Pokemon Diamond and Pearl DS review

31 October 2007
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Pokemon Diamond for DSPokemon Diamond and Pearl for Nintendo DS will unveil 107 new Pokemon to the series, bringing the total number of Pokemon to collect and train to 493!

In the new Sinnoh region, there are two Pokemon that symbolize the region. They appear in the Sinnoh region’s myths and old folklore. One is called Dialga, and is said to have the power to control time. The other is called Palkia, who is said to have the ability to distort space. The sinister organization called Team Galactic is trying to rule the region by utilizing these two Pokemon’s power.

During your adventure to complete your Pokedex and become the Pokemon League Champion, these two Pokemon, and Team Galactic, will intertwine into the story and lead you on a fantastic journey across the Sinnoh region.

System: DS
Genre: RPG
Release dates: September 28th 2006 (JPN), April 22nd 2007 (USA), June 21st (AUS), July 27th 2007 (EURO)
Players: 1 & 1-8 (online) multiplayer
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Origin: Japan

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl charactersPokemon Diamond and Pearl take place in a region called Sinnoh. When you set off on your travels, you’ll be able to play as either a boy or girl Trainer in the game.

The Pokemon RPG tradition continues by having you make one of the most important decisions in the game right away: Picking a Pokemon with which to begin your journey. Three all-new Pokemon are yours to choose from – Fire-type Chimchar, Water-type Piplup, and Grass-type Turtwig. You won’t be able to catch these Pokemon in the wild. To catch every Pokemon, you’ll have to trade with other Trainers to get the two. The Pokemon you choose can have a big impact on your adventure in several ways, so choose wisely.

Pokemon Ranger for DS includes ManaphyPokemon fans have caught glimpses of Mime Jr., Lucario, Munchlax and Weavile in Pokemon movies, and these Pokemon are debuting in this adventure. Diamond and Pearl utilize the DS’s dual slots to transfer Pokemon from the GameBoy Advance Pokemon games. Also, you can link up with a completed game of Pokemon Ranger to get access to the rare Pokemon called Manaphy. Legendary Pokemon like Lugia, Ho-oh, Groudon, Kyogre, Suicune, Raikou and Entei have always been sought after by Pokemon Trainers. These mysterious creatures are one-of-a-kind, and very powerful. In the DS version, the Legendaries are larger than life – Dialga is an enormous blue Pokemon that is said to be able to manipulate time, while the giant purple Palkia is said to have the power to distort space. Not much else is known about these Pokemon, except that they can only be caught in their respective games. The same goes for a handful of Pokemon that are version-exclusive. For example, if you’re looking to complete your Pokedex in Pokemon Diamond, you’ll have to trade your Pokemon with a Pokemon Pearl game.

Watch the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl launch trailer.

The gameplay of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl is very similar to that of previous Pokemon role-playing games (traditional RPGs), with several changes and additions…

In previous generations, Pokemon attacks were deemed “physical” or “special” based on their type (for example, all Fire type moves were special and all Ground type moves were physical). Starting with Diamond and Pearl, moves are now categorized into three groups based on how they are executed. Examples of this include the move Fire Punch now being Physical, Gust being Special, and moves that do no damage are now in a new group called Status, or Other.

When Pokemon Gold and Silver introduced a real-time clock, Pokemon fans absolutely loved it. It seemed destined to become a staple of Pokemon games, but when Ruby and Sapphire came around, the feature disappeared. Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl reintroduce this system in a major way. A 24-hour cycle is divided into five phases: morning, day, evening, night and late night. Certain Pokemon are most likely to appear during particular phases of the day or day of the week. A Pokemon’s area info in the Pokedex depicts a sun on the bottom screen. If you drag it across the sky-like timeline, you’ll be able to see where the Pokemon will appear and at what times. For example Murkrow and Misdreavus can only be found at night, while Drifloon is only available on Fridays. This also influences the lighting during battles or the overworld, and locations of non-player characters.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl DS screenshotThe DS’s touch screen has improved on the Pokemon gameplay systems in a number of ways. When you’re choosing an attack, touch-screen buttons display standard information – the move name, the move type, and how many PP you have left. The item-select screen is broken down into categories, and all of the items are clearly organized within each section. — The changes don’t amount to actual differences in how battles play out, but they will help you to manage your items and moves better than before. If you prefer to use the Control Pad and buttons to select your next move, you can do that as well. — Outside of battle, the touch screen plays other big roles. While you’re out exploring the far reaches of Sinnoh, the lower screen accesses your Pokemon Watch, known as the Poketch. You can also use the stylus to interact with the Pokedex. The list of Pokemon appears on the top screen, and you can spin a wheel that looks like a giant Poke Ball to browse the Pokedex list. These are just a couple of the roles the touch screen serves. You’ll discover many more as you play the game.

