As captivating as ever, if not more so.
I can already hear some of you groaning. Oh yes, a "new" Pokémon game came out this year, so it must be on NWR's Favorite Games of 2013. Well guess what, Einstein, you're right, but we really mean it this time. Pokémon X & Y aren't so much a series revolution as a direct evolution, forcing the traditionally 2D series into eye-popping 3D for the first time, and it's a glorious change. Looking nothing like the primitive N64 Stadium character models, these look like the 2D sprites come to life with smooth edges and plenty of animations. The world is also 3D, and you can customize your character's look and clothing!
The game also introduces a new form of evolution for certain Pokémon: have them hold Mega Evolution stones (with incredibly obvious names like Pinsirite and Aerodactylite) and they'll gain a stat boost, type change, or both during battle. While you are given a few over the course of the game, it's your job to find most of them. These wild card changes add unique layer of strategy to the game. Oh, and did I forget to mention the Fairy type? The first new type since Gold and Silver for the Game Boy, Fairies were created seemingly to nerf Dragons–Dragon-type attacks don't even affect Fairies. In addition to new critters, several familiar Pokémon are retroactively given the Fairy type, like Clefairy (makes sense) and Snubbel (less sense).
Pokémon X & Y's story is typical for the series: Team Flare, apparently made up of Little Monsters, is trying to eradicate suffering from the world through dastardly means, and the game's two mascot Legendaries are involved. In addition to the main quest, there are of course several minigames including the ability to make films, work for a private eye, and fill out your Friend Park (the new Safari Zone). And of course, catching 'em all is a constant, overriding draw–especially now that they're all in 3D. No small accomplishment considering the sheer number of Pokemon exist now.
Once the Pokémon Bank launches in...uh...someday, the fever will catch us all again as we fill out of X & Y Pokedexes with Black & White pocket monsters. I know, I'm scared too.