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‘Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond And Shining Pearl’ Review

Available now on Nintendo Switch

Pokemon Brilliant
Credit: Pokemon Company / Nintendo

When Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were first announced I got excited. When I saw the new art style, that excitement quickly waned. But I’m a sucker, hooked into the franchise with a huge dose of nostalgia. It’s Pokemon. It’s a remake of Diamond and Pearl. We know what to expect, but are there any surprises this time around?

You play as a young Pokemon fan who comes into the possession of a Pokemon after saving a Pokemon professor. He entrusts with a Pokedex, a device that records data on Pokemon and tasks you to find all the Pokemon in the country. As you journey with your new Pokemon, you come across Team Galactic, an evil bunch who are using the energy of Pokemon for nefarious means.

Watch the trailer below:

Diamond and Pearl represented the last in the series that lacked a strong story. Ruby and Sapphire had a bit of a story too, but it’s safe to say the story in both is as bare-bones as it gets. The titles moving forward never really impressed me for their story but they at least did a little better than D/P. There’s no great characters, no gripping story threads, no interesting villain, no good dialogue. If you’re looking for a deep and engaging story, you simply won’t get it here.

The gameplay follows a tried and tested formula to a tee and as always, it works. The turn-based battle system, where you try to use type advantages to attain victory is as good as. Catching, evolving and breeding Pokemon is as rewarding as ever. There is a lower pool of Pokemon to pick from in the base game, leading you to encounter the same few Pokemon, which can get a little annoying but ehh, it’s fine. Everything from Diamond and Pearl is as it is, though plot and gameplay elements from the refined version, Platinum, do not return.

Pokemon Brilliant
Credit: Pokemon Company / Nintendo

There are expansions on older elements that work fairly well though. Contests make a welcome return. While battling requires you to plan move-sets for fighting, contests have you plan move-sets for entertaining a crowd. Here, instead of battling to level up, you feed your Pokemon to increase their chance of success. The contest itself is a simple mini-game but it feels good to rise through the ranks and the contest stage evolves as you advance.

The underground system is expanded massively in this remake. By burying underground you arrive at a massive network of tunnels. Here you can dig for treasures and trade them for goods. You also have the chance of finding statues, these can be planted in your secret base and by arranging them in special ways, you have an increased chance of finding rare Pokemon. In these tunnels, there are hideaways that house a plethora of Pokemon, some of which weren’t in the original games. Annoyingly your secret base really only becomes a room for statues, unlike other titles that had it feel like a home. There’s also a bunch of online features that have been long-standing traditions of the series, unfortunately, these are locked behind the Nintendo Online paywall. Yeah, I mean……what is there to say? It’s a straight-up remake of the DS games, warts and all. It doesn’t do anything wrong but there’s nothing here that I’d call essential and I wouldn’t use this as a game to entice new players.

Pokemon Brilliant
Credit: Pokemon Company / Nintendo

This brings me to the art style…….I kinda don’t like it. The chibi character style doesn’t work for me. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake did this a lot more efficiently, it felt like playing with a toy set, whereas BD/SP feel like a mobile game. It doesn’t look bad as such but the biggest issue is when you go into battle. The game switches to fully detailed models and they look great. Then it switches back to the chibi style and it’s really jarring. On the other hand, I like the environments and there are some great lighting and water effects that add to the presentation. The soundtrack is also solid, even if you’ve never heard it before you’ll still feel nostalgia.

This is a strange one. Obviously, my love for the series carries a lot of weight towards the final verdict but on the other hand, BD/SP shines a light on how stale the series is. This remake does add in quality of life features added since the original release but also features most players don’t want. One example is the forced use of EXP Share, an item that gives all party Pokemon a share of exp, this essentially gives you an overpowered team very quickly. On the other hand, the post-game adds some very high-level trainers, with the strongest having the highest level Pokemon in the series and using intelligent moves. With Pokemon Legends: Arceus looking to take the series in a bold new direction, BD/SP is potentially the final reminder of why this aged series needs changes. As a remake, it’s functionally sound, but don’t expect anything more than that.

Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond was reviewed using a digital code purchased by the reviewer

Publisher: Nintendo Developers: ILCA Release Date: 19th November 2021 Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

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