2 Days with Pokemon Diamond

Getting pokemon turned out to be quite an ordeal. I had a gift card that I was saving from Christmas to buy Pokemon for Best Buy and even though I’ve lost favor with Best Buy I still don’t mind using Gift Cards there. So I went online and ordered Pokemon Pearl g3cause the exclusives seemed a tad better there, and I didn’t mind if I got my copy a few days late. Well if Best Buy makes it obvious what address you are shipping it to, I don’t know where it is because this was the second time that I failed to notice a shipping address entry form and it had my old address in it.

Needless to say when I went to check the delivery I was shocked to see it going to the wrong place. I couldn’t change the address so I am going to have to cancel the order altogether. So on Tuesday I went to Target and bought Diamond (just in case I still get Pearl in the mail somehow). So I got it, though much later than I really thought I would (I was expecting it on Monday cause it shipped on Friday).

What to say about the newest Pokemon that hasn’t already been said? First, it is pokemon through and through. The game itself really hasn’t changed much. I’m happy for the return of day & night cycle that was lost in R&S (Ruby & Sapphire), I’m kind of annoyed of the return of berries, though I am hoping that they make them easier to manage, Battle is identicaly, there are no new types added, there are a bunch of new pokemon, especially evolutions of old ones it seems. Overall very much the same.

So what is different? Well I’ve seen a lot of reviewers taking points off because the graphics aren’t great, but you know I never felt they had to be state of the art. Pokemon has always been a tad behind on graphics largely due to the fact that they need graphics for 400+ pokemon plus the various attacks, inventory items, and characters, etc. So I don’t mind that the graphics aren’t quite what the DS can pump out, RPGs are rare that do anyway. I think the graphics are great personally, they feel a lot like the harvest moon like graphics from maybe early gamecube or late N64 which isn’t too bad really. They are cute, and the 3D switch is apparant. They zoom in and out a lot, and it offers a slightly more immersive feel because of it. Something else that they’ve been able to do more because of it is true vertical levels. When you go down a canyon, the camera zooms down so you feel like you are going down, and there are many more multi-tiered areas. For instance the first badge has 2 or 3 levels to it inside and when I went in I was just like “Wow, they’ve never done this before” it felt more like a 3d Platformer than a top down RPG. They’ve also added a number of little things that I appreciate. For instance, now you can change the graphic of your pokeballs when they open, although you need to get various in game pieces to do it. Things like how the battles start with going through the grass and having it split open to see the pokemon you face is really clever.  There are a lot of little things that make the graphics work well. I’ve also heard some complaints on how they haven’t really updated combat graphics and this is largely true, although they have updated most of the attacks, most of the updates are marginal at best, but some are spectacular like the new Hidden Power animation is great (and you see it early too!). I think it is getting better, but again with all the moves involved in the game this is probably hard to do too much.

I’ve also heard complaints the sounds are bad, especially pokemon sounds. First of all I think the switch to stereo sound has helped even basic sounds quite a bit. I think the music is fitting for the DS and there seems to be much more variation in music than in previous Pokemon games. We do still have the cheap little chirps of the pokemon, however, in a way this isn’t bad because it is almost retro at this point that they keep the original sounds from 10 years ago around.

The pokemon themselves are fairly cool, I especially like the new electric. Something I found interesting so far is that it has always been the case that the early pokemon have been grass & bug types, but here they have been fairly mixed, with maybe normal being the early strong one.  There are a lot of normal types and they are all fairly boring. However, some are kind of fun like I just got a new psychic type that is the first catchable one that I’ve seen that looks like a bell. It seems this one they are steering away from the animal pokemon and going towards every day objects a little more (another new one is a bird with a musical note for a head, at least I think it’s new). There also seems to be a lot of new cat-like creatures so I like that as I love cats.

From what the NPCs say, they’ve also changed how they sell items. Apparantly the more badges you get the more items a store will sell you. Previously the stores later in the game just sold more and the early stores sold less.  If you finished the game and went back to a newby area, then you would have to return to the vet areas to get more good pokeballs, but I assume that has changed and if you get more badges all stores will sell the better pokeballs.

Also the team wild pokemon battles are weird, strategic, and annoying all at once. I have only had one experience with it but you can’t capture a pokemon while the other one is still alive. So you have to start by killing off the one you don’t want, and then go back weaken the one you do want and catch it all while hoping that your partner doesn’t kill it before you catch it. This has caused problems though as one particular pokemon named Murkrow has been a very difficult catch and my partner almost always kills it before i can get it. I’ve even had one battle where I threw 4 balls at it and it still wasn’t enough. Hopefully I can go back and get it alone, but the nice thing about the double wild pokemon thing is that you generally get two different pokemon which makes it somewhat easier to find the one you are looking for, just more difficult to actually get it.

Overall, I like what they’ve done so far with this Pokemon. It seems like all the elements are much better merged together than in previous attempts. Previously they had added various features like the berries and the natures and the contests and it never really felt right together, but I think this game does alot to really bring everything together.