After a staggering 15 years, we are finally taking a journey back to the Sinnoh region. The fourth generation in the Pokémon franchise, Diamond and Pearl have been dying for a remake for years. At long last, they’re here. Unlike previous remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have done away with the gimmicks and story shake-ups, instead opting for a much more faithful retelling of the 2006 originals.
I Did My Waiting, 15 Years of It
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have broken with the convention of previous Pokemon remakes. While games such as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire retold the story while introducing new mechanics, this is not the case here. Some may be disappointed to see that Gen 4 isn’t getting the same mega makeover previous iterations have undergone. However, that does not mean that it hasn’t been revamped. The first, and most noticeable, change is the artwork. The majority of the game has players controlling the adorably squat Chibi protagonist, much like in the originals.
Now, though everything has been rendered in a much better-looking 3D form. During battles, this charming cuteness is swapped for a more striking fuller form. Battles are also now accompanied by some exquisite backdrops, which vary depending on where you are. The amount of detail that has gone into these is stunning. Seeing Mount Coronet towering in the distance brought back a wave of nostalgia. Another area worthy of note is the water. Surfing over the surface of lakes has really never looked better and even puts the water in Sword and Shield to shame.
Shine Bright Like a Diamond... Or Pearl
It’s not just the surface that’s had a makeover. The Grand Underground has been revamped and has some fun new features. The first of these are statues, which can be placed in your secret base. These statues can be found by digging in the walls. This can also unearth spheres and other valuables that can be traded. Placing statues offers a boost to a certain type of pocket monster. For example, if you put up a Turtwig statue, grass types would be boosted.
You can also proudly display your favourite statue on a pedestal. This offers an extra little boost as well. As a rule of thumb, it’s all about aesthetics! The second change is the addition of Hideaways. These are big caverns in the Underground that contain Pokemon not native to the Sinnoh region. These can come in particularly handy when it comes to offsetting the slightly limited roster, as per the limits in Pearl and Diamond (I’m looking at you fire types).
Gotta Catch ‘em All
Unlike in previous remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl doesn’t expand its national dex to its fullest, instead of keeping it to a slightly pared-down catalogue. This really keeps gameplay feeling both fun and achievable, removing the daunting task of literally catching ‘em all. This does feel a little disappointing, especially after the Pokedex cull from Sword and Shield. However, this allows you to really throw yourself into the gameplay which is as good now as it was 15 years ago. While I wasn’t so set on this for Sword and Shield, the lack of some Pokemon from the Gen 4 remakes really lets the story shine. It also brings a sense of nostalgia for a time before glittery mechanics and near 900 pokemon.
One of the other changes in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is to do with HMs. In the originals, these pesky moves had players carting round a poor Bidoof to smash up rocks and cut down trees just to progress. Now players combat these obstacles by using their Poketch to call on a helpful wild Pokemon (usually Bidoof or Bibarel) to use the move. This prevents your party size from being restricted and makes the puzzles feel less laborious. While this wouldn’t be too big an issue given that you can access your boxes from anywhere, it does seem to free gameplay up a little.
Time and a Place for Everything…
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have done what fans have been requesting for years. They retell one of the most well-loved stories in the franchise without throwing in new mechanics or dramatic changes. These remakes are incredibly faithful to their 2006 originals, with a couple of tweaks here and there to touch up areas that needed it. It would’ve been nice to see maybe some more daring choices with the game. That is just my own greediness. It also seems like we’ll be getting some more radical changes in the upcoming release Legends: Arceus, set in an ancient Sinnoh. Overall, these games have done what they set out to do and have done it well. I am sure that these remakes will have a whole generation falling in love with Gen 4 as well as another generation falling back in love with it.