The Top 25 Diamond and Pearl Pokémon
Released on the Nintendo DS in 2006 in Japan and 2007 everywhere else, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl started the fourth generation of games, with the third entry, Platinum, coming three years later. This introduction to the region of Sinnoh ushered in a whopping 107 new monsters for trainers to collect, befriend, and battle.
With the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes releasing this week (here's our review), we thought it would be fun to do a casual ranking of the top 25 Pokémon introduced in the fourth generation games.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while perusing this list:
- These rankings are based on factors ranging from power to popularity, rarity, memorability, or just because I happen to think they are neat.
- Your favorites may differ, and that's more than okay.
- With more than 100 monsters to choose from, a lot is missing from this list. Track down copies of these games and discover your own favorites!
- Have fun, and don't take it too seriously!
With that said, you can call me Professor Carson. Welcome to the region of Sinnoh.
Out of the new batch of baby Pokémon introduced in Diamond and Pearl, which include Mime Jr., Happiny, Bonsly, and Mantyke, Munchlax was the one who stole the show for me. A pre-evolution to the route-blocking Snorelax, this food-frenzied kiddo shows the sleepy giant was much more awake and active in its younger years. While not all that powerful, Munchlax has seen some play in the competitive scene due to its obscene health and a fairly good defense against special attacks. Pairing these strengths with the fire and ice dampening Thick Fat ability, there are times where even a baby like Munchlax can fill out a slot on your team as well as it fills its gullet.
They may not be powerful, but what's not to like about a Bidoof? Taking the honors of being Sinnoh's regional rodent, this beaver-like Pokémon will find its way into many trainers' parties early on. While it starts as a normal type, it quickly evolves into Bibarel and adds water to the mix. According to its Pokédex entries, this dopey-looking critter has nerves of steel and can constantly be found chewing on stones and logs to keep its evergrowing chompers worn to an appropriate size.
When I began researching for this list, Purugly wasn't anywhere near making the cut. Normal Pokémon usually don't pique my interest much in battle. However, once I started reading into the Pokédex entries, it reminded me of my own cats. It also reminded me that Pokémon aren't just for battling and collecting, they're also for friendship and having around as companions.
Hopefully you have a Pokémon somewhere that makes you think of a pet you have or know and makes you feel better just having that monster on your team. These may be reflective of a lot of cats, but the Pokédex entries for Purugly and Glameow put a smile on my face and rocketed them onto my personal list:
"It is a brazen brute that barges its way into another Pokémon's nest and claims it as its own."
"It hides its spiteful tendency of hooking its claws into the nose of its trainer if it isn't fed."
"If it locks eyes, it will glare ceaselessly."
I was really into Beedrill as a kid. Compared to Butterfree, it was the coolest bug Pokémon in the early game and an actual deciding factor when choosing between Red and Blue. After seeing what the rest of the world had to offer, though, the bee wasn't stinging like it used to. Cue to Diamond and Pearl and what some consider the queen bee Pokémon.
Vespiquen is not just the ruler of her hive; she is the hive. Hidden within the honeycomb-like lower half are grubs that will grow into her Combee workers. Vespiquen also uses these grubs in combat with the moves Defense Order, Heal Order, and Attack Order, her signatures.
You'll notice I keep mentioning Vespiquen as a "her." That's because only female Combee inherit this monarchal evolution, while the males do not evolve at all and live to serve the queen of all bee Pokémon.
Out of the three starters' final evolutions from Diamond and Pearl, Torterra gets short shrift. Sure, it's competing with a metal penguin and a flaming monkey, but this tortoise deserves respect for the work it puts in. Not only is it the first Grass and Ground starter, but it's the only Pokémon with that combination type in existence. Torterra embodies those types so much that it's literally a landmass with trees growing on its back.
You won't go wrong choosing Torterra's pre-evolution Turtwig at the start of the game. This Pokémon makes a reliable anchor while your team is coming together throughout your adventures in Sinnoh, and gives you an easy path through at least the first four Gym challenges, if not more.
