Trainers worldwide finally get to re-explore the Sinnoh region in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. I think I speak for everyone at Pocket Tactics – perhaps even trainers everywhere – when I say we’ve been counting down the days since the initial announcement of the games earlier this year. Anytime a new Pokémon is on the horizon, it’s a time to celebrate, even if it involves retreading old ground in the form of a remake.
For the most part, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are lovingly crafted tributes to the original games that Nintendo released in 2006 on Nintendo DS. However, the immediate difference that you notice is the new art style. The latest instalments in the franchise adopt a chibi art style, while Pokémon Diamond and Pearl have pixelated graphics – as is common with older Pokémon games.
Some may enjoy the new graphics. However, I’m not one of them. I admit that the games’ are cute, and there’s nothing wrong with the chibi art style per se, more that I prefer the pixelated approach of old, but perhaps that’s just the kid in me wanting that nostalgia fix that the new graphics simply can’t provide.
Another area that got a bit of an overhaul is The Underground, which now goes by the name Grand Underground – it’s time to embrace your inner spelunker. Much like the original games, it’s found beneath the Sinnoh region, featuring a range of locations and many tunnels that offer you the chance to do some mining. You can find spheres down here that serve as a type of currency. Collect enough, and you can trade them for some TMs.
However, my favourite part of the Grand Underground is the Pokémon found within, and no, I’m not talking about the beaver – that’s apparently actually a mouse – Bidoof. Instead, I’m talking about the range of creatures that appear that aren’t part of the Sinnoh Pokédex. I’m going to be honest, one of my biggest gripes with the original Diamond and Pearl is the lack of fire-types available. Seriously, if you didn’t start the game with Chimchar, you didn’t have access to many Pokémon that could set the world on fire.
Fortunately, the Grand Underground fixes that problem – which is lucky, because I’m not one for monkeying around. On my travels through the Grand Underground, I came across a few fire-types that aren’t available in the 2006 games, and I may have audibly squealed when Houndoom came barreling into me. It’s one of my favourite hellraisers across all generations, so knowing it’s going to have my back in Sinnoh is heartwarming.
Yet, I still have some issues regarding the Pokédex in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. You might ask why, and another time I’d be inclined to bring up how weak generation four is, but that seems like a conversation to have over a battle sometime. My actual issue here is that the additional monsters found in Pokémon Platinum aren’t present. You know, the enhancement of Diamond and Pearl that Nintendo released in 2008, combining the two games together. Why? Why did those Pokémon not make the cut for the new games? In fact, there are several things that I’d argue Platinum does better than the others.
there are several things that I'd argue Platinum does better
For one, Platinum has a couple of narrative changes, introducing a fourth Team Galactic commander, and a scientist that works for the organisation. Oh, and let’s not forget the extra scenes that add more flavour to the story. It also allows you to catch all three titular Pokémon – Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. Why in the year 2021 can’t I have all three in a single game again. Yes, this is a relatively minor thing, but when Game Freak did Platinum so beautifully, why was it, its story, and its additional Pokémon disregarded? Though I will say the inclusion of Zapdos, Moltress, and Articuno in Shining Pearl is appreciated. As is bringing Raikou, Suicune, and Entei to Brilliant Diamond. Lugia and Ho-oh are also available, serving as the masters of the aforementioned legendary trios.
So far, it may sound as though I’m not enjoying Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, but that’s not true. There’s plenty about these titles that I do enjoy. The fact that they involve me catching, evolving, and battling creatures is enough to give me some semblance of enjoyment.
Exploring Sinnoh again is fun. I forgot just how much I like the region, even if I don’t particularly care for many of the creatures that make up its Pokédex. Just the act of building up friendships with those I do choose to battle with is great. To be honest, I forgot certain Pokémon rely on friendship to evolve, so I was more than a little surprised when Golbat turned purple, grew its feet into wings, and began calling itself Crobat.
The game runs smoothly, with not a performance issue in sight, not that I was expecting to see any. It means that journeying through the world is that much better, and taking in the views is a lot easier when not squinting at the screen. Furthermore, watching the animations of the Pokémon battle has never been better. I love watching the little creatures lay the smackdown on each other – as long as mine wins. Otherwise, I cry because my virtual babies got hurt.
If there’s one thing I do have to give Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond credit for, it’s the introduction of Ramanas Park. It’s an end-game location that allows you to truly put your Pokémon master skills to the test, for you see, this is the area that houses the legendary birds in Shining Pearl and the beasts in Brilliant Diamond. I’m yet to reach this area myself, but as soon as I’m able, I will head there to realise my childhood dreams of commanding Zapdos, Articuno, Moltres, and Lugia – thank you, Pokémon 2000.
So, is it worth investing your time into Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl? Of course, it is. The games offer you everything you could want from any creature collecting game, and it’s good for a nostalgia trip around Sinnoh. However, it isn’t the best rendition of this generation. That title still belongs to Pokémon Platinum.