Written by Flareon
Wednesday, 16 July 2008 11:05
THE STORY SO FAR
The story of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (Pokemon DP from here on) follows pretty much the same formula as all the previous Pokemon games that have come before it. You start off in a small village and you've got a rival. You meet a local Professor and get tasked with finding Pokemon and adding their data to your index. Through circumstances you get to pick your first Pokemon, which usually falls along the fire, grass, or water type. You then set out to other villages and cities, battling other Pokemon trainers, battling wild Pokemon, and collecting badges by beating gym leaders across the country. You'll also run across a dastardly team that you must thwart too. It is the same story that was in Pokemon Red/Blue and it's the same story that is here for Pokemon DP. That familiarity isn't exactly a fault, it's just that if you go into Pokemon DP looking for anything different in the story department (or really, any department at that) you aren't going to find it.
SINGLE PLAYER: GAMEPLAY
At its core, Pokemon DP is a strategy based RPG that has a more advanced Paper, Rock, Scissors gameplay at its battling core. Much like the game it takes its gameplay from, what trumps what is for the most part obvious – water has power over fire, fire has power over grass, etc. In order to get the most from the game and complete it, you really need to be familiar with these advantages and use them to succeed. For example, if you're going against a team of fire based Pokemon, you'd be wise to have some water throwing attacks to help out matters or else you might be fighting quite the uphill battle.
As your Pokemon fight and do battle, they'll gain experience points like every good role-playing game out there. As the Pokemon gain levels, their stats will improve, and they'll also gain new attacks. Since each Pokemon can only know four attacks, as new attacks come along you have to consider your fighting style and what you think would be most beneficial to your character. Pokemon are usually also able to evolve as they gain levels, changing forms and abilities as they go.
You'll only have one Pokemon to begin with, but you'll amass quite the army by walking through the thick grass, traversing water, and spelunking through caves. However, things aren't as easy as simply throwing a ball. When entering into a battle with a Pokemon you want to capture, you'll first need to takedown its health, weakening it so it will be more capable of being captured; to improve matters, you can also try and put it to sleep, improving your odds even more.
While in battle, you can switch out Pokemon on the fly, if perhaps one of yours is running low on life or it wouldn't be the best fit for a situation. You've got several chances for helping out hurt or fainted (no death) Pokemon, and that includes taking them to a Pokemon center to heal them and/or giving them items as supplements to heal them up or repair a status ailment.
Controls are amazingly simple, mostly thanks to the touchscreen capabilities of the game. Whenever you are running around in the game world, you'll use the directional pad to move about, the A-button to engage objects or talk to people, and you'll use the B-button to either run around or change bike gears. When it comes to battles and navigating items menus and whatnot, though you can use the A-button to click through them, it's a lot easier to use the stylus to click arrows and select items by simply tapping them. And when it comes to performing moves and changing out Pokemon, once again all you do is use the stylus to tap away.
But there is a lot more to cover that would frankly take way too much time, like the issue of finding, picking, and growing berries; using berries to make poffins to feed your Pokemon so their beauty traits improve; and then entering those Pokemon into contests that are like beauty pageants where you have to dress them up, perform dance, and act. You'll also unlock later abilities like being able to transfer your old Pokemon from past games into the current one by attaching them into the slot beneath where Gameboy Advance games go. You'll also partake in dual battles sometimes, where you'll have two Pokemon on the field at one time fighting it out with other players.
Perhaps the bulk of the appeal of Pokemon DP (and all Pokemon before it) comes from the multiplayer aspect, that has you playing against other live players, and more importantly trading Pokemon with others. See, each version of the game only has so many Pokemon that you can capture, and you need both versions to get the full roster. However, even if you had both versions, you STILL wouldn't be able to have them all, because there are some Pokemon you can only evolve by trading them with other players. Of course, if you had no friends near you who played the game (like me) you were always left without a complete collection. With the inclusion of Nintendo Wi-FI though, now you are bound to find another player somewhere who will be able to trade with you or you can fight with.
Not advanced by any means, but their simplicity and clearness make up for that. Plus, you'll have a hard time not falling in love with some of the character designs, as they just scream for you to go "Awww, isn't it so cute?" The animated effects of the moves helps round out the package though and make this the best Pokemon has looked to date on a handheld system.
Much like the graphics, it isn't ground breaking, but everything still sounds good. The roaming music and battling tracks sound nice and pleasant, and the bleeps and chirps of your Pokemon helps bring out their charm, and moves like slashes and bubble attacks come out sounding like you'd think they'd sound like. No complains.
The problem with Pokemon DP isn't that it really does anything wrong, it's just that it doesn't really do anything new to enhance the gameplay. For example, it's the same story only told a tad different, with the same beginning to end progression as every Pokemon game before it. Touchscreen use is nice and there are some new things thrown in, but nothing that has to be done, meaning no fundamental changes. If you want your new Pokemon fix, Diamond/Pearl will certainly get you there, and though it is a solid game we are really enjoying playing, we still are having a hard time shaking the feeling it's the same game we first played so many years ago.