Pokémon X Review (Nintendo 3DS)

It has certainly been a long time since I’ve played a Pokémon game. The last game I had was Blue and I enjoyed it. So this makes me a veteran but also a newbie. Part of that has something to do with why I decided to buy the latest game. I had the opportunity to pick Squirtle once again for a starter, a very tough decision. So how is this new game?



Create a new Pokémon installment with 3D graphics and worldview, add a few new and old pokemon to capture, play around with a new form of Evolution.

The Kalos Region

The Kalos Region


Graphics and Level Design

A lot of people talk about the 3D graphics and how big of an improvement it is. So the animation is nice, but it pretty much is just how I remember Pokémon Stadium. It’s not a complete animation but that’s okay. Like Fire Emblem, I turned off the animations so the encounters would go by faster. When you run into one or a horde of pokemon every four step, then that feature becomes very handy. The only downfall is I would like to see the animation for each attack at least once, but not enough to keep the animations on.

3D Pokémon! ...okay

3D Pokémon! …okay

Another interesting detail is the lack of 3D in the game. only a few occasions like battles is the 3D available. There are some landscapes that feel like they would be fantastic if rendered in the stereoscopic 3D. The result is that when an environment is in 3D, you are surprised or don’t even notice it. The 3D effects did not impress me. I don’t know if that has to do with the launch of the 2DS or not, though I do find it interesting how that is the case.

On the flipside, I found traveling through Lumiose City to be a pain, especially at first. While it might sound like a neat idea to have that over the shoulder perspective, it just made it easy to get lost in the city, even with the little map. When I reached the city, I felt like everything slowed down and it was annoying to find what I wanted, like a certain café you need to reach later, and there are quite a few cafes in the town. While the shift of camera is fancy, it can lead to quite a few frustrations, especially when going out on Route 4. If leaving from Lumiose City, you have to press forward, but then you need to push down otherwise you’ll just re-enter the city.

Which café was it again?

Which café was it again?

For some of the gyms, Game Freak had some interesting ideas. Some of the maps would rotate around as you turned a corner. I liked the feeling, and the psychic gym’s design is possibly my favorite if it did not have so much walking. However, for the grass gym, using the vines to swing was neat but if you are like me and want to battle everyone, you have to backtrack quite a bit to explore all the routes.



The sound is how anyone will remember. Each pokemon still makes those interesting sounds they did in Red and Blue. On a different note, I enjoyed the theme for the professor quite a bit. It reminded me of Professor Layton. Is that a coincidence for style? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just my imagination. Either way, it’s my favorite Pokémon song besides the classic theme.



The story is one of the weak points of the game. Then again, who plays a Pokémon game for the story? Anyways, it’s obvious who the boss of Team Flare is from the start. The cutscenes feel more like a nuisance than the characters themselves. Do I care if this is the first time whatever-her-name is watching fireworks alone with a boy? To me, the story of pokemon is, “I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was…” and also to defeat Gary Oak while searching for Mew so as to Catch’em All .

yeah... I wonder who this guy is...

Yeah… I wonder who this guy is…



The controls are fairly simple. Just before the first gym battle, you can obtain rollerskates which are used with the Circle Pad. This makes moving faster, but sometimes it’s too fast. The D-pad can be used for simple walking or running when holding the B button. There are some places you can’t use rollerskates though (like indoors). You can also obtain the bike before the second gym leader. That however, is a key item, and you’ll want to “register” it for easy access.

When you register a key item, you can press the Y button and then a direction to access it. So the map and fishing rods can also be assigned.

On the bottom of the touch screen, there is a row with the general options and functions you find by pressing the X button. I often would mistake the Pokédex with the Items, which can be annoying. The order goes Pokémon, Pokédex, Items, Profile, Save, Options

L and R can be used also to cycle through the bottom screens but otherwise do nothing.



For the most part, the menu and organization works. If you want to rearrange the order of some attacks, you can do that on the particular pokemon’s summary page. Items can also be sorted, which you probably want to do after obtaining a lot.

My biggest complaint is in the PC. There are Deposit, Withdraw, and Organize options. The Organize pokemon works like a combination of Deposit and Withdraw meaning you can do both at the same time. However, it is the 3rd on the list, making it slightly inconvenient.

The second biggest complaint happens during battle. Some moves I just don’t know or remember what they do. I would like an option to see the effects before selecting it during battle. “Tail Whip” sounds like it should do damage, right?



The general gameplay is how I remember it. It’s fairly simple in selecting a pokemon and then attacking with it. The complications are mostly in dealing with the different types. Some make sense while others are foreign to me. I would assume the chain would be fire-grass-electric-water but grass is super effective against water? I’m told that’s how it has been from the start, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And electric is normal against rock but ineffective against ground? At least Nintendo has provided a little chart to help

Raising pokemon has gotten easier than the Red and Blue days thanks to Exp. share, but you don’t get it until after the first gym. Good thing it takes about an hour to reach. However, that leads into one problem I have with the game. The pacing is annoying. While the first gym may only take an hour to reach, the second took a significant longer time (like 8 hours). At least the last gyms are fairly close together.

