I went to college in the Appalachian Mountains, where in the winter, temperatures nose-dive and the sky takes on a lovely shade of „Better hope the roads are salted, my dude“ grey. I’d trudge to classes through the snow, wrapping a scarf tightly around my face and watching everyone that hadn’t brought hiking boots to campus fracture their tail bones on the outdoor staircases. Then I’d walk back up the hill to my dorm where I’d play Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, games set in a region that vaguely resembled my real-life environment.
It’s no secret that I love the Sinnoh region, so please don’t think that this piece comes from a place of pure objectivity. I’m not going to pretend to have some kind of mathematical equation that compares every Pokémon region with tidy pros and cons. There’s just something about the mountains and the snow and the marshes and the forests and the lakes and the towns that make it, overall, my favorite location in the Pokémon series. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately since I recently replayed Platinum and the cries for Diamond and Pearl remakes have only gotten louder.
Sinnoh, along with the more water-ey Hoenn, are Pokémon’s most fully realized regions, at least in terms of geography. Kanto and Johto are thematic counterparts, with one recognizing scientific and industrial progress and the other representing a kind of rustic spiritualism. Meanwhile, Alola and Galar are counterparts with the way they treat the titular Pocket Monsters – The former is all about relaxing with your ‚mons and the latter incorporates the creatures in its typical work-life. But Hoenn and Sinnoh are structured around central geographic concepts that must be weathered. In Hoenn, you surf and dive through the ocean, and in Sinnoh, you have to climb and trudge through the mountains.
Now that makes Sinnoh sound like a Nintendo DS game filtered through backpacking merit badge requirements, and it doesn’t help that the pacing of Diamond and Pearl is excruciating at times. The region also doesn’t really come together until you’re able to reach most of its landmarks (something Platinum fixes to an extent.) But once you can travel through Sinnoh with most of your Hidden Machine skills, it becomes a little bit breathtaking. There’s a real sense of a frontier to it, exemplified in places like the route to Snowpoint City. The terrain is rough, the land harsh to navigate. Portions of Sinnoh remain, for lack of a better term, un-gentrified.
Sinnoh is a mixture of wilderness, crumbling odes to the past, and vibrant cities, all signs that this region has been forced to work around the mountain in its center. Some places have thrived and become hubs. Others have seemingly been abandoned, and remain remnants of a time when groups of people hoped that maybe they could survive here, only to realize that it was best to move on. And some places simply have to make do. The Great Marsh, which is Sinnoh’s version of the Safari Zone, doesn’t feel like a theme park. Instead, with its mud and tall grass and very specific array of monsters, it almost seems built out of desperate necessity. Is this the best place for a Safari Zone? Heck no. Do they need one to bolster the region? Well, might as well have it here.
The Pokémon in Sinnoh are also products of the hardiness of their environment. Some of my favorites are Torterra, Garchomp and Gastrodon, all partially Ground Types due to their mountainous living situations. Then you have creatures like Abomasnow and Mamoswine, large and layered to survive the cold. And finally you have beasts like Giratina, bizarre in comparison to the rest, and dwelling in an alternate dimension as a prehistoric relic untouched by time.
Finally, Sinnoh is a region that rewards you. In the end, after you’ve beaten the Elite Four, you can travel to the Resort Area, an oasis away from the cold of Sinnoh that doesn’t have too much to offer aside from a warm temperature and a villa to furnish. And while this place is extremely small, the impact that it has after you’ve struggled through Sinnoh is immense. Akin to a ski lodge on the side of a slope, its a place that’s tiny and artificial. Tucked off in a corner, it doesn’t really belong in Sinnoh at all, but that’s what makes it fascinating. It’s like a little Pokémon retirement community. You’re champion now. Put your feet up and rest awhile. Your journey is over.
All of this combined turns Sinnoh into a memorable region that not everyone may enjoy. And that’s fine! One of the best things about Pokémon is the variety, and the ability to find your place among the myriad of regions that Game Freak has provided. But when I think of my personal Pokémon home, I can’t help but let my mind wander to the cold of Sinnoh.
Do you like the Sinnoh region? What’s your favorite Pokémon region? Let us know in the comments!
Daniel Dockery is a Senior Staff Writer for Crunchyroll. Come be his Pika Pal and follow him on Twitter!
Do you love writing? Do you love anime? If you have an idea for a features story, pitch it to Crunchyroll Features!
If you want to read more anime-manga articles, you can visit our anime-manga category.