Honestly, I didn’t want to write a review for Pokemon Diamond & Pearl because I know nobody in the blogsphere will actually care to know about the latest installment in this million dollar franchise. However, after locking more than 120 hours playing this game since it was released in late April, I felt compelled to jot down a review. It is safe to say that even after 10 years since its creation, the concept of Pokemon still remains addictive and surprisingly fresh.
As any previous Pokemon game, you play the role of a teenage boy or a girl in a quest to become the Pokemon champion by collecting monsters, battling with trainers, and defeating the gym leaders. Mind you that there is a story in the game but it is undeveloped and lacks substance, mainly because the concept of the story has already been made in the past Pokemon games and this version brings nothing new to the table. However, Pokemon games never were story-driven games but its well-established formula is enough to keep you going no matter what.
The gameplay still follows the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” adage where the formula remains unchanged since the old days of Pokemon Red & Blue. You basically start with a starter Pokemon of three types (Grass, Fire, and Water) and then develop your own army of creatures by capturing them in Pokeballs and then leveling them up and evolving them to much stronger beasts. The battle system also remains unchanged but it is still simple and intuitive. You really have to consider developing a diverse team of different types of Pokemon with different types of attacks, and that is easier said than done especially if you are into competitive battling. The main story is designed for an 8 year old to beat (although there are some tough challenges) but when it comes to battling other people, the true nature of Pokemon games arises. There are 493 Pokemon to choose from, each has its own distinctive characteristics and abilities that makes choosing the right Pokemon for your team a challenge. Capturing Pokemon is also another story, which some of them can only be caught at certain time of the day cycle (for example, some Pokemon only appears after 7PM and others in the morning), and others only evolve in certain methods or following specific rules. Finding all the Pokemon and filling your Pokedex is definitely not at easy task especially if you don’t want to cheat using an Action Replay or other cheating devices.
The graphics are nice and colorful and they have this unique hybrid of 2D-3D elements. They don’t match Final Fantasy III level but it is quite easy on the eyes. However, the battle animation didn’t change that much since Ruby & Sapphire. The sound sees a better improvement though. The music is not annoying as it used to be and you will find yourself humming some of the songs while you play this lengthy game.
However what makes this version of Pokemon exceptionally good and satisfying is the introduction of the online gameplay. You can easily connect with other people online and then have a quick battle session or a trading session to fill out the empty slots of your Pokedex. Both sessions are voice-chat enabled so you can even talk with the other player even if he or she was in another country or region. You can visit a place called the Global Trading Center where you can offer your Pokemon to trade for another Pokemon you want, or searching the Pokemon that you want by browsing other people’s offers. This online feature makes this installment of Pokemon worth playing. And the fun doesn’t stop there. There are tons of side-quests and events that you can undertake anytime you want and most of them are unlocked after you beat the main story of the game. You will find new places to visit, new Pokemon to capture, Pokemon Contests to participate, and an Underground Areas to explore. Also, you will unlock a place called the “Pal Park” where you can easily transfer all your Pokemon from the third generation to Diamond and Pearl. This game is destined to be in your DS slot for eternity.
They say Diamonds are forever and this seems to apply to Pokemon games as well. Whether you are a recent newcomer or an old veteran, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl will devour your time fast. However it is unfortunate that a well-established formula still has a weak story for the player to actually enjoy but this soon will be forgiven after few hours of Poke playing. Whether you hate Pokemon or not, this franchise is destined to stay longer than any game franchise on the market. Give it a try.
8.5 out of 10