Review by KFantasy017
By now, every game knows of Pokemon. Not everyone's a fan, but looking at how many games have been sold, I'd say that a good majority are. Quite simply, Pokemon is one of the most successful franchises ever created, and given the recent success of the latest entries in the game series, Diamond and Pearl, it doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.
Now let's be honest. How many people playing these games pick them up hoping for an epic game with a gripping storyline, varied and emotional music, and a cast of memorable characters? Yeah, not many. While the storyline, music, and characters are good for what the creators wanted them to be, they're still nothing spectacular (unless you count each individual Pokemon as a character, in which case there's an amazingly varied cast). As has always been true, the Pokemon games shine in gameplay, and Diamond and Pearl bring amazing gameplay to the table, just as Ruby and Sapphire, Gold and Silver, and Red and Blue have done before them.
Most naysayers will claim that the gameplay is getting repetitive, recycled, etc., but the beauty of the Pokemon series is that, while keeping gameplay mechanics of the original games, each new entry in the series adds something new and different to the formula, making it a newer, still enjoyable experience. Not only do Diamond and Pearl bring something new, they also bring back old features that were sorely missed in Ruby and Sapphire, such as the time of day. Though I must admit that I'm easily amused, one of the things that I was most excited about with Diamond and Pearl was the time of day being put back into the series. Gold and Silver made good use of this system, making certain Pokemon only available at night, others only available during the day, certain events that can only happen on, say, Monday at 3 in the afternoon. This made fans keep playing, as every day brought something new for them. Diamond and Pearl do the exact same thing, and even add more to the system by adding more times of day. One of the more impressive parts that they added was how the world changed with the time of day. The lighting would grow darker or brighter, city lights would go on or off, etc. It really added to the atmosphere of the game, and made it more enjoyable.
I personally enjoyed new features such as Pal Park, where you can upload your Pokemon from previous games, and catch them in here to use in Diamond and Pearl or finding all of the Poketech applications. Especially finding all of the Poketech applications and playing around with them all the time. I remember one in particular. It's the one where you tap the touch screen with the stylus, and it changes the color of a small little square. I, like many of you, just randomly moved the stylus around the screen to see what I came up with. Well, my best friend decided he wanted to be an artist, and made the logo from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". You can't get anymore creative with something that most people get bored with after five minutes. But anyways, I digress.
As always, the battle system remains very similar to how it's been in past games. You catch and raise a team of six Pokemon, give them four different attacks, raise their stats through special methods of training or through items, and fight against other trainers on your way to beat the 8 gym leaders and eventually take on the Elite 4 and the champion of the Pokemon League. That's how it's always been, and Diamond and Pearl don't change that.
They DO, however, change the battle system rather drastically. In previous games, the type of the attack you used determined if it was a physical or special attack. For example, fire attacks were special while fighting was physical. Come Diamond and Pearl, that's long gone. Now each individual attack is given a physical or special attribute. Now you have different attacks for each type. If you want a fire type Pokemon, you can use something like Flamethrower, which remains special, or Fire Punch, which has become a physical move. This split gives the game a whole new element of strategy. Some Pokemon lose their best moves, while others gain a whole new arsenal. Some of the best Pokemon now have to worry about everything they once countered (I'm looking at you, Skarmory), while others gain new weapons to counter everything they once feared. You really have to be careful when you pick your moves now, because you don't want to be having, say, Metagross learn Shadow Ball. Some people, myself included, were worried that the split would be difficult to adjust to. On the contrary, you hardly even notice the difference in the moves, and you will rarely ever screw yourself over by giving a physical attacker a special attack.
One thing that annoyed me about the gameplay is the new Pokemon. We don't get that many new Pokemon, and the ones that we do get are either average, suck, or just are so boring that no one would use them if they were more powerful than Mewtwo, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Rayquazza, and Arceus combined. After playing through this game, I can honestly say that the water type is my least favorite after having tons and tons of wild water Pokemon thrown at me throughout the entire game. You may have enjoyed it, but I certainly didn't find the prospect of trying to find a good Pokemon of another type to fit in my team when the only things you could find were Shellos, Wingull, and Bidoof. While Bidoof is awesome, I don't want to see him in every area I go to.
In terms of difficulty, don't play Diamond or Pearl if you want a difficult game. I found the newest entry in the series to be the easiest, getting my first defeat playing on Wifi, well after completing the game. The games might be difficult for some, depending on your team, but if you keep a balanced team, you won't have any problems sweeping through the game at all.
Now, going back to the storyline, graphics, and music, I have to say that, for the most part, I was given what I expected. The storyline, while a step down from Ruby and Sapphire, is still the level you would expect from a Pokemon games. You want to be the champion, so you go to defeat the gym leaders and the Pokemon League. On the way, you encounter an evil group, and most stop their plans for world domination. Same case with Diamond and Pearl, with minor tweaks along the way.
The graphics are much better in this entry than they ever were. The textures are smoother, the colors are brighter, and everything just looks a lot nicer. I have to say, walking into a new town for the first time and seeing the difference in the new style to what it was like in Ruby and Sapphire was simply amazing for me. It gets better as you go on, too. Walking through a forest, a blizzard, or a sandstorm seem all the more real now, and it's great. Unless for some reason you preferred the old style of graphics, you will be extremely satisfied with the new look of the series.
The music, well, is pretty much the same. The sound quality is improved, but the music in general didn't stand out, wasn't memorable, and really wasn't that enjoyable for me. I played it more often than not with my CD player on then with the sound from this game. It was disappointing on all fronts, really.
In case you were wondering, the game goes extremely well with Metallica, Pink Floyd, and oddly enough, the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack.
The great thing about Pokemon games is that they can be as addictive or as casual as you want them to be. You can play for a few minutes every day, or you can play for hours on end and beat the game in a day or two. The point is, no matter how you play the games, they're still fun for everyone that plays them. Diamond and Pearl are just as fun as the previous games were, and because of that, I have to recommend them to everyone. Fans of the old games, or newcomers wanting to take their first plunge into the world of Pokemon will all enjoy this new entry in the series, and will all eagerly await the next entry, whenever that may come.
Because it's so convenient, here's a list of pros and cons for ya.
-Physical/special split makes the game fresh and exciting
-Goes great with my favorite music
-Same storyline as always, minorly tweaked
-Gameplay can be repetitive if you want something majorly different
-The newer Pokemon are meh worthy, stat and design wise.
-The music is bad, and the game might not blend well with YOU'RE favorite music.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/21/07, Updated 08/31/07
Game Release: Pokemon Diamond Version (US, 04/22/07)
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