It has been a while since Nintendo launched Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Despite not getting brand new stories and experiences, Pokémon fans will still have lots to play this holiday season with the launch of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl.
These titles are true remasters of the original Nintendo DS adventures, with overhauled graphics, audio, and more. This is not just a new coat of paint on a classic experience. Nintendo is promising a ton of new content as well. Is this Pokémon adventure worth taking this holiday season? Let’s find out!
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Details
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Adventure, Role-Playing
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Predictable gameplay loop
Grab your starter Pokémon, say good-bye to your hometown, and set off on an epic adventure across the Sinnoh region, one of the more diverse regions in any Pokémon title. With high mountains, grassy fields, and shivering snowy expanses, you trek across the region, collecting Pokémon, filling out your Pokédex, and battling with Team Galactic. There isn’t anything here most Pokémon fans wouldn’t understand. It is the core concept used over and over again since the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue on the GameBoy.
It is, however a concept that works well, and no matter how you play your Pokémon adventures, they all can be summed up by the follow: 1) collect all the Pokémon available in the region; 2) Defeat the 8 gym leaders and obtain their badges; and 3) defeat the menacing team who use Pokémon for evil, rather than good. Everything else in a Pokémon title is secondary, including the story.
Based on all that, what keeps Pokémon fans coming back title after title are new regions to explore and new Pokémon to catch. With the launch of Sword and Shield, Game Freak was able to introduce new concepts that included more open world exploration, and concepts that will be built upon even more next year with Pokémon Legends Arceus.
The issue for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is that new core concepts are not introduced. Players are heading back to a region they might have already explored, and there won’t be new Pokémon to find. So, the question ultimately becomes, “Is it worth it?”
Even if this is your second romp through the Sinnoh region, there are plenty of reasons to come back. A brand-new art style makes the entire world feel fresh and new, despite the knowledge that you’ve technically been here before. Better yet, classic audio clips had me swimming in a pool of nostalgia that has moved myself and fans to play remastered titles before, such as the Pokémon Let’s Go games.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have varied, new content
What cannot be overlooked in this remaster is how much new content is being added into the experience. If you played Diamond and Pearl back on the Nintendo DS, this feels like a more fleshed out, more modern experience with new things to do, and quality of life improvements.
Teaching hidden moves is gone
If you are a long-time fan of Pokémon games, you will know one of the worst things was removing one of your moves and replacing it with a useless-in-battle move required to access areas of the map. Only certain Pokémon could learn certain moves, and these moves were required to progress.
That is all gone, instead, you access hidden moves without the need for a specific Pokémon, allowing you to save their four move slots for necessary Pokémon battle moments.
The Grand Underground
Although not new to these titles, the Grand Underground has been expanded, adding in a number of unique biomes that you can explore. In these biomes, it is possible to hunt down hard-to-get Pokémon early in the game. Encounters are not random in the Grand Underground biomes, which I like. This allows you to see what Pokémon you might be fighting before actually engaging with them!
Super Contest Show
All of these new or enhanced features are just the beginning of a host of great additions to the game. Remember competing in contests with your Pokémon? You can take that a step further now with customizable Pokéballs. Add stickers to the Pokéballs to create specific flashes and flares when thrown.
This does not only extend to the contests while up on stage, but in battles as well. Although this has absolutely no impact on the fights, it is a neat touch and nice to see it expands beyond the walls of the contest stage.
A Pokémon franchise regression?
While Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl do a really good job at retaining the feel of the original DS games, while carrying over some quality-of-life improvements that improve the flow of the game, there are certain decisions that I believe are unfortunate.
In my opinion, when the developers did away with random encounters, and instead allowed you to see the Pokémon you were about to battle in the world, I consider it one of the best new mechanics in the series. Perhaps to keep the original feel, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl regress back to random encounters in long grass, which is just a shame.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are worthy of a revisit
It’s been well over a decade since Pokémon Pearl and Diamond released on Nintendo DS. Unless you’ve gone back to the DS to play these titles recently, there is a lot to like about Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl, and they are most definitely worth another playthrough.
The game keeps true to the originals in many ways, but adds enough new content to warrant another look. If you are getting excited for the launch of Pokémon Legends Arceus next year, this will tide you over until then.
+ Beautifully overhauled world
+ Vast underground to explore
+ Additional new content to keep you busy
– Exclusive Pokémon tied to specific titles
– Unfortunate return of random encounters
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF POKEMON BRILLIANT DIAMOND AND SHINING PEARL
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5