Croagunk and its evolution, Toxicroak, are rare breeds in the Pokémon world. As the names imply, these creatures deal in toxicity, being primarily Poison-types, but they're the only ones that share the Fighting-type as well! Croagunk sports a cool purple and orange color scheme like the poison dart frogs they are inspired by, which drew me in before I even knew what it was capable of.
Croagunk is said to fight with underhanded tactics, which lines up with how its toxic attacks are administered. It can secrete venom not only from poison sacs near the mouth but also from the tips of its fingers. While it wasn't part of Croagunk's potential abilities in the original Diamond and Pearl, its hidden ability is Poison Touch which, you guessed it, can poison enemies with physical attacks and is a perfect representation of its dangerous hands.
The name says it all and is even confirmed in the Pokédex entry for Abomasnow, "it is the abominable snowman." Pokémon games never had a distinctly snowy region before Diamond and Pearl. They may have had frosty caverns where Ice Pokémon would roam, but never a snow-covered area out in the open. So its fitting the pre-evolution to this yeti-like creature can be found in the snow-covered terrain of Route 217, while Abomasnow itself lives atop Sinnoh's highest point, the peak of Mt. Coronet.
Diverting from the typical ape-like design of sasquatches, Abomasnow is made to look like shrubbery that's been through a bad snowstorm; its body is covered with branches weighed down with wet snow and ice. That's not just a product of its environment, but its own doing. Abomasnow will kick up blizzards to stay hidden in the mountains, adding unneeded accumulation to the cold lands it likes to inhabit.
Let's cut to the chase: Probopass makes this list on looks alone. This cross-generation evolution to Nosepass from Ruby and Sapphire takes the Easter Island aesthetic of its younger self and pairs it with an incredible mustache. Upon evolving, Probopass' inherent electromagnetism pulls iron shavings into clumps under its big red nose, creating what looks like an impressive set of lip bristles. Considering this Pokémon's magnetic personality, it does use several electric attacks even though Probopass is firmly made of Rock and Steel.
Probopass has seen some competitive play due to its high defensive stats. One of its abilities, Magnet Pull, keeps Steel-type Pokémon from switching out or running from battle. Depending on the meta, Probopass can trap its opponents while a teammate takes them out. Though it's worth noting, this mustachioed wonder will fall victim to Ground and Fighting moves, which deal four times the damage.
Here's a fun fact about this giant stone head regarding what I used to think were ears. Flanking Probopass' noggin are up to three "mini-noses," little satellite creatures the big head commands to hunt for prey. This thing gets weirder and cooler by the minute!
Glaceon and Leafeon
Discovering a new Eevee evolution in the world of Pokémon is a rare occurrence and celebrated by the fans when it does happen. Because they were introduced together and evolve similarly, the Diamond and Pearl additions to the Eeveelution pack take this spot on the list together. Glaceon and Leafeon represent the Ice and Grass types, respectively, of the eight elemental versions of Eevee that currently exist.
Unlocking the mysteries of turning an Eevee into either of these Pokémon lies in their matching habitats. Unlike previous Eeveelutions that require special stones or befriending and leveling at certain times of day, Glaceon and Leafeon require the trainer to find a place in the world. Leveling an Eevee next to a Moss Rock or an Ice Rock, usually deep in a forest or cave, will turn your unstable pet into one of these new forms.
Some monsters get lost in the shuffle more than others when thinking of the standout Pokémon from the original 151. One that I think got a raw deal was Tangela, the little bundle of vines that had quite the potential. However, Tangela was usually left off my teams because it didn't evolve, and there were cooler options for the Grass slot on teams. Game Freak certainly didn't forget about this bush with legs and gave it a much-deserved evolution in Diamond and Pearl.
Instead of exploring the mystery of what Tangela looks like under that veil of shrubbery, Tangrowth doubles down on its predecessor's design by adding an even bigger mess of vines. Due to the thickening of its exterior, Tangrowth is great on defense and can take plenty more damage than other Pokémon. It's not fancy, but I'll always celebrate monsters like Tangrowth that get another chance to shine.
Moving from one of the Pokémon I felt was left behind from the original 151 to one that really stood out, Electabuzz was a creature that certainly made a splash in Red and Blue. While I don't believe it needed to be iterated on anymore, it too got a new evolution in Diamond and Pearl. Ditching its somewhat catlike features (or whatever Electabuzz was supposed to be), Electivire grows out some shaggier fur and takes on a more ape-ish appearance, and sprouts a second tail.
Like Tangrowth, Electivire doubles down on its former design, opting to enhance the electricity-focused nature of this beast. When it shoves its tails into an enemy, it can unleash 20,000 volts of electricity. That's enough power to kill just about anything, really. I'm certainly not an electrician, so I'm not sure how Pokémon actually withstand that kind of power. Regardless, the moral of the story is not to make an Electivire mad and stay away from it altogether to be safe.
Spiritomb is one of the stranger Pokémon, not just in Diamond and Pearl, but in the entire series. Some work needs to be done to have the chance to catch this Ghost/Dark entity. Diamond and Pearl have a semi-social space called The Underground where trainers can explore, collect items, set up Secret Bases, and connect with other players. The prerequisite to getting a Spiritomb to appear is interacting with 32 players in The Underground, a suitably communal task for a Pokémon made from 108 individual spirits.
Unlike other Ghost Pokémon, Spiritomb is physically tethered to an item called an Odd Keystone. Using this rock as its base, Spiritomb projects its spectral form through the artifact. When it does appear from the keystone, it doesn't really have a body and instead looks like a swirling vortex of souls with a face plastered somewhere in the middle.
At first glance, Drifloon looks like a cute Pokémon to add to the collection. Just a harmless little ghost, right? That's what it wants you to think. This terror uses its unsuspecting nature to spirit its victims away, and in doing so becomes one of the creepiest Pokémon of all time. Let these Drifloon Pokédex entries sink in:
"Stories go that it grabs the hands of small children and drags them away to the afterlife. It dislikes heavy children."
"Its round body is stuffed with souls and expands each time it leads someone away."
"If for some reason its body bursts, its soul spills out with a screaming sound."
"These Pokémon are called the 'Signpost for Wandering Spirits.' Children holding them sometimes vanish."
Fire starters are never a hard sell for me. I've always been drawn to their flashy designs, which usually feature some part of their body set ablaze. But the idea of starting with Chimchar, a flaming monkey of all things, was an instant sell. Even better, its final form is inspired by Journey to the West's Son Wukong, complete with golden accents and a fiery crown. There wasn't a need to consider the other options my first time playing this generation. In my book, there was nothing cooler than this starter, and I set firmly on the path to partnering with Infernape to take on the Pokémon League's greatest challenges.
Infernape makes an impression on the battlefield with its high speed and great physical and special attacks. Because it's also a Fighting Pokémon, it has access to some devastating moves across both types. Whether it's smashing foes in the face with Close Combat or burning up the competition with a move like Flare Blitz, this monkey king is a strong choice to take on your Diamond and Pearl adventure.
All of the starters in Diamond and Pearl are a hit for me. As you've read, Toreterra is my sleeper choice, Infernape was my initial choice, but Empoleon is my go-to favorite of the three. From its sharp design featuring a trident mask and sharp edges on its wings and body to its typing of Water and Steel, the only Pokémon of its kind, Empoleon is a unique starter fitting of its kingly moniker.
Empoleon is impressive in battle due to a wealth of resistance to over half of the Pokémon types. Considering there are a total of seven types that can do normal or effective damage to it, Empoleon is a partner worth keeping by your side throughout the game.
Given the moniker of the "Colossal Pokémon," I would have expected the 12-foot tall Regigigas to be even taller. Its colossal nature may be more in its power than size, though. This Legendary Pokémon has a massive Attack stat, making it one of the most powerful strikers in the game. However, this strength comes at a cost. Balancing its immense power is Regigigas' ability Slow Start which halves both its attack and speed stats for the first five turns it's in battle. This ability is cleverly shown in its Ghibliesque visual design by having moss growing from its feet and shoulders, a sign Regigigas has been dormant for a long time and is slowly waking up.
Regigigas was the culmination of the elemental Regi Pokémon cycle from Ruby and Sapphire. To even have a chance at obtaining this gargantuan, a trainer must have Regice, Registeel, and Regirock in their party when traveling to Snowpoint Temple. Once there, you have to adventure through a dungeon to find what looks like a statue of Regigigas, but having the appropriate Regi team will reveal the goliath is the real thing.
Rotom (and its many forms)
Long before their adorable addition to the Pokédex or powered the Rotom Bike in Sword and Shield, Rotom was introduced as a quirky little electric Pokémon capable of possessing household appliances. Depending on whether Rotom inhabits a fridge, washing machine, lawnmower, fan, or microwave, its secondary type will change based on the object. Having six forms, each with its own type combinations, makes Rotom a wonderful and flexible ally to add to your team.
One of the few Legendary Pokémon only accessible through an event is the Grass hedgehog, Shaymin. Obtaining it requires a letter from Professor Oak which will grant a trainer access to the Flower Paradise. This shy bushel of flowers has the power to eliminate toxins from an area and allow plants to grow and thrive in desolate lands. Shaymin's miraculous restoration extends to itself in the form of its ability, Natural Cure, which heals any status condition Shaymin may be afflicted with when it switches out for another Pokémon. All of this may not sound exciting, and I guess it isn't, but Shaymin holds a secret transformation that's revealed when it touches the Gracidea flower during daytime hours.
After transforming into this deer-like creature, Shaymin's Sky Form lets it take flight and adds the Flying type to this legend. Becoming one of only six Pokémon to share these two types, not only does Shaymin's personality change to be bold and confident, but its stats have a similar effect. Land Form's base stats are roughly equivalent across all categories, while Sky Form boosts attack and speed while taking a small hit to defense. However, trainers who don't watch the time will find their Shaymin reverting to Land Form when night falls. This will also happen during battle if an ice attack ever freezes Sky Form Shaymin.
Being the face of Pokémon Pearl, meeting and catching Palkia is an inevitable part of the game's story. These cover legendaries always make for incredible moments while putting a lot of stress on trainers trying to add this powerhouse to the team. Found near the end of Pearl's main scenario, you can take your first shot at catching Palkia at the summit of Mt. Coronet. Although, if your initial attempt fails, this spatial diety can be found after a trainer defeats Sinnoh's Elite Four.
A Dragon-type like its siblings, Palkia also embodies the Water-type, a pairing only shared by Kingdra and the mismatched fossil Pokémon Dracovish from Sword and Sheild.
Created by the god-like Pokémon Arceus, Palkia controls the realm of Space, the physical world Pokémon trainers live and interact in. In fact, space can be warped at the whim of this powerful being, and Palkia can even go as far as creating entirely new realities if it wants. Its signature attack is called Spacial Rend, and it's a move that tears not only at the target but also rips the space around it. The lesson here is to not mess with Palkia because it can literally wipe you and maybe even a chunk of the world around you from existence.
Second of the Trio of Creation on this list is the master of time itself, Dialga. Like its spatial counterpart, Dialga was the creation of Arceus. When this legendary Pokémon came to life, it's said time started moving along with it. Also found near the conclusion of the story of Pokémon Diamond, it can be battled and caught atop Mt. Coronet or after becoming the champion of Sinnoh's Pokémon League.
Dialga infuses the power of Steel within its Dragon body and is worshiped by denizens of Sinnoh as a deity of metal and time. It can use a signature attack called Roar of Time, a Dragon-type move that distorts time and deals a ton of damage. The move is so powerful that even Dialga has to rest for a turn after unleashing it.
Because of its typing and just edging out Palkia's viability in battle, Dialga makes it one slot further in this list. The time diety can take more punishment, though its uses are ultimately up to the individual trainer.
Rounding out the Trio of Creation is the Ghost Dragon, Giratina. While it's available to catch during the endgame of Diamond and Pearl, Giratina is the face of the third game of this generation, Pokémon Platinum. Upon being created by Arceus alongside Palkia and Dialga, this dragon was placed in charge of antimatter. However, due to its violent nature, Giratina faced banishment to an alternate dimension known as the Distortion World, a plane of existence where it watched the world it was meant to help create.
Given its more interesting backstory, it's not hard to see why Giratina tops its siblings on this list. Diverging from the space and time duo, this dragon has multiple forms, whether it's inside of the Distortion World or not. Its Origin Forme, shown to the lower left, is more serpentlike in stature. Giratina loses its thick frame and large legs in favor of a rather creepy free-moving body. When given an item called a Griseous Orb, Giratina can remain in Origin Forme outside of the Distortion World without reverting to its Altered Forme like it normally would.
In terms of combat compared to Dialga and Palkia, Giratina's viability is a tossup. It does have higher defense and special defense while in Altered Forme than the other two, but the rest really comes down to whether you need Giratina's type on the team. Shadow Force is a strong point in its favor. This is a Ghost-type signature attack that can hit foes even when using shielding moves such as Protect and Mirror Coat. In team battles, Shadow Force will also hit every member of an opposing team if they happen to be protected.
Said to be the god of all Pokémon, Arceus is, of course, hard to get a hold of. When it hatched, Arceus created the world and, along with it, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina to mold the universe and watch over their respective dimensions of time, space, and anti-matter. While it's naturally a normal type, the Alpha Pokémon is able to change its element by equipping Plate items that represent each type.
Originally, Arceus would be available via obtaining the Azure Flute during an event scheduled for late in Diamond, Pearl's life cycle. In 2009, the supposed creator of the universe was unceremoniously given out through a download distribution campaign. Encountering Arceus in these games has only been possible through cheats and glitches.
Experimental Pokémon like Type: Null and Silvally from Sun and Moon are attempts at replicating the Pokégod and share type swapping abilities with Arceus. We're bound to see this celestial being and the Hall of Origins it was supposed to be found in with the impending releases of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as Pokémon Legends: Arceus when it releases next year. Having the game named after Arceus is a good sign of its involvement in the story.
Having the honor of being the fourth generation's pseudo-legendary line, it starts as a cute, stumpy little land shark and takes a grand turn as it evolves into this powerhouse Pokémon. No longer tethered to the ground like Gible and Gabite, Garchomp can fly. Due to its sleek frame and the engine-like horns jutting from the sides of its face, this Ground/Dragon-type can soar at the speed of sound.
In battle, Garchomp is an absolute threat by using its quickness and strength to take out enemies. Having the means to use powerful moves like Earthquake and Dragon Rush, and useful abilities such as Rough Skin or Sand Veil, there's plenty of ways to build around this destructive dragon.
Being arguably one of the most popular Pokémon to have ever graced the series, it's no surprise that Lucario lands so high on this list. Lucario can sense the Auras of living things, which allows it to understand human speech. These Auras are described as energy waves that this Pokémon can use in a way powerful enough to destroy boulders. In battle, its signature move, Aura Sphere, is a useful tool for knocking out evasive threats by ignoring accuracy stats altogether and guaranteeing a hit with this fighting-type attack.
Lucario is a beneficiary of great typing, being both Fighting and Steel types. While it is still venerable to Fire, Ground, and Fighting attacks, Lucario is resistant to over half of the remaining types and even immune to poison. In the generations since Diamond and Pearl, this Pokémon received a powerful Mega Evolution, and because of its suite of available moves, it is an advantageous weapon against the newer Fairy types.
Instantly earning the title as the most edge-lord Pokémon on the list, let me introduce Darkrai. It's also taking the honor of the number one Pokémon from Diamond and Pearl. This ghastly-looking entity isn't a Ghost but instead deals in all things Dark, as its name suggests. With its tattered body and smokey cowl, Darkrai is set on haunting the thoughts and dreams of its victims.
A glass cannon in battle, Darkrai relies on being quicker than its opponents and putting Pokémon into a deep sleep using moves like Hypnosis. Once asleep, Darkrai's ability Bad Dreams saps an eighth of a slumbering opponent's health at the end of each turn. Pairing this with attack buffs like Nasty Plot and swinging with powerful attacks can end fights in short order. An effective tool to consider in Darkrai's arsenal is a move called Dark Void, a sleep-inducing attack specific to this Pokémon that affects all adjacent enemies, but only 50 percent of the time.