For my last game of 2015, I had to post about Pokemon X/Y, because I more than doubled the amount of time I'd spent on the game since the last time I posted about it (in the fall of last year), going from 150+ hours to more than 310+ hours (!!!!). The bulk of that time was spent trying to get through the post-game "marathon mode" that is presented in the form of the damn Battle Maison. I focused on the Single Battle mode, and getting through the regular Single Battle mode (20 wins in a row) was easy, but getting through the "Super" Single Battle mode has been a huge pain. I'm determined not to overload my three-'mon team with Uber Pokemon (esp. legendaries), and similarly I don't want to have to use a 6-perfect-IV team (I've gotten quite a few 'mon with 5 perfect IVs just from wonder trading (presumably people doing a lot of breeding and discarding ones that didn't have perfect IVs or the nature they wanted, etc.)), but creating a team that can take on any possible combination of opponents seems extremely difficult. I've been able to get to around #40 fairly consistently without too much trouble, but anything about #35 or more seems to require too much luck. It's been entertaining to see the different strategies the CPU throws at you, and I've adjusted my team several times (replacing Greninja, for example, who despite being ranked as Uber on Smogon kept letting me down), but eventually I've had to table this for a while, at least until I can try adjusting my team yet again. I'm guessing that the other modes are a little less luck based as you have a slightly bigger team to work with.

Despite this disappointment, while I was slogging through this pain I used the game's online features to finally finish the national Pokedex (that's some 710+ Pokemon, as limited-release event Pokemon are not required), a first for me for the series. The online features make completing the Pokedex a question of time rather than serious effort, and I was always surprised at how easy it was to trade for legendaries with Pokemon that weren't, in my opinion, really equal. In any case, it's nice to finally have the Shiny Charm. I tried using the Pokeradar to catch shinies more seriously than before, and after a fair amount of effort I finally caught a shiny Croagunk (incidentally, this is the video I found most useful for learning how to catch shinies in Pokemon X/Y (and ORAS), as the mechanics seems to have changed since the last generation). It seems like even with stepping into the right grass perfectly there's still a fairly high chance (a couple percent) that your chain will break before you get to the target of 40, but with enough persistence you should be able to. I don't have enough time to devote myself to shiny hunting as a way of life, but it was fun to be able to at least know the mechanics inside and out and cross this off my list of things to try in the Pokemon games (although I still have yet to naturally encounter a shiny in the wild).

I don't know that I would have guessed that Pokemon X/Y would have ended up being one of my most-played games ever, but I guess I've "levelled up" again in my Pokemon fandom. I'm determined to give the Battle Maison another go at some point and eventually experiment with an all-new team, and I'm also looking forward to seeing what new announcements are in store for us for 2016, which is the Pokemon series' 20th anniversary. There are still a few minor things here and there that I haven't 100% completed in Pokemon X/Y, like the Battle Chateau and the Battle Institute, so it looks like there's still a fair amount more for me to tackle when I do pick this up again. I have a feeling I'll be posting about the game in 2016 as well, which would be the fourth year in a row, but we'll just have to see.

Some pain-free Pokemon X/Y links:
- My previous two posts on the game (from 2014 and 2013) have a lot of still-relevant links
- Bulbapedia is still the best site for everything you could ever want to know about the games and the series
- Just for fun, here are pictures of some cute holiday-themed Pokemon merch that were released in Japan a few years ago.

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