Pokémon: Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (2006)

A love-letter to previous generations, D/P evolves PKMN mythology, technology, & classic ‘mons in a beautiful new Hokkaidö-inspired region of Sinnoh w. best 2D viz aestheticization & epic themes/legends: a contrastive juxtaposition of religion w. science-fiction. 9.6/10.

Plot Synopsis: Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version are role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. They are the first installments in the fourth generation of the Pokémon video game series.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

The CLC Official Favorite Gen. IV Pokémon: 1. Giratina, 2. Manaphy, 3. Arceus, 4. Luxray, 5. Empoleon, 6. Mime Jr., 7. Abomasnow, 8. Spiritomb, 9. Palkia, 10. Cresselia, 11. Dialga, 12. Magnezone, 13. Bastiodon, 14. Gliscor, 15. Togekiss, 16. Yanmega, 17. Dusknoir, 18. Munchlax, 19. Riolu, 20. Torterra

The Official CLC Review

Trifecta Of Video Games: Gen. 1-3

R/B/G/Y Built The Archetype From A Lifetime Dream-Project Of Nature x Adventure; G/S/C Prestiges W. Best Creature Design & Feature +’s; R/S/E Majorly Integrated Overarching Storyline W. Best Region, Legendaries, & Villains Of PKMN

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A trifecta of video games. The Pokémon Company x Game Freak had delivered just that with the releases of its preliminary three generations: Red/Blue/Green/Yellow, Gold/Silver/Crystal, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald. Generation 1 is quite arguably the most revolutionary, influential, and greatest adventure and new idea origin game for a series in the history of its medium – the execution of a lifetime dream-project of friendship and nature by Satoshi Tajiri with a blueprint so ~perfect, it barely needed *any* changes even decades later today; Gen. 2 holds the prestige of being a love-letter to its origin Japanese culture adorned with the best creature design, new feature additions [shiny, FTW!], and post-game in video games; Generation 3 was the first integration of a major overarching storyline: a jewel case for complex/ambitious themes of climatological balance & apocalyptica with the greatest legendaries, region, elemental discourse, and villains of the saga. Even withstanding the chef d’oeuvre video game masterpieces of Gen. 1-3, Pocket Monsters was only mediocrely-popularized by the early-to-mid 2000’s. Difficult to believe the IP needed a fuel-injection of continuous innovation by comparative analysis to its kingdom status as the biggest media franchise in the world today, the pronunciation of Generation 4 did just what was requisite: shift gears to a mature fanbase & aggrandizing the scale/ambition 10x so in franchise mythology – science & religion.

A Fuel-Injection Of New & Celebration Of Old

Despite The Chef D’Oeuvres, A Mediocre Popularization By Comparative Analysis – A Demographic Market-Shift & Aggrandization Of Scale, Ambition, & Mythology [Also Highlighting, Synopsizing, & Celebrating Previous Gens]: Generation IV

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A love-letter to previous generations w. bold new evolutions of the mythology/overworld for new demographics, DP adventures through a beautiful new Hokkaidö-inspired mountain-crux region in Sinnoh w. the best 2D visual aestheticization of PKMN, diverse orchestration, magic new pre/post evos of old ‘mons, the #2 best starters of the series, clean NDS technical proficiency, feature calibrations and – though in ~complacency – advancements (e.g. Contests, Poketch, Battle Mechanization, Underground, Gender Differences), & avant-garde storyline contrastively juxtaposing themes of church-like religion allegory with science-fiction galaxy x time x creation physics by complex ’50’s retro-futuristic cyberpunk antagonists, epic scale/ambition aggrandization, & all-time great legendaries. One of the most striking aspects of the games from their opening frames is the region: Sinnoh. Designed after the Hokkaīdo region of Japan with alternative inspirations of Russia’s Sarkhalin & Kunashir provinces, Sinnoh is an island bisected by a crux mountain range of major importance in every aspect of the game [as we’ll get into later]: Mt. Coronet. For better or worse (mixed for us in how we appreciate how much of a love-letter the games are to its origin region and Junichi Masuda’s home of Japan, but stilted they’re beginning to feel while incompletely capitalizing on diversification of topography in other parts of the world), Sinnoh sticks predominantly to its real world counterparts in everything from the position of cities to numbering of routes to design inspirations – e.g. Mt. Coronet being based on the Ezo mountain range, Jubilife being the largest city of the region just like Sapporo is, and the iconic three lakes being based on Lakes Kutcharo, Tōya, and Kussharo from Hokkaīdo.

