Pokémon Diamond & Pearl

August 18, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Reviews

Overview

Title: The Pokémon Diamond/Pearl
Release Date: September 28, 2006 (JA) April 22, 2007 (US) July 25, 2007 (EU) June 21, 2007 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Game Freak/Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Platform[s]: Nintendo DS

Storyline

Welcome to the fourth generation of Pokémon and the first mainstream title on the NDS.  This time around we visit the region of Sinnoh, an island divided in half by Mt. Coronet, the rocky and snowy landscape here makes everything feel much further north than the previous settings of Kanto, Johto and Hoenn.  As per usual the story revolves around catching Pokémon, collecting Gym Badges, defeating a crime syndicate (Team Galactic in this case) and finally winning against the Elite Four. The plot is hardly deep but it is existent.       

DP-Screen

Gameplay

Every mainstream title (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red and Leaf Green) has used the same format in terms of gameplay – albeit with a few new defining features – D/P are no different.

Navigation throughout the world itself is done from a top-down perspective, the player can control their characters movements, who they speak to and use special actions in the field (e.g.  ‘Rock Smash’ to destroy rocks, ‘Strength’ to move boulders and so on) that is of course as long as all necessary requisites are met.

Battles can occur in one of three ways; randomly whilst navigating through certain environments (grass, water, caves etc), legendary Pokémon present in the field and also in the form of other trainers.  All combat is turn-based and it is executed simply by selecting which move you would like to use, this can be selected via the ‘d-pad’, the stylus or even your finger.  It’s all very minimalistic but there is a science to it all.  Most players rely entirely on attacks (taking into consideration elemental affinities) but others will expertly take down rival trainers/potential Pokémon with expertly chosen status effects.  Capturing those crafty little Pokémon is a simple affair, weaken it, throw a Pokéball (or one of its many variants) and pray you’re lucky.  This can only be done in battle of course and the tension really builds up when there’s a risk of one of your six being wiped out or worse still your target running away.  With 493 monsters to catch though you’ll definitely be busy – well, you will be at least if you have friends to trade with, the GBA games, a Wi-Fi connection or a Gameshark cheat device!  As legitimately you cannot catch all these alone but more than half are available and the rest can be picked up from the in-game Global Trade Centre (Wi-Fi connection required) through importation of your caught Pokémon found from Fire Red, Leaf Green, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (the mentioned carts just slipping in the GBA slot of the NDS after a certain point in the game.  Nintendo have tried to keep newcomers and diehard fans enabled in this respect!

Now for the NDS specific features: movement is not like Pokémon Ranger (which utilized the stylus) it’s all about the d-pad, instead the stylus is saved for combat (though optional), beauty contents, the Pokétech and the ever present Pokédex.  More the trivial features rather than general mechanics.  In regards to the earlier mentioned Pokétech, it is basically what you will come to know as the primary occupant of the NDS’s bottom screen.  It’s a clock, time, pedometer, map, drawing pad and more, not really revolutionary but certainly more interesting than nothing at all!  The internal microphone also gets the chance to be used in the optional underground environment of Sinnoh, as do a number of other NDS features.  Basically the underground is an MP area with treasure, minigames and challenges – something from the usual battling.

All-in-all Diamond and Pearl are basically the same old Pokémon experience with some shiny new features.  There’s the simple adventure for those who just want to collect and complete or the EV/IV obsessed stat mongering for those drawn towards competitive battling.

DP-Screen-2

Graphics

Without a doubt the mild use of 3D does make a difference but for the most part Game Freak have visually kept the style as the series always has been.  Whether this is a good choice or a bad one is nothing but personal opinion… I however feel its time it updated itself.

Sound

Catchy tunes, annoying tunes and the usual sound effects (Pokémon noises, jumping noises and the like) – everything is simple in this respect but that’s not a bad thing, is it?

Overall Score & Replayability

So what we have is more of the same.  Both games are great fun to play whilst shallow and deep at the same time just as long as either way you know the only difference between the two is aesthetic the overall content is the same and so you’ll still get the same experience in the end.