Pokemon has come a long way from the lowly Poketch.
As new entries of Pokemon games come and go, Game Freak continues to experiment with ways to spruce up your overworld experience, all the while creating accessible and fun ways to connect with trainers worldwide. Still, with every new console a Pokemon game gets launched on, what worked in the past can become impossible to pull off due to how different one can be from the next.
Whatever it is that discontinues them, there are some tools you're given over the course of your journeys that completely surpass others in quality.
Mechanical marvels are part of the Galar region's pride and joy, but thanks to the Nintendo Switch only having one screen to use at a time, the Y-Comm just feels clunky. You can see other trainers looking to trade, battle, or enter a Max Raid on the right side, use an eight-number code to link with someone specific, or swap League Cards if that's your thing.
All of these take a long time to set up, and require the entire screen to use. While it's similar to the Player Search System in functionality, the Y-Comm just can't compete with how much smoother a process its predecessor is to enjoy.
In stark contrast to the Y-Comm's focus on online multiplayer aspects, the Pokegear is used by you and many of the characters you'll meet on your adventure. It adds a bit of depth to certain story beats and NPC interaction, alongside having a map of the Johto region (and later the Kanto region) built in.
If you like small-talk with Johto's Gym Leaders, getting called by your mom, or listening to Unown-infested radio signals, this is the gear for you. It has no features to interact with other players, however: if you're looking for that, the Global Terminal is your best friend.
The Pokemon Watch, shortened to Poketch, is a wristwatch with a massive selection of simple apps and useful tools, made by the Poketch Company and independent creators in the Sinnoh region. If you need a calculator, a dowsing machine, a way to check type effectiveness, an alarm clock, a coin to flip, and much more, there's a Poketch app for that.
In Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl, the Poketch is shown in the top right of the screen, scaling larger if you move to interact with it. Some redundant apps are removed in these remakes, but, just like the originals, you still need to go to the Global Terminal to connect with trainers online.
It might get on your nerves as you start your adventure, but the Rotom Pokedex is with you nearly every step of the way in the Alola region. Contrary to what most Pokedex entries say about the species, the Rotom possessing this familiar machine isn't around to cause you grief.
In fact, this Rotom likes to give you story hints and special powers, while also having the same Pokedex functionality you'd expect. Completing the package is a map and a camera to get up close and personal with surrounding Pokemon, but any player-to-player communication you want needs to be done through the Festival Plaza, which is way slower than it needs to be.
The Unova region and its associated titles saw the launch of multiple different functions, courtesy of the C-Gear.
Infrared was first used in these titles to let you connect with nearby players faster than with wireless communication, but one of the coolest mechanics the C-Gear introduced is the Game Sync: a way to send your save file's information to the now-defunct Pokemon Global Link.
You can send one of your Pokemon pals to the Dream World, giving you online mini-games to play on a computer, and access your rewards from the Entralink in-game.
Let's be real: the Kalos region isn't all that popular in the fan base. But no matter your stance on it, you have to give it credit for introducing the PSS.
Using the 3DS's touch screen, the PSS is a direct successor to the C-Gear, allowing you to select from a variety of Wi-Fi activities withoutneeding to walk all the way to a Global Terminal.
Listing your friends, acquaintances you've battled or traded with, and passerby trainers on its main screen, the PSS makes it easy to connect with others and enjoy more of the multiplayer side of Pokemon games. If that's not your jam, this mechanic is part of a trio: Pokemon Amie, which finally allows you to pet and give treats to your companions, and Super Training, a sporty mini-game that lets you improve your Pokemon's individual stats rather than its level.
The Devon Corporation's PokeNav received an overhaul in Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire in the form of the PokeNav Plus. It combines old features from three generations before with the DexNav – a mechanic similar to the Poke Radar, and the PSS, Amie, and Super Training all combined in the PlayNav section. If you go from X & Y directly to these games, the transition's nearly flawless.
Cramming these features into one handheld device is once again made possible by the 3DS's dual screens. You have easy access to these tools, made even easier with obvious thumbnails, and it's a breeze to switch through them. The original PokeNav may not have had this much, but you'd be hard-pressed to say it isn't carried by its worthy descendant.
NEXT: Pokemon: Ways To Spice Up Your Next Playthrough
Cosmo is a US-based freelance writer for TheGamer. Playing video games since they could read, they gained a love for what’s colorful and bold, from Pokemon to Splatoon. Always inspired by the latter, Cosmo adores taking deep dives into the writing, sound design, music and art of video games. If there’s a squid in it, you have their attention.
Pokemon has come a long way from the lowly Poketch.