Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
Pokémon Continues To Be Nintendo's Brightest Gem
Following the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield in 2018, many fans waited in anticipation for Generation 4's eventual remake. In 2004, Fire Red and Leaf Green was the first Pokémon game to modernize an older title with, at the time, modern features. Using Red and Blue as a base while running on the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald engine, other remakes would follow suit. Soul Silver and Heart Gold were Generation 2 remakes running on the Gen 4 engine. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were Gen 3 remakes on the Gen 6 hardware. With the upcoming release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, all eyes were on the Gen 4 remakes.
What made these remakes different from previous entries wasn't just the platform of choice, using the Sword and Shield games as a base. This was also the first main Pokémon game, remake or core series, not developed by Game Freak. The Pokémon veterans were investing all of their time, efforts, and resources into Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This meant that BDSP had to be outsourced, with ICLA taking the job. While players may not be familiar with the Japanese support studio, they have a close relationship with Game Freak as the developers of the storage service Pokémon Home. With an entirely different development studio taking the load off Game Freak, how do Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl fare?
If It Isn't Broke Don't Fix It
The developers at ICLA understood this phrase and followed it throughout the games' productions as the games play near identical to their original counterparts. One of the common critiques, when Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl was announced, was its art style. Rather than go for the realistic models that Sword and Shield went for, ICLA went for a nostalgic appearance. In the overworld, the models are noticeably super-deformed while in battle, the player models are rounded in appearance. It's still far above the original 2006 releases, but it keeps the spirit of the older games alive. There are QoL changes added to Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, including the controversial changes to experience gain.
In older Pokémon titles, players were limited to how their party gained experience in each fight prior to finding an Exp Share. In BDSP, from the very beginning, all Pokémon in the party will gain experience no matter what. Those who participated in fights will gain more experience of course. Other implementations circumvent the original DS hardware, including the Pokétch. In the original Diamond and Pearl, the bottom screen was used to tell the time, have a calculator, see the town map, and other useful features. As the Nintendo Switch doesn't have a dual-screen, the app is now on the corner of the screen, which can be minimized accordingly.
Subjective: Team Galactic Is Still Weird
The stories for Pokémon have never been the series' strong suit, but it remains consistent throughout each generation. You play as an up-and-coming Pokémon who sets out for adventure, tasked with researching Pokémon in the Pokédex and collecting eight badges. Aside from your rival, Barry, the player also has to contend with Team Galactic. Like Team Rocket, Team Magma, and Team Aqua in the past, these guys want to use Pokémon to take over the world. The world isn't enough however, the entire galaxy must bend to their will, hence the name. Honestly, these guys are weird and their drip is weirder, but I know there's a dedicated fanbase for this team.
As they didn't show up in my first take, what impressed me was how environments were handled. Much like in the original game, the themes vary from the time of day with the 3D graphics giving locations like Jubilife City, more life. This is also true in the battle backgrounds being fully rendered in 3D. One early example is the training school, which instead of fighting in the city, takes place indoors instead. The attention to detail, no matter how minor, is impressive.
Overall, fans of the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl will love the remakes despite it not being a 1 to 1 creation. There have also been some glitches that players have reported that may or may not potentially break the game.
However, despite this, both titles serve as ways to sate the Pokémon trainer's appetite until Pokémon Legends: Arceus. With more content and events on the way to promote the games, there will be enough content for all fans to enjoy.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are now available on the Switch.