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Customer Review

103 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Pearls, April 22, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Pokemon Pearl Version (Video Game)
After countless spin offs the real deal is here: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. The Pokemon craze has been around for years. Ever since the Red and Blue versions hit way back, Pokemon has been huge. It's tried and true formula has worked for over ten years, and it's pretty apparent that the formula isn't going to die now. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are a lot like the Pokemon games that preceded it, but they've really thrown in some good touches here. Still, most players who've been playing since the Gameboy days, or even as recent as the GBA days will still get a "been there, done that," feeling. Still, the game is good, addictive and it will keep you busy for hours on end.

As I said, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl have a "been there, done that" kind of feel. You begin as a rookie trainer in a village, and under some circumstances, you are asked by a professor to go and collect Pokemon data using a Pokedex. On your journey your goal is to collect as many Pokemon as you can and train them to take on other trainers, and to get all the badges from the games various gym leaders, while you've got a rival who is out doing to same thing to prove he's better than you. In addition, there's an evil organization called Team Galactic that has plans for a new world order and to do that they need all the Pokemon they can get. If all this sounds familiar, that's because it is! It's the exact same formula that worked for the original Pokemon games on the Gameboy, the games on the Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance. The story, of course, is simple and charming, but where Pokemon has always managed to shine most is it's fantastic and addictive gameplay.

Pokemon is actually really strategic and in-depth. That is to say, it requires a lot of thought, and believe me, some of these battles (especially against the new Pokemon that are introduced in this version) require a lot of your skill. Battles are turn based, where you select a command and then watch a round of combat. There's a paper/rock/scissors effect here, however. Each and every Pokemon has a type, and some of the attacks they use reflect its type. This makes up what deals massive damage, what deals no damage and what deals just normal damage. Grass may be strong against water, for example but grass is also weak against fire, but in turn, fire is weak versus water. This effect plays through with seventeen and different types, and there is no best type because every type has a weakness. It's because of this element that Pokemon is so much fun to play. Just trying to construct the perfect team will take you more than a day, and with over 100 new creatures to collect, you can form endless amounts of teams. Just catching all the Pokemon alone will keep you busy for well over 50 hours. To add to the effect you'll face several other trainers as well, and you never know what they'll throw at you. Your strongest Pokemon may very well become your weakest in certain battles just because of its type.

The battle system itself is made even simplar by the touch screen. Where as before you were scrolling through menus, battling can simply be done by touching the different options on screen. It makes battling a lot faster, especially because the icons are pretty big. Luckily, there's never really a point where you have to use the touch screen if you don't want to, and battling can still be done the old fashioned way if you so choose.

As with Ruby and Sapphire there are also moments of two on two battles. Usually they come with either two trainers taking you on at a time, and you'll send out the two Pokemon in your top roster, or you'll be with another trainer who will send out his or her Pokemon with yours. It adds to the strategic feel of the game, but the moments of two on two battles are pretty few and far between.

In your journey you'll also receive a nifty watch that works based off the time of your internal clock. This means that much like Gold and Silver, it'll switch between day and night. Some Pokemon come out only in the early morning, others come out late at night. Some Pokemon only come out on certain days. Either way, those itching to catch each and every Pokemon will enjoy this aspect of it.

As I said before, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl have added some new things. The most important new thing however, is how much easier it is to trade Pokemon and battle with your friends. Using Wi-fi on the DS is far better than the various link cables or having to go out and buy the wireless adapter for the GBA. You can battle with people all across the world, and do other things as well, such as trade with them. Of course, in order to enjoy the full benefits of this you'll need the friend code to do it, and sometimes. In order to get the full experience of the online gaming world in Pokemon, you'll need to register friend codes. If you don't you can't enjoy some of the better perks, like being able to talk to a friend using the microphone of your DS as you battle. Still, the combat is enhanced greatly when playing online. If you don't want to play online you can easily connect to another DS and battle it out that way with your friend simply sitting in the room.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are also full of little secret goodies. There are the legendary Pokemon, Pokemon contests, and of course, even after you've finished the main story there's more to be done. You can transfer Pokemon from your GBA versions by sticking it into the GBA slot of the DS. No matter how you slice it, Pokemon can easily keep you busy longer than several RPGs combined

I wish I could say the graphics and sound are absolutely amazing, but they're really not. For as much fun as this game is, it's certainly not the best as far as graphics go. The same goes for the sound as well. Pokemon has never really been a game you go after for eye-candy, though. There are some moments where some 3D effects come out, but not very many. The sprites are more or less the same sprites they've been using since the Red and Blue versions. Ideally, the game doesn't look all that much of a step up from Ruby and Sapphire, and they were not fantastic looking games either. It's really colorful, but the DS is capable of so much more than this. Likewise, in battle is still as horrible as ever. Fun to do it, but the Pokemon still only flinch to attack, and there aren't a lot of animations going on, and we're still looking over the Pokemon's shoulder. Essentially, the combat engine hasn't changed since the series first outing in 1998. There are some move animations that look really good, but aside from that it's hard to look passed the simple fact that the game's combat engine hasn't really evolved since the original games came out way back in 1998. This isn't the original Gameboy, this is the Nintendo DS.

The sound is also no exception. A lot of it sounds really tinny. There are some tunes that definitely sound Pokemon like, but again, it's using old technology on a system capable of a lot more. Most of the sound effects such as the Pokemon's cries are ripped straight from--you guessed it--the original Gameboy versions released in 1998. That's not to say all the tunes sound bad, it's just to say that a lot of what you're going to hear is recycled.

Despite the games graphics and sound, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are still excellent games. There's a lot more depth here than people think, and a lot of stuff to keep you busy for a long time to come. Even those who are tired of the same simplistic plot and formula will find something great here.

Pros:

+Simple, yet addictive gameplay

+Deep, strategic combat system

+Touch screen controls make battling easier

+Wi-fi connection works well

+Over 100 new Pokemon join the roster

+Simple storyline that anyone can understand

+Being able to battle trainers all across the globe and being able to trade with them is fantastic

+Game can keep you busy for hours with all there is to do, easily over 80 hours worth of gameplay

Cons:

-You can still only save one file

-Graphics and sound are horribly outdated

-The formula works, but there are bound to be gamers out there who are sick of the same old storyline
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 24, 2007 11:30:25 AM PDT
I noticed that about the sound with the GBA versions as well, I could not tell it sounded any better than the original Red Version. That's disappointing, I was looking forward to updates all around.

Posted on Jun 7, 2007 10:34:45 AM PDT
A reader says:
Thank you for an exceedingly well-done review. As an utterly clueless parent of a 6-year who wants a Nintendo DS specifically to play this game, I found your review very helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2007 1:02:24 AM PDT
Tsanche says:
I'm glad to have helped you out. If there's anything else you need to know, the people on the discussions boards have been very friendly and helpful to anyone and everyone. If you find you have anymore questions, I strongly suggest you go there.

Posted on Jun 30, 2007 8:04:11 PM PDT
George S. says:
The Pokemon games have always been intended to have only one save file. Each game cartridge is meant to be unique to one player, to emphasize the trading aspects of the game.

The graphics and sound may seem outdated, but they purposely tried to keep the same style of the old games. Also, if you play any of the old games AFTER playing the DS versions, you will see just how much it has improved.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2007 3:07:34 AM PDT
Tsanche says:
I never said they didn't improve. Because they did. I just think they could've done a bit more with what they had to work with. This could've been done while still keeping to the same style of the old games. We see games improve vastly in graphics while keeping to the same style of originals all the time.
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