Pokemon Makes the Jump to 3D and 3D

Today Nintendo announced Pokemon X and Y as the newest Pokemon games in the main series. I assure you that the title of today’s post isn’t a typo. You see, it’s actually kind of hard to say that the biggest change in Nintendo’s new game is the switch to 3D. After all, the 3DS uses stereoscopic 3D and all 3DS games make some use of that feature. However, this new Pokemon game does more than simply stereoscopic 3D. Pokemon X and Y will be the first truly 3 dimensional main series Pokemon games. This is a pretty huge announcement. Sure we’ve seen Pokemon in the 3rd dimension before with games such as Pokemon Stadium, or even the 3D Pokedex on the 3DS, but we’ve never had a 3D main series game. So it’s time to say goodbye to sprites, and all of the 2D artwork and challenges that have made up the Pokemon series up until now. Of course today’s post isn’t just just an announcement. Today, we’re going to see what to expect from Nintendo’s new game based on the trailer we have, which is provided below for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Firstly, what does the switch over to 3D mean for gameplay? In truth, based on the trailer, it seems like very little, if any part, of the core Pokemon experience will be changed by the switch. Pokemon battles seem to be the same as we remember; towns don’t seem any different, and what I assume are gym challenges are the same as well. This seems like a wasted opportunity. For gamers that are old enough to remember, the switch into 3D for console games was huge. Developed series such as Mario and Zelda had to completely redefine themselves in order to work in the new dimension. Nowadays, the process of making a 3D game is pretty defined, but back then there was a lot of experimentation. It may seem strange to me that Nintendo has made the switch over the 3D without really effecting the core experience in any way. Of course there is a reason for this.

So what are the chances that Fennekin’s evolutions will be part fighting?

People have been accusing the Pokemon series of stagnating since probably the third generation (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald). However, Nintendo has been subtly changing the aesthetic of the series to the point that the jump to 3D isn’t actually a huge leap. Take the most recent generation. Look at this picture:

This is just child abuse.

You see, Nintendo has been aiming for 3D for quite awhile now. Pokemon Black and White as well as their sequels use graphics, which are often referred to as 2.5D. It looks like parts of it are 3D, but at its core, the game is still 2D. Of course, the perspective of Pokemon games have stayed similar, but the evolution, again, has always been moving towards 3D. Basically, my point is that 3D really isn’t going to hit Pokemon as hard as other games as far as innovation goes. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise. Nintendo’s 3D Pokedex has been a completely unnecessary and useless addition to the system. I’m not saying that it wasn’t cute to see our favourite Pokemon in 3D, but  it seemed pointless. Many people theorized that Nintendo was prepping 3D models for its next Pokemon game.

Exactly how many times are people expected to admire Hydreigon?

These people were right to assume that the next Pokemon game would be in 3D, but the models used here are different. The models shown in the trailer are cell-shaded. This is a huge bonus as cell-shaded graphics tend to look very good on an underpowered system. The best example of this are last generation games. Many of the stylized cell shaded games hold up remarkably well, while the non-cell shaded and more realistic graphics now look like complete garbage. Also, Pokemon fits well with cell shaded graphics as it gives the game a more cartoony flair, which makes it seem more reminiscent of older games and thus keeping a certain level of continuity.

There’s a reason that this game’s graphics have held up so well.

Looking at graphical continuity and style, Nintendo has done a great job. Pokemon X and Y may be using 3D models, but it is clearly a Pokemon game. Anyone who had played a Pokemon game would be able to recognize the style. Since the series had always relied on sprites, there was the risk that these sprites would be integral to the series. Fortunately, this does not seem to be the case, and the 3D models fit in very effectively to Nintendo’s traditional style. Of course, there will be people lamenting the loss of sprites, but it seems to me that these people will be in the minority.

This is still pretty identifiable as a Pokemon game.

There are two major concerns I have with what we’e seen so far. Firstly there is the issue of slowing down the combat system. One of the best parts of Black and White is that it greatly sped up Pokemon’s traditional battle system. I fear that Nintendo might want to show off its 3D animations and that battles could get slower again. The other concern is poor animations. The trailer looks fine, but there is the risk that the animations will be bad. Nintendo has a history for this, dating back to Stadium. After all, its hard to make animations look good when each move can be used by so many different Pokemon. Fortunately, X and Y seem to be handling this with more care than Stadium and they are cutting away in a way that makes the attacks both cinematic and, more importantly, quick.

No, nothing wrong with this animation at all…

At this point, we don’t know anything about how Nintendo is going to change up the gameplay mechanics. They might decide that the graphical overhaul is enough and keep the Black and White mechanics a little longer. It’s way too early to make a judgment on that. I do have to wonder if that names X and Y show that Nintendo is not going to make another sequel like Black and White 2. After all Pokemon Z fits the 3D theme so perfectly. Then again, Pokemon Grey seemed like such an obvious choice at the beginning too, so who knows.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


2 thoughts on “Pokemon Makes the Jump to 3D and 3D

  1. I, for one, am very excited to see this released. I've never really had any other Nintendo consoles other than handhelds so I'm pretty stoked that I'm basically getting a Pokemon Stadium graphical experience in the palm of my hands. I'm also verrrrrrrry interested in how they're going to use the 3DS's other features.

  2. I've never been one for travelling too much with my handhelds, but Nintendo does seem to be pushing Street Pass in innovative ways. It will be interesting how they connect this particular feature.

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