On surface the latest fourth generation Pokémon proper is similar to the original Pokémon Red/Blue/Green from the Game Boy era. While the graphics has been slightly upgraded, exploration is still based on the top-down camera viewpoint, which is nice. On something as small as the DS screen it would be crazy to force a different viewpoint. The SNES graphics worked for MOTHER3 and it will certainly continue working the new Pokémon, in this case Diamond/Pearl.
The visuals while predominately 2D contains 3D environments, bring to life the beautiful region of Sinnoh. Buildings are polygonal as are the windmills (wonderfully animated I might add). The sound department has received similar upgrades with the new soundtrack complementing exploration while the harshness of the decade old Game Boy limitation remaining, as evident by Pokémon screeches during combat.
The plot isn't important (just replace Team Rocket with Team Galactic... and that's it really!) here as it should be. Compared to other RPGs the storyline is sparse, but that has always been a case with this franchise. What is important is the gameplay and the 107 new Pokémon (of 493 unique critters) you will be hunting until the end of time (okay, until the next proper Pokémon comes out). You can also transfer old Pokémons from your GBA games via slot 2. New to Diamond/Pearl is the ability to connect via WiFi to any other Pokémon gamers around the world to trade and battle other Pokémon creatures. VoIP can also be used to chat with other players provided they are on your friend list.
Like Pokémon Gold/Silver (and Animal Crossing: Wild World, Boktai etc.) the region of Sinnoh is tied to the DS real-time clock. This is important if you want to catch elusive Pokémons such as those who only appears during certain times of the day. It is a great feature and I wish more games would integrate some kind of real world clock into games. There are also weather effects (similar to Final Fantasy XII) that affects exploration. Snow for example will slow you down and fogs can affect visibility. Little touches like this makes exploration even more memorable.
Because this is a RPG, combats are very old school turn based. While stylus support has been added to aid battles I still prefer the old school way of using the face button. It is just much more intuitive and faster. Thankfully Game Freak did not shoe horn any mandatory stylus usage (that I know of).
While some would yell 'ROFL teh kiddeh LOL DS SuXx0r!!', only insecure close-minded gamers would dismiss this. The new Pokémon remains as addictive as any other proper Pokémon classics before it. Give it a go.
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl version will be released in Europe on the 27th July 2007. But if you do not mind potentially losing DS-Wii connectivity (due to Nintendo's DRM region coding) then go ahead and import it. The Wii version is bound to suck (as other Pokémon side-quest games tend to) so you shouldn't lose any sleep regarding it. Plus you save money too.
Buy this from Play-Asia or Amazon UK today