Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the long-awaited remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl that released back in 2006. In a departure from other main series Pokémon games, these games aren’t directly developed by Game Freak, instead being developed by ILCA. They released November 19th 2021 on Nintendo Switch. Fans have waited for these remakes for years, but do they live up to their hype? Read on to find out!
The story follows the player character as they set out on a journey across Sinnoh after getting a Pokémon in a chance encounter with the local professor. You travel across the region with your Pokémon battling at gyms, foiling an entire criminal organization and saving the world, you know, just typical kids’ activities. The story is well told and has a clear sense of direction as you travel the region. While the games main story doesn’t take many risks and fits the typical Pokémon formula, its real strength lies in its world. The Sinnoh region is a joy to explore and each town offers something different, keeping the region fresh and arguably my favorite in the series. The characters are also great, particularly the members of Team Galactic, the games antagonists who are one of the more interesting teams in the series. Overall, while the story sticks to the formula it still offers an engaging story with good pacing and a great setting.
One of the main differences from the original games is the art style of the game has had a huge overhaul. Gone are the pixel based graphics in favor of a new HD art style. The games region looks incredible in this style, with the colourful environments really popping with the new art style. Each town looks distinct from each other, such as the mining areas of Oreburgh City to the colourful meadows in Floaroma Town. These differences between towns help the region feel a lot bigger than it actually is. The models of the Pokémon in battle also look fantastic and battles themselves look great, with each move getting an updated animation in the jump from 2d to 3d. The character models also look great in battle. However, the character models outside of battle don’t look as great as the rest of the game does. They have a chibi art style that while it is very similar to the characters original designs in terms of proportions, personally I feel like the style doesn’t translate well in HD, with close ups of the characters feeling disjointed compared to the games environments. Despite this, I think the art style works well for the most part in the game and help the game stand out and brings its colourful world to life.
The gameplay follows the usual formula of Pokémon games: Catch Pokémon, Train them then battle them and its just as fun as ever. Catching and training your favourite Pokémon is incredibly satisfying and trying to compete the Pokedex gives you a goal to strive for even after the credits roll. The main game follows you travelling across the region to collect gym badges so you can challenge the Pokemon league and become champion. Each gym specializes in a specific type of Pokemon with their own strengths and weaknesses, adding another level of depth to the games battles. The games battles are turn based with each Pokemon and move having a type. Strategically assembling a team to cover a variety of types is one of the more interesting parts of the game. Having said that, you can’t go wrong with a team of all your favourites.
The battles of the game don’t pose too much of a challenge through the majority of the main story due to the inclusion of the permanent exp share mechanic which means every Pokemon in your party gains exp after every battle, regardless of them actively participating in battle. This makes your party overlevelled for much of the game. However, the Pokemon League changes all of this, serving as a huge difficulty spike and really tests your skill. Personally, I loved the extra challenge it gave as I breezed through the rest of the game and I even ended up remaking part of my team to make it stronger. After becoming champion, the post-game opens up giving you free reign over what you want to do. You could test your skill in the battle tower and gym leader rematches, fill up your Pokedex and hunt down legendary Pokemon, you could even hunt for ultra-rare shiny Pokémon, the choice is yours. No matter your style of play, you’re bound to find something to do after the credits roll. While I would have enjoyed some of the content from Platinum, the expanded re-release of the originals, the game has plenty of content to enjoy. It’s worth noting that while the majority of the game is identical between Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, some Pokemon are exclusive to each version, most notable the legendary Pokemon on the games cover.
One of the most important differences between these remakes and the original is the revamped underground system. Now called the Grand Underground, the system has been expanded upon massively with additions such as Pokemon hideaways, underground biomes with a variety of Pokémon, including rare Pokémon and ones that cannot be found otherwise. This opens up a bigger variety of team building possibilities and helps alleviate some of the balancing issues the original Sinnoh Pokedex had, for example a few more fire types can be found underground whereas in the original games there are only two choices before post game, with one being a starter Pokemon. You can also dig in walls underground to get rare items and statues to place in your own secret base. The Grand Underground is a great addition and I spent a lot of time in my playthrough in it. Another addition to the game is the Ramanas Park which opens up after you enter the post-game. This park allows you to catch legendary Pokémon from previous games in the series using shards found in the underground. You can catch almost every legendary in the park, with some exclusive to each version. Overall, the additions to the game are great additions that add a lot of longevity to the game.
The games soundtrack fits in fantastically with the upbeat tone of the game and has some incredibly catchy songs such as the Pokemon centre theme. The soundtrack helps build the atmosphere well and the themes of each city represent them well. Themes for characters such as Team Galactic battles are great and show the shift in tone of the characters well. The Cynthia theme deserves its own mention, it really feels like a perfect final boss theme and makes you know you’re not in for an easy fight when you come up against arguably the strongest trainer in the series.
Overall I think that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are fantastic remakes that faithfully adapts the original game while adding a few extra features that go a long way to make the game have more longevity. The series formula works as well as ever and makes for a great way to play one of the best generations of Pokemon.
A fantastic way to play one of the best generation of Pokémon with some great new additions that make for a game you can sink hours into.