Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 05/24/07

First there were

It’s been a while since my last review, but now that I’ve acquired a Nintendo DS handheld system and a copy of one of the brand-spanking-new Pokemon games, I decided I better return to reviewing, and inform gamers that they need Pokemon Diamond or Pokemon Pearl (or both) for their Nintendo DS collection.

Obviously, there are a lot of the same gameplay elements that were present in the previous Pokemon games. You go into the world and capture, train, and battle creatures called Pokemon. There isn’t much change with this system, except that there are some new Pokeballs that you can buy at the Pokemarts which can help you catch Pokemon easier.

There are 107 new Pokemon for you to catch, and the other 43 Pokemon present in the game are from the previous games. I was a little annoyed that the common Pokemon are EXTREMELY common, and it’s very annoying to constantly battle them. Some of the more common annoyances are Zubat and (towards the beginning) Biboo (a new Pokemon that is basically a beaver). However, there are some awesome new Pokemon that make the constant random battles with the lame ones totally worth it.

Like I’m sure everyone knows, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (like the Pokemon games before them) are turn-based RPGs. However, unlike some RPGs, Pokemon games are very much centered around the Pokemon types, which can include types like Grass, Fire, Water, Ghost, Steel, Rock, Psychic, Electric, Poison, Bug, Flying, etc. Having a Pokemon that is super-effective against an opponent’s Pokemon is almost an automatic win. For example, Water-types are super-effective against Fire-types, but Fire-types are super-effective against Grass-types.

Berries also make a return from the previous games as healing and status-healing items. Other returning items include the obvious pick of your various Potions, Escape Ropes (items that automatically take you out of a cave), Repels (items that make wild Pokemon that have a lower level than your lead Pokemon not appear), TMs (moves that you can teach Pokemon), and HMs (moves that you need to teach Pokemon in order to progress in the game).

Pokemon Contests also make a return, but they are, just like before, very boring. Also, the Dance Competition is tedious and annoying. Sadly, the Contests aren’t really entertaining enough for anyone to care to experience one of the only things in the game that the stylus is needed for: poffin making. Poffins are berries that you cook at a house in one of the cities in the game to feed them to your Pokemon, thus increasing their stats in a certain category and giving them a better chance of winning a competition. The stylus is used by stirring the Poffin mix, and if you mess up (which is way too easy to do), the mix burns, which creates a less usable mix of Poffins. Also, the type of berries you use to make the Poffins will effect what kind of Poffins you produce. An interesting feature with the Poffin making is that you can team-up with a friend and make Poffins together, but I never felt the urge to make treats with my friends.

A new feature that is surprisingly entertaining is this underground tunnel area that you can visit and explore in with your friends via wireless connections. In this underground area you can mine (another activity that the stylus is required). You basically poke at the dirt and rocks on the walls to collect spheres that you can trade to some men in the underground tunnels for traps that you can lay to trap your friends or for a drill to make a hideout. Yes, you can have a hideout, and, much like you could do with your room in the previous games, you can decorate your hideout with various items you can buy at the super mall in the Sinnoh region (the region that Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are set in). The various traps may require you to walk around for a certain amount of time to wear them off, blow into the microphone to make leaves blow away, or pop bubbles that have entrapped you. There are other interesting items you can find in the walls of these underground tunnels, such as the various evolution stones that were very rare in the previous games.

Since it was rare to find another person with a Game Boy connectivity cord, trading and battling with your friends in the past was an event that was few and far between. However, with the DS’s wireless connectivity, it is much easier to trade Pokemon with a friend or hone your skills against a real person. I liked the fact that a lot of the Pokemon in the previous games that weren’t able to evolve all the way without trading were present in these games (like Machoke, Kadabra, and Haunter).

At this point, I’ve been basically praising the entire game, but there are some pretty irritating features in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Such as weather ailments, that make battles needlessly longer and more annoying, make seeing where you need to go a hassle, and are simply annoying. The insane rate of random battles with wild Pokemon can be a nuisance and battles with Trainers can sometimes be annoying repetitive also.

The Battle Tower makes a return, but it’s an extremely boring experience. The only thing slightly entertaining about the Battle Tower is the capability of teaming up with a friend and fighting two CPUs, but that gets very boring after a short while, too. I think the Battle Tower is so boring mostly because it plays like a generic Pokemon Stadium game. All the Pokemon are basically the same level, you don’t gain experience, the Pokemon you see don’t go to your Pokedex, you don’t make money, so it’s basically pointless to even do (though you can win battle points by participating in it to buy some pretty useful items, but these points are very hard to come across and it would take forever to get some of the items available to you).

Gambling returns, also, but there isn’t much to say about the slots. The daycare is back, too, but there isn’t anything new with it.

The newest feature is the Poketech, which is a watch that has a LOT of add-ons you can get for it. Stuff like the actual time, what time is it in Sinnoh, a calculator, what Pokemon you have in the daycare and what level they’ve reached, where you’ve planted berries, and the location of Legendary Pokemon running around.

Surprisingly, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl has a decent story, unlike the previous Pokemon games. Like other games, you take the role of a boy or a girl and begin your adventure in the Pokemon world, starting with one of the three starter-Pokemon available to you (Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup). There is a new evil organization in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and they are Team Galactic. Team Galactic claims to want a perfect world and are taking it upon themselves to steal Pokemon to aid them in their deeds. On your way through Sinnoh, collecting the badges from Gym Leaders, you will have to face Team Galactic various times, all the while keeping focus on your ultimate goal: defeating the Elite Four and become the Pokemon Champion of Sinnoh.

The graphics in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl allow a breather from the other Pokemon games that were simply 2D. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl is set in a somewhat-3D environment, making the world easier to look at and much better-looking. Also, the Pokemon sprites have been re-drawn, making Pokemon Diamond and Pearl the best-looking Pokemon handheld games yet.

The music is amazing and easy to listen to, especially when you progress farther in the game. I loved the soundtrack and some familiar Pokemon themes are present to keep veteran Pokemon gamers interested.

This is one of the longest Pokemon games ever. It took me nearly fifty hours to even get slightly bored with it, and even after you beat the Elite Four, there are at least a couple more days to enjoy Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. There’s the Battle Tower, though pretty boring, and there’s the a whole new island of possibilities once you obtain the National Pokedex (which you obtain by seeing all 150 Pokemon originally programmed into Pokemon Diamond and Pearl). There are also a lot of Legendary Pokemon available in these games (much more than the previous games, though some of these Legendaries aren’t very useful by the time you can catch them). There are some secret areas for players to check out, and of course, online play.

This set of Pokemon games are one of the best, but not THE best. Unlike the previous games, I didn’t have an urge to replay it over and over, but the first time I played through it, I was satisfied. There is also the multiplayer capabilities that will keep you going back to this new Pokemon experience again and again. This gaming experience would be perfect if there was some more stylus-usage and more entertaining side quests.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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