Pokemon Diamond/Pearl DS Review (Second Opinion) - 05/02/2008

The Pokémon series first hit us all in 1995, with its first global success; Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. Since then, dozens more games have been made, an animé series and several merchandise products including the trading card game.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are almost identical to any previous Pokémon game, and this includes the first two games. You are a Wannabe Pokémon Trainer, you go to a Professor who gives you your first Pokémon and you then set off in an adventure to become the best. And yes, this game still has the same tasks of: Defeat 8 Gym leaders and gain their Gym's Badge, and finally complete the Pokémon League. This will sound extremely familiar if you've played any iteration of Pokémon on one of Nintendo's handhelds. This should be a let down, but it's not, for some reason this game is really addictive and I literally haven't put it down in the 2 and a half weeks I've had it and have racked up over 90 hours of gameplay! It may sound sad, but even if you've played through it once, there's so much replay value to it. You could go through the Elite 4 again to train up your Poké's, maybe breed a Snorlax with a Bulbasaur or use the game's clever Wi-Fi options, catch all the Pokémon, or just see them all for your Pokédex...the list is endless and it would take about a week to explain each and every one of them in detail!

Of the main features, I'll explain the new ones, though unfortunately there isn't a lot of new stuff for the game, but the changes that have been made are pretty significant. Obviously there are plenty of new critters to catch and see, over 100 this time, which will rack the total up to nearly 500. So catching 'em all will take a few hours longer this time round. Probably the most important addition will be the Wi-Fi option. This can be used to trade and battle people around the world. Unfortunately this can be let down by the infamous Action Replay codes which are used to hack into the game meaning that they can catch a level 100 Dialga on Route 201 with a Pokéball. So when you trade you're getting dud Pokémon and you won't even know it, and you've just lost that level 100 Pikachu that you've spent months on end training. Battling on Wi-Fi is excellent, it even adds mic support so that you will be able to talk to your buddies. But this conjures up yet another problem: you are only able to battle people on your friends list. It's a nice change from strangers, but it gets boring once you know all of your rival's Pokémon by heart. So with every silver lining, there's a cloud.

Tssk...back in my day we had none of these crazy-named Pokemon, give me Jigglypuff or Charmander any day...

As for controls, the game is exactly the same as previous versions, only adding a Y button that can be used to register items such as the bicycle so you don't have to open your bag and find it every time. Also, the X button is used for the menu instead of the start button. Both of these changes are relatively easier on the old thumbs when compared to the last-gen games. The stylus has also been implemented quite well, but maybe too subtly for some people's likings. You can use the stylus for selecting attacks, or just use the buttons, but the game's interface on the touch screen is really thumb and finger friendly that you might as well use your dirty great sausages. The game also introduces the Pokétch which is a Star trek type watch with some nifty features that include being able to see your Pokémon at the Day Care Centre from anywhere, and all your recently obtained monsters.

The graphics aren't exactly up to DS' standards (apart from a few 3D looking buildings and landscape) and could've easily been achieved on the GBA, or even the Gameboy Colour. Although some attacks look pretty colourful, it would've been nice of Nintendo to not be afraid of adding new features. It could've been done like Animal Crossing with 3D character models. It looks out of place wandering up to a wafer thin dude and then battling with a Gyarados that hasn't changed since Blue and using a Hyper Beam that looks pretty sweet, but still has a lot of room for improvements.

The graphics are disappointing, but you've got to love the detailed rain effect!

Nintendo have turned over more than $100 million with these Pocket Monsters, so will this new instalment of the franchise produce even more cash, or will it be a mere flop like other games in the series? *cough* Mystery Dungeon *cough*

The storyline and plot of this game is also very similar to the rest of the games, with Team Galactic (instead of Team Rocket or Team Aqua) trying to create a new universe for themselves, using the legendary Pokémon on the cover which vary for both versions, and destroying ours. So obviously your Trainer gets pulled into the situation and tries to stop them. It is pretty predictable what happens in the end, but I won't spoil it for you who wish to play this great game.

All in all this game is more of the good and less of the not so good. Like I always say: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

For another take on the game, check out our other review of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl here.

- Sam Foster