Sinnoh

Designed After The Hokkaīdo Region Of Japan With Alternative Insirations Of Russia’s Kunashir & Sarkhalin Princes, An Island Bisected By A Crux Mtn. Range Of Diversiiform Geography, Dimensions, Cityscapes, & Adventure

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We’re mixed on Sinnoh in two aspects: its cities and lack of water routes. The towns and civilization areas of the region… kind of suck; there are fine ones like the old west coal mining town of Oreburgh, the rainbow-hued flower fields of Floaroma, cargo port bridge architecture of Canalave, & one of the best cityscapes of the series by its skyscraper-clad TV capitalism themes in Jubilife, the gyms are contrastively perplexingly well-designed and imaginative in their puzzles and aesthetics [Hearthome’s ghost haunted house maze, Eterna’s floral rotating clock, and Veilstone’s (literal) boxing gym being our favorites], and we appreciate the new realism-intensifying features like apartment complexes, hotels, news/press buildings, TV stations, and more ambitious architecture by grace of Nintendo DS > Game Boy/GBA, but the vast majority of the cities are gray/brown, lifeless, now-clichéd retreads of older archetypes… and comprehensively forgettable. Geographically, though, when you venture outside of its cities – Sinnoh *really* opens up and charms. From the silvery ore and dark blue-greyish stones juxtaposing turquoise mystery waters of Mt. Coronet to milky hallucinogenic-twilit forests of Eterna to beachside bluffs of Route 213 to to swampy mash tram-bisected wetland neo-safari zone of Pastoria, Sinnoh takes advantage of its epic size to pack a punch where it matters most: vast, diversiiform wildlife terrains.

A Region Built Around A Crux

Mt. Coronet Defines The Region & Is Visible In Distance From All Parts Of Sinnoh – Critical To The Story & A Brand New Flavor Of Topography/Fantasy ~Implusible To Explore In Real World, Given New HM’s & Ways To Explore Like Rock Climb

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We’re given new ways to explore them: the underground and rock climbing. A fantastic new feature, the cavernous Underground is not only a fun place clad with minigames and 3DS wifi features for playing/socializing with friends, but it lets us tap into one of the great exploration fantasies of mankind’s history: becoming miners for precious gemstones that have captivated our ancestors going back to ancient civilizations all the way to The Gold Rush. A new HM is Rock Climb is an epic new idea that takes full advantage of its mountainous terrain to let us scale the mountains previously kept away from mankind by its herculean difficulty and dangerousness [+ fear of heights & falling off]. That’s not even including the greatest achievement of Sinnoh [a biome three generations and 10+ years in the making *ALONE* enough to make the game passable and sins-forgiven overworld wise]: Snowpoint City. Do you how long we’ve waited for this?! A winter wonderland out of a Golden-Age ’30’s Merrie Melodies Cartoon or Christmas-themed Big Sky Montana tundra landscape with touches of warmth, evergreen conifers/pines, and yetis, Routes 216-7 & Snowpoint are positively breathtaking – and, quite possibly, our favorite and the greatest nature experience in the history of the Pokémon games.

Mountains, Forests, Mines, & [No] Seas?

Mixed City & Town Designs Become Wholly Forgivable By The Profusion Of Natural Biomes & Abandoned Structures, – Dark Bluegray Ore Mountain Caves, Twilit Forests, Beachside Bluffs, Haunted Houses, Wind Turbine Farms, Swampy Marshes, Underground Gold Rush Old West Gemstone Mines, Etc.; The Only Problem: Water Routes?

