll push themselves to learn what's going on in the game.
With plenty for both veterans and newcomers alike, whether you prefer to play through the story with a bunch of your favourite 'mons, want to raise some ultimate fighting Pokémon with perfect stats or just enjoy filling up your Pokédex, it's the sort of game that'll keep kids of all types hooked for a while. There's even a bonus 'Pokémon Amie' mode, where you can stroke, feed and play games with your little Poké pals, or play tile-swapping jigsaws, berry-matching and yarn-ball-heading stylus-controlled mini-games, which is bound to go down a treat. In summary, if they can read, they'll love Pokémon X and Y.
While it's true that the Pokémon games revolve around pitting the Pokémon against each other in battles, there's really very little for parents to worry about here. With a distinct lack of swearing, gore or even actual violence, the games themselves are generally tamer than even the TV series. The Pokémon of the games rarely ever connect with each other in their attacks and show no visible marks or wounds - perhaps the worst part is them swooning and "fainting" at the end of a battle, before disappearing in a flash of light when all their health has been depleted. It's important to remember that Pokémon don't get "killed", they merely faint, and can be revived at the nearest Pokémon Centre, back good as new (but perhaps a little annoyed with you), and ready to fight another day.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS