We are all aware of some of the changes in Pokémon's big leap from the Game Boy Advance to the Nintendo DS, but are you really aware of all of them and their full significance? Read about them here.
This does not include obvious stuff like "You play as new characters!", "There is a new region!" or "There are new Pokémon, attacks and items!", as those were obvious before the game was even announced, so don't e-mail me to add something like that. However, you may contact me if you remember something non-obvious and worth noting that I forgot to mention here, or report if some of these were in fact introduced in earlier games without me knowing it.
One of the most prominent new features is the 3D overworld - while battles are still in good old 2D, the overworld Sinnoh is in full 3D. I was worried about this one before I got the game, because I feared it would look odd or awkward or detract from the Pokémon feel. It was very strange at first, but it's surprisingly easy to get used to and they did a great job of keeping it looking just like a 3D version of the Advance overworld; it keeps the Pokémon feel very well. The worst thing about it is just that since the characters are 2D sprites, they will be stretched or shrunk when you move closer to or farther away from them, and there is a reason you just don't resize pixel art ever.
Funnily enough, before the game was out, many speculated just the opposite - that the overworld would be 2D, but the battles would be 3D and Colosseum-style. After the game came out, many have expressed their surprise and dismay at the fact battles remained 2D and reviews often name it as one of the few negative points about the game. My headcanon says they figured all the spriters in the Pokémon fandom would be sad if there were no battle sprites of the Pokémon and that's why they did it this way.
(Really, though, for Colosseum-style battles, they'd have needed to cram one hell of a lot of 3D models and animations onto the cartridge - I'm not so sure it could've worked without severely cutting down the overworld.)
Battle Messages Scroll
This is actually one of the things I really, really hate about D/P. All battle messages will stay on the screen for a couple of seconds and then go automatically on to the next one, all the way until you actually have to select something. This may have seemed like a fine idea in principle to the developers, just to make you not need to press A all the time, but it has a grave flaw which is that it requires your attention to be fully on the game or you will miss things. I play my Diamond at the computer and often look away from the game to do whatever else I'm multitasking on (for example, at the moment I'm writing this, I'm battling a Medicham in Victory Road); it is extremely annoying to look back at it only to see it ask "Will you change Pokémon?" and I have no idea what the opponent is planning to send out because I missed the message containing that crucial bit of information while I was looking at something else. Before, the messages would wait for you until you specifically pressed A to indicate you had read them. Happily, they fixed this in Platinum.
No More All-Caps
Well, Pokémon species are still always written in all-caps (STARLY, MUDKIP, BUTTERFREE, etc.), but they are the only words in-game that are written like this. Names of characters, places, cities, items, attacks, etc. as well as the word "Pokémon" itself are no longer all capitalized in the English version.
A lot of people, I saw, were overjoyed to know about this when the first English screenshots were released - "Yay, no more shouting!". Frankly, I'm not.
For one thing, what's the point of doing this for everything except Pokémon names? D/P are generally moving in the direction of making all battle messages, etc. into grammatically correct English (e.g. "The foe's MACHOKE used Submission!" and "The wild BUTTERFREE used Sleep Powder!" instead of "Foe MACHOKE used SUBMISSION!" and "Wild BUTTERFREE used SLEEP POWDER!"), but if they felt they needed to stop writing attacks in all-caps, why on Earth did they not do the same with the Pokémon names, which now really stick out like a sore thumb when they're the only thing written that way?
Secondly, why do the battle messages need to be so grammatically correct, anyway? I always kind of liked the formality, the obvious variable-insertion wording and the capitalized variables, which gave the battle messages a fun mechanical style to them that was easily imitated to create clearly recognizable "fake battle messages" (DRAGONFREE used RANT! It's not very effective...). The capitalization helped this feel of the battle messages immensely, and I'm a little sad to see that go. But that one is just me. I really would be fine with everything being uncapitalized if this were the only problem.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I despise the decision to capitalize letters in the middle of attack/item names, and despise is not an exaggeration. "SolarBeam"? "BubbleBeam"? "SmokeScreen"? "ThunderShock"? "NeverMeltIce"? This just looks ugly. One might understand it if it were just words that were always supposed to be two words in the first place but couldn't be that way thanks to the character limit, but the character limit for attacks and items is twelve characters - Solarbeam is nine, Bubblebeam is ten, Smokescreen is eleven. If they wanted those to be two words to begin with, they could've just used a space. And to top it all, they didn't even capitalize the S in "Thunderstone", even though in that case it actually does reach the character limit and would in all likelihood have been written by a space if not for that, since all the other stones are.
I don't know about you, but I'm not going to use "SolarBeam" in writing, even if it's official now. The very sight of it makes me cringe.
Battle System Changes
Now, after a Pokémon faints, the next one won't be sent out until the end of the turn, so you'll never send out a new Pokémon after a faint in a double battle only to have an attack faint it the moment it is sent out, and a Pokémon that has just been sent out will not be hurt by poison/burn/Sandstorm/Hail. This seems like a nice idea at first, but it is extremely annoying in-game because it drastically increases the number of times when you spend a lot of effort and HP to defeat a Pokémon only to have it finally faint when there is no Pokémon out to get any EXP for it. This has always happened, of course, and has always been extremely frustrating, but at least it would only happen before in the case of suicidal moves. Now it will also happen if one of your Pokémon faints when the opponent is at very low HP and then it faints by burn/poison/Sandstorm/Hail before you can send out the next one. Be careful, because this is one of the best opportunities you get to hiss swear words at your game.
Some moves/items/abilities obviously change the way they work as well, but that does not need to be specially covered here, except...
Surf Works Like Earthquake
Yeah, Surf. If this were any other move, I wouldn't bother to note it, but since this is Surf, probably the most widely used in-game move in the game, I just have to point out that now Surf will hurt all the other Pokémon on the field (including your partner in a double battle) rather than dealing less damage to both opponents as it did in Advance. It makes more sense that way, I guess.
In all the previous games, whether the physical (Attack and Defense) or special (Special Attack and Special Defense) stats would be used in the damage formula was determined by the type of the attack used, with certain types being physical and others special. This led to awkward situations, such as Dragon Claw being counted as special and Shadow Ball being considered physical. Now, however, each move is put into a category of either physical or special independent of its type, rendering Pokémon that were practically useless before because their typing didn't agree with their better attacking stat (such as Sneasel) suddenly a whole lot better. This adds a nice bit of realism and versatility of the game and is one of the best things that Diamond and Pearl brought about in my opinion. The worst part is just that some Pokémon now can't effectively use some of the best moves they could get before, meaning when you migrate a Pokémon from an Advance game you may need to replace all its moves.
Unlike the 3D overworld, this actually is hard as hell to get used to. Even a couple of months after getting the game, I still constantly needed to remind myself that not all Electric moves were special anymore.
Trainers Say Stuff
When in important battles (e.g. Gym Leaders, Elite Four, your rival, Galactic Commanders), the opponent trainer will occasionally slide into the screen beside their Pokémon to make comments. This happens when they send out their last Pokémon and when their last Pokémon is low on health, usually to say things like "The battle isn't over yet!" and "Don't think you've won already!" It's pretty neat, even though the things they say are more or less always the same and nothing very remarkable.
That's right; for the first time in Pokémon, the Champion of the Elite Four is a girl! Whoo! Cynthia is made of awesome.
Gotta See 'Em All
This time, your Pokédex quest is all about how many different Pokémon you've seen rather than how many you've caught: the "Pokédex" number on your trainer card is the Seen number in your Pokédex, and every time you are rewarded for your level of Pokédex completion, it is for seeing rather than owning a certain number of Pokémon. I actually rather like this, as it emphasizes the idea of traveling and discovering more than the collecting; not everybody is interested in collecting and evolving all the Pokémon they find. Of course, the Caught number is still there if that's what you're wondering about, and Professor Oak still rates your Pokédex based on that.
Now there's a place where you can go and walk around with your Pokémon, provided it's one of a set few Pokémon that are allowed in. Completely pointless, but cute anyway, especially if you want to reminisce about your good old days in Yellow.
No More Rock Smash Wild Pokémon
You will no longer have wild Geodude jump out at you whenever you smash a rock. Yay for that.
No More Cutting Tall Grass with Cut
Being able to use Cut while standing in a patch of tall grass to cut down some of it was my favorite little easter egg ever in the previous games, and they removed it! Nuuu! ;_; I mean, sure, you don't exactly use it much (I didn't notice it was gone until somebody e-mailed me to point it out) but it was still awesome.
Pokétch Apps: A Trainer's Dream
There is not only a new gadget, but a new gadget that does all sorts of unimaginably useful things. There is a Counter you can use to count Effort Points you get; there is a Step Counter you can use to know how much longer it will take you to hatch an egg; there is a Happiness Checker that allows you to fairly easily see if your Pokémon can evolve by happiness yet; there is a Dowsing Machine that works like a very easy-to-use Itemfinder (I keep it up on my Pokétch most of the time); you can check your Day-Care Pokémon, their levels and whether they have produced an egg; there is a map of where you have planted Berries that are now ripe; there is a Sinnoh map showing the locations of the running legendaries (Mesprit and Cresselia); there is a calculator; there is a type advantage-checker; you name it, the Pokétch has it.
The only problem is that it's a pain to navigate, since it only has one button to switch apps in one direction. This is especially bad because of all the pointless apps you get, which makes it take a while to switch from one app to the previous one. This is fixed in Platinum, which adds a back button.
Whee! The Underground is a place where you can dig for treasures, and it is dramatically more fun than it sounds when you first hear it described, so do not be fooled. You run around in a maze to chase down the sparkles of treasure and then play a minigame resembling Battleship on crack to dig out fossils (yes, you can get multiple fossils for free now), evolution stones (yup, unlimited amount of those as well), Heart Scales (no more stealing from Luvdisc), Revives (for free!), Plates (the ones that change the type of Arceus and boost the power of moves of certain types) and Shards (which can be traded for certain TMs), as well as Spheres which you can use as currency in the Underground to get items. And the background music is addictive as hell, too.
Oh, and it can be used in Wireless multiplayer with your friends. The worst thing about the Underground's wireless features is that at least I experience a slight lag when moving around in it - I tend to move a tile too far or too short and the player is more difficult to control. I wish you could just specifically select when you go underground that you just want single-player. But ah well.
The big one! Finally you can battle and trade with your friends over the Internet! If you're one of the almost-everybody who has no real-life friends that play Pokémon anymore, you can finally complete your Pokédex. You don't even need any Internet friends, either, as the Global Trade Center allows you to just put a Pokémon up for trade where anybody with the Pokémon you want in return can see it and accept the trade. And finally, you can at last battle with your faraway friends. Whoo!
The Bicycle is still necessary to access certain areas (bringing back the old mudslides and extremely narrow bridges, as well as new slanted rocks that allow you to fly a couple of tiles over some smaller rocks on your bike), and you can still switch between a fast, hard-to-control bike and a slower, easier-to-control one. However, you don't need to go to the bike shop and switch bikes to do this anymore; instead, those are two different gears on the same bike, and you switch between them simply by pressing B while riding the Bicycle. This can get a little annoying since generally it will be an automatic reflex whenever you get out of battle to immediately press and hold B to run, which can cause you to unintentionally switch gears on the bike, but it is neat all the same.
X = Start
You now bring up the menu with the X button rather than Start. However, there is a neat mode in the options, similar to the L=A mode available both in Advance and D/P, called Start=X, which can make the transition easier for those who are too used to pressing Start when they want the menu from the other Pokémon games. Nonetheless, pressing X is fairly easy to get used to.
Instead of Pokéblocks, we now have Poffins, a type of bread. Essentially it's just a gimmick that works exactly like Pokéblocks except you make it on the touch screen by "stirring" the dough with the stylus at the right speed and in the right direction until it's fully baked. One of those touch screen thingies they had to include since they were moving onto the DS.
Contests also work a little differently now. There is first a round where you dress up your Pokémon with the stylus using silly accessories found throughout the game to fit with a certain theme and are then judged by the audience on how well you fit the theme (I'm guessing that just takes into account which accessories you placed on the Pokémon) and how high that contest stat is. Then there is a dancing round: each of the four contestant Pokémon is the dance leader twice, and in each of those eight rounds, you are either supposed to imitate the leader, or if you yourself are the leader, to pick your own dance steps for the others to imitate. Then finally there is the appeal round, which works more or less like the contests in R/S/E except that there are three judges and you must pick one to appeal to, which will lose you points if another Pokémon already appealed to that judge this round (something that gives the Pokémon that goes first a decided advantage to make up for all the startling moves it's going to get hit by).
Yet another touch screen gimmick: not only are your Gym badges much bigger than they used to be, but they also get a special case on the touch screen where they will get dirty over time and you can then shine them one at a time with your stylus while the DS makes a rubbing-glass sound until they're all shiny and start to sparkle. They will also produce a musical note when you tap them lightly so you can play simple songs with your badges. It is so ridiculously pointless that it's awesome.
You can now use fancy little sticker-thingies to decorate your Pokéballs to make pretty stars or decorations when your Pokémon comes out of the Pokéball. Fwee.
Actually this is a default feature of ordinary Pokéballs too; when you send out a Pokémon caught in a Dusk Ball, for example, there will be little clouds of darkness as it appears on the screen.
All in all, the TMs and HMs of Diamond and Pearl reach a whopping 100 in number. All the Advance TMs are kept as TMs 1-50, with new ones as TMs 51-92, the most noteworthy one being False Swipe (TM54). The HMs are the same as Advance except that HM05, which used to be the dreaded piece of uselessness that was Flash, has now become the even more dreaded piece of even more uselessness known as Defog (it lowers the target's evasion, which has got to be the single least useful stat reduction in the game since most moves have perfect accuracy anyway and nobody in their right mind sits there using Defog a few times before using an inaccurate move; admittedly it also clears Safeguard, Reflect and Light Screen on the target's side, and incidentally Spikes, Toxic Spikes and Stealth Rock on the target's side - i.e. that harm the target when it is sent out, not that harm the user) and there is a new HM08 known as Rock Climb, which thankfully isn't too bad as far as HMs go.
Wait for it: you will never again see a "Your Bag is full!" message! This is simply because your bag will hold whatever you put into it throughout the entire game and has a whole bunch of pockets (Items, Medicine, Poké Balls, TMs/HMs, Berries, Mail, Battle Items and Key Items) to keep your stuff organized. This also means that there is no PC storage for items, because you simply don't need it anymore.
The bad part about this is that it can be pretty annoying to scroll through all the items in your bag, since pressing left and right, which will for example in the Pokédex skip immediately down by ten entries, will just switch between pockets of the bag. Every time you get a new HM, you need to spend up to ten seconds holding Down just to scroll past all the TMs you have (now there are 100 TMs and HMs in the game, don't forget) and get to the bottom of the list, and this gets very annoying. Additionally, Rare Candies and vitamins are for some reason classified as medicine, which is just an example of how this can make things difficult to find. It's a double-edged sword, really, but nonetheless, I'm very happy we're no longer travelling through caves and finding a bunch of cool items only to then need to go out of the cave and deposit items on that stupid PC before we can get all the other cool items.
Shedinja Needs a Ball
In the time of the third generation, people would say that to get a Shedinja you needed an empty slot in your party and an extra Pokéball in your bag. This was in fact false (you did not need a Pokéball), but the creators apparently heard the rumours, thought they made sense and decided to make the only change of evolutionary method in the history of the handheld Pokémon games: this time you actually do need to have a Poké Ball (not any of the other types of balls, either) in your bag when your Nincada evolves to get a Shedinja.
Better Type-Boosting Items
Items like Mystic Water and Miracle Seed used to boost the power of moves corresponding to their type by 10%, which left them pretty useless. Now Game Freak got a little more generous, probably thinking of all the other new damage-boosting items that were leaving these in the wake, and made them boost the moves' power by 20% instead. This includes the new Plates.
