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Pokemon Diamond + Pearl Strikes First
Published on March 3, 2009 By iTZKooPA In Console Games

In an effort to once again catch up my reviewing to my gameplay I need to push out a trio of these quick reviews.  Most of these titles are being glossed over - rather than my normal, more in-depth reviews - for any number of reasons.  Be it time constraints, the title's age, their quality and mostly, because I want to do a 2008 Year In Review piece before the end of the first quarter!  First up on my list comes a trio of titles not even released in 2008, but ones I finished sometime during the past year.

Pokemon Diamond + Pearl (April 2007 - Nintendo DS)

Yes, I still play Pokemon.
Like many other men who admit to still playing Game Freak's Pokemon, I went with the Diamond version for the 5th set of titles.  My reasoning?  Well, in my twisted mind, diamonds are more masculine than pearls, and the pictured legendary Pokemon seems to go along with that reasoning.  Crazy I know, but it isn't like we had many options to go with.

Updates for the DS.
The pair marked the first Pokemon titles to be released on Nintendo's years old handheld, the Nintendo DS.  The designers took theDS's features into consideration when they planned the return of the Pokemans, and I thank them for that.  The handheld's extended functionality over the GBA enabled Game Freak to implement five daily periods (rather than three), the handy touch-sensitive screen being turned into a dumbed-down Pip Boy, additional Pokemon Contests and the big one, wireless capabilities for battle, trade (ad-hoc and world wide via the Internet) and voice chat.  Pokemon players have wanted to trade their critters worldwide since the down of time, a feat that Diamond & Pearl allowed them to accomplish.

Game Freak also took the opportunity to mess with the most basic mechanic in the Pokemon franchise, battling.  Diamond and Pearl changed the rules from a basic "Special" and "Ground" attack classification to a trio of classes, "Special," "Physical" (replaces Ground) and "Other" for buffs anddebuffs.  Most players won't even notice the change to the internal battle system, but any diehard player will see it as a welcome update to the archaic system, no matter how minute it may be.

Inventory screen.Here is the dusk cycle.

Just getting ridiculous.
The latest pairing take the age old "Gotta Catch Em' All" to the extreme.  For starters, there is now 493 catchable Pokemon packed into the pair.  As was previously, mainly of them are locked away in the opposing entry, forcing you to trade with friends (or, and Nintendo would rather, buy both editions) if you wish to come close to the total.  Beyond that, the greedy bastards spread a few other Pokemon across a parade of the spin-off titles, including the GBA RPGs, Pokemon Ranger and Pokemon Battle Revolution.  Seriously guys, two games was bad enough, but three RPG series, and two spin-off titles is just overboard.

If It Ain't Broke...
After all the bells and whistle wear off, the game just boils down to the gameplay.  Pokemon Diamond is dressed up nice with all the power the DS lends to the series, but all the reflective surfaces, large cities, multipletilesets and parade of cute characters can't save the game for me.  In the end, it is just the same old Pokemon with a collection of new characters and added perks.  Heck, even though they finally dropped the Team Rocket angle, the story pretty much stays the same.  The title wasn't innovative in any single-player gameplay, but I still ate it up.  The extension of its multiplayer capabilities - trading, battling and contents - allow me to endorse the title to any Pokemon fan.

I know it'll never happen via Pokemon, but I would love a more mature story to the monster collecting genre.  There has to be a franchise out there that caters to that type of gameplay, but it passed me over.  Anyone know of one?

More coming later this week.  Stay tuned.  Oh and since this is timely, Diamond and Pearl owners can snag a free Level 100 Regigigas at Toys R' Us starting March 8th and running till March 21.  To bad your opponent gets five free turns to beat on Regigigas before it can do anything.



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