Review by Nemesissy

"Same old Pokemon formula - for better and for worse"

And so the fourth generation of the core Pokemon games arrives, and along with it, another 100 or so more little creatures to collect and to fight in order to claim glory. Well, better get a move on.

It's been almost 9 years since Professor oak gave us our little blue dinosaur thing and sent us into the long grass to complete his encyclopedia. 9 years on, it's the same. Except for the blue dinosaur thing and Prof Oak.

At the start, you choose to be either a boy or a girl. For some reason, the boy has a backpack and the girl has a handbag. Girls do wear backpacks, Nintendo...

You also have to choose the time. Certain Pokemon only come out at certain times of day. The background is also affected by time. In the morning, it is orangy with the sunrise. Later on, it's bright. In the evening, grey fills the background. And at night, it's black with city lights brightening the area.

Of course, as usual, you are given a choice of 3 Pokemon at the start as your starter Pokemon. Either a Grass Type (Turtwig), a Fire Type (Chimchar), or a Water Type (Piplup). To make this seem new, you don't get sent into the local Professor's Lab and is presented with a Pokemon. A scenario starts which makes you choose your Pokemon. Of course, you have a Rival. Friendly, or rather, friendlier than your rivals from Red/Blue/Yellow and Gold/Silver/Crystal. As usual, he picks the Pokemon with a type advantage over yours.

And with that, you're sent off into the wilderness on your own. Your aim - to be the greatest Pokemon trainer in the land. This land is Sinnoh. All plans of an education or a job is thrown out the window, and your purpose in live is to collect the usual 8 Gym Badges and take on the might of the Elite Four. Just as before.

The pokemon themselves are determined in strength by 'levels', the highest level being Lvl 100. The further on through the game you get, the stronger the opponents Pokemon get. And you must keep up with that to survive. Winning battles earns you EXP Points. Get enough EXP Points and you go up a level. Go up a level and certain attributes of your Pokemon increase, such as Attack, Speed and Defense. More EXP Points are needed to level up the higher the level your Pokemon is. So it takes more EXP Points to get from Lvl 30 to Lvl 31 than it does to get from Lvl 10 to Lvl 11.

Fighting is the usual turn-based style. The Pokemon with the highest Speed attacks first, then the next Pokemon. Then it repeats. The way to defeat your opponent is to deplete them of their HP. Of course, the stronger the opponent, the more HP they have. Items can be used in battle, to heal your Pokemon for example. However, using an item uses up your attack turn, thus forcing you to think more strategically. Types also force you to think more strategically, on a higher level. Certain types are stronger than others. Some types you know are stronger than others by common sense, for example, Water is stronger than Fire, Electric is stronger than Water. Some you really have to think about, like Psychic is stronger than Fighting, while others you won't know at all, like Fire is stronger than Steel. A stronger type means more damage will be inflicted, while a weaker type means less damage. So using the correct type is key to winning. Battling can become extremely tedious with random battles and battles you can't avoid. You'll end up avoiding trainers just to speed things up a bit.

Pokemon can only know up to 4 moves at a time. Moves can be learnt through leveling up, while other moves can be learnt by using items called TMs and HMs. Each of these moves have types, so Tackle is Normal type, while Ember is Fire type. Certain Pokemon can only learn certain moves. Some moves inflict damage on the opponent, while others affect status, like making a Pokemon's Attack higher, or making the opponent weaker.

The really annoying system with the Pokemon level limits returns. You can only control certain levels of Pokemon if you have the right badge. Late on, it won't matter, but early on, it can feel restricting.

Pokemon Veterans will notice that most of what was just said is the same as older games. Now for the new stuff.

Graphics are 'updated'. Better than previous editions, but nowhere near the quality that the DS can churn out. Sure, the matchbox-like cities are nice, but the DS can do better. The 3D effects are way better than the lazy graphics of the Game Boy games, but don't expect graphics like Mario Kart DS, or Super Mario 64 DS.

There's a new map, with new towns and new gyms and new people. But that doesn't mean to say that it's a new adventure. The standard format remains. Route, Town with Gym, Cave, Town with Gym, Forest, Cave, Town with Gym.....

An annoying item is the Running Shoes. You don't get these until after your first battle, and I don't like them. Using the Control Pad makes you walk around slowly, while holding the B button makes you move quicker. It seems annoying to press and hold down a button just to move quicker. Much simpler with just the one speed.

New bad guys. We have Team Galaxy to mess with. They want to seize control over the legendary Pokemon Dialga (the dark chap on the box cover) and use it's powers for their own evil uses. Despite being adults, they are 'beaten' once you defeat them in a Pokemon battle. They could just hit you over the head with a hammer, thus killing you and solving their problem, but Nintendo doesn't work like that. Thankfully.

The 4 Pokemon battles return, with 2 Pokemon on each side. There aren't a lot, but there are a few. When you are with another trainer, you control only your Pokemon. When it's 2 of your Pokemon, you can control them both. Be careful though, as some move can damage all the Pokemon, including your partner.

No new types. The only new types added during the series were the ones added in G/S/C: Steel and Dark. Of course, more types to add would increase the memory power already needed to memorise the new Pokemon.

But what makes this a revolution in Pokemon games is the WiFi. With the GTS (Global Trading System) you can search for any Pokemon you want and trade with the owner for it. An incredible addition that every Pokemon game on a WiFi console should have.

New Pokemon games are always epic. Once you play through the game, the whole 'new adventure' thing is over. You can just play through it again to have fun. You can only play a new adventure every time a new game comes out. Diamond is that new game.

Diamond really is only the previous versions with added enhancements, but Pokemon's immortal genius wins over. Sure we have to trudge through a quarter of the map until we get the bicycle which we know is coming, and sure we can't fight the Gym Leader until we defeat that bloody Team Galaxy, but thats Pokemon.

Pokemon games have never really been difficult. You can have problems with a certain battle, but eventually you'll end up with a team that'll wipe the floor with your opponents. The puzzles don't really require that much thinking, so it's a medium difficulty.

One thing I must mention is the fact that there is still only one bloody save slot. Very annoying......

Anyway, Pokemon Diamond is another landmark in the Pokemon series, and forever will be. Really is the same trek through the world for the nth time, but Pokemon's immortal genius shines through.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/17/07

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