Pokémon Shiny Diamond / Shiny Pearl: Specifications
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Price: $ 60
Release date: November 19, 2021
Editor’s Note: For this review, we primarily rated Pokémon Brilliant Diamond. Pokémon Shining Pearl offers a slightly different collection of Pokémon to catch; otherwise, the two sets are the same.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are almost one-on-one remakes of the original Nintendo DS games released in 2007. The story is pretty straightforward. Like in all the other main Pokémon games, you are a kid who gets their first Pokémon from the local teacher. You then set off on a journey to collect all eight badges and stop a villainous organization along the way. Then you fight the Elite Four and the Champion Pokémon to become the best trainer in the area.
The games stay safe rather than taking big creative risks. But they were good games then, and still are today. However, there are a few caveats against Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl that hold them back. Read on for our full Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl review.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl review: gameplay
If you’ve played a Pokémon game before, the gameplay of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is pretty much the same. You send out your Pokémon creatures against those of your opponents and engage in turn-based combat until you defeat them, or vice versa. Each Pokémon has an elemental type, such as fire, water, or grass. Each type also has different types of weaknesses. Achieving an opponent’s weakness is the key to winning every battle.
One thing to note is that because Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are virtually one-on-one remakes of the originals, the games don’t have any combat system gimmicks. Compare and contrast with the third generation of games: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire from 2003. Game Freak remade them in 2014 under the names Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
These games incorporated the fighting gimmick, Mega Evolutions, from Pokémon X and Y. The developers even had a full explanation of how the remakes were on a separate timeline from the original games, where Mega Evolutions had never existed before.
It’s a little disappointing to see the developer of Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl ILCA leaving out Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Dynamax system, even though this mechanic has divided players. Including it would certainly have helped Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl forge their own identity.
As it stands, I think those who played the original games might have more fun with these remakes than the newcomers. Those who have started playing Pokémon with the more recent entries may find Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl feeling a bit stripped down.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl review: the quality of life is changing
Some of the biggest changes in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are their new quality of life features. These help to streamline the games considerably.
As an example, consider removing HMs or hidden machines. In the past, these HMs taught Pokémon essential boating moves, such as Surfing to cross bodies of water or Rock Smash to smash rocks in your path. The problem is, not all of them were useful in combat. In particular, Rock Smash was a weak attack, but you had to keep it in case you needed to use it outside of combat.
Pokémon Sun and Moon were the first games to remove HMs. Instead, you can just summon a random wild Pokemon to use Surf or Rock Smash for you. I’m glad this feature has been picked up in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as it allows for more flexible team building.
Another welcome addition is the ability to access your PC to trade your Pokémon at any time. Other recent Pokémon entries also offered this feature. There is no need to return to the Pokémon Center. The EXP Share feature is also back. All Pokémon in your party receive EXP whether they’ve fought or not.
While I felt ambivalent about EXP Share at first, I ended up getting used to it, as it helped me level up my weaker Pokémon quickly. However, this removes some challenges from the game, and I wish there was at least an option to turn it off.
When you view your menu, text at the bottom tells you what your next goal is, along with a flag on your map that shows where to go. While I have fond memories of playing the original Diamond and Pearl games, I certainly didn’t remember everything, including where to go for each goal. As a result, I certainly enjoyed this new feature.
Pokémon Sword and Shield’s auto-save feature is also returning, but the implementation still doesn’t look good enough. Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl automatically registers whenever you complete objectives, such as moving to a new area or catching a new Pokémon. The problem is, the game doesn’t have a separate save file for automatic saves. As such, if you do something you don’t like and the game automatically saves, then you’re screwed. Fortunately, you can turn off automatic backup.
Now my biggest complaint is related to TMs, or technical machines. Like HMs, they teach your Pokémon new moves. HMs had unlimited use while TMs were single-use. But in fifth generation games, TMs have been changed to become unrestricted use.
In these remakes, however, TMs have been reduced to single-use items. It’s more in line with the original games, but it’s definitely a step backwards. What if I wanted to teach two of my Pokémon the same TM move? Okay, now I have to choose between them whereas in recent games I could teach both. It is a truly disconcerting decision to come back to this.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl review: content
Aside from the main game itself, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl features a plethora of side quests and post-game content. In the Sinnoh Grand Underground, you can create secret bases and decorate them with statues that affect the types of Pokémon you encounter in the optional Hideaway dungeons.
Hideaways are new additions in these remakes. These caves contain Pokémon that you wouldn’t normally be able to find or catch above the ground. More Pokémon are available in Hideaways as you progress through the game, and it’s great to have more options for team building.
You can also unearth items to trade with various vendors in the Grand Underground. You can acquire things like TMs (which teach new skills) or pedestals for your statues. Multiplayer is also activated. You can explore the Grand Underground with a friend and also visit their secret bases. The Grand Underground is an incredibly fun distraction, in case you want to do something other than beat yourself up.
The post-game content isn’t to be sneezed at either. You can catch more Legendary Pokémon in new locations in Sinnoh, or even catch Legends from the previous generation at Ramanas Park. Additionally, you can also set up revenge with the Elite Four, and their Pokémon will get stronger each time (to a point), which makes it an exciting challenge.
The Battle Tower is also a great post-game activity. Winning consecutive battles can earn you powerful TMs, as well as held items. It has the strongest coaches in the game, so it’s ideal for players who want to test their skills.
However, the lack of Pokémon Platinum content is disappointing, since Platinum was the definitive version of the fourth generation titles. Platinum’s evil organization, Team Galactic, felt like a real threat compared to the original Diamond and Pearl games, due to a revamped story. Plus, areas like Distortion World, which debuted in Platinum, aren’t Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl either.
Most notably, Platinum replaced the original game’s Battle Tower with the expanded Battle Frontier, offering even more challenges and post-game content. Sadly, this is another case where Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl being almost one-on-one remakes, really keeps them from being great.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond / Shining Pearl Review: Verdict
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are faithful remakes of the originals. The original Diamond and Pearl were already good, but the new quality of life features make it an even smoother experience. However, these same characteristics appear to be inconsistent. The decision not to use the definitive Pokémon Platinum game as a base is puzzling at best. This would have avoided the need for two versions of the same game, while also incorporating the additional Platinum content.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are always a fun ride, especially if you’ve played the originals. However, more creative risks could have helped the game really stand out.
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