This guide is intended to help decide the best pokemon you could choose for a playthrough of Pokemon Diamond or Pearl.
This isn’t like a speedrun, which takes advantage of exploits, nor is it a competitive team-building guide. This guide’s team is intended to be the best selection of pokemon that players can reasonably be asked to assemble to get them though the game with a reasonable playtime, and with little to no grinding for levels.
Many players have attempted guides like this, but usually make mistakes like including competitive builds, which aren’t reasonable for simple playthroughs, or they forget to include HM users, leaving anyone who attempts them to backtrack and find for themselves the pokemon that can get them past roadblocks.
A word of advice, before continuing: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl have caves in them, including Mt. Coronet. These places are pretty cool, but not everyone likes them because it’s in caves that wild Pokémon could interrupt your progress every few steps. Here is what you can do about that:
Buy Repels, and Super Repels. When you enter a cave, activate one. If your lead Pokémon is higher in level than wild Pokémon in that area, they won’t interrupt your progress until you’ve traveled the distance it takes for the Repel to wear off. Repels are cheap, so don’t be afraid to spend a little bit on them to save you some aggravation.
With that explained, on to the team selections:
Any of the three Sinnoh starters are a great choice, and picking between one to compliment this team was hard. But the nod goes to Turtwig, which eventually evolves to Torterra. Torterra takes care of the Ground types that can give this team trouble, particularly Bertha’s Quagsire and Whiscash, which are only weak to Grass. Torterra does great against the first and last gym, but is especially notable in that it’s the only fully-evolved Sinnoh starter that isn’t weak to anything Cynthia’s Garchomp can do.
There’s a couple catches, and that’s that Torterra doesn’t handle Ice, Flying, or Fire-types very well. Worse, these are often fast enough to score the first hit on it. If this is enough for you to consider another starter, none of the other two are a bad choice. Just know that fully-evolved forms of the other two might result in Ground types giving this team problems.
Starly becomes an excellent attacker, and it’s available on Route 202. The first time it evolves at level 14, it gains the super-useful Intimidate ability. If you let it evolve at level 34, it gets the opportunity to learn Close Combat, and it gets great Flying moves throughout its moveset, including Brave Bird at level 49. Even better yet, it gets great Speed and Attack stats, with which to use those attacks.
Staraptor works surprisingly well against Candice, the Ice gym leader, because of the secondary typing of her pokemon. But because Staraptor is weak to Ice, it’s a risky play.
Besides its attack moves, Staraptor has room for a couple HMs, namely, Fly and Defog.
You can also catch Shinx on Route 202. You’ll want one with the Intimidate ability. You’ll know that it has it because it will activate as soon as it appears. Having two pokemon with Intimidate is great, because it makes it so it’s hard for the many physical attackers you’ll encounter to do anything to your pokemon.
Shinx evolves to Luxio at level 15, and again to Luxray at level 30. It’s a powerful physical attacker that gets strong Electric and Dark moves, giving you an answer to Crasher Wake and Lucian.
Bidoof is also available on Route 202. It’s not going to be a battler for your team, it’s instead there to give you mobility with the HMs it learns, keeping moves free for your primary battlers. The HM moves that Bidoof learns are Cut and Rock Smash.
Bibarel is available later on, at Route 208. Its purpose on your team is similar to Bidoof, except Bibarel can learn four HMs that Bidoof can’t, which are Surf, Strength, Waterfall, and Rock Climb.
You meet one of the two cover legendaries as part of a scripted event, and they are Dialga (Diamond Version) or Palkia (Pearl Version). You encounter one of these two on the summit of Mt. Coronet, late in the game. The catch rate is low, so you might want to save the game before attempting to battle it (Palkia, being a Water type, is easier to catch in a Net Ball than an Ultra Ball). They may be a few levels behind your team’s battlers, but leveling them up isn’t much trouble, and their stats, typing, and movepool more than make up for it.
Dialga’s typing lends it many resistances, and it’s only weak to Fighting and Ground. The idea of a move that requires recharging might not sound appealing, until you consider that Roar of Time comes off Dialga’s super-high Sp.Atk stat!
Palkia’s typing means it’s not weak to any type in particular, except to Dragon (remember that in the DP days, Fairy wasn’t a type yet). Palkia’s signature Spacial Rend is very spammable, but strong Water type moves aren’t a bad thing to have!
Once you have the Beacon Badge, you’ll be able to find the Adamant Orb and Lustrous Orb in a room in Mt. Coronet, with the help of a pokemon with Waterfall. Waterfall can be obtained from Jasmine in Sunyshore City after beating Volkner. By the way, is something going on between those two?
How to beat Cynthia’s Garchomp
Cynthia is considered by many to be the hardest champion in any Pokemon game (though Iris seems to be a handful). Cynthia has a diverse team of top tier pokemon, among the most problematic of which are her lead pokemon, Spiritomb, which doesn’t have a weakness (pre-Fairy type), and Milotic, which can use Mirror Coat to retaliate double for Special attacks.
But the hardest pokemon on her team, by far, is Garchomp. This has left many players scrambling to add a fast, hard-hitting Ice type to their teams.
Except you don’t really have to, because of what this team can do.
When Cynthia sends out Garchomp, shift to Luxray (if your battle style is set to Shift, which it should be). “But, Luxray is weak to Garchomp, so why?” you might be asking. This seems crazy, but it’s actually not. When Luxray is sent out, Intimidate activates, lowering Garchomp’s Attack stat. Garchomp is a physical attacker, so this makes the battle much easier. Then, switch Luxray out for Staraptor immediately. Staraptor’s Intimidate goes off as well, and if Garchomp is (predictably) going for Earthquake, it wouldn’t work on Staraptor.
The idea is to swap between Luxray and Staraptor for as long as you can get away with it, or until Intimidate has activated 6 times, bottoming out Garchomp’s Attack stat. At that point, there won’t be much that Garchomp could do to you. Go after Garchomp with strong attacks, and if things go well, that should finish it. Then, you’ll have beaten a pokemon that’s been a nightmare for many, many trainers by being clever.
But what about…
There are a few pokemon that some might have wanted to see on this team, but for some reason, weren’t. Here are a few of them:
Piplup or Chimchar are both great starters. The choice between these was very close. For this team, the choice was made for Turtwig because it rounds this team out just a bit better.
Abra and/or Azelf are both hard hitting and fast Psychic types, but it’s not a great defensive typing, and becomes especially glaring considering their low defensive stats. What’s more, Abra needs trading to fully evolve, so if you go with Kadabra, eventually replacing it with Azelf might not be a bad choice.
Gible can be found at Wayward Cave, but in Diamond and Pearl, the area you find it in requires Strength to access. By the time you can get it, it’s somewhat late in the game for a pokemon at that low of a level.
So, what do you think? Can you think of some ways to improve this team? Are you thinking of trying it for yourself? Or are you looking for some team ideas for the upcoming remakes? If it turns out that a different team might work better for the remakes for some reason, I might make a separate guide for those.