Developer: Game Freak
Finally! An official fully 3D portable Pokemon game has been released. Game Freak waited quite a while to attempt this as they chose to stick to the 2D engine throughout the original DS’ lifetime despite it being capable of 3D graphics. There was no way they could carry this same engine into the 3DS generation so in a way, Game Freak were forced to get with the times and make the game that many people of my generation could only dream of when they were younger. Did they succeed with their first attempt at this? Here’s what I think:
The 3DS isn’t the most powerful portable gaming device (most smart phones have better graphic processors) but this game still looks pretty amazing. It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to console or PC games so this is only based on a comparison to other portable games. EVERYTHING is in 3D now including characters, buildings, terrains, cities and Pokemon. They all looks great with smooth animations for all Pokemon also. It’s difficult to see the true beauty of this game without playing it on an actual 3DS. This is something a YouTube video cannot convey.
The only issues I had with the graphics are that the 3D screen effect is only present during one on one Pokemon battles and in caves. Not only that but the frame rate often drops drastically while the 3D is on. If you keep the 3D slider down, you won’t have any issues but some might have expected the 3D effect to be present in the overworld which unfortunately is not the case.
The story in this game was surprisingly captivating. I never really expected much from Pokemon games storyline-wise but since Black/White and Black 2/White 2, the bar has been significantly raised. The game takes place in a fictional area called Kalos. It was slightly based off Paris as there is some French dialog in the game along with an Eiffel Tower-esque building. At the beginning, you get to choose the gender and colour of your protagonist. The game even allows you to change your characters clothes which has never been present in previous Pokemon games. You are then introduced to your “Mom” and four local town friends that you will begin your adventure with. These characters all had some sort of value and it definitely trumps the old one single rival system of the older games.
The usual goals of collecting the eight gym badges to go and challenge the Elite Four and the Champion all remain. The journey to get there however, is quite compelling. Team Flare (the new antagonists) have their own agendas and will try to stop anyone who gets in their way as you find out very quickly.
This is the only component of the game that has changed very much. Of course it looks better and animations for each move look incredible but the bottom line is, it’s still the same Rock, Paper, Scissors styles gameplay everyone is used to. In spite of that, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I knew exactly what I was doing as soon I started the game so theres no learning curve for experienced players. Even new players will quickly adjust once they understand all the different elements, types and weaknesses. That being said, one simply cannot know about every single pokemon so an online pokedex such as Serebii is always helpful for a reference.
There is only one new type of Pokemon in this game and that is the Fairy type. They are probably the strongest type of Pokemon so learning their weakness is essential. Another new significant feature to the game are the online modes. Many of these such as the Global Trade System and Wonder Trade were around in past games but they were not executed well. The GTS allows players to offer any Pokemon for a specific one in a trade. The WT system is quite interesting as you choose a Pokemon which gets sent to a random trainer anywhere in the world and you get whatever Pokemon they chose. It’s so bloody addictive! I got some pretty decent ones through it.
In terms of new Pokemon, there aren’t that many new additions in this series. Only 68 new species have been introduced but of course, the other 650 are still available. Many can be transferred from older games but this feature will only be available once the Pokemon Bank service goes live.
Online battling is still around and works really well. There are many different game types to choose from and battling with real life friends has been made even easier than before.
I finished the main story after around 30 hours of gameplay. There’s quite a few things I have left to do post-game and I do plan on having a few more online battles. That will all give me plenty more hours of gameplay so this isn’t one of those games you will let collect dust after story completion.
If there ever was a single reason to buy a 3DS, this is it. I’m really impressed by everything it had to offer and allowed me to feel like a kid again (anyone who knows me well would say I do that too much already) and provides a lot of nostalgic moments that you can’t forget. If you’re an old Pokemon fan who hasn’t played a game in the series since the Gameboy days, I guarantee this will get you back into it. If you’re new to Pokemon…… give it a try, I think it would do a good job of introducing you to the world of those wacky Japanese Pocket Monsters!
My Score 9/10