One of the greatest charms of the Pokémon series was interacting with other players, whether to trade or battle. While I haven’t been able to take advantage of these features yet myself, I feel there’s too much content here for me to just skip over entirely; so below, I’ll be talking the Player Search System (PSS) and related features based off what the manual and previous reveals for Pokémon X and Y have told me. Note that this isn’t meant to be a conclusive list of online features you’ll find in the game.
The PSS is one of the three possible options you can have appear on the bottom screen as you play the game. The bottom screen then displays three lists of people nearby via either local wireless or an Internet connection—Friends, Acquaintances and Passersby. Friends are those whom you’ve registered on your 3DS’s friend list or with whom you’ve battled or traded multiple times. (Doing the latter will prompt the game to ask if you’d like to register them as your friend.) Acquaintances are those with whom you’ve battled or traded at least once, but aren’t on your friend list. Passersby are those who don’t fit either of the above categories.
After you’ve selected a person to contact, you can choose one of many options, such as battling or trading. The Vs. Recorder is back if you want to share videos of you and your friends’ battles, but you can also trade Trainer PR videos, which are created in-game in Lumiose City. I did create one of these and it was fun, although you can certainly take the shortcut and tell the NPC producer to “Surprise me!” The creation process of these videos has you choose the music, poses, camera angles, and special effects that appear second by second. You can also decide whether you want one of your Pokémon featured or not.
Using your Internet connection will link you to Battle Spot, where you can take part in battles around the world. On the Internet, you can either fight for a higher rank or in online competitions. You can also play with up to 4 of your friends and use Game Chat to talk to them at the same time.
You can also use Wonder Trade, where you can put up one of your Pokémon for trade, or use the Global Trade Station to trade. The Wonder Trade is a free-for all, since you can’t set any settings, so what you get back will be a complete surprise. On the other hand, with the GTS, you can set conditions for what Pokémon you’re hoping to receive in return, which makes it a handy feature to have around.
Aside from these, there are two features new to Pokémon X and Y. The first is the Holo Caster, which works through both SpotPass and StreetPass. The former allows you to receive game-related announcements and ads (perhaps for online competitions?), and the latter allows you to exchange Trainer data with those you pass by.
The second feature is the O-Powers, which are abilities you collect as you complete the game. These abilities can be used on yourself or other players, and the more you use them, the more you level them up. These abilities include various stat boosts, increased prize money, increased EXP gain, decreased encounter rate, etc. These sounded incredibly useful when I collected them.
Sharing the bottom screen with the PSS are Pokémon-Amie and Super Training, both of which I’ve spent a little time with.
Pokémon-Amie is a new feature where you interact with your Pokémon by poking them and playing games with them. Usually the bottom screen is filled with a colorful but empty room, with one Pokémon icon rolling about in time with your steps. You can decorate the room with gifts you receive as you interact more with your Pokémon. In addition to decorating the Pokémon’s room, you can feed them PokéPuffs, or play games with them. PokéPuffs are received in Amie by completing the minigames. I liked that Amie was self-contained and thus entirely optional. I thought it was a great way to kill some time, and I suspect that it will be important for the raising of some Pokémon in your possession in the long run. An NPC even stated that Pokémon that liked you better learned moves “better,” so it might be worth putting some time into making weird faces at your Pokémon.
The main feature of Pokémon Amie is to use the touch screen to pet your Pokémon. It takes a while to get a happy response from them, but I have quite a bit of fun watching their expressions change as you poke them in different places. For example, Noivern’s expression visibly changes to unhappiness as you touch his neck, and you can’t even play much with Pyroar (male) because his mane covers the entire screen. Because his mane is made of fire (or perhaps just fiery hot), the game won’t let you touch it and will let you know with a sizzling sound effect.
My only disappointment is that you can’t seem to turn the Pokémon around during Amie, which would’ve been of great help with Pyroar, and that a large Pokémon will spill over into the top screen. Because you can’t change the camera, you will have trouble interacting with them. (The most I’ve been able to do with Xerneas is poke its legs.)
Aside from poking and prodding, the Nintendo 3DS camera will detect if you tilt your head or make a couple distinct expressions such as opening your mouth in an “O.” Doing a few strange faces in a row will get the Pokémon engaged in a “copy my expressions” minigame that makes you feel really silly afterwards (kind of like finding a puppy on the street and cooing at it loudly). The camera does a fairly good job of detecting the differences in your expression. My favorite was the “Make a kissy face!” command.
There are three minigames available in Amie and they come in an array of difficulties. The first is a matching game, where you match berries to the one the Pokémon are thinking about. The second is a rhythm game, where you tap your Pokémon in time to the balls of yarn dropping to bump them back up. The last is a timed tile puzzle, where you select two pieces and swap them until you put the original picture back together. The catch to this last one is that the puzzle is a moving image and that sometimes the camera will zoom in on specific parts of the puzzle to throw you off, especially if you were concentrating on a different area. These games are all simple but fast-paced and fun, and I enjoyed playing them. It’s a good break from exploring Kalos or battling.