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We very much appreciate the ability to again explore another region of nature previously inaccessible to mankind and ~impossible to explore in the real-world [unless you want to freeze to death on a weeks-long hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro or get eaten by a bear sleeping at night in a cave]: the best aspect of Pokémon adventure-wise, again capitalized on in making nature explorable in the comfort and safety of your own home. The landscape is a starkly new one for the pokéworld – and it’s further peppered with novelties like cool new weather additions like snow [powdery calm drizzles juxtaposed with full-scale blizzards] and fog, as well as the return of a fan-favorite feature from G/S/C enlivening the realism with further definition by the addition of transitional sunrises & sunsets: day/night cycles. Bizarrely, the man-made structures in natural areas outside the major cities & towns are fantastic too – the eco-sustainability wind turbines of Valley Windworks, the hazy blue flame luminescence graveyard with mossy limestone mausoleum white marble steps of Lost Tower, textured-floor labyrinth of Solaceon Ruins, ghostly forest decrepit purple-glowing craftsman house with poltergeist motors/televisions, eye-moving paintings, and ghost butlers/girls Old Chateau (love how much Sinnoh celebrates the macabre, both in ‘mons and aesthetically), etc.

A Winter Wonderland

The Greatest Achievement Of Sinnoh & Our ~Favorite Natural Area: Snowpoint; A Golden-Age ’30’s Merrie Melodies Cartoon Christmas-Themed Big Sky Montana Tundra With Touches Of Warmth, Blizzards, Evergreen Conifers, And Yetis

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The overworld culminates in the two big-ticket attractions of the game: Spear Pillar and Distortion World. Two of the greatest and most avant-garde worldbuilds in pokéhistory, Spear Pillar first evokes reminisces of Greek pantheonic god shrines and colosseums by its mountaintop locale status and ionic-columned white-stone architecture as the *perfect* setting for its boss finale meeting/fighting gods. On the flip side of the coin, Distortion World is 10x more batsh*t crazy: the msot hyperambitious place of the franchise to-date bar none; an entire alternative dimension where the laws of physics and science don’t apply – time doesn’t flow, space isn’t stable, gravity is zero, forests are illusions, you can walk between XYZ planes, and waterfalls flip 180 degrees. There’s a few disappointments – the imbalance/~absence of water routes failing one of the best adventure features of PKMN in being able to surf your ‘mons and explore the open seas [Sinnoh is the antithesization of Hoenn in that regard] & perplexing removal of HM Dive when you already have 8 and it’s one of the best ones for letting us further explore the most impossible depths of mystery below the sea [sure, it replaces it with Rock Climb to better suit its region just like Dive was for Hoenn… but why not both?] – but Sinnoh quickly avalanched our concerns city-wise to become one of our favorite regions.

A Legendary Post-Game: The Best Region?

Battle Island Catalyzes Sinnoh’s Ascension To Greatest Region Of All-Time: The Most Geographically-Diverse Worldbuild By Its Black Volcanic-Fringed Tropical Injection & A God-Tier Post-Game Celebrating Previous Gens & Giving Us New Story, Adventure, Etc. With Our Legends

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That was before the post-game. The Post-Game of Gen. IV catalyzes its ascension to our favorite region in the history of Pokémon – in addition to being the best post-game since G/S/C. The Battle Area is absolutely breathtaking: a hyper-tropical island with black ash rock formations, lush evergreen palm trees in a jungle gently swaying and dropping coconuts in the breeze, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, brown saharan dunes with sandstorms, and a red-lava’d volcano with a hidden surprise legendary battle/catch. It fuel-injects the tropical urge we’ve been missing since Hoenn and dominates our dream vacation fantasy, while also being the best version of the tropical aesthetic/backdrop of the series. Game-wise, it gives us the Battle Frontier we loved about Hoenn, while also being a pure celebration of previous generations and history of the series by its wild encounters of only Gens 1-3 Pokémon and giving us trainer battles at high-levels we can use our legendaries [w. more to catch too, fixing previous gens’ disappointments in not being able to use post-game legends story-wise] on. God, we love it *SO* much – and it makes Sinnoh the most geologically-diverse fantasy region of the series: hitting every possible note of what you’d want in a region. Bravo.

The Pantheon Of Gods & Alternative Dimensions

Do You Know How Difficult It Is To Build A Home For Gods & Devils In Video Games? D/P Does That With Batsh*t-Crazy Avant-Garde Worldbuilds: A Greek Pantheon-Themed White Marble Spear Pillar & Distortion World Of XYZ Plane Fusion Where Laws Of Physics Don’t Apply

