Developer: GAME FREAK, Creatures Inc.
# of Players: 1-8
N Amer - 04/23/2007
Pokemon Pearl Review
Nintendo has finally brought a true Pokemon title to the DS handheld and boy does it deliver. I am positive that there needs to be no introduction for this landmark franchise. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into the review.
Pokemon Pearl takes place in a brand new region named Sinnoh. As expected, Sinnoh has nearly all the terrain types to adventure through and find rare Pokemon. What’s even better is that Pokemon Pearl finally introduces a chance to trek through the snow as players search the Tengan Mountains and its snow-white environment.
f players are looking for a new story to play through, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Pokemon Pearl’s storyline is basically the same from its predecessors. Players start off picking a boy or a girl and, of course, are in charge of naming their character. After that, it’s time to meet the professor and deciding between three Pokemon to start off with. From there on out, the storyline uses the basic plot device of a Pokemon rookie advancing forward to take on the Pokemon gym leaders and the League Champions. Of course, Pokemon Pearl contains the typical bad guys that will appear as an obstacle. This time around, Team Galaxy shows up as the baddies that will be chilling like a villain around every corner.
The aspect of Pokemon that always creates addicts out of gamers is the collect-a-thon portion. Don’t get me wrong – the eight gym leaders are fun to combat, the League Championship is always the overarching goal, and that darn rival always gets on my nerves enough to look forward taking him down – but collecting Pokemon has always been the heart of the game. Altogether, Pokemon Pearl has 493 Pokemon to collect. With all the new Pokemon introduced, there isn’t one new Pokemon type established. It’s something I can live with, but I would have enjoyed at least one new Pokemon type to factor into my battles.
Outside of collecting Pokemon, there are always pageant contests to put your Pokemon through to pass the time. Though, maybe breeding Pokemon is more your type of thing? If so, just take a male and female to the nursery and in the morning there will be an egg awaiting your return. If those both aren’t enough to satisfy your attention, there are Technical Machines (TMs) and Hidden Machines (HMs) to find. These both go along the lines of collecting, but isn’t that what Pokemon is all about? Wait, sorry. I forgot that they officially no longer use the “Gotta catch ‘em all!” slogan for Pokemon.
What should be the most attracting feature for Pokemon Pearl is the Wi-Fi connectivity. Yeah, of course the use of the touch-screen is a nice addition, but online gaming is what every Pokemon fanatic craves. Up to eight trainers can battle and voice chat with each other on a local wireless and/or using their friend codes. There’s also a Global Trading Station to find new Pokemon online or put your unwanted Pokemon up for adoption.
The touch-screen functions on the other hand are helpful, but not required. The stylus allows players to pick their Pokemon they want to battle with. Navigation through the menus no longer has to be done with the D-Pad as the stylus permits players to touch their selection. The touch-screen functions pale in comparison to the Wi-Fi addition.
As for new gadgets to factor into your repertoire, there’s a wristwatch to find hidden treasure on the maps. I remember when I was younger and found out about a hidden treasure across the map from a friend and I had to take fifteen minutes of my time traveling from city to city to find the darn treasure. Now, the wristwatch introduces the ability to find hidden treasure. Plus, it will be keeping time for players too. Who would have thought a wristwatch would be used to keep track of time? Crazy, I know!
Speaking about time, the game’s time is set in real time. What does this mean to gamers? It means they have to wait around for a specific time of the day to catch a particular Pokemon. My suggestion is for players to just adjust the time accordingly to the Pokemon they are searching for.
Back on topic about the gadgets; the Pokedex has a fresh look to it with new functions to aide Pokemon trainers. New details include: comparing Pokemon and their weight to another, taming Pokemon and where you met them, and the personality of the creature. In total, the Pokedex has been fleshed out and is extremely helpful for extreme Pokemon collectors.
The last tidbit about gameplay is that there are tag-team matches where you’ll face two trainers working in tandem. The tag-team matches are more of a rarity, but that makes them that more enjoyable when you run across them. Tag-Team matches aren’t entirely new, but they have been improved on for Pokemon Pearl’s release.
Though the DS isn’t a graphical powerhouse, the graphics of Pokemon Pearl are better than what I had originally imagined. When traveling through the Tengan Mountains, snow flakes continuously fall to accentuate the area. Taking use of what power the Nintendo DS’s does have, the colors and character sprites are much improved over the Game Boy Advance counterparts. A Pokemon title hasn’t ever looked this good on a handheld.
Sadly, the battle scenes are monotonous and uninspiring still. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Pokemon to the fullest, but the battles need to be spruced up. The same tactics should still be applied if you want to catch the Pokemon the easiest – wear their Hit Points (HP) down before throwing a Pokeball. The new selection of Pokeballs includes Dark Balls and Heal Balls. Dark Balls should be used at night to assist in catching Pokemon in dark areas. Heal Balls will heal the Pokemon you capture so you don’t have to run back to town or use potions to get them to full health.
Pokemon is not a big departure from earlier games. This should please long-time fans who may be worried about the possibility of innovation. I am all for innovation and would like to see the Pokemon franchise take a few steps towards throwing in brand spanking new ideas. If you already are a fan of Pokemon and like your Pokemon one particular way, Pokemon Pearl offers leaps and bounds of replay value.
|Review Scoring Details for Pokémon Pearl|
“Leave well enough alone.” That phrase clearly speaks volumes of what Pokemon Pearl does for the franchise. It improves on everything fans love and adds in a few new flares to enjoy.
The graphics get the job done. I stand by my comment that Pokemon has never looked this good on a handheld.
This is the only area that hasn’t taken one step forward. It remains stagnant and doesn’t show any progression over the GBA titles.
I have never found the Pokemon franchise overwhelming hard. The only difficulty is when you’ll face off against human opponents.
This is the same concept that has been used for years, but I have to admit – the concept is still alive and a kicking.
The Wi-Fi alone should be worth the purchase of Pokemon Pearl.
Don’t let the score say otherwise; the game is great. Personally, I want the series to at least dabble with innovation. If you love the Pokemon franchise, I am 100% positive you’ll love Pokemon Pearl.
GameZone Review Detail
While the phrase, “Gotta catch 'em all!,” is no longer officially being used, it still applies to the recent release of the Pokemon titles
Reviewer: Dakota Grabowski
Review Date: 05/01/2007