Day and Night Return
Yup, what everybody has been dying for since G/S/C except me. No, I never liked the day and night system in G/S/C too much. Actually, saying I didn't like day and night isn't really correct, because it was morning that bothered me. With practically no exceptions at all (maybe once a year or something), I am always either asleep or at school or someplace else important where I can't play Pokémon in what the game calls morning, and thus the existence of Pokémon that only appear in the "morning" is a PAIN. The only chance for me to get those Pokémon was to stay up past four AM.
Now, in Diamond and Pearl, the time changes look quite a bit cooler. In the daytime, everything is light, but around five in the afternoon, the lighting gradually begins to turn red and then dark, and this entire process takes two hours, until seven o'clock, although what the game calls "night" (i.e. when Eevee will evolve into Umbreon and night Pokémon are out) doesn't start until eight (no, not seven as some websites would have you believe). It continues to be dark until around three AM, when the lighting begins to brighten (but without the redness this time), and the game starts considering it to be "morning" at four AM. Then I think it continues to brighten for a while, although it is a little hard to tell without that distinctive redness exactly when it starts and ends. The official border between morning and day lies at ten AM.
At least the existence of morning is not so bad anymore, since if you're desperate, you can always cheat a little and just change the time on your DS clock if you want it to be morning, and there aren't that horribly many Pokémon that appear only during specific parts of day - most of them just appear more or less often. And the lighting changes look cool (much better than when it all happened suddenly back in G/S/C), so yeah. It's nice.
Eggs Hatch at Level 1
God, I can't believe it took me so long to remember to put this into this section, since it's one of the reasons I wanted to make it in the first place. Pokémon now come from eggs at the previously unknown level 1 rather than level 5 as before. Since it was previously pretty nonsensical, I'm not complaining, but many competitive battlers regret this change because it makes it practically impossible to determine Pokémon IVs upon hatching (although luckily we have personalities, which lessen that problem somewhat, and level 100 Wi-Fi battling, which allows you to see IVs immediately from the base stats). Then there is the part where it's practically impossible to train the darn things from level 1 without the EXP Share or the good old switch-out-on-first-turn technique, since even in the first grass in the whole game, you'll be finding level four Bidoof...
No Healing Eggs
When healing your Pokémon, Nurse Joy will now no longer take any eggs you might have in your party - that is, if you have four Pokémon and two eggs, you will only see four Pokéballs on the healing machine when healing.
Not to be confused with natures. Pokémon now have little blurbs in their status screen that say things like "Likes to run" or "Loves to eat" or "Often dozes off", and these are a subtle way to indicate the value of the Pokémon's highest IV. They don't indicate the actual value or how high or low it is; they indicate which stat the IV is in and the IV mod 5 (mod 5 means basically the remainder you get when you divide it by five). It is beyond me why Game Freak decided to do it this way, but they did. Basically, there is a set of five phrases for each stat ("Loves to eat", "Often dozes off", "Often scatters things", "Scatters things often" and "Likes to relax" for HP; "Proud of its power", "Likes to thrash about", "A little quick-tempered", "Likes to fight" and "Quick-tempered" for Attack; "Sturdy body", "Capable of taking hits", "Highly persistent", "Good endurance" and "Good perseverance" for Defense; "Likes to run", "Alert to sounds", "Impetuous and silly", "Somewhat of a clown" and "Quick to flee" for Speed; "Highly curious", "Mischievous", "Thoroughly cunning", "Often lost in thought" and "Very finicky" for Special Attack; and "Strong-willed", "Somewhat vain", "Strongly defiant", "Hates to lose" and "Somewhat stubborn" for Special Defense), and if you label them 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 for each stat (in the order I just listed them), then phrase X will be shown for any Pokémon whose highest IV is that particular stat and its value mod 5 is X. Basically it's the second phrase (1) for each stat that you're looking for if you want a Pokémon with a perfect IV, but if a Pokémon has that phrase it may also have any other IV that leaves a remainder of 1 when divided by 5. Since there is no way to tell just from the personality phrase whether a Pokémon that is "Alert to sounds" has a Speed IV of 31 or 1 (although, of course, if it is 1 it is very unlikely to be its highest IV, which is after all what is displayed), this isn't really very useful except as a way to see whether a bred Pokémon inherited a perfect target IV or not, and even then, there is always that small chance the Pokémon got another perfect IV randomly assigned and that gets displayed instead, making you discard a Pokémon with two perfect stats if you rely only on the personality message.
