Pokémon X & Y: that damn patch of grass won’t let me leave

Monday, 21st October 2013 09:12 GMT By Dave Cook

Pokémon X & Y is selling like crazy, and it’s little wonder seeing as Game Freak’s winning formula is as strong as ever. VG247′s Dave Cook is currently addicted and needs immediate help.

”You know that classic thing people do when playing RPGs with random encounters? That thing where they just run around in circles to grind battles and level up for a bit? Yeah, I did that. For almost three hours.”

Man, I was so excited to get back into the Pokémon series. I hadn’t played any of the core titles since I imported Pokémon Red back in 1999, and through a recent combination of shooter fatigue and a desire to broaden my gaming palette, I was ready to return with Pokémon X. “Bring it on,” I thought.

So there I was last Saturday morning, hungover to buggery and getting ready to lose myself in a world of grand adventure. I started to recall all of the fun I had trekking through the Game Boy original in search of rare beasts, and the sense of achievement that came with defeating all the Gym Leaders. Finally bagging Mewtwo was another victory, as was winning my first PvP match over link-up. I was finally going back to that place, that charming land Game Freak had invited me to all those years ago.

My character woke up in his bed and suddenly that magic feeling returned. Just like in Pokémon Red, I couldn’t wait to leave my house and explore the Kalos region. What would my team be? Which areas would I explore first? Oh, the possibilities were endless. I quickly skimmed my mum’s dialogue before leaving the house with a backpack full of Pokéballs and dreams. Watch out world, Dave the Pokémon trainer is here, and he’s going to be the best damn adventurer in the land. Just you watch!

I left the house and strolled up the sunny path to stock up on supplies and select my starter Pokémon. I went for Chespin because I couldn’t deny his cheeky wee smile. “We’re going to make history together you adorable little scamp.” With my new buddy in tow I left the safety of town and hit the first route. Once there I saw the game’s first patch of long grass, which is where wild Pokémon can be battled and caught. I wanted to start building my dream team straight away so I rushed in and captured a Zigzagoon, then a Pidgey, then a Fletchling and more. It was awesome, but something had gone terribly wrong.

You know that classic thing people do when playing RPGs with random encounters? That thing where they just run around in circles to grind battles and level up for a bit? Yeah, I did that. For almost three hours. I just couldn’t stop. There were so many different Pokémon hiding in that one patch of grass that I just kept on fighting to get as many as possible, then once I had them all I became obsessed with levelling them up as much as possible. I knew they’d run into tough battles eventually, so I figured I’d power them up a bit before continuing.

“A bit,” is an understatement. I then realised why I had avoided the Pokémon series for so many years. It was because I must have sunk over 60-hours into Pokémon Red when I was younger. I had a level 99 Charizard, I had captured all of the creatures on my cartridge. Aside from linking to get all of the Pokémon Blue animals I had essentially finished that game 100% and there was no way I was going to put that much effort in again. As I grew older I had less and less time to do that sort of thing anyway. But there I was, running laps around a sodding patch of undergrowth for hours.

Someone make it stop, please.

The next day I re-approached Pokémon X with a clear head and set about actually furthering the quest. Each new area included more patches of grass and even more creatures to ensnare, to the point that I actually repeated the same process multiple times. Granted, I didn’t spend three hours in each route – I mean, that’d just be ludicrous, right? – but I did feel compelled to get all the available Pokémon in an area before moving on to the next. It says to me that Game Freak’s formula is now so superbly paced and designed that it’s hard to avoid being sucked into the vortex of grinding.

Yet, there’s still an incredible game in there. Say what you will about how cute or ‘child-like’ the Pokémon series is, it’s still a damn fine RPG that offers a great deal of depth should you wish to drill down. There’s no question that it’ll reel in kids with its colourful creatures and addicting nature, but a great deal of my adult mates are currently hooked on it too, and many of them have been grinding away longer than I have. It’s one of those games that gets people talking, sharing ‘watercooler’ anecdotes of what they did in a certain situation, or discussing who’s in their line-up. I always find games that do that fascinating.

So while I managed to escape that first patch of grass, Pokémon X as a whole has me hooked. Now I’m out there in Kalos trying to forge the ultimate team of Pokémon and earn all of those shiny gym badges. I’m determined to see it through to completion before the next-gen consoles launch and if I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t been this captured by a game since a little title called Dark Souls, and some of you already know how much I like that game.

So let’s discuss our Pokémon journeys so far. Feel free to share your thoughts on X and Y below and we’ll try to get a conversation going. I’d love to hear what you all think.

Disclosure: to assist in writing this piece, Nintendo sent Dave a download code for Pokémon X on 3DS.



  1. CycloneFox

    Two friends of mine spend one whole week killing rabites in Secret of Mana, when they first played the game to get to lvl 99 just before the very first boss encounter.

