Review by negablitz3
"You'll love it whether it's your first Pokémon game or whether you've been a fan since Red and Blue."
Pokemon Diamond is the fourth generation of the main series of Pokemon titles that are featured on handhelds, and is the first entry of the series to go onto the Nintendo DS. While the story and general idea of the game is still the same, it pulls it off as well as the originals did.
Although I am a fan of the series, I'll do my best to write this review in the least fanboy-type way I can. It'll probably still come across in a fanboy-type way, but this is unintentional and I hope it doesn't influence your decision on the game negatively.
The graphics in this game, while keeping in line with the general style of previous titles, probably could have been better. That aside, they are still just great.
The colours are bright and vibrant and are always appealing, and each of the sprites for the Pokemon are animated well and are all unique in their own way. Each of the towns has their own unique feel to it and, in comparison to previous games, the buildings now have a 3D-type look to them on the outside, which is a nice touch. The graphics are in keeping with the classical style which is a must for the series. However, I can't help but think that they could have been better. Take Final Fantasy 3 as an example. The full 3D graphics on that specific game clearly show what the DS is capable of, and even if the developers didn't make the game fully 3D, it would have been a nice addition to maybe take the graphics one step closer towards it.
As I've said previously though, they are still great. The little touches like the lighting changing at different times of the day, and how the backgrounds for battles also change in accordance with how bright or dark it is are nice little touches that are nice enough to be noticed, and you would think it odd to go back to a previous game and not have them there.
Simply great, just like the previous games.
You start off as the young boy/girl in town with the best friend who always strives to be better than you. Although they try to force him to be your friend, he has and always will be your rival of the game. Once you start, "things" happen (don't want to spoil it for any potential buyers, even though previous fans will know what will happen) and you get your first Pokemon, which is either a Grass, Fire or Water type depending on which you choose. From them on your goal is simple: raise a team of elite Pokemon, beat all of the Pokemon gyms and defeat the Elite Four at the Pokemon League to become the League Champion. However, there is of course your Pokedex to fill up. Luckily, this is handled better in previous games, and I really liked the way they did it.
In Pokemon Diamond, if you fight most (if not, all) the trainers you see on your way through the game, you will have filled up your Pokedex once you beat the Pokemon League. Of course you'll have to have a look around some grassy patches for a few others, but it's nothing really out of the way. I liked this touch because in previous games you'd see a lot of Pokemon tons of times, and sometimes you wouldn't even get close to filling up the Pokedex. Note that when I say "fill up" I mean to see all of the Pokemon, not to catch them all, even though that is also one of the main goals of the game.
I'll just go through the basics of the game. Each Pokemon has a set of four attacks it can do, each with a specified type. Each Pokemon has a type too, but its moves aren't necessarily limited to the Pokemon's type. There are also Pokemon with two types, meaning they have more, or in some cases, less resistances. Once you have a Pokemon, you walk around tall grass and find a wild Pokemon. You can either defeat it with your own Pokemon to gain experience and level up, or you can weaken it enough so that you can catch it with a Pokeball. Whereas you will find yourself beating most wild Pokemon for experience, there will occasionally be the odd one that you would consider to add to your party of 6 Pokemon, which you can then catch. As you raise your team, you then take on Gym Leaders in certain towns and then try to become the Pokemon League Champion as I've said previously.
The sounds and music are appropriate for the game, and they fit in well with the tones of each specific town, city or cave. The fact that some of the sound effects have been re-used from previous games is noticeable, but it's hardly a game-killer. I don't think it actually retracts anything from the experience (hearing sounds from previous games), but it's obviously just going to be a personal thing.
Each Pokemon has a different cry, each attack has a different sound, each town has a different piece of music and bosses and certain Pokemon even have their own battle themes. Overall, the quality of the sound is just great.
Ah yes, the replayability factor that is oh so important in Pokemon games. Honestly, I've seen my overall play times decline with each game in the series (with Silver having the highest). My most recent game, Pokemon Emerald, racked up a disappointing 39 hours, and after that I never really had any reason to play it again. This game however has got me up to 75 hours so far and I'm still loving it, and I could quite easily see myself playing it for another 75. I don't really know what about it makes it stand out from previous games, but I just want to keep playing it and playing it and playing it. I was surprised by how much I'd played in such a short time when I first got the game, but I just carried on playing it.
At the start of the game, the Professor tells you that he wants you to fill up the Pokedex with all 150 Pokemon in the Sinnoh region. That task seems a little daunting at first, but you see it as a challenge and then carry on. Your next task, alongside this, is to take on each of the Pokemon Gyms and rise up through the ranks to become the Pokemon League Champion, which again sounds daunting, but being the hero of the story you storm on anyway. Once you finish the Sinnoh Pokedex with all 150 Pokemon, you'll then find yourself with an upgraded version which has the capacity to show all 493 Pokemon in existence, and your task now is to find and catch them all.
Luckily, the Global Trade Station has come to save the day, though not as well as it could have. Using the Nintendo Wifi Connection, your DS can connect to the internet and you can trade with people online. Sounds great eh? Well it is, mostly. First off, you can only search for Pokemon that you have seen, which doesn't really help if you want a Pokemon that isn't in your Pokedex. Secondly, about 95% of the trades are extremely unbalanced, and you'll be surprised that people even bother to set up that particular trade. To trade online, you "deposit" a Pokemon from your party of PC Box and set an offer that you will accept for it, and it is then kept on the GTS system online. Some people who then search for that Pokemon will have yours show up in front of them, and they can choose whether to do the trade. Once it has been deposited, you can then leave the GTS and go tain up for a while, then return to see if your trade was successful. You can only have one Pokemon deposited at a time though, but you can withdraw them at any time.
Also, you can add people's Friend Codes to your "Pal Pad" once you get it in the game, which will also contain your own Friend Code. Once you have this, you can save any person's Friend Code in your Pal Pad, and you can then trade directly with them over Wifi, or you can battle them over Wifi too! As well as Wifi battling and trading, there is also the standard type where you have a friend sitting next to you and you trade/battle wirelessly without the need for Wifi.
Unfortunately though, despite Wifi trading, there are still some Pokemon that you can't get on either version of the game. These ones are starter Pokemon and legendary Pokemon from previous games, and the only way to get them legitimately is to transfer them over via the GBA game that features that Pokemon. Also, you have to fill up the Sinnoh Pokedex before you can do that anyway, so that's also something to think about.
Despite that, there's still plenty of stuff to do and all of the other Pokemon to catch to keep you busy.
Pokemon Diamond is a fantastic entry into the series, and is probably the best yet overall. The sheer amount of Pokemon to catch will keep you busy for an age, and the addition of trading and battling over the internet was genius (despite the fact that it was really a necessity). Hopefully they will continue to make Pokemon games on the DS and future handhelds up to standard with this game, and they will (hopefully) keep getting better and better.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/13/07
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