Pokémon Diamond & Pokémon Pearl: Super Music Collection
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WARNING: Pad Pun Alert
This album deserves to go platinum.
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl
When Pokémon Diamond/Pearl were released in 2007, they successfully transitioned the system from the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS, a perfect fit because of touch controls that seemed designed for the games rather than the other way around. Another significant leap was made with their Internet connectivity, adding a greater level of human interaction to a series built upon it.
Aside from these things, though—and the requisite graphical update—Pokémon Diamond & Pearl came up short in several key areas. The improvements to the battle mechanics (particularly the change in what constituted a physical/special attack) were important, but the game was marred by simply becoming something highly predictable—new grass/fire/water starters, more useless early bug types, caves full of Geodudes and Zubats, a story revolving around taking down an evil team while trying to collect eight badges…the list goes on. Even a significant number of the “new” Pokémon were merely further evolutions of already existing ones. So while the transition was important and the games were fine enough, they would not be the colossal leap forward that Black/White—and, later, X/Y—would be.
The music, though, is an entirely different story. So much so that, oddly enough given its context, Diamond/Pearl may very well boast the best soundtrack in the series. Go Ichinose is fantastic here, utilizing the DS’s improved sound capabilities to deliver instant classics like “Introduction”, “Lake”, “Route 203”, “Mt. Coronet”, and the downright fun “Route 216”. And as always, his best moments come with his unforgettable town themes—“Sandgem Town”, “Eterna City”, and “Canalave City” are the best in show here.
The real champion here, though, is no secret. This is the game where Hitomi Sato steps in and absolutely takes the reigns from everyone else. Take a song like “Route 201” for instance—so short (only 36 seconds long), and yet it covers so much ground for a route theme. “Jubilife City”, the best song she has contributed to the entire series thus far, is a fantastic jazzy piece that showcases everything she brings to the table at once—beauty, optimism, and melody. “Eterna Forest” begins with some light piano twinkling before venturing into its mystical theme; “Valor Lakefront” is gentle and calming; “Snowpoint City” is minimal but efficient…time would fail if every one of her gems was reviewed.
The “mixed bag” award here, curiously enough, goes to original series composer Junichi Masuda. Sticking only to the battle themes, his work here is sometimes good but indistinct (for the wild and trainer battles), sometimes disappointingly forgettable (for the Gym Leader song), and occasionally brilliant (for the rival, Dialga/Palkia, and champion battle songs). But he doesn’t need to be the ace on campus for this one.
As “Diamond/Pearl the Game” reaches its ending staff roll, shots of Pokémon throughout the game flash across the screen, all to the backdrop of “Ending Theme”, a beautiful and expertly arranged tune by Go Ichinose. Why are players so fond of Sinnoh when they think back to the first world they explored in two screens? It isn’t because of the graphics. It isn’t because of the storyline. It isn’t because of the new Pokémon, which aren’t even that many in number (although Dialga, Palkia, and a few others really are cool). It’s because of its amazing soundtrack, a work of art and a level of perfection it took 11 years to reach. A must buy for fans of the series.
Best Gen EVER!!!
As a 4th Gen Pokémon player I am so happy that this soundtrack was released! Hearing Eterna Forest's theme after so many years put a "Nostalgic Tear" in my eye. :,)