    Another friend of mine leveled up to 99 on the first oportunity, when he got to go on the Worldmap in Final Fantasy IX.

    I myself never leveled up so extremely in a Sinle Player RPG. The most extreme grind I did was in Xenosaga Episode III, every time I found a spot, where a mapchange was right next to some monsters and a savespot, if one of the monsters dropped items, that permanently added status points. But that was only, because Xenosaga III runs so smooth with almost no loading time. Of course, battlescreen-loading times in JRPGs are the biggest no-go for grinding orgies.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Legendaryboss

    Great writeup Dave, i seem to have almost similar problems as you. I always level up recently caught Pokemon to get them on the same level so the harder battles don’t become hard, one thing i usually do if i have to level up more than one Pokemon leave one of them in care so they both level up at different points. And so less grinding for me.

    Well almost, i never caught them all but caught as much as possible: that was enough for me. Catching almost all of them, was never actually a fixation until a certain Pokemon game. But yeah it has that addictive quality that gets you hooked. But hooked to grass patch? Well usually i can escape when i reach a certain level.

    My favourite Pokemon game? Can’t decide but i did really enjoy Pokemon Ruby/S (rumoured to be remade)/Gold/S, mainly i like soundtrack with each game which surpass my expectations: for how fresh it sounds.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. RefuseBunny

    I haven’t played a Pokémon game since Blue.
    It might be worth the purchase of a 3DSXL seeing as there are also so many good games on the platform.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. polygem

    i am a noob to the series. it´s insane how deep this game can be if you want to dig deep and how casual it can be if you prefer it to be like that and don´t scratch on the surface. it´s a pretty amazing design really.
    if you play online you really need to know the strengths/weaknesses of your pokemon, the paper stone scissor kind of stuff – otherwise you´re just easy prey. but if you choose to, you can rush through the single player, levelling up your starter team, not doing much else. the game will be pretty easy if you play like that but it still is fun.
    i am at the end of the sp now and i wish i would´ve taken more time for the pokemon safari. i mean, i´ve caputred 2 boxes of pokemon…but that´s actually nothing. i still don´t know how the postgame will work? will i be able to keep catching pokemons or will it all be about trading, breeding and battling?
    all i can say is: to me it was a great introduction to the series. i´m about 30 hours in now and i´m not tired of it yet. i will finsih the sp soon, might then put the game to rest for a few weeks and then pick it up again for all the online action. i don´t know if i will really dig THAT deep but i absolutely think that i will pick up and play this again and again for quite some time…for the next pokemon i will be prepared much better! i will definitely go and catch that game – i can already confirm that.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. pablo2008jedi

    Excellent Article. I feel pretty much the same, Red was the last one I played and now I simply can’t get enough of Y !

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    @4 I’ve only just passed the forth gym and I’m already on my fourth box…


    #6 1 year ago
  7. polygem

    @6: HOLY $@%&!!! i knew i was playing this all wrong!

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Ireland Michael

    @7 Nah, it just mean you’re not OCD and feel compelled to catch EVERY SINGLE Pokemon in the game. =P

    The levelling curve in this game is completely out of whack if you choose to leave XP Share on. I’m finding my Pokemon to be up to ten levels higher than any trainers or gym leaders I face, and so powerful to the point that I *have* to switch my team out for lower level creatures just so I don’t one hit KO every wild Pokemon I run until

    Mind you, the upside to this is that I’m developing a far more diverse collection of usable Pokemon than I ever did in the previous games.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. Francis O

    I’ve already put 50 hours into Pokemon X, it is very addictive. A lot of good gameplay tweaks that make the playing experience much smoother than previous titles in the franchise.


    I think you’re forgetting what the emphasis of Pokemon is. The single player story is just the beginning. The real battles begin after you beat the game. The battle towers and online battles are where the real challenge is.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    @10 I know that. For the most part, its a great game, and a great evolution of the series. I’ve never ended up severely overleveled only half way through the game in any previous title though.

    I’ve heard this one is severely lacking in end game content, sadly.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. noamlol2

    this game or sonic galaxy? what to get next week?

    #11 1 year ago
  12. polygem

    fire emblem? or just buy steamworld dig and wait ’til nov 22 for link between worlds.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. TheWulf

    My lady friend and I do the same thing, so don’t feel bad, Dave. Though we don’t quite do it to the same extent as we like there to be some challenge in the gym and trainer battles. Then again, I’m also of the habit of keeping Pokemon even when they have bad stats, bad natures, and bad abilities. All of this applies to my Linoone. I like the imperfectness of it all, it’s my struggle against the Pokemon machine.

    So, yeah, my lady friend and I have been mixing it up between this and Uru of late.

    #13 1 year ago

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