I hadn’t planned on playing Pokemon Y. I started Pokemon Black with gusto but only got about about 13 hours into it before the sameness got to me. I was smart enough to rent Pokemon Black 2 and putter around with it before realizing that the same thing that I didn’t like about Black was also in play here. Along the way to the release of X and Y, I read about small changes made to the formula to streamline things. Nothing that would send the series off into a radical new direction but some things to modernize a game that has been in desperate need of modernization for some time. Take running. In Pokemon Y you can run from the outset, no special shoes require. Also, now your Pokemon get experience from capturing other Pokemon, so no more epic battles that end in nothing but a a new creature you probably won’t use due to how under-leveled it is. As exciting as these things sound, though, what finally pushed me over the edge was the experience share.
After the jump, what the heck is an experience share?
Being a successful Pokemon trainer follows two wildly divergent paths. One path has you carefully cultivating your team of creatures so that you minimize their weaknesses and maximize the number of enemy Pokemon that your team is strong against. Pokemon has come a long way from the fire, plant, water triumverate of the early games. With twenty different types, it can get pretty darn complicated to keep a diverse team fielded, especially as you move from one gym to another and you start capturing new Pokemon. This was the approach I always tried to follow as it felt like the approach that the game’s designers intended. Why give me so many monsters of so many different types if you don’t want me to build a dream team out of them?
The second approach involves leveling up your starter to such a high level that any type mismatches are rendered moot. If you have a level 60 starter against a level 15 monster, it doesn’t matter what you’re weak to, you’re winning that fight. This is the approach that seems to appeal to most younger players as not only is it incredibly easy to just keep your started in the main slot, the game doesn’t force you into a diverse approach the way other RPGs do.
The biggest obstacle to the first approach is the way that Pokemon gain experience. This is a strictly pay for play system. In simplest terms, the monsters used to defeat the current enemy all share the experience equally. Leveling up all of your monsters equally involves constantly swapping team members in and out which is great for learning your team’s moves, but sucks for leveling as every encounter’s experience ends up getting carved up among your team.
Enter the experience share. Experience shares have changed in their usage over the game’s generations, but in SoulSilver, if a Pokemon held the experience share, they would receive 50% of the experience for defeating a monster even if they did not participate in the battle. This made it a very handy item for leveling up new monsters, but the restriction of only one experience share per team meant that you were still spending time shuffling the share around between team members.
In Pokemon X/Y, not only does the experience share grant 50% experience to all Pokemon not involved in the fight, but it also grants 100% experience to all monsters in the fight. In other words, with the experience share, all fighting monsters get all of the experience from the fight as if they were the only monsters involved in the battle. Better still, it’s a key item which means you can turn it on and off.
Once I read about this item I had to play this game. The biggest roadblock towards leveling up all of my monsters and seeing their crazy moves and experimenting with different team makeups has been greatly diminished if not removed outright. Sure, some grinding will still be needed, but with the experience share, I can get new teams up to speed so much more quickly than in past games. I’m sure that purists will probably turn it off, preferring to adhere to the old ways, but those people probably weave all of their clothing and fight off colds with leeches and necromancy.
No longer will I have to choose between using this new untested team member and this grizzled veteran. No longer will I have to stay locked in to a set of Pokemon for fear of being under-powered and under-leveled. Once I get it, the experience share will set me free and I will never turn it off. Hell, I need to find a way to make one in real life so that I can spend my days staring at it. Soon my team will be the envy of all of Kalos! Those preschoolers won’t know what hit them.
Tomorrow: an embarrassment of early game riches.