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The region would be nothing without visual aestheticization and style to bring it to life – a challenge later gens had and were ~ruined by in awkward teenage growing stages, mixedly-advanced graphics engines, and laziness by TPC’s animators/engineers [Sun/Moon, USUM, Sword/Shield, etc.]. Luckily, Gen. IV strikes a jackpot: the best 2D visual style/aestheticization of PKMN – and what holds the crown of best visuals until Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee 13+ years later… and it’s even then a debate. Most striking are the textures, details, and rich color palettes they’re able to achieve; from the effervescence/personality-bursting sprites to chibi avatars to dynamic painting-like battle scenes swirling natural biomes into impressionistic Van Gogh painting, D/P/P [& HG/SS: The Greatest Pokémon Games Of All-Time in CLC’s vote, in the same generation] boasts masterpiece visual style hand-crafted by artisans whom you can feel the passion in every frame on, straddling the fine line between 8-Bit nostalgia & futuristic detailing and *alone* making the games mythological in status even if the other aspects failed. Impossibly though, it doesn’t on any other level – a major one being the score.

The Best 2D Visual Aestheticization

Rich Color Palettes, Detailed Textures, 8-Bit Nostalgia, Chibi Avatars, Effervescence-Bursting Sprites, Technological DS Proficiency, Impressionistic Battle Scenes, Etc. The Greatest Visual Style Of Pokémon 2D-Wise; Maybe All-Time?

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Beyond the visuals, the soundtrack of D/P/P is one of the best in the series – taking advantage of its DS technological bloom-evolution to energize and diversify its portfolio in everything from genres to tempos to keys to instrumentation. There are instances where songs change BPM mid-stream, notes and tracks are acoustically-panned to bounce from one headphone side to the other, side trainers get their own scores, and even old themes like the PKMN Center & Pokémart get remixed against our expectations. We can go on and on about the sound engineering/mix-and-mastering having experience in the field ourselves as previous musicians in college, but the compositions and themes dazzle & radiate themselves. From the title screen’s epic mystery omen atmosphere adorned with crescendoes of twinkling xylophones, we knew the score of Gen. IV was about to be special. Throughout the gameplay, we’re serenaded with soft, gentle flute harmonics to begin our adventure (one of our favorite themes ever: Twinleaf), a funky energized theme synergizing with our rival’s personality/chaos, warbling galactic synth arpeggiated villain themes sampling classic sci-fi movies and galaga to match the villain team, ’80’s discotheque doubletime, smooth brassy wurlitzers/accordions in Sandgem, future bass by the lakes, jazz in Jubilife, & clopping old west horse hooves and bluegrass guitar twangs of rusticism in Oreburgh.

A New World Of Sound

Taking Advantage Of DS Technological Evolution, G.IV Diversifies Its Portfolio In Genres, Tempos, Keys, Sound-Engineering, Pans, FX, Instrumentation From Epic Mystery Omen Atmosphere Crescendoes Of Twinkling Xylophone Opening Title To Funk, Jazz-Electronica, Liquid Synths, Euphoric Blooms, Jingle Bells, Twangy Bluegrass Guitars, Etc.

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There’s also slow-booming kaleidoscope synth pads juxtaposed with flurries of sweet-and-sour piano in Floaroma (one of the best themes), quiescence with liquid bass reverberated like echoes in the vast expanse of Eterna Forest, bouncy ritz sumptuousness in Hearthome, fancy chichi catwalk of Veilstone, African marimba in Pastoria Marsh Safari zone, sleigh-bells and snowflaked falling pad scales in Snowpoint, squaling violins and staccato gothic chords out of a horror movie in Old Chateau, hypnotic bass dubstep in the distortion world, etc. For a series known by musicians and audiophiles for its soundtracks (yet underappreciated by the general public), Sinnoh has one of the better ones – plus more advanced in its multi-channel audio system and ability to fully capitalize on real drums and instruments instead of white-noise flips like on the Game Boy in Kanto, only withstanding a couple of bad themes like disharmonic wrong keys at the Pokémon League & ~lazy reusages between a few cities towards the end [e.g. Celestic Town & Oreburgh having the exact same score]. Feature-wise, D/P has a legacy of more of fine-tuning and remastering existing mechaniszation than creating its own – not a terribly exciting or revolutionizante one, but an understandable one (the blueprint was so damn perfect in Gen. 1, after all, that ~90% of the games have stayed the same even into modern times ~30 years later).