A new feature in this game, which takes up quite a bit of time in the first half of the game is Mega Evolution (also referred to as Digivolving in our world). The feature operates like digivolving too because the Pokémon revert back to their original form after the battle. However, you are only allowed to do this with certain Pokémon after they obtain their respective stone, sometimes it changes their type, and it can only be done once per battle. This adds a layer of strategy, especially while facing someone with multiple mega evolutions.

X's Mega Charizard.

X’s Mega Charizard.

I still wish a pokemon could learn more than four moves. It makes it difficult to raise pokemon you would want to use both for travelling and battling. For the most part, I ended up selecting moves that would help me get through travelling and to help me catch more pokemon than for straight-up battling, which causes my downfall when someone challenges me.

Speaking of battling, I like some of the features they have, but there still some areas which could be improved. For example, there is a battle box where you can place pokemon you raised solely for the purpose of fighting. It’s a nice tool except it has to be prepared beforehand. This means if you want to be able to use the six you want, you either have to have them all in the box or in your party. You can’t swap or edit during the challenge. It certainly takes some of the joy out because the pokemon for travelling tend to be different than the ones for battling, but there is some overlap. Besides, the only way I’m going to be able to level up my core pokemon is to be travelling with them. So hopefully the next installments will allow for swapping even on the battle preparation screen.

The new Sky Battles and Horde Battles are nice ideas, but still have a few kinks in them. Part of my comments with the travelling pokemon is that I tended to lead with someone who could defeat hordes on the first turn. That’s because horde battles take a while, even with the animation turned off. Maybe 2 or 3 is a good number to have, but 5 takes forever and I don’t like running from battles. They may be at a lower level, the number of them really makes up for it, especially when each of them does a multi-hit attack. The other shame is that you can only capture one of the horde. This means you have to defeat every single one except for the one you wish to catch, but if you looking for certain abilities or natures, you don’t know which belongs to which.

He better have some attack that hit multiple targets

He better have some attack that hit multiple targets

For the Sky Battles, the only thing is that you need flying pokemon to participate. While someone is usually carrying around one flying, that’s it. So I only did a couple sky battles because I would rather do that when I have at least 2 or 3 flying types, but I never do. There are a few hundred more pokemon to train and only 6 slots to carry them in. One plus for Game Freak, though, is that I can’t recall any sky battles being mandatory.



Another new feature is the ability to customize your character. You can dress him or her up with clothes and change hair styles. It’s not too big a deal, but it is a nice thing to have.

get ready to buy a lot of clothes

Get ready to buy a lot of clothes


The online challenges and trading are nice features. The only problem there is how when the challenge or trade request is being sent, you can’t do anything but wait for a response. This means if you are the recipient, you don’t want to be rude and make them wait while you swap out your pokemon.

One neat feature that encourages connectivity is the O-Powers system. While you could simply use them on yourself, it’s encouraged to give them out to random people. That’s because it costs less to give them to someone that to use it on yourself. While the gauge recharges, the refill time varies based on your steps with your 3DS. By giving out these “boosts”, they can level up eventually giving a stronger boost later on, you might want to use. One boost at level 3 gave me 50% off at the PokeMart. That made purchasing Ultra Balls and Full Restores much easier.

Level it up faster by giving it away

Level it up faster by giving it away

Using the internet, there are two different ways to trade with random people. First is the Global Trade Station, the second is Wonder Trade. I have used both, and they are neat tools, but also very different. Both are accessed (along with normal battling and trading) through the PSS on the bottom screen.

one page of the PSS' PDA screen

One page of the PSS’ PDA screen

The Global Trade Station allows you to search for a particular pokemon someone else has put up for another particular pokemon. So I got to use this to obtain a Dragonair by giving a Haunter. Or likewise, I could put up a Leafeon and ask for an Umbreon. This makes it much easier to obtain all three starters of both the current and original generations. Even if you have not seen the pokemon before, you can ask or seek for it by entering the name manually. I just wish there was an option that allowed you to browse through random pokemon to see if there are any you want or can get.

The Wonder Trade works differently. For this, you put up any pokemon and you make a trade with a random person who is doing the same thing. You don’t know what you’ll get until the trade actually happens. At first, a lot of people put up bad pokemon like Scatterbugs and Caterpies, but it has gotten better now. I’ve seen Charmanders and Squirtles come through, along with my very useful Dedenne.



Along with the Player Search System, there are two other screens you can cycle through on the bottom screen. One is Poké-amie which basically is Tamagotchi (yes, Pokémon has decided to become even more like Digimon this time). Here you can pet, feed, and play with your pokemon. So adorable, right?

Hey you, Pikachu!

Hey you, Pikachu!

