For better or worse, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look like extremely safe remakes

Image: Pokemon Company

The choice of video games that capture pocket monsters has been controversial among fans this year since they were announced back in early 2021. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are from scratch remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS games that fans have begged for years, so what’s the problem? Shouldn’t most people be delighted? Some fans are crazy about the chibi art style and the simplicity of the game, although others want these remakes to take things to the next level, try something different, and give us more graphical demo.

However, for us we are somewhere in the middle. Last week, Nintendo invited us to a special preview session to check out the games ahead of the November launch, and while we haven’t been able to get to know them yet, we’ve been able to get a lot more information on what to expect. of these Gen 4 remakes. As The Pokémon Company is currently busy creating next year’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Brilliant Diamond, and Shining Pearl are transferred to a third party company known as ILCA. They have worked with TPC on the Pokémon Home app in the past, but now they are given the opportunity to show their stuff in the Sinnoh region.

Image: Pokemon Company

If you’ve played the main Pokémon game before, you know what to expect here. You will travel the world on a mission to complete your Pokédex, collect badges, and become the greatest Pokémon trainer ever. If Sword and Shield are the only games you’ve played in this series, you might be a little surprised to see the outside world laid out pretty “ hard ”, but that’s part of the charm as these remakes remain just as true. as far as possible to their original vision. The buildings, plants, and NPCs were designed with a toy aesthetic, somewhat reminiscent of the art style of the 2019 remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Switch, although we’re not sure if that will work here either.

Other than occasional NPC walks, we haven’t seen much in common in the scenery yet. Trees and bushes will sway back and forth with the wind, and clouds will cast shadows from above. All the landscapes and designs fit together beautifully, but the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look almost as if you gave your child a playset of toys and they rearranged them as close as possible to the maps of the original Diamond and Pearl and said “What do you think?” Everything works, but in some places it seems like there might be more details to put it all together, some tweaks or additions that will provide a little more cohesion for a modern Pokémon release. We were only shown a few select areas during the preview, but we’re curious to see what other areas of the game have to offer.

Image: Pokemon Company

However, things get a little different when you get into combat. Pokémon Battles replace the chibi aesthetic found in the world in favor of something more modern and familiar that likely uses the same 3D models as the later mainstream games. Here and there in the battles there are nice graphics, the quick flash over the shoulder that happens at the beginning of each battle is also directly inspired by the classics. Otherwise, it looks like the battles have barely changed. Included are some new quality-of-life improvements that weren’t in the originals, such as the ability to share experiences among all of your Pokémon and the fact that each turn will clearly indicate whether it will be effective against opposing Pokémon or not.

A host of Sinnoh Pokémon will also debut in the main Switch lineup in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, including beginners Chimchar, Piplup and Turtwig, the beloved Bidoof, and many more. We’re not sure if some of the original Pokémon, like Darkrai and Shaymin, will return just for events, but we’ve been told the story stays true to the original story, so hopefully they’ve found a way to incorporate them without being hindered in the form of Mystery Gifts.

Most mainstream Pokémon games have extra activities to keep you busy besides collecting and fighting Pokémon, and Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl bring back a lot of these features from the DS days. The most advanced of them all seems to be the Super Contest. Basically, this is a rhythm game in which one of your Pokémon will take to the stage to dance against other Pokémon in a beauty contest. The actual gameplay seems pretty straightforward, prompting you to press different buttons at the same time as what’s displayed on the screen, but you can dress up your trainer in different outfits for the occasion as well.

You can also wander around Amity Square with up to six of your Pokémon beside you, as long as they meet the required attractiveness criteria. This will help strengthen their bond with you, and you can also prepare Poffins for your Pokémon to eat here. We were told that here you will also have limited camera control if you want to take multiple shots of yourself and your group of Pokémon.

PokemonBDSP Amity Square Artwork
Image: Pokemon Company

If you think you are a rougher and tougher trainer who prefers something a little more difficult, you can head to the Dungeon to dig for rare gems and even rarer Pokemon statues. You will also discover Hideaways underground, which offer you the opportunity to catch many specific types of Pokémon. They’ll even roam the map like in the Let’s Go series. These hideouts will be dedicated to different types, so you can expect to find fire-type Pokémon in an area that looks like an active volcano, or grass and bug types in a forest forest. We’re not entirely sure how the metro supports such a vast ecosystem, but we’re talking about a fictional world full of monsters that can fit in your pocket anyway, so let’s not get hung up on the simple details.

You can also influence the type of Pokémon that appear in Hideaways. The statues you find in the mines can be placed all over your secret base anywhere you want, and if you place a batch of water-type Pokémon statues, you will find more of these types of Pokémon in the hideouts. Those of you hoping to decorate your secret base with pokedolls, trophies, carpets and furniture will be a little disappointed to learn that, as far as we know, statues will be the only items you can use to decorate. It’s definitely a shame to see this section of the game downsized from the secret bases found in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on the 3DS, but the added practicality of the statues might be a fair tradeoff.

There are many other quality of life improvements that have come from past games in the series. You can make one Pokémon follow you around the world map, now you can change the skin color and clothes of your character, and your Pokémon box can be accessed from anywhere in the game.

From what we’ve seen so far, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are turning into faithful but extremely safe remakes. If you were curious to learn more about the history of the Sinnoh region but don’t have access to DS – or just can’t wait to play another Pokémon game on Switch – then there’s a lot to wait for here. However, given what Pokémon Legends: Arceus wants to offer early next year, it remains to be seen if these remakes are enough to tempt someone looking for something fresh and new.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are coming to Nintendo Switch on November 19th.

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