New, Old, Refined, & Remixed Features

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Gen. IV sees a physical pronunciation of gender differences – everything from real biological ones [e.g. male Luxray having thicker manes than female ones like real-world lions do] to adorable ones [e.g. Pikachu getting a heart-shaped tail and down-trod ears in females] – and we love how subtle and not-overstated they are. The info on the front screen has more compatibility for newcomers – giving an option to expand on the info for them, while making it skippable for veterans. There are more name options with symbols, expanded global terminal-led and group-possible wifi features for a new multiplayer experience with friends online, a handy ‘item last used’ trick for easy accessibility, mid-battle dialogue for evolving realism, soil that darkens as water is added when planting seeds, and tracking roaing legends is 1,000x faster due to the major innovation of D/P: the Pokétch. A capitalization on the nescient smartphone craze of the real-world, the games give us a device with proto A.I. and technological apps enabling everything from calendars to art pads to cooin flippers to link searchers to minigames to bring the bottom half of the screen alive and upgrade the Pokenav. PKMN Contests have been completely revamped and made 10x better by audience-vote, dance-coordination, pageantry, and collectibility of ribbons across multiple categories – a feature girls especially will love and is made for them if the more boy-minded battles aren’t to their liking as a new way to enjoy and interact with your ‘mons.

The Pokétch

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The addition of Poffins – puff-pastry that increases attributes like cuteness or coolness – shakes up the meta and gives a fun new minigame way of cooking them, and the new advancements with pokéballs are appreciable too. Seals are kind of a gimmick – and easily-manipulatable for gross or juvenile ways by the lowbrow of the general population – but a new way to customize the experience of your monsters’ release from their pokéballs into battle – and the new pokeball types are the best in the series: the pink girly Heal Balls restoring HP when caught, energy-infused blue/yellow Quick Balls giving us easy ways to save time catching new ‘mons without having to battle them first, epic lime green/black/red Dusk Balls synergistically giving a boost when catching at night with their genius nightmare design perfect for some of the darker legends, and blood-red Cherish Balls for event Pokémon. Even the Pal Park balls are epic in their yellow/white design perfect for the electric mouse mascot of the sseries – and we only wish they were usable outside their intended region. One of our favorite [OCD-compulsive] aspects of the games is color-matching our prized Pokémon to their pokéballs, and Gen. IV gives us the best-designed and richly-hued choices to do that. A+.

A Celebration Of Previous Generations

Throughout D/P’s Visuals, Score, Worldbuild, Pokémon, Story, & Characters, There Are Nostalgic Touches, Clever References, & Comprehensive Remixes Of Kanto, Johto, & Hoenn Leading To A Fantasy Island Post-Game With Only Them For A ~Finale-Able Gen

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Now that we’ve gotten through the nuts-and-bolts that create the background and world around the action, it’s time to get into the characters, story, and monsters – and all three excel tremendously. From the beginning frame, of course, what instantly strikes us [and has become a definitive factor of Gen. IV’s everlasting popularization] is the costume design… especially for its female protagonist. Dawn has what is easily the greatest character design in the history of Pokémon – and, for that matter, perhaps: video games. Pokémon has been known for having cute female protagonists any guy would fantasize about becoming and going on the adventure as (it being 10x better to be a beautiful girl than guy real-or-dream world, as ~every guy recognizes and overwhelmingly picks the female avatar on streams, but that’s another discussion), but Sinnoh takes the cake. We love how D/P lets Dawn be girly and unapologetically-feminine – down to the pink flouncy skirt and boots, no traces of masculinity or sports masquerade anywhere [even though we still love Hoenn’s outfits]. The ski hat and scarf reverberate the region’s snowy terrain, her face is cherubic and adorable, and the fact she’s Japanese is our favorite aspect – honoring the culture of PKMN’s origins while infusing it into the gen’s showpiece character for the crown on top this queen avatar for the history books. That’s not even including the dres-sweater Platinum outfit – one that manages to look out of a fashion magazine and be, somehow, even better.

