You might not understand it, but by now you have accept the Pokemon phenomenon. Since it hit Japan 10 years ago, Pokemon has become Nintendo's biggest, most profitable and surprisingly enduring property. If you've managed to ignore it so far, Pokemon combines turn-based role playing basics with monster collecting and Nintendo's trademark accessible-yet-deep gameplay, producing what for millions is a fiendishly addictive single and multiplayer experience.
Last week, Nintendo and developer Game Freak ushered in the fourth generation of Pokemon with Diamond and Pearl for Nintendo DS, the first real Pokemon games in three years. Diamond and Pearl are exactly what players have come to expect from the series: updated with a new coat of paint and a slew of new features both major and minor and, of course, new Pokemon - 107 of 'em.
Every Pokemon adventure takes place in a distinct region of the game's world, each featuring its own distinct flora, fauna and geography. Diamond and Pearl are set in the mountainous Shinou region, said to have been inspired by Japan's northmost island, Hokkaido. Players will explore this vast new land, foil the machinations of the nefarious Team Galaxy, become a Pokemon Master and, of course, try to "catch 'em all" once more.
Shinou is noticeably larger than the regions of previous Pokemon games. Split down the middle by the Tengan mountains and protected by three mystical lakes, the roads connecting the region's myriad cities and towns are huge, with more caves, waterfalls and other nooks and crannies to explore than ever before. To transverse such treacherous geography, your Pokemon will need to leverage new moves like Rock Climb and Fog Clear, as well as old standbys like Cut, Strength and Surf.