Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond Review


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Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are great examples of the monkey paw curling as you make the wish. These remasters of the first DS entries of the Pokémon franchise are as safe as you could possibly do when doing any work to rerelease a game. 

They bring nothing new to the original experience, while also omitting content changes that fans perceived as the ‘best’ versions from Pokémon Platinum, the third, later released version while the Game Freak team worked on Black and White. 

Been there, done that

Image from iOS 1

While they do nothing outright new, I will say that I adore the chibi-look that they’ve applied to everything in the game world. The bubbly, almost sweet (candy) like aesthetic lends itself well to this one-to-one recreation of the world from way back in 2007. 

However, this is pretty much where things end for the game’s fresh aesthetic choices, as battles and in-game interactions feel lifeless with the added level of detail. This can be said for a lot of Japanese RPGs in general – I’m a big fan of Atelier Ryza and its sequel, which are seemingly made on a template structure – where moments that aren’t meaningful just aren’t given any love. 

This however does bother me in the battles, which feel as if they dropped right out of the DS game, just with the updated models for the Switch. Seeing my Pokémon move erratically or an effect appear instead of any real animation just cemented this as a place-holder for the fans who want this experience. 

It’s not that the developers – ICLA, not Game Freak – are lazy, it’s probably down to budget and time, a common theme across the industry. Yet, with the slight backlash against Sword and Shield, as well as the upcoming Legends: Arceus changing the formula again, this feels like the plaster on the sinking boat. Instead of taking the boat ashore and fixing the problem properly, it’ll soldier on, even if they need to jettison something over the side. 

New Verse, Same as the First

If you’ve been craving a bit of the classic Pokémon-style game, then you’ll be happy to know that this is about as straightforward a remaster as you can get. Everything you want from the top-down perspective, battles, interactions, and the loop of the game are here. Catch Pokémon, level them up, and do battle with Gyms until you beat the Elite Four, as well as the additional content in the post-game. 

Image from iOS 4

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl offer nothing new to this, they are what they are and while I like the Pokémon experience, I am also tired of remakes and remasters that don’t attempt to improve over their originals. Changing the looks is all well and good, but Nintendo games like this could really benefit from an “I’ve played this before” button. 

Battles drag on as you watch shoddy animation and text box scroll by. The story remains mostly unchanged, things that hardcore fans will notice will breeze by us, the lowlifes that don’t care about IVs and getting the perfect team. 

Prosperity

Making games accessible across all platforms is vitally important to the preservation of video games as a whole. Even if the ports aren’t perfect, ensuring that they’re playable is the main thing.

Image from iOS

However, I wish that this refresh of the experience just did a little more around the edges. Maybe if they looked at what Square Enix have done with their re-releases of Final Fantasy games like 7 and 12, where adding in a fast-forward feature makes grinding or exploration easier on the player, as well as – in the case of 12 – changing up the way you play in some capacity. 

What I’m saying is that if you’re looking to replay Diamond and Pearl, but don’t want to play a ROM or find your DS, then hey, you have it right here. This is a sufficient version that does exactly what you want it to do. If you’re looking for something that might expand on what you’ve already played, you’ll be sorely disappointed.



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