Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Thought to Chew: Why I Think Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Were Bad

Jesus, it's been a while, but y'know what? It's good to be back at writing why I started this pathetic blog in the first place.
And that is video games.
And that would obviously mean that I think highly of them. On a theoretical level, at least. But that doesn't mean I like all of them, so I write about things to try to get my point across.
Probably because I'm a cynic.
Regardless, here's one of those articles. Now, what to tackle?
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Oh nooooo.

If there's one region that I find absolutely painful, it's undoubtedly Sinnoh, comprising of the mediocre Diamond and Pearl games. Platinum? That's a mess for another day, trust me. But why do I think the games are so bad?
For one thing, they felt uninspired. I mean, one tell-tale sign is that one of the routes is literally one long rectangle with essentially nothing in it. But wait! That would be too easy! Let's fill it with snow to make it even slower! That's gameplay!
And unfortunately, that's not the only bland thing that composes the games. Every town is relatively unmemorable for once and the routes connecting it feel even lamer. They feel like they were added for the sake of necessity just to hold gyms. I mean, compare the audacity of Castelia or even Lilycove to Veilstone. Sure, Lilycove is probably less interesting, but that was years before this game and they really didn't up the ante. Plus, they managed to screw the place by rendering it in painful shades of gray.
That's another problem; everything in the game is really muted. Eterna, Veilstone, Sunyshore: all brown and hideous. But even outside of the colors, everything else feels diluted as well. There was no driving force in the plot, with the villains on the same level as Team Rocket. Rocket worked because it was the first game and something painfully archetypal was almost necessary, but by going from a game driven by Team Magma/Aqua which seemed genuinely threatening to the in-the-air Team Galactic felt transgressive.
Also: a brief moment for our rival. He was awful. He's like Silver but he's not even supposed to be evil, just a shallow, egotistic prick that exists to be annoying. At least most other games gave the rival some point, but not here. He's here to yell "THUD!" a lot.
Also: the music. I love video game music, so listening to the entirety of Diamond and Pearl's soundtrack felt like an embarrassment. Most Pokemon games have at least a couple of duds, but that seems to have been reversed for this game. Sure, there are some great tracks: the cycling music is incredibly energy-packed, the Lake music is appreciably serene, Eterna Forest, which most love but I find to be okay if not only for that sweet part in the middle, Oreburgh Gate which is genuinely threatening, Route 206 which leaks of adventure, Route 209 which is essentially universally beloved, etc. But the other ones suffer, and for the first time, I can't remember 80% of the game's soundtrack even after having just recently completed the game again. Heck, I spent four hours in Victory Road and don't remember a thing about it.
The only thing I found exceptional were the Pokemon. I thought that, for the first time, all of the starters were pretty redeemable, and the new ones all felt like they fit in and still had their charm. Sure, there were some duds, but I actually kind of like all of them because they all made sense. (Meanwhile, I still struggle to remember the most recent ones.)
In terms of what was actually new were the GTS and online trading and battling. The latter is fine, but the former was troubling. For instance, if you stick a Pokemon in and nobody wants it, then congrats. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but when I did that so many years ago, I was screwed from using it again. Likewise, you can't trade for Pokemon that you haven't seen, plus if you do want a Pokemon, you have to pray to God the transaction is reasonable because most of the Pokemon in there are up just to show off, meaning if you want something, you have to really hope you can find something feasible. That's why Wonder Trade was so great.
I get the importance of the addition which has since become a Pokemon staple, but the fact of the matter is that at the time it didn't work to well, and nowadays, it literally doesn't work at all since Nintendo shut it down.
Basically, my favorite thing about the games is that it's they're necessary for getting Pokemon from Gen III. Shots fired.
Here's hoping the new games won't fall into the generic limbo set by such lackluster games and instead follow that of Gen V or VI, but I'll save my fawning for later.

For the last A Thought to Chew on manufactured nostalgia, CLICK HERE.
For the last Interview with a Twitter spambot, CLICK HERE.
As a bonus, here's a great article I found about why Pokemon DPPt shouldn't be remade. The comments section is a hoot as well.
I apologize for the lack of gaming stuff recently, especially with me working on another, non-gaming related blog about SNL. Almost every article last month was written in advance, so I just stuffed it together. Hopefully that won't happen again.

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