Yes, I am a huge fan, been one since the first generation. Of course the games were redundant for so long, the few changes often seem forced or were hit and miss on how good they were. However, I love the series for the gameplay, and nothing else. The monsters are so cool, pokemon are like your best friends, pets, that accompany you on your adventures, but these pets like to battle with each other.
That's the whole premise for the entire series, monsters that enjoy battling each other, but they never kill each other, even if they are mortal enemies. The newest generation had such a wonderful story, far more enthralling than the previous gens because it moved along faster and had a wonderful ending, very moving. So I was inspired to write about it a bit.
There is only one major flaw in the game, the lack of stereoscopic effect for most of the game. This makes the few parts with it available seem out of place, and sometimes the constant switching between the parts with and those without will cause headaches or dizziness. Now when I say that's the only flaw, I'm talking major and unavoidable flaws.
One of the minor flaws is the movement in the signature city, Lumiose. The camera angle and movement are not synchronized, it feels like you're actually stumbling around the city. Without the stereoscopic effect the city also made me very nauseous, yes, that's why I like the stereoscopic effect for the 3DS, it's the only way I can play games with dynamic cameras for long. Normally such cameras will give me vertigo after only a few minutes, and I can't focus my eyes right during camera movements without there being actual depth to the image.
The rest of the game is pure gold. One of the pleasant surprises are the pokemon character models, they turned out even better than I expected. You can now get a feel for how big they are, and many of those that looked kinda lame in 2D sprites now look really awesome in the 3D models, like Raichu, who looks adorable now. Super training is the best mini-game any generation has ever had, and it's useful. Aimee is just fun, Togepi is so much fun in Aimee.
The map graphics were expected, they're not much better than fifth generation but now all the characters are done with 3D models as well, making them fit in better. The changes they made to the battle system balance it out a lot, which brought competitive battles online to a new level. Finally, player character customization is great, though more clothing options would be nice, it adds a lot more color to the trainers' appearances.
Now that the general review is done, let's look at what really makes Pokemon a phenomenon and why this generation was such a keystone for the franchise. Pokemon is more than just battling monsters against each other, there are so many different challenges to face in the game, and so many niches that a player can become a part of. Everyone has to be an explorer at some point, to find everything and finish the story itself. But once the story is complete, you have the in game championship title, and your PC is filled with a bunch of different pokemon, you can now focus on your niche.
Perhaps you are a hunter, you seek to complete the pokedex by going to every point on the map and every safari, seeking out anything you don't have and catching it, then trading for others on the GTS or with friends. Hunters are the ones you can ask for any particular pokemon, and chances are they'll be able to breed a quick one for you. You can describe a pokemon to them, and they'll know the name of it, as well as where to find it. The hunter is base niche, also the most popular. Though it takes a while, it's not as intense as the other niches, even a casual player can be a good hunter.
Then there are the battlers, you train the ultimate teams, move sets designed to meet any challenge presented. You have all the TMs in the game, and you know how to use them. Competitive battling requires intense training, testing, and lots of things to memorize. You have to know the types of each pokemon, and the weaknesses for those. You have to know the moves, what they do, their priority, their power and accuracy, and when the best time to use them is. Strategy and planning is key to winning battles, being ready for anything. I will eventually cover some of the strategies on this blog.
The final niche are the breeders. Pokemon breeding is a game on it's own, the breeding system has been tweaked and developed for a while and it finally feels stable. Breeders have to have a lot of patience, and a little luck. Breeding the perfect pokemon takes a lot of time, collecting and hatching eggs then evaluating their IVs and natures. Sometimes you want to breed moves into the pokemon too, that takes even more work. This means you have to also know which stats are most important, which moves they will learn when fully trained, and what parents to use.
Regardless of the niche you get into, you can test your fully trained pokemon in the Battle Institute or the Battle Maison, to see if they are versatile enough and earn points for items and other goodies at the same time. Then, when you're finally ready, you can dive into the competitive battles online.
Competitive battles have gone to a whole new level, with strategies that were not possible before, and pokemon that can take a hit from the strongest moves and still be ready for more. Thus I will spend several posts to discuss those, and the strategies involved there. I welcome and encourage discussion, clean and nice though. But to help anyone new, here are a few resources that will help out:
Bulbapedia Wiki A community driven wiki.
Serebii Massive online Pokemon resource.
The Pokecommunity Great forum to discuss Pokemon on.