A Trio Of Protagonists

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Then… there’s the male avatar. Everything right with our female protagonist’s design [Dawn, if we’re going by the animé’s name] goes wrong with Lucas [male avatar’s name, story-wise]. A bad Ash clone, he has the most unimaginative design – worse, because it’s so plebian. The blue jeans and a black sleeveless vest feel like they could be bought at the dollar store or clearance rack of your local walmart and the weird beret makes little-to-no sense in a Japanese and not French region [they even do a french region later down the line in Kalos X/Y… so why?]. The ensemble would’ve been better with non-basic jeans, a more imaginative vest/jacket, and real snapback-type hat even in the same color scheme – and his charcterization is mixed into a mundane, almost-forgettable research assistant (though we like the decision to triplex the major protagonists). Luckily, though, most of the other characters in the game are well-designed and nicely-characterized – including the other major protagonist: Barry. Thud!!!! From that beginning bump into by the doorside, Barry radiates charisma – the high-octane funk theme he’s paired with perfectly paralleling his personality traits and energizer-bunny presence.

The Best Design Ever… On ♀

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Though his ‘fine’ schtick grows ~weary, his competitiveness, childlike hastiness/mischievousness, impatience, juvenileness, blonde orange-triped design, tangible father-proud dreams & ambition, and well-crafted team culminating in that epic showdown in front of the Pokémon League make him a very good rival that makes you feel like a kid again: one of the better ones of the series and a compliment being that’s the series greatest power of escapism. The characterization prowess extends throughout the rest of the canvas. D/P continues RSE’s legacy of a good parent – even though our dad is, once again, inexplicably gone and nary mentioned, our mom expresses parental sympathy and *gasp* asks how we’re doing [far from the glorified moneyhandler who moved her kid in the back of a moving truck back in Hoenn]. There are new trainer archetypes like artists, breeders, clowns, berry masters, waitresses, farm ranchers, idols, and skiiers, babies in the overworld, and private investigators – led by a great character whose goofy charm hiding behind streetlamps gives goofy nostalgic flashbacks to ’60’s B-films and spy international police missions inject a 007 Bond spy-angle side-arc into the game we quite love: Looker.

The Characterization

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Even the alternative side characters in the game we meet like the woman who accompanies us through Eterna Forest in green-haired sweet mountain girl Cheryl and flamboyant blue-fedora’d Lucario-training acquaintance whose steely demeanor matches the Iron Island backdrop Riley are fantastically-designed and memorable. There’s even one downright evil character hidden in the overworld that has since become famous in the fandom: the heathen in Snowpoint City who trades Medicham for a Haunter she purposely sabotages to not evolve with an everstone – even going the extra mile to taunt us with ‘oh, is it evolving? just kidding’ for maximum god-tier trolling out of pure ruthlessness to express how much the writers cared about these minutiae details [one of the last games you can feel the creators actually cared about their craft before PKMN became a money-making scheme]. The gym leaders – though we wish they’d had more complete teams, many of them bizzarely only having 2-3 creatures on team – follow this trend of characterization: from friendly rock-miner Roark to determined bug-girl Gardenia to française rich, elegantly-gowned ghost-type Fantina to shy timid girl-fighter Maylene to macho luchadore Crasher Wake to scruffy masculine Roark-father Byron [a cool interplay between gym leaders] to ice Kimono girl Candance to bored/overpowered finale trainer of lost passion Volkner.

A Champion For The Ages

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All of these are nothing, however, compared to the #2 best character of D/P/P and the Greatest Champion Of All-Time: Cynthia. Feminists rejoice and guys drool! Cynthia is a masterclass in how to – impossibly – please both demographics – a cute blonde sure to evoke hormones and wolf-whistles from the guys, but not even needing them by her meritocratable status as the Queen Of Sinnoh: beauty, brains, and brawn. Oh, lots of brawn. You better stock up on the hyper potions and revives, plus be 20+ overleveled to have a chance at beating her Garchomp, Spiritomb, and Togekiss. Cynthia’s team easily boasts the prestige of hardest *ever* to beat in the Pokémon League – a brilliantly-balanced type-span juxtaposing epic OHKO power with type coveragediversification and badass appeal for the perfect finale to our journey and test of your mettle as a trainer. The character-arc of her backstory exposition being a trainer coming from Pro. Rowan’s lab just like we did and corely-integrated throughout the storyline connects it full-circle and makes her punch well-above her class: one of the best characters of pure magic Pokémon has created to-date.

