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Philosoraptor's Takes on the Pokemon Library


Philosoraptor
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FYI, I'm not a competitive player. If you're looking for information about competitive balance, go to Smogon. I'm also not a shiny hunter, and some mainline games are easier to catch shinies in than others. If you're either of those, YMMV. I'll update this list when I have time.

Physical 3DS games:

  • Detective Pikachu: An above-average point-and-click style adventure game that was released around the same time as the movie. It's short, but charming and funny. It was pretty well received.
  • Pokemon Art Academy: Fun but different take on the Art Academy formula. Regular Art Academy is more serious, is more like taking drawing classes, and throws a lot at you quickly, while Pokemon's take on it is more about fun and it's easier, doesn't throw as much at you, and is more at the beginner level. The characters, of course, are easier to draw in the Pokemon version, but both will teach you drawing techniques.
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity: This game has worse gameplay, fewer Pokemon, and worse dungeon variety, but a better story and better characters/character development than Super Mystery Dungeon. If you don't like Super Mystery Dungeon, this might be worth a look.
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire: Remake of Ruby/Sapphire. This one is my favorite mainline entry to date, and has good villains, plenty of postgame, and an asinine amount of legendaries that you can catch in the game. You could also easily train and reset a Pokemon's EVs without ever battling by playing minigames. Gamestop also released codes for all the mythical pokemon, so you could have traded for an entire living Pokedex in this game's heydey. Sadly, the GTS is no longer up, so you can't get the mythicals anymore. Regardless, if you care about getting as many Pokemon as possible in one stop, this is your game.  For everything else, there's Pokedit. 
  • Pokemon Rumble Blast: An older Rumble game that plays nearly identically to Rumble World, but has more of a story and no Pokemon from X/Y.
  • Pokemon Rumble World: The retail release gives you so much of the freemium currency that it's essentially just a normal game. This significantly improves it over the e-Shop version. This is the newer game, so it adds Pokemon from X/Y and mega evolutions. It is also the most polished. The only downside is Rumble Blast has more of a story. Gameplay-wise, both rumble games are the same. They're both action games, and your Pokemon have one or two moves they can use to defeat hordes of foes.
  • Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon: Of the two Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games on the 3DS, this one has better the best gameplay, the most variety in the dungeons, and the most Pokemon. This one is also the more difficult of the two. It's mostly agreed that it's the better game of the two as well.
  • Pokemon Sun/Moon: Third mainline game released on the 3DS. If you haven't played any 3DS Pokemon games, this game is pretty similar to Ultra Sun/Moon without as much postgame. I'd say skip these and buy Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon instead.
  • Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon: Fourth mainline game released on the 3DS, and pretty much a remake of Sun/Moon with additional postgame content. The postgame is arguably one of the best in all of the generations because several noteworthy characters from games past make their appearance, and the Ultra Wormhole adds several hours as well. Gone are gyms, and instead you have Island Challenges, which some love and some hate. Also, no HMs, you have helper Pokemon to call for your HM needs. If you're looking for a traditional Pokemon game, this isn't it. Play OR/AS. If you're wanting something fresh, this is where I'd start.
  • Pokemon X/Y: The first new generation of Pokemon games on the 3DS. Good, but basic Pokemon adventure. Not much post-game. The story is good, but not great, and your companions are irritating at best. Plus, Yveltal looks like flying bacon. YMMV.

Digital 3DS games:

It's worth pointing out that I attempted to play all of these games for free. Gameplay mechanics and experiences could be improved by spending some money on the games, but I'm reviewing them from a "I'm a cheapskate like ol' Philosoraptor" viewpoint.

  • Pokemon Picross: One of the better picross games out there, free or paid. It has a $30 cap that, when you spend that amount, will make the premium currency free. From then on, you only need to wait for Pokemon skills to recharge. However, if you don't spend any money, Picrites are finite and operate as the game's currency. Each area, additional mode, energy gauge expansion, and Pokemon slot costs Picrites. The energy gauge determines how many squares you can complete in each puzzle. It can be leveled up five times; the first four increase the number of squares you can complete by 100 (up to 400), and the fifth lets you complete an infinite number of squares. If you do not have a level 5 gauge, 100 squares recharge every 100 minutes. If you play for free, as long as you can stand waiting to complete puzzles after your energy gauge runs out, this can be a great game, albeit another very, very slow one. 
  • Pokemon Rumble World: A freemium game that hopes that you are impatient and impulsive enough to spend money on "Poke Diamonds" to unlock new areas or to bypass the wait times required to go to an area. The player travels to each area by hot air balloon, and each balloon needs a certain amount of time to "reinflate." The shortest wait time is 30 minutes, and the longest is twenty hours. If you decide to play this game for free, your progression will be slow and only get slower as you continue playing. Everything else I said about the physical version of this game applies here.
  • Pokemon Shuffle: Another freemium game that is a match three puzzle game, similar to Puzzle & Dragons or any other match three where you switch the position of one block/item for another. In this one, you can switch one block/item on the screen with any other to make matches in a 6x6 grid. Hearts are used to play stages, and one heart regenerates every 30 minutes for a maximum of five. In later stages, enemy Pokemon deploy disruptions to change friendly blocks/items into unhelpful ones, prevent new blocks/items from falling, or change your blocks/items into something else, which can be both interesting and fun as a gameplay mechanic, but also incredibly frustrating. This is where the freemium mechanic comes in. Poke Gems can be purchased with real money to buy hearts, which let you play stages, or coins, which let you delay opposing Pokemon from deploying disruptions, remove an entire block/item type from the grid to make matches easier, obtain additional moves, mega evolve your Pokemon immediately, or increase experience. As you get further in the game, it becomes increasingly difficult if not near impossible to clear stages without power ups, which leads you to spend more time replaying the Meowth stage for coins or spend money. I both love and hate this game, so it's hard for me to recommend. I hope that one day it'll get a full retail release on a future console that removes the freemium aspects of the game like Rumble World did.
Edited by Philosoraptor
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