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The Friend Safari in Pokémon X and Y
Gotta Catch 'Em All
Every Pokémon game has had some sort of mechanic in the game that allowed the player to obtain Pokémon typically unavailable in the other areas of the game. Unless a player trades with friends, they can never truly complete their Pokedex without visiting these parts of the games. As a collector myself, I spent quite a bit of time in these areas trying to catch them all. I will describe the original method, the Safari Zone, and the newest method, the Friend Safari.
The Safari Zone
The first generation of the Pokémon games had an area called the Safari Zone. The Safari Zone was an area of the game where rare Pokémon could be found. Most of these Pokémon were unavailable anywhere else in the game. Pokémon such as Scyther, Pinsir, Kangaskhan, Dratini, Dragonair, Tauros, and Chansey were only found in the Safari Zone, but catching them was even more difficult because of the way the Safari Zone requires Pokémon to be captured.
Welcome to the Safari
With a host of rare Pokémon, the Safari Zone is surely a place of happiness, rainbows, and complete golden Pokedexes right? Sadly, it is not. The original Safari Zone had quite a few differences to it than the classic way to catch Pokémon done outside of the Safari Zone's walls.
The first difference is that the Safari Zone costs money to enter. A small payment of 500 will allow the player entry. At the point in the game that the Safari Zone becomes available, it shouldn't be too costly for most players.
The reason the 500 can become costly is what comes with its admission fee. The player is only allowed to take a certain amount of steps while in the Safari Zone. That is part of the challenge that takes the player to the Safari Zone in the first place. The only way to obtain the ability to Surf in Generation 1 is to get through the Safari Zone without using all 500 of your steps in order to receive the prize of an HM03 which can teach Surf to Pokémon.
The next difference is that for the 500, the player receives 30 safari balls. The player is not allowed to use their collection of Pokeballs that they have collected throughout their adventures through the game. It adds a level of difficulty because the player can't just toss Ultra Balls or Missingno-glitched master balls at all of the Pokémon that appear.
How Does That Make You Feel?
What enraged you more in the original Safari Zone?
Stay in the ball! No! Don't flee!
Once the player has paid their 500, gotten their 30 safari balls, and taken their first few steps into the grass a Pokémon will be found. A major difference is instantly found upon entering battle. The usual four choices that allow your Pokémon to attack, swap Pokémon, use Items, and flee are not on the screen in this fight. The player's Pokémon is not out either!
The Safari Zone is an area where the trainer goes into battle against wild Pokémon. The options for actions the player can make is to use a Safari Ball, toss some bait, throw a rock, and flee. Similar to catching Pokémon outside of the Safari Zone, simply tossing a ball isn't the best choice sometimes. Tossing bait tends to keep the wild Pokémon from fleeing, but also can make it harder to catch. Throwing a rock angers the Pokémon. This can cause it to flee from battle earlier, but can also make it easier to catch. Fleeing is the same.
Each Pokémon that can be found in the Safari Zone will require some combination of the first three choices to capture them. Some Pokémon are extremely rare and that is where the frustrating part of the Safari Zone can be found. A player can use all of their steps just to not find the Pokémon they want or find it and have it flee instantly! Usage of bait and rocks can also cause them to flee and trying to get them to stay in the Safari balls can be just as frustrating.
The Friend Safari
Now that I've explained the frustration the first Safari Zone posed to players, I'll explain what you came here for: The Friend Safari in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. This already sounds better because it has the word "Friend" in it! If that's not enough to put a smile on your face, I've got a few more reasons to tell you about.
The Promised Land
Forget the horrific hellscape of scattered rocks, rotting pieces of bait, and mountains of broken safari balls I have depicted of the original Safari Zone. Pokémon X and Y's safari, for the most part, is a place in the game where the player can simply catch Pokémon that they can't find anywhere else.
The Friend Safari is free to enter, the player can walk around as much as they want, and the player has access to all of the Pokeballs they have obtained throughout the game. This last availability is especially advantageous because there are a lot more types of Pokeballs than in the first generation that'll give players the advantages in catching the Pokémon they desire. It is also good because the Friend Safari is only available after the player has completed the base game so they should have acquired quite a collection by the time they find themselves at the front gates.
Stipulations of the Safari
The first requirement is to defeat the Elite Four. This means the player doesn't have access to the Friend Safari for quite awhile. Once the Elite Four and the Champion have been defeated, the credits have played, the story has finished, and the game has been restarted, the player can visit the Professor in Lumiose City. The Professor can be found in the train station on North Avenue on the outside circle of the city. Once found and talked to, the Professor will basically give you access to Kiloude City. Simply clicking on one of the ticket receivers in the train station will take you to Kiloude City.
The only other requirement is that the player has at least one friend on their Nintendo 3DS. This could prove difficult for someone without any friends who own 3DS systems and thus render the Friend Safari useless, but fear not. I will explain a way around this obstacle later on. For each friend the player has, a section of the Friend Safari will be open. Each of these sections has a random Pokémon type and a random three Pokémon available to be captured based on the Friend Code associated with your friend's Nintendo 3DS. This makes starting a new game useless as the determining code is linked to the 3DS and not the game's save file.
Simply adding a friend will allow the player to gain access to the first two Pokémon in their friend's Safari. To gain access to the third Pokémon your friend has to have beaten the Elite Four on their game and you have to have both been online at the same time. This second requirement can be satisfied by simply playing near each other while both of your 3DS's antenna's are turned on. If they are on your friends list, they should appear in the list titled "Friends" on the 3DS's lower screen. Once both requirements have been met, the player is free to capture any of the three Pokémon in their friend's safari.
Friends Through Pokémon
Like playing near your friends to gain access to a third Pokémon, the Nintendo 3DS's wireless potential can actually help you to make friends by simply having a common interest in Pokémon.
Just like how your friend's player icon shows up when you play near them, another list entitled "Passerby" at the bottom of the lower screen is actually a list of people near you who own a 3DS and if their picture is lit up, are currently playing Pokémon X or Y. Most people will add swap friend codes because they too want to get as many Friend Safari plots as they can to fill their Pokedex. Don't be shy!
But I'm shy! Fret not, there is a way to gain friends on your 3DS without ever having to talk to anyone face to face. This method requires you to connect your 3DS to wireless internet. Once you've done that, your passerby list will be flooded with player icons. These icons belong to all of the people playing the game all over the world!
Interacting with any of these people once will move them from your Passerby list to your Acquaintance list. Interacting with them can be done by simply battling or trading with them. Once they're on your Acquaintance list, interacting with them again through battling or trading should open up an option to add them as a friend the next time you click on their player icon. It will be on the same screen where you have previously requested to battle, trade, etc with the player.
Unlike the Safari Zone, the Friend Safari is a rather easy way to find and capture Pokémon that typically are not located in the other parts of the game. The player can enter for free, use their own Pokeballs, and meet new people who also like Pokémon. While seeming kind of like a big social experiment, it does manage to get people to go out and talk to complete strangers in order to try to further their goal of a complete Pokedex or perhaps just to get their favorite Pokémon.
The Friend Safari, while a great way to gain Pokémon, also gives players the opportunity to gain something besides Pokémon. It gives them the opportunity to gain friends that share a common interest with them, and that interest being Pokémon just makes it more true to the Pokémon TV show. Gaining friends through the capturing, training, and battling of Pokémon is the closest thing players have gotten to living in the world of Pokémon yet! It leaves me feeling excited to see what comes in the next generation of Pokémon games.