Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond

MSRP $60.00

“Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl play it safe, faithfully remaking two classic DS games — at times to a fault.”

Pros

  • Great for youths
  • Grand Underground is an enchancment
  • Strong endgame
  • Wonderful music

Cons

  • Formulaic journey
  • Lacking problem
  • New visuals are too trustworthy

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the precise video games followers wished — and so they nonetheless received’t be joyful about it. The notoriously hard-to-please fan base spent years begging for a remake of Nintendo DS classics Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, however went into nitpick mode the second they had been really introduced. While the Switch remakes keep true to the originals, web discourse will little doubt be fused with anger over lacking options or “cut corners.”

The dialog across the sport will sound a lot completely different when you’ve got youngsters, although. Budding trainers adventuring into the Sinnoh area for the primary time received’t know or care if some beloved function has been tweaked. They’ll be too busy catching a military of monsters and combating their approach to the Elite Four. The magic remains to be right here, as long as you allow a long time of luggage on the door.

Nintendo performs it secure with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, serving up a pair of remakes which can be trustworthy virtually to a fault. An easy journey makes them good for youths, however older gamers might discover themselves bored by a well-known construction and an absence of problem. Thankfully, a powerful endgame and the well redesigned Grand Underground make the return to Sinnoh worthwhile.

For the children

Despite enjoying and having fun with the unique Diamond and Pearl once they first launched in 2006, I couldn’t keep in mind a lot about them going into the remakes. I instantly realized why: They had been paint-by-numbers Pokémon .

Within a number of hours, I’m reliving beats that I really feel like I’ve performed by a dozen instances. In my first gymnasium, I’m utilizing water assaults to beat Geodudes and Onixes. Inevitably, I’ve to battle a fisherman with a crew of six Magikarps (Pokémon’s favourite punchline). Later, I’m infiltrating a shady firm’s headquarters by stepping on teleportation pads. While each different mainline Pokémon sport has a defining function (good or unhealthy) that makes it stand out, Diamond and Pearl had been merely constant. They doubled down on what individuals liked in regards to the unique video games and spruced the method up with the Nintendo DS’ energy.

A trainer looks at a Dialga statue in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Perhaps that’s why individuals keep in mind the classics so fondly, nevertheless it’s just a little overly acquainted in 2021. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are cautious to not change an excessive amount of in regards to the originals, which is able to come as a reduction to those that simply desire a nostalgia journey that preserves their childhood in amber. But as somebody with no actual attachment, I usually discovered myself enjoying on autopilot. A cave stuffed with Zubats and Geodudes? Check. A Safari Zone-esque space the place I can bait and catch monsters? Check. It’s as if developer ICLA is following a strict rulebook.

It doesn’t assist that the remakes are absurdly straightforward. The first time I blacked out was within the Elite Four. My Pokémon had been constantly 10 to fifteen ranges above any of my opponents’ monsters, and I might take down most of them in a single shot. That was with none grinding. Any time it appeared like I could possibly be at risk, the sport’s friendship mechanic bailed me out like a deus ex machina. Pokémon can dodge unavoidable assaults, treatment their very own standing illnesses, or cling on with one well being level if their friendship is excessive sufficient. For a lot of the sport, I couldn’t lose if I wished to.

The remakes are your best option for youths who wish to graduate from liking Pokémon as a cute cartoon to really enjoying the video games.

It’s clear who the supposed viewers is right here: Kids. Every high quality of life change removes any friction a younger participant might have — and I don’t suppose that’s a foul name. The remakes are your best option for youths who wish to graduate from liking Pokémon as a cute cartoon to really enjoying the video games. The easy story and lack of problem function an ideal introduction to the sequence, all with out completely dumbing down mechanics like in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee. Those who yearn for a extra aggressive expertise constructed for adults would possibly must face the info: The mainline sequence isn’t going to develop up with them.

Grand modifications

While the core construction of the remakes is basically untouched, there are some key modifications to its aspect actions. The greatest distinction here’s a completely reimagined model of the Underground, dubbed the Grand Underground. In the unique video games, this was a spot the place gamers might mine for treasure in a pleasant touchscreen minigame and construct secret bases. That’s all largely intact right here (there are some lacking collectibles, which is able to ruffle some feathers) and as addictive as ever, even with no stylus.

ICLA has made impactful modifications the place they matter most, particularly within the Grand Underground.

More importantly, gamers can now catch creatures within the Grand Underground. It’s primarily been remodeled into an enormous dungeon crawler stuffed with type-themed rooms and freely wandering Pokémon. As quickly as I bought entry to the realm, I used to be in a position to pop down and add non-Sinnoh monsters like Absol to my crew. Most of my closing occasion got here from hours spent exploring the underground, which makes up for the truth that Sinnoh’s regular Pokémon roster is fairly weak. Didn’t begin with Chimchar? Ponyta could be your solely different fireplace possibility if it weren’t for the Grand Underground.

