Pokémon Pearl offers up the same addictive Pokémon goodness we've come to expect. And now it also offers o
TleilaxuMaster wrote this review on .
Not everything about Pearl is completely new, though. Don't expect to see anything groundbreaking in the story. It's basically the same as it's always been: as a rookie Pokémon trainer, you'll journey across the land, catching and training wild Pokémon, challenging other trainers, earning badges from Gym Leaders, thwarting villainous Pokémon organizations, and battling your way to the Pokémon League, where you will take on the world's greatest trainers to earn the title of Champion. Sure, the plot is simple, but it's enough to keep the game moving forward. Besides, the real focus of the Pokémon series has always been on the gameplay.
Each new entry in the series has added a brand new collection of Pokémon for you to catch, and Pearl is no exception. With over 100 new monsters roaming the Pokémon world, you'll have to work harder than ever before to fill up your Pokédex. And with a total of nearly 500 different Pokémon to choose from, and plenty of new techniques for them to learn, you now have more freedom than ever in putting together a team.
As in the previous games in the series, you start with only one Pokémon. To get more, you'll have to search through tall grass, explore caves, or fish for wild Pokémon. When one is found, catching it is simply a matter of weakening it and then throwing a Poké Ball at it. Once you've caught a good number of Pokémon, you can put together a well-balanced team of six to handle any opponent.
Of course, any good team needs to be trained. As your Pokémon battle against other trainers or wild Pokémon, they will gain experience and levels, and may learn new abilities. Since a Pokémon can only know 4 moves at a time, you'll sometimes have to decide whether to get rid of a technique in favor of a new one. Some Pokémon can even evolve, turning into new, stronger Pokémon.
The turn-based battle system works in nearly the same way as in previous Pokémon games. You still have to take your Pokémon's type advantages and weaknesses into account when issuing commands. Additionally, in Pearl, attacks are further classified as either special or physical, adding an extra element to consider when raising or battling Pokémon. When you're not battling, there are other things to do in the world of Pokémon, such as entering Pokémon contests, harvesting berries, or searching for underground treasure.
As the first game in the main Pokémon series to appear on the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Pearl takes advantage of the system's online capabilities to allow you to trade and battle with other players around the world. The GTS trading system is easy to use: you can browse through other trainers' trade proposals to find an offer that fits your needs, or offer up one of your own Pokémon for trade. In addition, the ability to battle against other trainers over the Internet is a big plus. Gone forever are the days when you and your opponent had to be tethered together with a Game Boy link cable.
When it comes to the DS's touch screen, things are...well, not nearly as exciting. Most of the time, you'll see your Pokémon Watch (Pokétch for short) when you look at the bottom screen. The Pokétch can be upgraded to include a few useful features, such as a world map, a pedometer, and a notepad that lets you jot down any important information you might come across. You can also use the touch screen to browse through menus, select battle commands, or play the occasional minigame (digging up treasure, for example), but that's about it.
Graphically, the game looks a bit better than the GBA Pokémon titles. The 3D buildings and terrain add a bit of depth to the world, and the battle effects look quite good. And, of course, everything is very colorful. However, it just doesn't feel like the game is taking full advantage of the DS's graphical capabilities.
The music in Pokémon Pearl is mostly inoffensive and, in some instances, actually pretty good. The Pokémon sound effects, on the other hand, are not as impressive. In fact, many of the Pokémon sound exactly the same as they did way back in Pokémon Red and Blue. It would have been nice if some effort had been put into updating these sound effects to match the quality of the newer Pokémon's sounds.
Pokémon Pearl will definitely keep you busy for a long time. The sheer number of Pokémon alone is enough to occupy any collector for countless hours, whether searching through tall grass or caves, trading with others, or migrating Pokémon from the older Game Boy Advance games. You can also spend lots of time experimenting with different Pokémon combinations or battling online against trainers around the world. And, of course, there's the additional areas to explore that open up once you complete the main quest.
Overall, Pokémon Pearl is a worthy addition to the Pokémon series. While the core gameplay hasn't changed all that much, it's still just as fun as always, and the online capabilities are definitely a welcome addition. If you're a fan of the series, you'll most likely enjoy Pokémon Pearl. And if you've never played a Pokémon game before, Pearl is a great place to start.