The Pokemon Poketch wristwatchA new device called the Poketch, resembling a wristwatch, can be obtained and plays host to a wide variety of features, including a time management system, a calculator, a map, a counter, a wireless link up search, and drawing pad. When you’re out exploring the many corners of Sinnoh, the lower screen accesses your Poketch, a multifunctional tool that Trainers will find indispensable. The Poketch is basically a small computer that stores a variety of miniature applications. When you start out, the Poketch is limited to a handful of uses: it’s a watch, a pedometer, a Pokemon-status checker, and a calculator. As you progress through the game, you’ll find more applications, including: a note pad and an item finder. There are 20 applications to discover, and you’ll have to put in some serious footwork to find them all.

Along with the 50 existing Technical Machines (TMs), which teach Pokemon a new move, 42 new TMs have been added to the game, bringing the total to 92. This marks the first time an entire 50-TM set has been left intact between generations, and the first time the total number has exceeded 50 (58 counting HMs). Two of the eight Hidden Machines (HMs), which, like TMs, teach Pokemon a new move (but permanently), have also been changed. This gives the games a total of 100 machines to learn moves from.

Palkia and Dialga Pokemon
Gender has long been a part of the Pokemon series, but until now male and female Pokemon have looked the same. Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl introduce visual differences for Pokemon depending on their gender. For example, a male Wooper will have more horns than a female. Even the most well-known Pokemon, such as Pikachu, are getting a graphical update. There are still some Pokemon that look the same in both genders, some that can only be male or female, and some (particularly the Legendaries) that don’t have a gender at all.

Pokemon Contests are events where one’s Pokemon compete in a show of sorts to win ribbons, now return from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire as “Super Contests”, with similarities and differences. Super Contests consist of three rounds. In the Visual Judgment round, players utilize the Nintendo DS’s stylus to place accessories and objects on their Pokemon to appeal to a particular trait, such as “Cool” or “Cute”, and earn points. In the Dance Judgment round, Pokemon compete with opponents in a test of rhythm and balance. The final round, Performance Judgment, is identical in premise to Pokemon Contests of the third generation of games; Pokemon use their techniques strategically to appeal to the judges and crowd. Assuming the same role as Pokeblocks in the third generation, baked goods called Poffins can be made through use of the touchscreen and fed to Pokemon in order to increase certain traits and, consequently, the likelihood of success in a relevant Contest.

Pokemon underground treasure hunting
Below Sinnoh is a large underground area, used for multiplayer gaming. Players can create and decorate secret bases (first featured in Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire) and participate in mini-games, one of which will allow the player to unearth fossilized Pokemon such as Cranidos and Shieldon. These Pokemon, as well as Spiritomb, can only be obtained by exploring this underground area.

Nintendo DS Headset for online voice chatOne of the best aspects of Pokemon games is the ability to trade and battle with other Trainers, and Nintendo DS allows you to connect with other Pokemon fans wirelessly. What’s even more intriguing is that Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl are compatible with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, allowing you to trade and battle with other Trainers around the world. Visit the basement level of any Pokemon Center to enter the Pokemon Wi-Fi Club. Once you have connected to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, you’ll see a list of available friends. You can then use the voice chat feature if you have a Nintendo DS Headset, share records, or invite a friend for a battle or a trade. Voice Chat once you connect with friends over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, then you’ll be able to use the Nintendo DS microphone to speak to them directly! You may also use the voice chat during trades and battles if the host of the session enables that option.

Pokemon tradingVisit the Global Pokemon Trading Station to trade Pokemon over the Wi-Fi network with people from all over the world. Post a Pokemon that you’re willing to trade or search through the list of Pokemon offered by other Trainers, as well as the Pokemon the other Trainer wants in return for each. You may end up with a Pokemon from another country! The trade does not have to be instant and an offer can be left for other players to browse and complete, even while the player is offline.

Those who attain the rank of League Champion will gain access to the Battle Tower. The Battle Tower has a Wi-Fi Room where you can go online and battle against the teams that other users have registered (but which are now controlled by the computer). If you participate, people around the world will be given the chance to battle your team of Champions!

Watch the first battle in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

So what are the main features in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl?

* Worldwide battles and trading using WiFi.
* Real-time clock feature changes the time of day based on the DS clock. The Pokemon you can catch vary based on the region and the time of day. Also, certain Pokemon moves’ power changes based on time.
* More elaborate Pokemon Contests. Players can use the accessories and dress up their Pokemon. Players make “Poffin” out of Berries to raise their Pokemon’s contest stats.
* New dual-type Pokemon, new/altered moves, and new special abilities add to the already deep strategy of Pokemon battling.
* 3D environments and updated graphics.

See some more Pokemon Diamond and Pearl battles gameplay.

As a conclusion let’s rate Pokemon Diamond (and Pokemon Pearl) on its fun-basis.