A trainer exploring the Grand Underground in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

This up to date function is only one of many who give Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl a formidable endgame past the primary story. I actually loved trying to find fossils and statues (that can be utilized to embellish secret bases) as a unique type of post-game assortment. There are extra legendaries to catch after the Elite Four due to the brand new Ramanas Park space. Stickers are additionally a cute collectible, letting gamers create little results once they launch a creature from its Pokéball.

Not each function has gotten an improve right here. Super Pokémon Contests are a weak level, as they’ve been diminished to a boring, one-button rhythm sport. Other DS-centric options additionally don’t translate very nicely right here. Pokétch returns, giving gamers a handful of cute apps like a clock, however they really feel misplaced with out the DS’ second display. Players may select accomplice Pokémon that comply with them round, nevertheless it’s a low-effort implementation in comparison with the Pokémon Let’s Go video games, which included extra playful interactions and a greater sense of monster scale.

Luxio uses an electric attack in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

There are possible another lacking nuances that die-hard followers will lament over. Not each side from the unique video games has gotten the identical stage of shine right here. Even so, ICLA has made impactful modifications the place they matter most, particularly within the Grand Underground. There’s loads of causes for gamers to return again after the credit, and I can’t say the identical for lots of current installments.

Faithful to a fault

The remake’s most polarizing design resolution is its strategy to aesthetics. Rather than giving Diamond and Pearl the total Sword and Shield remedy, ICLA selected a “Chibi” artwork type right here. The cute and colourful graphics received’t be for everybody, however the selection is sensible. It modernizes the DS’ video games visuals, however stays trustworthy to its top-down sprite work. It primarily seems the way in which followers imagined it did in 2006 — and that’s what a very good remake does.

That’s a blessing and a curse, although. The visuals protect the sense of nostalgia and assist it keep away from among the “corner-cutting” discourse that plagued Sword and Shield’s launch, nevertheless it comes with some downsides. The world itself particularly suffers because it feels beholden to the unique visuals. It looks like each location was assembled utilizing a Super Mario Maker-esque asset software that lets builders drop bushes and buildings on a grid. That leaves the entire visible expertise feeling just a little flat and devoid of persona.

A trainer explores a cave in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

The music fares higher, which is a testomony to how glorious the unique soundtracks are. Classic themes are remixed with stunning rhythmic ticks that subverted my expectations far more than the gameplay did. I think about the music can be what sticks with me this time round greater than the cities or gyms.

It looks like each location was assembled utilizing a Super Mario Maker-esque asset software that lets builders drop bushes and buildings on a grid.

It’s so true to the unique that I discovered myself questioning if it wanted to exist in any respect. Couldn’t Nintendo have simply ported the Nintendo DS video games to Switch and offered it on the eShop for $20? In this particular case, the reply isn’t any. The DS’ two-screen expertise places loads of traditional video games in a bizarre place. We’ll possible by no means see the idea mirrored once more until Nintendo begins integrating smartphone controller assist into its consoles. So the remakes are a necessity, in a way.

Perhaps that’s why Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl play it so secure. They aren’t making an attempt to disrupt the unique template an excessive amount of, as a result of they’re primarily changing it. This launch doubles as a preservation venture, whether or not that’s the intent or not. I’d like to play a remake that absolutely reimagines Sinnoh and shakes up the method, however that wouldn’t be Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. These video games extra intently resemble my expertise enjoying these video games in 2006, and that brings all of the highs and lows alongside for the trip.

Our take

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are completely charming remakes, even when they aren’t essentially the most memorable adventures. Smart tweaks to the Grand Underground assist to fill in among the unique video games’ flaws, although different options like Super Pokémon Contests have been overly simplified. An absence of problem and a cute, however polarizing artwork type point out that these remakes are extra aimed toward youngsters than adults, which received’t go over nicely with some already irritable followers. But when you’re trying to introduce your youngsters to the magic of Pokémon, that is as easy an entry level as any.

Is there a greater various?

Pokémon Sword and Shield take extra artistic swings on the method, even when they don’t all the time land.

How lengthy will it final?

The essential sport may be accomplished in 20 to 30 hours due to high quality of life modifications, however there’s lots to do right here. The Grand Underground will particularly pad some playtime.

Should you purchase it?

Yes, however maintain your expectations in verify. This is a cute, straightforward Pokémon sport that’s greatest for youths, not for adults who desire a hardcore, aggressive sport.

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