Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl game review

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Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the 2006 Pokémon series entries, Diamond and Pearl, which were originally released for the Nintendo DS. In a first series, the games were developed by an external partner studio called ILCA, and not by the usual Pokémon creators at Game Freak.

These Nintendo Switch versions of the first DS entries in the Pokémon franchise are true to the original, and they’re a lot of fun, bringing quality-of-life improvements to the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl experience that are generally welcome. Sadly, they also omit additions fans loved in Pokémon Platinum, a review of Gen 4 games released for the Nintendo DS in 2008.

Welcome to Sinnoh, it’s cute now

I’ll start off by saying that I love the chibi look that ILCA has applied to everything in the gaming world. The bubbly, almost candy-like aesthetic lends itself well to this individual recreation of the digital locations of handhelds from 2007. It’s a very Pokémon Pokémon game, and that’s what I’m here for.

However, the new aesthetic choices stop with the overworld, as in-game battles and interactions feel lifeless when they jump into an additional level of detail. In Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the battles often feel like they’ve come out of the DS game, just with new graphics made for the Nintendo Switch. Seeing my Pokemon move erratically or have an effect appear on an enemy instead of actual battle animation is how the series has always been, but it looks dated 2021.

It’s not that ILCA or Game Freak are lazy or don’t do the job. Honestly, it probably just comes down to budget and time, which is a common concern in the games industry. Simply put, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company need to start giving Pokémon game releases a higher budget and more development time. We know they can afford it, as the franchise and the companies involved in its creation are more successful than ever thanks to the popularity of the Nintendo Switch.

New verse, identical to the first

Pokémon Shiny Diamond and Shiny Pearl Pokémon Game Review

If you fancy a bit of classic Pokemon style, then you’ll be happy to know that this is about as easy a remake as it gets. Everything you want, from a top-down perspective, battles, interactions, and the gameplay loop of the game is here. You catch Pokémon, level them up, and then fight with the Gym Leaders until you beat the Elite Four, at which point you gain access to additional post-game content.

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl don’t offer anything new to the series in this regard, but they are remakes. They are what they are. Having said that, while I As the Pokémon experience, I’m also pretty tired of the remakes and remasters that don’t attempt to improve over the original version. A change of look is fine, but Nintendo games like this could really benefit from an “I’ve played this before!” button.

The story remains virtually unchanged. The things hardcore fans will notice will go through me, the lowlife that doesn’t care about IVs or getting the perfectly high Pokemon for my team.

I must preserve them all!

Pokémon Shiny Diamond and Shiny Pearl Pokémon Game Review

Making games accessible on all platforms is vitally important for the preservation of video games as a whole. Even if the ports aren’t perfect, making sure they’re still playable is a good thing.

I just wish this refresh of the experience did a bit more around the edges. ILCA and Game Freak should have looked at what Square Enix has done with their re-releases of Final Fantasy games like 7 and 12, where the addition of a fast-forward feature makes grinding or exploring easier for the player, as well as – in the case of 12 – changing the way you play to some extent.

If you’re looking to replay Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, but don’t want to play a ROM or dig up your Nintendo DS, then hey, you have it here. It’s a good version that does exactly what you want it to do. If you are looking for something that could expand on what you have already played then you might want to look at another monster collecting game.


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