The lack of real innovation or change to the tried and true formula is unsurprising. Game Freak has been releasing what is essentially the same experience (in terms of their remakes) with a change of setting, new Pokémon, and a few new features for years. A lot of the new features are completely new to me, with the last game in the series I finished being 2008’s Platinum. I already compiled a list of my favourite improvements: higher graphical fidelity, improved movement, free flying, interface enhancements, convenient mechanics, worldwide connectivity and mega evolutions are the biggest additions.
It may be the same basic experience, but despite its age and the amount of times I’ve been on this adventure, it’s still as exciting and addicting as ever. Choosing a starter is still a difficult and meaningful choice. Catching and experimenting with new Pokémon is an experience comparable to Blizzard’s Hearthstone, with each Pokémon/card drastically changing the experience and giving new life to the game every time a new element is introduced. For the uninitiated, Pokémon can seem like a shallow and simplistic, comparable to modern phone games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush. This couldn’t be more wrong; with around 700 different Pokémon and their various types, moves, strengths, and weaknesses, it can provide countless hours of strategic entertainment. Hardcore fans can even delve into complex mechanics like EV training. Casual and complex features are proudly on display.
Unfortunately the series can still be beaten absurdly easily by just using your starter. Focusing on a small group with EXP share still leads to the game becoming a breeze. For me, though, my play-through was much more difficult and time consuming. I experimented with every Pokémon I caught, raising pretty much every Pokémon I had. This did kinda break my flow and force me to grind a lot, as I ended up with boxes full of underleveled Pokémon and nothing capable of beating the trainers I was facing. It was fun, though, and well worth the time and effort. I highly recommend trying something like this, if you haven’t already. It forces you to be strategic in an otherwise easy single-player and gives you the chance to play with all the Pokémon you can get your hands on.
In my top five improvements list, I explain why the massive graphics overhaul was so wonderfully impressive and made the experience far more compelling and beautiful. “It’s a testament to how much technology has progressed since the 90’s.” The 3DS obviously pales in comparison to PC and console competitors like Dragon Age: Inquisition in fidelity and scope, but it was never meant to be a rival to that. As a handheld game, it’s a real showcase for the power of the 3DS and is definitely a 3D Pokémon game fans have been waiting for. Of course, you already know this if you played Pokémon X and Y, but these upgrades are new to me and I can’t resist the chance to compliment them. It’s an aspect that definitely caters to those who’ve missed out on the franchise since the days of the GameBoy Advance.
If you’ve played any Pokémon game you know exactly what to expect here. The graphics and various new features are worthy additions to the series, but not enough to warrant a purchase for someone tired of the formula. For the rest of us though, this is a welcome trip back in time to the third generation of Pokémon, with all the benefits of modern technology. A lengthy post-game and worldwide multiplayer features make it a game with an almost unlimited amount of things to do. It’s likely that you did these things before, years ago. If you haven’t or want an improved, but not all that different Pokémon game for your 3DS, this is the one to get.