Free 3D Pokedex download available June 6 for 3DS

After the news over a week ago that Nintendo was requesting the removal of non-official Pokedex apps from iTunes and the Android market, we had an inkling that an official Pokedex was on the way in some form. Well, we now know the full details – the 3D Pokedex will be available as a free download via the 3DS eShop when it launches on Monday June 6.

The two most impressive aspects of the 3D Pokedex are the gorgeous 3D visuals and its overall functionality. The graphics were obviously the most noticeable feature off that bat – each Pokemon has a fully 3D model on its Pokedex page that you can fully rotate any which way you want. For fans of Pokemon character design, it's a really neat feature that helps fill in any visual gaps between the sprites in Black and White and the official Sugimori art. Want to know exactly what Hydreigon's undercarriage looks like? Now you can check under his tail and know for sure. Hitting the A button makes each Pokemon display a unique animation so you can get a feel for what they look like in action too. You can even swap out the backgrounds to see different lighting effects on each Pokemon.

What dedicated Pokemon trainers look for most in a Pokedex is functionality though, and the 3D Pokedex looks solid there too. Pokedex entries contain stats for each Pokemon, including all base stats, height, weight, Abilities, egg groups, Pokedex flavor text, evolution info, and full move lists including level up moves, TMs, HMs, and move tutor moves. Clicking through to any move displays complete information for that move, as well as a list of all other Pokemon that can learn it.

Compared to sites like Serebii and Bulbapedia, the only information it's missing is some of the more in-depth hidden data like EV yield and catch rate (although wild hold items aren't listed either). EV yields in particular would have been helpful for serious trainers, but since EVs aren't officially recognized in the game it makes sense that they're left out here. The only major downside to the 3D Pokedex is that it's Unova only – we asked if previous generations would be added in updates but were told that Nintendo currently has no such plans.

In addition to the stats and info you'd expect from an official Pokedex, the 3D Pokedex also contains a team building feature where you can select six Pokemon to form a mockteam and choose movesets for each one. The Pokedex unfortunately doesn't interact with copies of Black/White in any way, but it's still a nice touch that makes organizing ideas for potentials teams a lot easier.

Not every feature and Pokedex entry will be unlocked when you first downloadthe Pokedex– you start with only 16 Pokemon. Each day you can unlock up to three more random Pokemon yourself, and by mixing records with your friends you can unlock entries faster. Since Pokemon are unlocked in random order, there's a good chance you and your friend will have totally different Pokemon to share with each other. Certain legendary (ahem, event-only) Pokemon can only be unlocked using the 3DS camera on printed AR cards (that's augmented reality, not Action Replay).

After our time with the 3D Pokedex, we couldn't help but wonder about what else Nintendo has up its sleeve for Pokemon on the 3DS. The 3D character models and animations for each Pokemon are way too good-looking to be confined to a free Pokedex app, so it's almost a guaranteed that we can look forward to another Pokemon game that makes use of the same 3D models. A Battle Revolution sequel seems like a weird choice for a handheld, but it's certainly possible. What do you think the first real Pokemon 3DS game will be?

Jun 2, 2011