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Individual Values: A Pokemon Feature - Week 36: Region Spotlight #3

Jonathan Higgins

Welcome to the thirty-sixth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday.


You can check out the previous Region Spotlight here.








Region Spotlight #3




Today is the third Region Spotlight! On the first Friday of every month, for four months more, I'll pick five things about each region from all six generations of Pokémon games and explain why I find them particularly unique or insightful. The region players explore in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum is up next!




Snowpoint City


As your journey unfolds in Sinnoh, you'll come across a myriad of different places and interesting scenes. While I could choose to highlight Diamond & Pearl's more sweeping story moments, like the Magikarp in Lake Verity, the friendly nature of Amity Square, or anything involving the Mespirit, Uxie, and Azelf, the Emotion Pokémon, I'm going to highlight more subtle, snowy things.


Snowpoint City and the surrounding areas like Lake Acuity and Route 217 mark the first time the Pokémon franchise has ever had to deal with actual snow and weather effects that aren't heavy rain, harsh sunlight, or... weird soot clouds. There are plenty of physics and effects brought about due to actual snowfall, plus the visual nature of it.


But the first thing that stands out to me about Snowpoint City is actually the Diamond Dust phenomenon. Long before events were revealed like Darkrai, Shaymin and Arceus, Game Freak teased "something special" happening for Diamond & Pearl players on January 12th of the year after its release. While the majority of the Pokémon community knew not to expect much, it created a slight stir on the Internet when it happened.


As it turns out -- the small amount of hype was generated over this tiny aesthetic change that has no real effect on the gameplay. It's fun to think about its inclusion in general, that snow has a chance of falling in this particular fashion. But it's even more interesting to note that this phenomenon occurs on Junichi Masuda“s birthday, and that it caused this mild degree of hype when it was first widely discovered.


Snowpoint City also holds the key to Regigigas, a gym, music that perfectly embodies its personality, and more. But the real reason I felt the need to describe it was because this unique weather phenomenon hasn't ever been explained in any subsequent games. It's just... a thing that happens. While snow has only gotten more and more lifelike as the generations and graphics have improved, Diamond Dust is still seen in the games from time to time. And it all started in Snowpoint City.




Pal Park


Before Pokémon Bank or the... weird PokéTransporter mini-game that had you actually catching your Pokémon using a strange stylus machine, there was the Pal Park. As yet another first for Sinnoh, the Pal Park offered means to actually recapture your old Pokémon in the "wild" by encountering them in a mountainous area, in a field, or more environments. You were timed and given a point value, but there was never anything meaningful tied to either limitation. I just like Pal Park because it's way more engaged than transferring Pokémon has become since.


I realize there are way too many Pokémon in the modern era to worry about engaging transfer methods versus efficient ones, but... there was something about the way your former Pokémon came running up to you like a typical encounter to be captured again! Looking back on what the Pal Park tried to accomplish, I'd say it was a successful endeavor that made reacquiring your favorite Pokémon much more meaningful than future variants.


You felt like you were meeting old friends again versus the more precise nature of dumping large groups of Pokémon from one box into another. Call me overly sentimental, but...that's just how I feel, I guess! My hat's off to you, Pal Park, for not only being the first ever means to transfer Pokémon from one generation to the next, but for actually being memorable beyond that and seen as more of a place than a tool.





Canalave City


I've mentioned this place in a previous Individual Values piece highlighting interesting subplots. But it deserves recognition again for the many stones I left unturned when I talked about it last. To briefly catch you up, I'm initially fascinated with Canalave due to its library, which houses some of the most intense pieces of Pokémon lore in the entire franchise. Want to read about the guy who took a sword to every Pokémon he met, only to have Giratina (or Arceus, but that's debatable) rise against him and make an example out of violent people? All those texts and more are found on the second floor.


