Review: Pokédex 3D

I’m a pretty big Pokémon fan. I’ve played nearly every Pokémon game out there and own over 2,000 unique Pokémon cards in five or six different languages; and since I was young, I always wanted my own Pokédex. So when I got a 3DS and saw that a Pokédex was on the Nintendo eShop for free, I leapt onto the chance to download it. Finally, my childhood dreams would come through! Or not.

Pokédex 3D
System: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Creatures Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 6, 2011
MSRP: Free from Nintendo eShop

So what exactly is Pokédex 3D? Quite simply, it’s a Pokédex in 3D. And that’s pretty cool. Basically, what you do is download the program and start collecting Pokémon. Once you’ve collected a Pokédex entry for a Pokémon, you can see it in all its glory: you can hear its cry; zoom in and out to see details; view it from any angle; and you can look at stats like its rating for HP, Attack, Defense, etc., or height and weight. You can read the Pokédex entry for the Pokémon, learn what egg group it’s in, and read about its abilities and evolutionary line. You can also look at what moves it can learn at what level or through what TM. But even with all this information available, there’s still quite a bit missing. Examples of missing information include Individual Values (IVs) and Effort Values (EVs), EXP at level 100, breeding information, and catch rates, which the more hardcore Pokémon trainers would want to know about. Other interesting things that are left out are gender ratios, color, and body type, which is just fun for curiosity’s sake. All of this is information easily found on Bulbapedia, so it’s kind of weird that they didn’t include it.

If you press A, the Pokémon you’re looking at will perform some distinct movement. For example, Emolga does a flip and floats down, and Oshawott takes off its shell and tosses it into the air. As the Pokémon’s moving, you can pause the video and get a different view of it using the circle pad. There’s also a sticker book which includes Augmented Reality (AR) stickers, which you obtain by scanning AR Markers with your 3DS; and photo stickers, which you get from taking a picture of a Pokémon while it’s moving. You can also sort your Pokémon or search by particular criteria, like registered moves or type. You can even add them to a list of favorite Pokémon.

You start out with the data of sixteen Pokémon: the starters and their evolutionary lines, Audino, Scraggy, Minccino, Emolga, Foongus, Axew, and Hydreigon. In order to obtain more Pokémon data, you can use a variety of ways. The first one is the SpotPass feature, which basically allows you to get the information over wireless broadband Internet; however, the Pokémon you obtain are random, and you get a max of three per day using this feature. You can also also scan AR Markers as shown on the left. If your friend has a 3DS and Pokédex 3D, you can also get entries from them through a trading feature.

The cool thing about the Pokédex is that you can really see things that you would probably not notice otherwise, and the Pokémon themselves look wonderful. For example, did you know that the things on Samurott’s legs are swords that can be unsheathed? Or that Audino has hearts on the bottom of its feet? Or that Cubchoo can suck up its mucus, which is simultaneously cute and disgusting (congratulations on achieving that one, Nintendo)? Or that Vullaby’s bone armor has a heart cut out of it? These are things you might not have noticed or known through the regular Pokémon games, so it’s kind of cool for fans to be able to notice these features.

That said, there are some drawbacks. For one, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for the way the application is set up. The Start and Select buttons launch the AR Viewer instead of a menu, and the X button gets you a menu. The only way to see the names of multiple Pokémon at once is to press the Y button to get a horizontal list, and there is no option to view the Pokédex like you would in one of the games.

Some of the Pokémon’s movements are wastes, too. For example, Snivy, Purrloin, and Zorua do flips. Tepig and Solosis just jump around. Lillipup and Tympole just roll around. While some of these might give some idea as to the Pokémon’s personality (Lillipup looks adorable while rolling, getting up, and barking), most of them make the Pokémon feel generic. Zorua is a really cool Pokémon, but I feel like having it do some backflips is a bit of a disservice to fans who might want to see it create an illusion or use Night Daze, a move only known to it and its evolution, Zoroark.

There’s also not much of a selection. You can see the 153 Pokémon from Black & White, and that’s it. That’s 164 entries when you keep in mind that some Pokémon have multiple forms. And you can’t even easily get all those Pokémon, either. 151 entries can be unlocked through methods other than trading. Sixteen come with the application, eight are scannable through AR Markers, and the remaining 127 have to come from SpotPass or friends. The Pokémon that aren’t available except through trading are two of the three evolutionary lines of the elemental monkeys, one gender of Unfezant, three of the four seasons of Deerling and Sawsbuck, and one gender of Frillish and Jellicent. This is different from the other Pokémon games in that you can’t just own another version of the game and manage to get a full Pokédex by borrowing someone else’s system; you actually need another system and a friend who is lucky enough to not get the same Pokémon you did. So if you don’t have friends with a 3DS, be prepared to have an incomplete Pokédex unless you want to take a chance and follow this guy’s method of obtaining all of them with a single 3DS. (Warning: Do at your own risk. I’m not sure if this method has any repercussions for your system.)

I also have to ask myself what the point of the sticker book is. You can’t enlarge any stickers or anything; it’s really just little pictures on a page. The only thing that collecting these stickers does for the Pokédex is that the number of stickers collected correspond to upgrades within the system, like choosing backgrounds for the Pokémon or the stopwatch button I mentioned earlier. That’s it. I mean, sure, it looks cool to see a Pokémon next to your favorite book in the AR Viewer, especially if you can make the code big enough to make a life-sized Pokémon, but the sticker books? They’re useless except for helping you count what you have.

So far, this app has a lot of unlocked potential and wasted potential. Considering updates are an option, one can only hope that more than just the Black & White Pokémon can be unlocked in the future and that they add more functionality to the features that feel tacked on for show. Right now, this app really only exists to show off how pretty the 3D graphics are. They should have done what the free app Pokédroid did before it got removed from the Android Market due to copyright infringement. Since The Pokémon Company were the ones who wanted it off the market, it’s not like they didn’t know it existed.

PROS
* Pokémon in 3D and colorful, detailed graphics
* A lot of information available
* Potential to be useful in the future

CONS
* Only features Black & White Pokémon
* Doesn’t have information that more serious players would use
* You can’t get all the Pokémon without someone else
* Stupid menu setup
* Too many features with too little value

FINAL SCORE: D

Disclosure: This application was not sent by Creatures Inc. At the time of writing, the reviewer had obtained full information for 49 Pokémon. The reviewer is still looking to complete her Pokédex.

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