Nintendo Australia Pokemon Diamond/Pearl
- Lots of games online, controls are fluid and dynamic
- The headset is uncomfortable
Whether you're a long time fan or Pokemon newcomer, this is a solid, fun game. Pearl and Diamond are virtually identical so there's no reason to pick up both. Though levelling up is easier and quicker than any other game in the series, be prepared to lose countless hours to catching and training your Pokemon.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
On my way to the store we ran into a girl on a unicycle wearing a mime outfit with an accordion strapped to her back. Our ears rang with the call, Unicyclist Mary wants to battle, and then we realised we'd been playing too much Pokemon.
Reinvention is the key for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. For the first time in this long-running series, we feel like the game is finally different thanks to loads of new content and the DS' functionality.
Touching Pokemon in all the right places
Touch-screen integration is one of the greatest factors behind Pokemon's innovation; gone are the clunky menus. Instead, the touch-screen serves as an interface between trainer and pokemon, and issuing commands and tossing items is easier than ever. The controls are so well-integrated, they've created the most fluid and dynamic DS gaming experience we've experienced.
Outside of battles, the touch-screen is used in almost every activity in the land of Sinnoh. The touch-screen is a Pokemon Watch -- a Poketch -- packed full of attachments like hidden-object detectors and friendship meters. Accessing and utilising applications is simple and intuitive, though most of the time there is little reason to do so.
Cutting the leash loose
Outside of the main story -- which involves the usual battles against gym leaders and evil team Galactic -- there is an endless amount of gaming content via online functionality to keep any Poke-thusiast captivated.
Finally, it is possible for trainers to meet friends online and battle others around the world via the DS' Wi-Fi. There are also competitions that incorporate acting, singing, and dressing up the little critters in costumes. If that doesn't seem like enough to do, trainers can meet in underground tunnels that span the continent where they can explore, mine for jewels, and build secret bases.
Being online with friends naturally brings out the need to communicate with them. This is accomplished via the use of a headset and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Nintendo's headset is an uncomfortable piece of hard plastic that works fine but falls off often. Being able to talk with friends on the DS is an excellent addition to the game, but I'll hold out for a third-party headset/mic.
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