Diamond, Pearl and Platinum all find many reasons to bring the player back to Canalave, though. It's where the Move Deleter resides, so if you're ever wanting to make a certain Pokémon forget a move, you're liable to stop by...and maybe check out some books if you feel like wasting time for a while. There's the gym, which is obviously integral to the story when you first arrive. And there's Iron Island, which is only accessible by boat... and takes you on a journey with Riley, where you're given a Riolu Egg at the end. But long after all that, presumably after you've entered into the Sinnoh Hall of Fame and ridden the world of Team Galactic... the game takes you back to Canalave City for one last piece of extra story — The Member's Card.


This was your means to access Darkrai in the wild, only through a WiFi Event Nintendo offered way back in the prime of the 4th Generation. It“s interesting to note that this otherwise minor city has plenty of points that kept Sinnoh journeyers coming back to it over time.





The Underground


Pokémon Diamond & Pearl were the first games in the franchise to be released on Nintendo DS. I could probably write an entire Individual Values about how far we've come since being confined to Jubilife City for the Global Trade Station and needing Pokémon Centers to experience online battling and trading. That's certainly for a different day.


Sinnoh's Underground is far more unique to the fourth generation games, and hasn't really been replicated since then. The Underground was a means to have fun with DS-specific features of the game that involved use of the stylus and microphones. Traps, bases, multiplayer elements, even fossils and other ultra-rare items...this was all found Underground.


And it didn't just limit itself to a single area, but... the entire Sinnoh region. You often had to fly to a specific city or town to get to a particular portion of The Underground to explore it. The various devices you could accidently set off while exploring had you do nutty stuff at the time, like blow away leaves on your screen using the mic. Excavating jewels and fossils involved picking away at the wall with your stylus. There were major game components exclusive to exploring here.


I think each game has these types of areas that bring out unique features of the time. The 5th Generation games have the Entralink or Black City/White Forest. Kalos didn't really offer a groundbreaking "place" to explore, but then ORAS came around and... gave us the skies! I'm not sure whether to call The Underground and the Entralink the final nails in the coffin of restricted multiplayer space, since 6th Gen offers online and wireless capabilities anytime, any place. But I think I'll highlight the more complex nature of how far Pokémon communication has come in just twenty years of being around...at a later date.







The Spear Pillar

During the first few moments the intro for Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, the Game Freak logo appears just after several seconds of whirs and is followed by a strange melody. Did you know that if you return to the Spear Pillar with the Azure Flute (an item only obtainable through hacking; it was never offered via Wi-Fi like the Member“s Card or Oak's Letter)...the melody that plays matches the introduction“s notes exactly?


The whirs that play as the player climbs up the steps to encounter Arceus, creator of the Sinnoh region, kind of makes me feel like Game Freak really did or still does intend to make Arceus, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina actual "gods", if the Pokémon World has them. Legendary Pokémon like Kyogre and Groudon control the elements and can shape the world -- but Dialga and Palkia control time and space itself... with Giratina serving as space between, and Arceus having dominion over all three of them.


Regardless of stats or competitive play here... just look at what these Pokémon are capable of, and how Arceus had been presented to the player (climbing up stairs to a definite allusion of the Heavenly Throne). Rather than just note the Spear Pillar as the place where the climax of the story took place, and where Cyrus -- the man who wanted to use Dialga, Palkia, and/or Giratina to become a god -- fell... I want to examine the Spear Pillar as what is quite possibly the only...literal sanctuary in all of Pokémon. Never mind the actual church (dubbed the Foreign Building in Hearthome City).


The Cave of Origins from Ruby & Sapphire, as well as various towers and secret hideouts you encountered Legendary Pokémon in from each generation of games to the next... has never been quite like the top of the mountain in the center of the world, filled with symbols and the means to awaken beings that can control time and space.





I know this kind of talk is too reminiscent of my earlier theories on where they could be taking the next Pokémon games. But the region I think the Sinnoh region is my favorite modern one...is because of how that game's Legendary Pokémon and the place you encountered them in...seemed holy.


I wonder what kinds of things we'll see if a remake of Diamond & Pearl ever happens. Will we see a fully realized Flower Paradise to encounter Shaymin in the wild again? ...Hey, I can dream.


What are your favorite parts and places of the Sinnoh region? Please do share!

Edited by Jonathan Higgins

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