FUN FACTOR – 9.0
Pokemon Pearl for DSPokemon Diamond and Pearl sticks to a true and tried RPG formula that worked extremely well in the GameBoy Advance games and delivers the incredibly addictive Pokemon gameplay people have always enjoyed. The story replaces Team Rocket with Team Galactic and has a similar level progression as previous games in the series, which is to say it’s fun all the same. The graphics have kept the same modest look, but have gotten a little upgrade from 2D to a more 3D-ish perspective. There’s more depth to the gameplay thanks to the addition of 107 new Pokemon, bumping the total up to an enormous 493 Pokemon that you can get in various different ways, there’s lots of new Technical Machines, a day and night clock system, and battling is now done via the touch screen, which makes it very quick and easy to perform your moves.

However the joy in Pokemon lies in that you can play it as you choose, you can A) explore the depth of gameplay described before and engross yourself in its technicalities; or B) play simply because you think your favorite Pokemon looks the coolest or prettiest and you want to see it grow. Maybe you’ll play as type A, B or a little bit of both. That’s your own choice, but I’ll tell you what the game did for me that I found so amazing. As an adult gamer it reminded me of those long summers as a little kid where you’d come together with friends and catch insects with a net and put them in bottles just because they looked amazing and then exchange the different species so you’d have more different ones to look at. One time I even found a cocoon and put it in its own glass box (an empty aquarium) and added twigs, green plants like flowers and leafs to make it look like a forest. I’d keep the closed box in our shed, and would check back every day to see if it had hatched yet and it was so amazing to see when finally a fully developed butterfly came out with those brightly colored wings… of course when its wings had dried I had to set it free, but it was all worth it in my eyes back then. Aside from taking me back, in a way that’s what Pokemon does to you. It makes you want to catch ’em all and level up your favorites to whatever surprising evolution is next.

You first have to play through the game (takes about 40 hours for an average player) and only then can you add your Pokemon from previous GameBoy Advance Pokemon games into the DS game by putting both cartridges into the DS unit. While re-training Pokemon you already have might be a bit annoying, it does make sense; otherwise the game would be too easy starting with high-level trained Pokemon. That’s probably why leveling up at the beginning of the game is hard (with always those darn Geodudes and Zubats showing up), but once you get further into the game you can do it a lot easier. Which is important once you finish the game, because then leveling up becomes the main reason for continuing to play the game.

The Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector takes your DS onlineThe big new attraction is online battling and trading, you can exchange friend codes with online friends or on forums, with visitors on VideoGamesBlogger for example, look at any website or blog with a Pokemon topic and you’ll see people challenging each other for battle or looking for Pokemon to trade. It’s a very social world. But if you don’t know anyone that way, you might want to face off against people who aren’t in your friend list, sadly you’re out of luck on the DS, because you’re only allowed to battle people in your friends list. Probably so parents don’t have to worry about their kids talking to strangers. So for worldwide battling against unknown random adversaries you’ll have to get the Wii game Pokemon Battle Revolution. Still, the online battling is great for playing and at the same time having a chat with your opponent (if you have the DS Headset). The voice quality is almost similar to VOIP phones and you can even select a friend, go into a chatroom, and just chat. Aside from the huge attraction of online battles and online trading, locally there are the mini-games and 8-player modes. Altogether you can start to see how much fun there’s to be had. Hint: A LOT!

Graphics – 7.5
A lot of attention was spent on the design of every Pokemon, nook and cranny of the world you walk in. You can’t deny how charming it looks. However, with 2D visuals similar to how the series started out ten years ago, even the added 3D perspective can’t help this game’s visuals from feeling the same as the previous and much older games in the series. It was done on purpose, mind you, but you can’t deny they could’ve added so much more animation to the animals to liven up the game now that the handheld can handle 3D. Again, you really will not mind the graphics style as you play since it fits the gameplay perfectly, but developer Game Freak definitely ignored a lot of potential, maybe we’ll see new visuals in a sequel.

Audio – 7.5
The short sound effects will remind you of all the old GameBoy Pokemon games, but the music makes up for it by being true to the Pokemon spirit in that it’s both upbeat and catchy to the ears.

Ingenuity – 8.0
Consider this the ultimate Pokemon experience in the series. All the best elements brought together in a package that plays fluently in the single player adventure as well as local or online multiplayer thanks to the simple controls and touch screen. The RPG has so much added depth in battles and features you can personalize to no end. There so many Pokemon to collect, the result is an undeniably addictive gem of a game.

Replay Value – 10
Depending on what you’re doing, it can take 20-60 hours to defeat the Elite Four and finish the story. To complete the game (see and catch ’em all) could take a total of 120-350 hours. Add another 10-250 hours of online battling & trading and you get the picture. If you enjoy the game the playtime could go over the 999.99 hours maximum the game can keep track of!

Whether you’re new to the world of Pokemon, a Pokemon fanatic or maybe someone who hasn’t played a Pokemon game in a while, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are guaranteed to get you hooked. For $35 it’s a must-have for every DS owner. It’s no wonder as of September 2007, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl combined have sold over 12.17 million units worldwide.

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About the author

Ferry Groenendijk By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.


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