Double Battle Trainers Can Walk
You can no longer walk past Twins safe in the knowledge that they won't be able to challenge you unless you walk right on the tile in front of them. Now they'll stop you and walk up to you like everyone else.
Run Inside Buildings
This is self-explanatory, and it is LOVE. THANK YOU, GAME FREAK.
No Biking Inside Buildings
...on the other hand, you'll be automatically forced to get off your bike whenever you enter one of the gatehouses between cities, unlike in R/S/E/FR/LG. Bleh. But hey, I'm not complaining - I prefer running to the bike, anyway.
Ridiculously Slow Surfing
No. Just no. You are forced to surf at walking speed, always. It is agonizing. Seriously. It's only lucky Sinnoh doesn't require you to Surf that much. If it were like Hoenn, with painfully long sea routes, I would kill someone.
Easier Listening to Music
Now interrupting the route music with a wild Pokémon encounter will not cause the route music to start from the beginning again after the battle. Instead, it will start again from the place where it stopped when it was interrupted. Extremely small detail, yes, but I like details.
G/S/C had Headbutt, and now you can slather sweet-smelling trees with honey to make a wild Pokémon appear in them after six hours or so. Yes, six hours, which is why I don't like this feature at all. Even disregarding the chance you forget to check on the tree, which is all too likely, you need to be playing the game at two individual times six to twenty-four hours apart (after twenty-four the Pokémon will disappear from the tree and your honey will be wasted), and to boot you might, after all that effort, just get a Wurmple or something. Gah.
Catch All Pokémon... Almost
Yes, there is a bunch of version exclusives for Diamond (Seel, Scyther, Murkrow, Larvitar, Poochyena, Aron, Kecleon, Cranidos, Stunky and Dialga families) and Pearl (Slowpoke, Pinsir, Misdreavus, Houndour, Stantler, Spheal, Bagon, Shieldon, Glameow and Palkia families), but the only non-event Pokémon you actually need the older Pokémon games and the Pal Park for are the old starters and legendaries and then, randomly, Tangela and Tropius. Admittedly this is kind of ironic, as it is just now that we have the least need for all the Pokémon to be available in as few games as possible; the Wi-Fi trading would get us those Pokémon anyway, and the concept of catching all the Pokémon has been de-emphasized. But it's nice just the same.
Poisoning Wears Off
Not in-battle, no, but outside of battle, a poisoned Pokémon will stop being poisoned when it is down to 1 HP. This is most likely done to prevent situations like the one I once landed in in Yellow - I had one Pokémon left, which was Pikachu, it was poisoned, and would have fainted just outside the Pokémon Center. I had to resort to walking two steps, saving, turning the game off and on again, walking two steps, saving and so on until I could heal. Well, none of that anymore.
And finally, one of the things I really love that most people probably didn't notice. For one thing, you can no longer start a new game and save if you already have a save file. In order to start over, you need to specifically delete your old game data first, which is done by a button combination on the title screen which you must look up in your instruction booklet (or, alternatively, read it here: press and hold Up, Select and B). After pressing this combination, if you happened by chance to do so unintentionally, the game will ask for confirmation just to make sure. Twice, in fact. Thus, it is just about not theoretically possible anymore to lose your save file unless somebody (hopefully you) very much intends to delete it.
It is also pretty hard to accidentally forget a move. Before, you had to remind yourself to take your hands away from the buttons as the game was bringing up the selection of which attack to forget to learn a new move so you wouldn't accidentally delete the first and presumably best attack you had. Now this is not only controlled through the touch screen in battle which makes unintentional button-pressing less dangerous, but it actually asks for confirmation after you select a move to be deleted (it shows that move's statistics and then you need to touch another button that says "Forget"). This can be a lifesaver.
Page last modified February 27 2010 at 15:44 GMT