The Storyline

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Cynthia recognizes herself in us and helps/grooms you as the trainer she used to be, even helping you battle/juggle legends and stop evil across the plot and against the forces of evil: Team Galactic. Before we get into the eponymous villains of D/P, it’s worth noting the sheer brilliance of Gen. IV: its contrastive and parallelogram juxtaposition of science-fiction, existentialism, and religion. We’ve come a *long* way from slowpoke wells. Themes of the storyline center on the existential mystery of life and who/what/when/where/why/how of the world around us. It unravels these through two threads: firstly, through science. D/P analyzes the physics of the world around us – an experimental lens focusing on time and space. The entire scope of history, healing factor of constancy, general relativity, travel directionality, divergent-lines, and dimensional non-circular mystification of time are evoked – and given a monarch whom oversees how much (civilizations from caves, machine guns from sticks, etc.) and how little (conflict, selfishness, greed, murder, etc.) the world and nature has changed over the eons.

Golden Age Science Fiction

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The galaxy, stars, planets, void, aliens, wormholes, supernovas, alternate dimensions, and dark/anti-matter around our blue-and-green marble’s atmosphere are featured as well – the crestfallen mystery and white-hot curiosity of if we’re alone in the universe that has beckoned mankind since our primal days and challenged us to spend trillions by rockets, space stations, rovers, and shuttles exploring its endless seas of black silence. There is a fundamental balance and harmony in the universe in regards to the laws and physics that govern it and constitutes everything around us: space, time, matter, ecosystems, nature, gravity, climate, elements, weather, seasons, food chains, day/night, life cycles, etc. That system in place since day 1 of creation has been fundamentally shaken up and redefined since the arrival of mankind, and that’s the angle the game cruxes around through its storyline and protagonists/antagonists – foremost, Team Galactic.

Space x Time

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We’ve always said: D/P are a love-letter to science-fiction – and that’s easily visible by the villain team. Team Galactic look like they just walked off the set of a ’50’s Golden-Age Hollywood Sci-Fi Movie (It Came From Outer Space!, Forbidden Planet, Star Trek, The Man From Planet X, etc.): a wonderfully-cheesy/wacky so-bad-it’s-good ensemble down to the moon boots, space-suit-like uniforms, and turquoise bowl-cut wigs meant to look like helmets. We love how goofy and fun PKMN went in their design – especially the planet-eponymous leaders/commanders: Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, etc. squabbling in Shakespearean family drama of power hierarchy that altogether make you crack a smile every time you see them and corely hit their target demographic of cinephiles right in the nostalgia bone. Make no mistake, though, they’re anything but funny in any other aspect: one of the [if not: the #1] darkest, most violent, twisted, and megalomaniacal of all villain teams.

Team Galactic

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‘And Now, All Will End. And Everything Will Begin.’ The storyline is beautifully-crafted: a mystery that begins unassumingly in regards to its antagonists. We just see them as some B-movie extras and science nerds causing mischief around – a bad copy of Team Rocket [coincidentally: them also employing scientific iconography in name] whose goons steal Pokémon and babble on about renewable energy through poké-evolution (furthering the climatological exposition of Team Magma/Aqua too and a theme way ahead of its time scientifically in the early-2000’s before the climate crisis worsened), funny jokes/puns, how they’re heroes, and some great plan. It isn’t until they actually *gasp* set off bombs that we’re forced to begin taking them seriously. For a video game series ostensibly previously marketed as family-friendly, this was dark-and-wild twist – Galactic literally enact terrorism across the Sinnoh region and their ‘plan’ becomes increasingly revealed and alarming: the death of our world and creation of a new one.

’50’s Cyberpunk Retro-Futurism

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Team Galactic thus becomes a parable of the dangers of cults and groupthink [again, wayyy ahead of its time, those concerns becoming 10x more pronunciable in the internet age a decade or so later]: how people could voluntarily sign up for such an evil mission of genocide, god-complex, and gäsconade. The answer lies within its leader – one of the Greatest Characters In The History Of Pokémon: Cyrus. The blue-haired doppelgänger of Giovanni is the best villain since him – and, in CLC’s vote, even better a boss antagonist. A being of pure soul-ice, ataraxia, sociopathology, empathy-depravation, and megalomaniacism, Cyrus is frighteningly detached from the world and anyone/anything – able to destroy everything we know and love without even blinking an eyelash. Psychologically & Sociologicaly, he breathes the ideology of Nico Hadjicostis, Gödel, Epicurious, & Anti-Aristotlean Nihilism – a dark worldview of how broken we are as a species and how ugly humanity is, fostered p