Pokémon is one of Nintendo's money makers. It’s as though they found a Pikachu and then discovered that beyond it being a mouse that shoots electricity, it can also shit money. Piles and piles of money. The series began in 1996 with the release of Red and Blue. 12 years later, it continues as strongly as ever with Diamond and Pearl.
I had bought Pearl for Kim earlier in 08, picking up Diamond for myself a few months later. What began was an addiction most refer to as Pokefever. This was the first Pokémon game that either of us had ever played. We didn't expect it to be anywhere as good as it was. Simply put, this series has the RPG down. From the turn based battles to the interactions with people and towns to further the plot, it's all gold. What adds to that is the fact that you need access to both games to complete the Pokedex in your copy. It was an interesting mechanic that made sure Kim and I played together, catching extra Pokémon for one another. We could then use said Pokémon to battle on another over the DS's Wi-Fi network resulting in many silent dinners and glares from across the room.
The game begins like many of the other games. You're a young trainer whom is ready to start your journey of catching and training Pokémon. At the start of the game, you can choose one of three starting Pokémon, and more likely than not, this little guy will stay in your party all the way to the final boss. Your goal is to fill up your Pokedex by seeing all 150 species in your region, beating the eight gym leaders, taking on the elite four and finally the Pokémon master herself. Not to mention, you also have to stop an evil organization from stealing everybody's Pokémon and destroying the world. That's quite a lot for a kid only weighing 88 lbs.
While the story is pretty lengthy, it's the load of features that will keep you playing this game much longer than any Final Fantasy. From trading and battling your buddies, to importing Pokémon from the Gameboy Advance games to building underground bases and even breeding them like Chocobos, the game is far from over when you enter the Hall of Fame. One of my favorite features was in the beginning where you create your character, naming your rival. Most cases this is the guy who stole your toys as a kid, gave you wedgies and made your life an unbearable hell. Nintendo made one of the smartest moves by not including a name filter. In Fire Red he was Douche, his Diamond incarnation is Dildo. This was a happy memory.
Overall, Diamond and the Pokémon series as a whole can't lose. The game play is solid, the graphics keep getting better, this last outing looking an awful lot like Link to the Past, and the music is catchy enough to make you skip a beat. Still a worthy game to pick up unless you have the patience to wait for Platinum which is hitting stateside March 22.
Story mode beaten. Importing Pokémon from Fire Red and Ruby. 202 caught so far.