Pokemon has been seated in quite the comfortable position this generation, whether or not its titles have been highly regarded or criticised due to varying facets delivered by Nintendo. This ranges from mechanics to overall presentation, which has more-or-less been a polarising subject due to inconsistencies bought forward. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl delivers a polished remaster of the NintendoDS classics, that strip away the unnecessary fluff that had stifled its original presentation for touch screen gimmicks. The fresh-faced Shinjuku developer ILCA, Inc., was assigned to the remakes after the release of their cloud-based storage app, Pokémon HOME. The studio has assisted many teams with the release of gaming’s biggest titles such as NieR: Automata, Dragon Quest XI, and Yakuza 0.
It’s without question that ILCA are reputable within the gaming space to take on this heavy handed task in rebuilding such revered titles. But, we can’t ignore the fact that despite its glam, the series is starting to lose some glimmer due to its recycled nature. Pokemon is becoming an annualised commodity for Nintendo to re-release or re-sculpt excavated success stories from over a decade ago. However, these remasters aren’t for fans that have experienced what it’s like to initiate themselves with an original Pokemon game. This is a younger generations gateway into one of entertainment’s biggest properties. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s reimagining seamlessly modernises the old school experience mixing the apropos chibi-like character modelling, mixed with some sensational aesthetics that propel its battle sequences forward.
Got to strive, keep up the drive...
Of course, it’s all about the endless grind in Pokemon’s persistent nature that evolves from generation to generation. And when we talk generations of Pokemon, it’s always growing – yes, it’s a numbers game. For fans, it’s all about catching, collecting and trading with friends. The non-stop course of completing your Pokedex, but to also train your Pocket Monsters to be the ultimate champion. You want to be a Pokemon Master? Well, diving back into Diamond and Pearl will unequivocally be a culture shock to the uninitiated audience of current Pokemon fandom. I did find it to be an excellent recall of the original adventures, being a fan of the NintendoDS entries, but did find myself running in circles most of the time. Traversing across the many fields littered with wild Bidoof’s had me perturbed, but it was when the rare Cresselia or Uxie would confront me, I’d be too excited to concentrate.
The Sinnoh region’s existing landscape remains untouched in framework but refurbished through a myriad of aesthetical changes that essentially make it uncharted. Roaming through towns and interacting with the dynamic environment all hearkens back to what made these classics two of the greatest in the series. Different personalities in each NPC, and the hurdles that need to be overcome to collect a gym’s badge, are all formulaic. It’s what made the expanded fetch quest a hearty gaming escapade, and proceeds to do just that here. Of course, from humble beginnings comes understanding of how to play the game of Pokemon, with Professor Rowan introducing our protagonist to their starter companion. Acquaintances Don and Barry aid us in exploring Sinnoh, to eight of its respective gyms, vanquishing its leaders and becoming the notable force of its region.
This is a prime example of how to remaster and old school title, without going overboard. Essentials for old school fans, and a great starter for entry level fans.
Antagonists Team Galactic are running roughshod through Sinnoh to discover the rare powers of Dialga and Palkia, and their evolution. Each focal point of Diamond and Pearl are almost intact, from design to perspective with the game playing off a top-down gameplay loop akin to the recent remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Adventure for the Nintendo Switch. If anything, this is a warm welcome that deviates from the continual intent to revamp the Pokemon delivery in an over-the-shoulder, third person perspective. This alone makes revisiting Sinnoh in its modernised form an absolute joy. The rapid journey through a multitude of maps relays the streamlined flow of a classic handheld gaming experience, with a bigtime feel. Other activities are scattered and made trademarks of specific villages for backtracking, and quality of life/replayablity.
Part of the phenomenon...
✔️Fantastic gateway entries for newcomers to the Pokemon franchise.
✔️Prime example of a remaster without going overboard.
✔️Rearranged and re-orchestrated overture that sounds great.
❌Some repetitiveness tends to set in, but nothing out of the ordinary for the series.
Treasure troves are sparse, but can be found in the Grand Underground, a massive biome that lies beneath the surface of Sinnoh, and could be equated to Mementos in Persona 5, with hopes of training your Pokemon and gaining more XP. It does accentuate the grind of the game but that’s all part of the fun. You can play mini-games here to discover gems, fossils and other collectables to use for upgrades. Be warned, high level Pokemon are stowed away in certain pockets of the underworld, and while there is some pot luck in capturing a few, its more common that you may walk away defeated.
Other activities include the rhythm mini-game, the Super Contest show which is presented like a pageant where you will have to press certain keys to manipulate your Pokemon to obtain a score from the competition’s judges. I did find using the new ball capsule system to help here, as you can plaster your Pokeball’s with stickers and labels to earn extra points for glitz and glamour. However, these smaller activities do become quite tedious, if anything monotonous to the habitual nature of wanting to explore Sinnoh and expand my Pokedex.
The re-arranged overture is phenomenal, and carries some great heft in the title’s overall sensation. In-house composer Shota Kageyama, left some wondrous amazement in his works here, taking the legendary Go Ichinose, Junichi Masuda, and Hitomi Sato’s composition and orchestrating the classics to sound just as big and extravagant as ever. While its ‘Lego-like’ nature in visual design would be mismatched for its compilation, it somehow melds perfectly. I think that’s partly to do with players that are familiar with the original’s soundtrack, hearing it come to life just elevates all the emotion from the original, and if anything makes such an astounding statement in Pokemon’s status as legendary. From the contemporary, humble beginnings to the tumultuous battles encountered, the title’s compilation will tick that ECG, just a little more than usual.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are great introductory releases for gamers that are yet to dive into the world of Pokemon. It’s honestly one of the more polished modern takes the series has had in recent memory. I can’t say that it’s the most visually appealing, nor does it do anything to reinvent the wheel but it most definitely brings a proposal forward in its casual aesthetic. The old adage of ‘simple yet effective’ is the most welcoming in gaming, where Diamond and Pearl originally tries its hand in evolving and growing the already established universe from a tired generation prior to the NintendoDS. Now modernising the pair, its realised that any further development to these classics are not necessary, rather keeping its foundation intact and relying on updating its performance and visuals. This is a prime example of how to remaster and old school title, without going overboard. Essentials for old school fans, and a great starter for entry level fans.