Review: Pokemon Diamond

Pokemon has seen its fair share of Pocket Monster fighting games on the Nintendo consoles but this new game on the Nintendo DS takes the Pokemon games that were a hit and makes them better.

If you’ve ever picked up a colour Nintendo Game Boy, chances are you’re familiar with the Pokemon franchise in some form or another. The games started as “Pocket Monsters” in Japan and first hit the Western world in 1998 with the introduction of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. The Pokemon franchise has since had collectable card games, an animated TV show, three feature movies, and loads of games including Pokemon Yellow, Pokemon Snap, Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Gold & Silver, Pokemon Crystal… seriously, we could be here all day if I list off for you how many games have graced the Pokemon name.

The Nintendo DS has seen its fair share of the franchise but until now it hasn’t really had the true Pokemon experience of an RPG with the ability to trade the Pocket Monsters as the past Game Boy games had had. We’ve seen Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team which was more like a dungeon RPG game set in the Pokemon universe, a racing game called Pokemon Dash, a puzzle game called Pokemon Trozei!, and a Pokemon wildlife preservation game called Pokemon Ranger.

This is all great but none of it compares to either Pokemon Diamond or Pearl, the first true instalments of Pokemon on the Nintendo DS.

If you’ve never played Pokemon before then you’ll start out as either a little boy or girl. You’ll have a very competitive friend and together you’ll each get introduced to Pokemon when you’re both threatened by wild Pokemon in the beginning of the game. You’ll have found a Professor’s suitcase with a few Pokeballs — the cage for your Pokemon — and you’ll pick one to do battle with.

This starts your foray into the world of Pokemon.

Let me tell you that there is a lot to do in this world. You’ll wander from town to town battling other Pokemon trainers along the way and catching more Pokemon. The towns are filled with lots of items and games that really use the Pokemon world in a way that’s never before seen. There are lots of Pokemon to catch and both Diamond & Pearl have a few different Pokemon not found in the other game so if you really “gotta catch ’em all”, you’ll have to buy both games.

The multiplayer facet of this game surfaces in the various towns you’ll go to over time, allowing you to log on to the Nintendo servers to trade Pokemon, challenge other trainers, and even head down below ground for a dungeon-esque treasure hunt.

Back in the world of single-player gaming, the story will keep you moving from town to town to become the ultimate trainer. You’ll compete in mini-games to make your Pokemon the cutest or most powerful and there’s certainly a lot there to keep you entertained.

While the graphics are actually pretty decent, the sounds are really where you might feel let down as. The DS is capable of quite a bit more than what Game Freak (the makers) have given us in terms of some of the visuals and audio.

Many of the graphics are very cool and pleasant to look at, especially those of the world you’ll be walking around in which feels like a 3D cartoon. The animations are nice but feel a bit outdated and borrowed from past games. This is much the same in a lot of the audio which often doesn’t sound right when compared to how high the standards for the rest of the game are. In fact, the audio for how the creatures sound feels more like an after-thought that Game Freak didn’t think of until the end which really is a shame.

None of this puts a dampener on the game which is very addictive and fun. Unfortunately, the repetition in the game is such so that half of the people who play the game will be playing past a month and the remaining half will have given up and moved on to something else.

That said, even with the addition of multiplayer modes and mini-games, this is definitely a great introduction to any new Pokemon player as well as a brilliant extension of the franchise for those who already love it. It’s as addictive and fun as it ever could be and is a must-have for anyone with a DS.

DeveloperGame Freak
Classification– G
Formats– Nintendo DS
URLPokemon Diamond

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark