Nintendo and The Pokémon Company tend to rework their classic games for new generations of hardware, and they’ve tried it a few times on the Nintendo Switch. So far this generation, we’ve got a mainline Pokémon game as well as two remakes, Pokémon Let’s Go and now Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. While Pokémon Let’s Go had a positive response from fans, the reaction of Pokémon BD and SP was far more polarised.
One of the reasons why fans are divided is because of the graphical style, but if we ignore that, how well do these remakes of one of the most famous Pokémon games stand up? The explanation is that they do it very well. The game is essentially an accurate reproduction of the traditional Pokémon game that has been updated with quality-of-life improvements and even includes some new features such as the opportunity to personalise your Poke Balls, as well as support for online features.
Because of these new upgrades and improvements, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the ideal way to relive the Sinnoh region. While the chibi-type visual design may first confuse you, this swiftly fades as you get your teeth into the game. Technically, the games are fairly good, with crisp graphic quality (unlike Pokémon Sword/Shield) and almost no load times to distract you from exploring the environment. Although several bugs appear to have gone overlooked, I was lucky enough to dodge them during my playthrough.
Fans have long wished for a return to the past style of Pokémon games, thus this is an almost perfect game for those who enjoy the earlier generation of Pokémon. You receive the standard Pokémon combat, such as random encounters, Pokémon trainer bouts, and gym battles. You are not roaming a large open area as in Pokémon Sword and Shield, where you can see the Pokémon before encountering them. Some may feel as though the gameplay has regressed, while those who are fed by nostalgia will feel perfectly at home. The evolution mechanism has also been simplified so that Pokémon level up once a set number of levels have been attained or after completing a special condition. All of this contributed to the appeal of the older generation of Pokémon games, which lacked the unnecessary complexity of the more recent releases (Alolan Evolution, Mega Evolution).
Some of the improvements to the quality of life that I saw were buried away in the main menu. You may now uncheck the option to nickname every Pokémon you encounter, as well as prevent them from animating the same moves in every battle. This speeds up the process of capturing and battling Pokémon. Another feature that appears to be active from the start is the EXP Share amongst the various Pokémon. I’m not a die-hard Pokémon fan who uses every single one of my Pokémon in battle, so it was good to see the entire party gaining experience points even if I wasn’t using them. All of this helps to the game’s better pace.
The repetitiveness of the Pokémon games is something that I believe should be emphasised. It is felt strongly here as a result of certain ancient design decisions. You take on the role of a young boy or girl from a tiny village. They have a good buddy who chooses to join you in your search for a Legendary Pokémon at the town lake one day. They come across a suitcase containing three distinct Poke Balls. These are the starter Pokémon available in the game. Each one is unique and can only be obtained once. Based on which you choose, the difficulty of the game may be raised or lowered because each gym in the game houses a unique type of Pokémon trainer that is typically weaker or stronger depending on what you choose for your starter.
Following that, you and your friend encounter a professor and his assistant and are entrusted with completing the Pokedex for him. You maintain your starter Pokémon while learning how to catch new ones. You aspire to become the best trainer in the world and travel throughout the Sinnoh region defeating every gym leader to obtain their badges. You are also completing the Pokedex throughout this procedure. Essentially, the idea is that there is no big plot here, as opposed to Sword or Shield, which at least attempted to change things up a little. In terms of story, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are as straightforward as it gets for Pokémon games.
The random encounters allow you to grind for a while before reaching your target. It might be aggravating to face the same enemy over and over, but several things can help you avoid doing so. Those that started with the newer Pokémon games, on the other hand, may feel this is a step back. The EXP Share is a boon here, but it’s also a curse since the game gets way too simple. It would be a blessing for someone like myself who has a limited amount of time. You may now utilise HMs at any time without having to carry a Pokémon in your party to do so. I was unaware of this functionality, so I kept a Pokémon with an HM move only to discover that any Pokémon in my possession with the move will work perfectly.
Minor changes include the option to personalise your Poke Balls so they look attractive during a fight. You may accomplish this by collecting stickers in a variety of ways. You may now build friendships or bonds with your Pokémon, which boosts their fighting ability. To be honest, this is by far the simplest Pokémon game among the classics, which isn’t always a negative thing.
Once you’ve completed the main campaign, beaten the gym leaders, and captured the Legendary, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the newly available locations. You have access to the National Pokedex as well as additional challenges. This is where you can catch Pokémon from past generations of games, however, they only go from Gen 1 to 3, and not beyond that. The Pokedex in this game is much smaller than in Sword and Shield or other recent Pokémon games. If you don’t enjoy collecting Pokémon to fill your Pokedex, the post-game is similarly dull.
This remake introduces a new area known as Grand Underground. It’s more of a scavenger hunt than anything practical. Exploring the Grand Underground will allow you to locate and seize the secret bases of other online players. You may even build your hidden base and personalise it to your liking. The majority of the post-game content is either gathering Pokémon or searching for other forms of collectibles such as ribbons or Poketch apps. You may also encounter some challenges with the battle tower, but this is entirely up to how much you enjoy collecting and battling Pokémon.