it’s finally happened. after five generations of pokemon games, i finally evolved as a pokemon player and actually learned about training pokemon for competitive battles AND caught my very own shinies — 4 of them!
i should backtrack a bit. although i’ve played through all the main games in the pokemon series and i played through the storyline of pokemon y, as with diamond and pearl i picked up my copy of pokemon y again a couple months ago after a long hiatus because my nephew was playing through it and he wanted to trade. i started off doing most of the main post-game quests, including finding all the mega stones (only available from 8 to 9 p.m. each day, an odd design choice), catching all the legendaries, and catching pokemon in the friend safari (more on that later). i also tried out all the features i’d ignored during my original playthrough, including pokemon amie (the game’s nintendogs-like features) and the pokémon global link, which is the website that you can link your game to in order to, among other things, see stats and view medals (i.e. achievements) earned from your game and play simple mini-games to earn items to transfer back to your game.
pokemon amie turned out to be fairly entertaining and cute, and the mini-games were pretty fun overall, although there’s a mini game that makes use of the 3DS’s camera that requires you to literally make faces at your pokemon. getting that mini game to trigger in the first place is tricky as the lighting requirements seem finicky at best and the facial recognition seems a bit spotty (tip: try looking more directly at the camera at the top of your 3DS’s top screen, and try moving your face closer and further away from the screen in order to get it to recognize your expression), but when it does work it’s pretty fun. earning medals got to be a mini-obsession, although the two global link mini-games you earn items from seem to be completely luck-based which is somewhat annoying and much more simplistic than the previous generation (gen V’s) website features.
which brings me to super training. super training is the 3rd of the 3 bottom-screen modes, and it’s a way to train up your critters for competitive battling by playing a simple touch-controlled exercise involving tapping the screen to hit “punching bags”, and a set of mini-games involving shooting balls at targets. i’d never been able to get into EV training, but the mini-game got me interested and the ability to easily see your ‘mon’s EV distributions got me hooked (although the game doesn’t show you the actual EVs in each category, it does provide a graph-based view that is more or less sufficient). the game omits the in-depth explanation of EVs, but the info is easy enough to find online, and now i’m pretty well-versed in EV-enhancing hold items (e.g. power items and braces) and pokerus, EV-enhancing consumable items (e.g. vitamins and wings), EV-reducing berries, and wild pokemon battles for EVs (and so now i finally see the benefit of horde encounters which otherwise were just a nuisance). getting into competitive training has really opened up the depth of pokemon and has made me appreciate the series more than before.
to complement EV training, i also got fairly obsessive about getting pokemon with perfect IVs (e.g. born with the strongest possible stats). most of the recent games include an IV judge in the post game who will tell you what perfect IVs your pokemon has, if any. on top of that the game includes the aforementioned friend safari, places corresponding to people in your friend list (whether or not they even own the game) where you can catch pokemon, many of which aren’t available in the main game, and that are guaranteed to have perfect IVs in two of the six stats. not to mention wonder trading (random trades online), where people often trade away near-perfect pokemon. although i ended up only fully training a few pokemon, with this entry the series has really lowered the bar so that people can build up teams with much less effort, although it’s definitely not a trivial amount.
on top of making training pokemon easier, the game has made finding shinies easier than ever as well. the poke radar returns from previous games, and the game introduces chain fishing, whereby repeatedly fishing in the same spot without any misses will increase your chances of reeling in a shiny. i did try using the poke radar method, but it ended up being too much work, but chain fishing proved to be so easy to do that i caught my first two shinies in one morning, two shiny skrelp. i caught my other two completely randomly from the friend safari (a lillipup and a beautifly) which apparently also has a much higher shiny encounter rate than normal.
[sidebar: for anyone who cares, apparently the rates of finding a shiny are:
- about 1 in 8192 normally
- about 1 in 1365 using the masuda method (hatch eggs from two parents from different languages)
- about 1 in 512 from the the friend safari
- about 1 in 240 for poke radar and chain fishing
- and all the above rates halved if you have the shiny charm (received by capturing all 700+ pokemon in the national pokedex, excluding event pokemon]
it was pretty cool to finally have caught some shinies of my very own, although i’ll be really psyched once i find one in the regular wild. [thanks also to my dutch pal for giving me two awesome shinies, and his awesome sister to adding two more on top of that!!!] it still astounds me to the length that people will go to catch shinies, which are literally just rare palette swaps, but they are fun to have.
along with training and hunting shinies, i also completed seeing all the entries in the first of the three kalos pokedexes (each having about 150 entries). the global trade system and trading with “passersby” (people playing the game at the same time as you) makes completing your ‘dex easier than ever, although because of the bajillion pokemon available now you’ll be juggling a combination of levelling up and evolving, breeding, and trading to “catch ’em all”. there were many more pokemon than ever before that required breeding to get which was somewhat annoying, but they were easy enough to trade for so it wasn’t that big a deal. [a second shout-out: huge thanks to the random german girl who for pretty much no reason gifted me with a japanese mew, dialga, and a celebi. you’re awesome!]
as you can surmise, i ended up spending waaaay too much time obsessing over pokemon for the last couple of months. i hope now that i’ve done some competitive battles, have some shinies, and have finished one of the kalos pokedexes that i’ll be able to keep my pokemon time down to more manageable levels. the thing that ended up curbing my enthusiasm somewhat is playing some ranked battles online and realizing that the vast majority of people were using the same twenty or so pokemon. seeing the same pokemon over and over again got old fast (earthquake = most overused move ever!) and unlike games like fire emblem the majority of pokemon don’t have high enough stats to be truly competitive. i found that competing against the CPU in the battle maison was much more satisfying, not just because it didn’t require having top-tier pokemon but because there was much more variety in the opponents. i’ll probably continue to experiment with teams via the battle maison and try them out in ranked battles. i also just found out that you can save teams that you’ve battled in game or online to fight in practice rounds via the vs. recorder, which looks like yet another cool feature to play around with.
my second look at pokemon x and y has made me realize how jam-packed the game truly is, and my total play time has rocketed up to more than 150 hours, way higher than most other games i’ve played, period. the game provides a range of satisfying, interlinked goals, with a host of OCD-inducing details, stats, and trivia, that reminds me of my beloved fire emblem series, high praise indeed. the game has impressed me so much this time around that i’ve moved it up from my original ranking to my “greatest games of all time” list, the third pokemon game to make it to the upper echelon. it will be fascinating to see how subsequent games will attempt to top this one, and i’m looking forward to playing the one that manages to do so.
shiny pokemon trainer pokemon x and y links:
– my original post on the game has a lot of links, so if you’re interested you should check out that list first
– bulbapedia is still my go-to site for everything you could ever want to know about the games and the series
– the guy behind serebii wrote up a nice article on starting to put together a competitive team. he also mentions one of the great new features i found out about that are part of the current global link: “Under the Rating Battle section, you have the ability to check the stats for various Pokémon. This section compiles everything you could possibly imagine about all Pokémon that have been used in the Rating Battle mode for all battle types. It lists the top 10 moves, items, the top abilities for each Pokémon. It also lists what Pokémon are commonly used to partner with it and, even better, shows the most common Pokémon that are used to defeat it.” sweet!
– as i got into competitive battling, smogon became much more interesting to read. i’m still not hardcore enough to read up on all of the strategies, but this page on top-tier pokemon in x and y is a good place to get started.
– here’s a walkthrough of the pokemon bank and pokemon transporter apps, which allow you to transfer pokemon from last gen to the current games
– and just for fun, here are some super cute knitted/crocheted pokemon figures
– and here’s a pretty funny video of a guy catching a shiny giratina