4. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum (Generation Four)
If nostalgia was taken in to account, this generation would have ranked higher on my list, as it represents one of my favorite periods in Pokémon history. Making itself right at home on the Nintendo DS, the fourth generation of Pokémon is the first main series Pokémon game to feature 3D graphics, though paired with Pokémon’s signature sprites. With less sprite animation than the fifth generation, these are some of the crispest and clearest in-game Pokémon pictures, and definitely the sprites at their pinnacle. Taking advantage of the DS’ signature feature, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum utilize the bonus touchscreen by implementing the Pokémon Watch, or Poketch for short. Outside of operating as a watch (very beneficial with the return and expansion of the day, night system), the Poketch also operates as a pedometer, friendship checker, daycare checker, markable map, and twenty other apps, making it immensely helpful while remaining brilliantly simple to use. Utilizing the DS’ online capabilities, the fourth generation marks the first time players can connect with friends online via Wi-Fi. Players can also connect wirelessly and play together in the Sinnoh region Underground, a surprisingly enjoyable diversion which sees the return of the third generation’s Secret Bases. Unlike the Secret Base mechanic in the third game, which were random points on the map where a player could build a base, Secret Bases in the fourth generation can be similarly decorated with Pokémon goods, but are hidden anywhere within a large “underground” map. Players can come in to contact with one another in the Underground, and finding another player’s Secret Base and capturing their flag (which involves clicking on it and then returning to your base) allows for further expansion of your own base. Players can even set hidden traps for one another to keep friends from reaching their base, which is probably what makes this mode of play so enjoyable.
There’s more than a good reason that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are the best selling games on the Nintendo DS, the second highest selling console of all time, just under the PS2. Generation four is the first to utilize the equipped-move classification system which separates moves not only by element type, but also whether it is a physical or special attack. This resulted in a new level of complexity and strategy when selecting a Pokémon’s move set and gave true purpose and meaning to statistics such as Attack versus Special Attack. At the forefront of this new classification system are some equally diverse, complex, and well designed fan favorite Pokémon who still impact competitive play to this day, including Lucario and Garchomp. Not only do Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum introduce some of the coolest starters since generation one, but they also completed some evolutionary lines so well and consistently that fans often forget they weren’t always around. Amongst the Pokémon that generation four introduced, making full evolutionary lines relevant again are Roserade, Happiny, Mismagius, Weavile, Yanmega, Gliscor, Gallade, and Dusknoir and many, many others! While some might complain that too many of the fourth generation’s 107 new Pokémon are post-game legendaries, the fact remains that Pearl and Diamond remain playable well after the player confronts the Elite Four, feature some brilliant new Pokémon (including my personal favorite Darkrai!), and are just as fun in 2016 as they were when first introduced in 2006.