We know by now the time-honored tradition and pattern of Pokémon game releases and remakes, they tend to follow a very similar schedule. Just about every other new generation we get a remake of one of the older titles, With Generation 4 bringing Heart Gold and Soul Silver, Generation 6 bringing Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and now Generation 8 bringing us Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. What separates these titles? Remakes tend to slap on a few new features and repackage the source material in a shiny new resolution for newer devices, not fixing anything that wasn’t broken. The question is, is it a sustainable practice when there is content cut from older titles? Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are an incredibly faithful remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, but shy away from many improvements and additional content added in Platinum, in lieu of a few new areas and some new battles.
I can say for certain that I’ve never hated playing a Pokémon game, as I’ve played essentially all of them. Generation 4 has some particularly fond memories for me, as a good chunk of my late childhood was spent playing Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. Pokémon Platinum was even my very first import title, I saved up and imported a Japanese copy to play it early. These were games that had a ton of setup, with many new Pokémon appearing in older games like Bonsly and Munchlax in XD: Gale of Darkness and Lucario being mentioned in the Mystery Dungeon titles. That kind of buildup led to a magical experience that any kid would lose their minds over, all these hints and teasers led to another grand adventure in a new region that had next to no information revealed about it. Of course, this can be viewed as being marred by nostalgia-goggles, but there is certainly something lost with these games. There was a clear effort to make this as faithful a remake as possible, from the trainers to the areas and even the incorporation of the Pokétch. The downside of this is that it’s a faithful remake of Diamond and Pearl, without the quality of life or thematic changes of Platinum. Things that were changed to be much better in Platinum, especially visible with the Gym puzzles, were reverted back to their Diamond and Pearl version. This, again, also comes with the lack of a Battle Frontier- but unfortunately it is to be expected by now.
While there are some saddening bits of cut content and downgrades from Platinum, this doesn’t mean Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl don’t have parts that glisten as well. For starters, walking with your Pokémon is finally back. Once you visit Amity Square, you’re given the option to have a partner Pokémon out at all times, and this was one of the most requested features. Aside from that, there are sweeping changes to the Ball Capsule system and Contest system that make them much more interactive and fun side features to spend time on. Arguably the largest change was made to the Underground, having it be much larger and contain small pocket environments that have wild Pokémon to encounter as well. The Underground feels like a constant source of evolving entertainment, as when you progress through the game the Pokémon you find change and level up as well. There’s also a slight bit of new post-game content with Ramanas Park replacing Pal Park, where you can catch legendary Pokémon from older games.
There’s a lot of discourse on games like this, with many disliking the practice of releasing watered-down remakes and others praising the opportunity to revisit older games in a new light. It truthfully depends on what you want to experience from a Pokémon game. If you can’t live without the features improved upon in Platinum, then you’re better off not playing these and going back to play Platinum again. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are not only faithful remakes, they present an opportunity to revisit Sinnoh without being marred by the abysmal pacing of the older iterations. Evidenced by the attention to detail they made in creating rematch teams and maintaining the difficulty spike of the Elite Four, there was an appreciation for the original titles present when making these games. While yes, there are some glitches primarily involving movement, they aren’t substantial enough to fully hamper any experience. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are a cool look back into the Sinnoh region, and decent preparation while waiting for Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch