GDC 07: Pokemon Pearl impressions

The Pokemon machine just doesn't stop. Pokemon Pearl was available at GDC on a pretty pink DS Lite, and while no one was looking, I got to get my hands on it. While the Pokemon franchise isn't known for its graphics, the first thing I noticed as a long-time Pokemon fan was how improved the graphics have become. The screens may not show it off too well, but the game features much better character sprites in the game world. Looking at the aliasing issues in the game, it appears that the world may even have a psuedo-3D engine behind it as well. Unfortunately, the battles haven't received as nice of a makeover: they still look incredibly primitive, even by GBA standards: the uninspired battle animations certainly don't leave a good impression.

Other than the cosmetic changes, it doesn't appear as though the world of Pokemon has changed too much. Like previous iterations of the franchise, this version introduces even more pocket monsters to capture ... but not much else. The game doesn't stray far from the original Pokemon formula: classic elements, such as being forced into a fight when spotted by a rival trainer, are still retained in this latest update.

Strangely, use of the touch screen seems conspicuously absent. Of course, with other titles like Pokemon Ranger trying to take the franchise in a different direction, maybe it's best that Pokemon remains unchanged for its next major DS release.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.