Platform: 3DS eShop (£13.49)
As a lapsed but once-avid fan of the Pokemon games, I was delighted to see the franchise return to balanced and varied form in its latest generation. Pokemon Black & White 2 brought a huge number of considerate new features to the table, as we discussed in our 8/10 review, but its stubborn refusal to let go of the aging DS hardware left a huge amount of potential untapped. Plus, it's getting increasingly difficult for older players like myself to keep track of the huge number of colourful critters, which now number well over 600.
In an effort to give 3DS owners something to crow about and corral all 640+ Pokemon into one convenient place, Game Freak and Creatures Inc. have rolled out Pokedex 3D Pro: a new eShop app that replaces the now-defunct free version. Sharp 3D models and enormous move lists promised to provide the biggest and most comprehensive Pokemon database to date, with some quizzes and AR functionality on hand to offer some extra value.
Value that, unfortunately, is in short supply here.
At its core, Pokedex 3D Pro houses a gallery of every single Pokemon from every single generation, which can be browsed at leisure or searched by type, name, egg group, ability or moves. Upon opening its entry, you'll be treated to a full-3D model of the Pokemon, which can be panned around, zoomed into and admired. Hitting a button lets you trigger a personality-dependent animation (such as Snorlax waking up and promptly falling over), helping to make the once-2D sprites feel like real, living animals. The clarity and crispness of these Pokemon models can't be understated - even when you ramp up the depth slider - indeed, they've never looked better.
Fans of the anime will enjoy that the chirpy official voiceover shouts out the name of each Pokemon when you access its entry, though doesn't narrate any of the details.
It's worth noting that the sheer number of 3D models requires a lot of memory space. 3,347 memory blocks, to be precise. To put that figure in perspective, New Super Mario Bros. 2 only takes up 2,740. Unless you've upgraded to the 3DS XL's bigger memory card, you might find yourself in need of some serious spring cleaning.
Beyond looking at Pokemon to your heart's content, Pokedex 3D Pro tries to be a useful tool that lists some vital statistics, evolution info and massive, sprawling move lists. Each move and ability has its own separate listing that's cross-referenced with the Pokemon who can use it, with hotlinks providing instant access and easy browsing.
It's a crying shame, however, that Pokedex 3D Pro is far from a comprehensive database of knowledge and lore. This would have been the perfect opportunity to include an enormous amount of information and trivia about each Pokemon, drawn from all of the games and the anime series. Yet beyond a one-line description, brief stats and those colossal move lists, there's nothing new or interesting to learn. You won't be given any data regarding where to find each Pokemon in each game, a human silhouette to provide a sense of scale or anything beyond what you'll already know through the in-game Pokedex. Which you won't have to quit in order to use.
As it stands, you're much better off bookmarking Bulbapedia or Serebii.net on your phone or tablet so you can access their vastly superior archives while you play. Without any cross-connection with the Pokemon games or a wealth of extra info, I'm not exactly sure why Pokedex 3D exists in the first place. It's not really an encyclopaedia, neither does it enrich or enhance the Pokemon experience to any measurable extent.
A large number of unlockable quizzes provide some fleeting fun, usually challenging you to multiple choice questions. Do you know your Relicanth from your Regice? Know whether a Gastly or Wailord is heavier? You can finally put your esoteric knowledge to good use. Indeed, I was simultaneously proud and embarrassed by my 100% success rate - once you know that a Gengar evolves via link trade, you'll never forget it. Sadly, even though the unlocking structure will be compelling for a few minutes, completing these arbitrary challenges holds little in the way of long-term appeal.
'Players' can also superimpose Pokemon into real-time footage using the 3DS' twin cameras and AR markers. If you manage to find/print one (or display it on your phone/tablet), you'll then be able to blast the 3D animal with different move types to determine their effectiveness or take some posed pictures. Fun if patently pointless, this feature is little more than a tantalising glimpse into how augmented reality might play a role in the next Pokemon title.
Had Pokedex 3D Pro made its debut at between £5-7, I might have been able to recommend it as a fun little distraction for Pokemaniacs. But at a whopping £13.49, this shiny if surprisingly skinny app ought to have offered much more information, lore and extra detail to deserve its staggeringly high price point.
- Sharp and detailed 3D Pokemon models makes them resemble real, living animals
- Comprehensive cross-referenced move lists
- The quizzes are kind of fun, I guess?
- Costs nearly three times as much as it should
- Whopping file size
- Nowhere enough extra details, lore or features to warrant £13.49
The Short Version: Pokedex 3D Pro may look pretty, but its huge file size, price tag and lack of interesting info beyond move lists makes it feel like a bona fide rip-off. If not a cash grab worthy of Team Rocket. We hope that this functionality is built directly into the next Pokemon title.