There are three game you can play here. One is berry picker, another has you heading balls of yarns, and the last is a tile puzzle. I tend to play the puzzle the most since it is easiest and fastest to play. The berry picker is alright. The yarn one had me confused for a while because I could not get the timing. However, after going back to it, I eventually got it down, though the big one at the end I have only hit once. The reward for the games are puffs which you then can feed your pokemon with.

In addition to these games, you can make faces with your pokemon. That’s when that little icon in the lower left appears, you can make a bunch of silly faces to activate a game. It then asks you for specific faces, but I found it couldn’t recognize them so well except for the “kissing” one.

So what’s the benefit of playing with them? Fun, of course… right? On a serious note, there are some. If you obtain full affection, they can land more critical blows or avoid more attacks. Some pokemon also require affection to evolve.


Super Training

Veterans talk about EV stats which I hear used to be hidden to make the pokemon more unique. But now you can see what they are, and how it is affecting your pokemon. You can also do training to affect them. The game involves launching soccer balls at balloons and if you do it enough, then the stat goes up. The game is simple. the reward is a punching bag which your pokemon can hit to keep raising those stats. My biggest complaint is that in the beginning, the instructions or tips appear after the word “START!” in which I’m already tapping away. If anything, that should have been there before I was supposed to be playing.



The PokeBank
As the writing of this review, I have not used the bank feature, which I wouldn’t be able to use anyways. However, I am interested in seeing how the system works and how it will affect everything, especially if it means I can use the global trade system to obtain the pokemon I would have missed.


Streetpass and Friends

The streetpass functionality doesn’t seem to be really anything. Nothing special happens except for obtaining PokeMiles, which can be used to buy stuff like Rare Candy or PP ups. It’s also a weird thing to activate. It falls under HoloCaster on the PSS PDA menu.

Passersby are the people who are either online at the same time, or were just people nearby. Acquaintances are the people you have at least traded or battled with at some point or another, including the GTS or Wonder Trades. Friends are people who you have shared friend codes with and have the game.

The Friends section is actually not as smooth as it should be. In fact, it’s a bit smooth where it probably should not be. I have a few friends registered on my 3DS that definitely have the games, but they don’t appear on my “friends” list on the PSS until I actually find them locally. So it’s a sad thing that I can’t really battle with them directly over the internet until I actually meet them in person. This does not condone long distance friendships. On the flipside, you can add anyone you have battled or traded with to your friends list and you can receive their friend code. So yes, it is messed up.

A benefit for having “friends” is post-game. The Friend Safari opens up and different pokemon you can catch are attached to each of your friends.

So which are actual friends?

So which are actual friends?



After beating the game, there are some things you can do. You can catch Mewtwo, A Legendary Bird, and the Legendary Z pokemon, which is probably what you would want to save your Master Ball for. I was a little disappointed with the post-game. Mewtwo is simply in a cave. There is no dungeon crawling or anything similar to like it was in Red or Blue. That is more like the Z pokemon, except you could access the cave beforehand, it’s only the room where it is in you could not enter beforehand. The Legendary Bird chase is annoying, but eventually I was able to catch it. I might do a post with my observations on it later just to keep separate from the review.

Something you can do during the game but is not attached to the story is a battle club thing. You rise through the ranks starting as a Baron and can fight different people. I found it useful for earning money but it’s also nice because you can occasionally run into one of the gym leaders to fight again.

After beating the game, you are given a ticket to another city where you have access to places like the Battle Mansion and Friend Safari. The Friend Safari is neat because you can sometimes find some pokemon you normally could not catch before like a Growlithe. The Battle Mansion can give you a challenge as you try to win as many as you can in a row using different rules, rotation is my favorite so far.


One time, while trading online, the game caused my system the black screen of freezing where I couldn’t even use the home button. Also, there is a weird case where when I challenged a friend to a battle, but so no to using Game Voice Chat, it battle won’t happen.

Another time, in Lumiose City, I walked up to one guy and I could not move for a long time. I was afraid to save because we already have heard about the save glitch in that place.


Replay value

One thing I dislike about Pokémon games is how there is only one save file. Though, with the PokeBank available, it is not so much a problem to restart the game. As long as you are cool with putting up some money for that feature and the time to go through the story again. Also to note, the PokeBank does not store items so any Mega Stones you acquire would be loss unless you trade them. And since there are over 700 pokemon, you can easily go through the game just playing with your favorite generation.



I enjoyed the game. It seems like a great place to jump back in. I enjoyed being able to pick my original starter and some of the new additions made it easier to welcome newcomers. So I can recommend this game to people who like Pokémon and people who are interested in playing for the first time.


Pokémon X Review (Nintendo 3DS)
While the story is simple and can be long, the overall gameplay and package more than makes this a great game for your 3DS Library
  • Same great gameplay
  • Professor Sycamore's Theme
  • Worldwide Online Play
  • A couple of glitches that still aren't fixed
  • Some menus could use some work
  • Hordes
9.2Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise