Two of the world’s most favourite Pokemon games have made a return and are now available on the Nintendo Switch. I am sure most of you reading this have probably played the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl games all those years ago, and I am certain that you are excited to get started on playing these remakes. But I am not here to reminisce of the good old days of gaming, I am here to review Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, or BDSP for short, and how well they hold up. And there is a bit to talk about so I am going to get started.
A New Art Style
As most of you have probably seen from trailers or gameplay, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have a new art form, a 3D “Chibi” art style for the whole game. Everything you see will have this same style, the overworld, the characters, Pokemon battles and much more. And though this is an obvious improvement graphics wise, there is just one issue I have with it and that is the character design. Obviously, this is going to be a matter of personal preference, but I think these designs seem underwhelming. Giving the characters more of a lifeless and basic look.
Though I find the character design underwhelming, I think the new art style is fine. I do not think it is absolutely jaw dropping, but it does the job well and suits the game fine. The battles and arenas look great and the art style and graphical improvements play a massive role in this, but in other areas of the world it doesn't do anything to amaze me.
Of course, the graphics are going to be an improvement compared to the 15-year-old original releases, so it is time to move away from that and onto the main reason why you are all playing. The gameplay loop. A lot of games these days suffer from the same issue of repetitive gameplay loops, and it is the same with the whole Pokemon franchise. Compared to the original games, the core gameplay is exactly the same, even 15 years on. You catch a Pokemon, you train it and battle with it, go from town to town, stop a large threat and then defeat the champion at the end. All of the games stick to this formula and not much is normally done to differentiate from it.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the same as the originals in terms of gameplay. I am sure the vast majority of people will love this and how it sticks to the source material, and love the gameplay provided. And if that is the case with you, then you will find this game an absolute blast, I am sure. But you shouldn’t expect anything new gameplay. And if you are not keen of repetitive game cycles as I am, then you won’t enjoy this game as much.
There are a few quality-of-life improvements here and there, but they mainly consist of changes and additions that were made in previous entries. Take for instance the removal of HMs, you no longer have to worry about having to teach your Pokemon these moves to overcome obstacles thanks to the new Poketch device that will call upon wild Pokemon to take you through these barriers.
An Easier Experience
This point is one that everyone expected, and it is that this game is significantly easier compared to the originals. The main reason is because of the permanent and unchangeable EXP share. The original Diamond and Pearl games provided a bit of a challenge when it came to gyms and battles as the levelling up process was quite slow and you had to train each Pokemon individually, and as a result you tend to be a bit under levelled. But this isn’t the case with the remakes, thanks to the EXP share it is very easy to level up, and though this isn’t a new addition and they have included this in all of their more recent entries, it is worth bringing up in comparison to the originals. But the main addition that makes the game a lot easier is the Grand Underground.
For those who don’t know what this is, it is an upgrade of the original mining system in the originals where you can find shards, fossils and more. Why does this make the game easier? Well, I will explain. The Grand Underground makes it very easy to find and catch rare Pokemon that are higher levelled straight from the moment you access it, taking away the need to train. And this removes the challenge that the original gyms provide as you are consistently higher levelled than before. I am sure this area will be very mixed; some people may miss the challenge and some people may be thankful that they don’t have to spend a massive amount of time training each individual member of your team. I am leaning more towards that thankful side in this case as though the battles can be entertaining, doing one after another for an extended period of time is simply boring.
And while talking about the Grand Underground I will quickly give my thoughts on the whole area. I think the Grand Underground is a nice addition despite the fact you can easily exploit it. You can find a lot of new Pokemon here and offers a few reasons to return.
How Do They Perform?
This is only going to be a quick point. From what I have played so for I haven’t encountered any bugs or issues so far in terms of performance. The games run fine off launch and doesn’t seem to be in an absolute state of chaos, which is a sigh of relief this month. So, no performance issues for me. Graphically as said before, is a good improvement and there are no problems there at all.
Yeah, this isn’t a very long review. As a remake we all know the story and gameplay that make this game, and I mostly wanted to look into the changes that were made for this game. And as there were barely any changes at all, I do not have much to talk about. But that draws out the biggest complaint for me and for many others. Despite being a remake, this game brings nothing new of note to the series.
The changes that are made aren’t very great, a new art style, a few quality-of-life improvements and that’s about it. I am sure a lot of you will be thinking "it is a remake, they won't make many additions." And in that case I want to point towards the Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes, and even the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes. These games brought a massive number of changes that separated them from their originals, but with BDSP, there is no such differential.
When reviewing a game like this, you have to put nostalgia aside and judge the game for what is actually there. This game is simply lazy. The game works fine and sticks to the fan favourite game from years ago. But because of the very minor and limited changes, I am not going to give these remakes a very high score. They are not awful games, but they aren’t great either. If you loved the originals and are playing for the reason of nostalgia, then you will love the game.
Overall, I am going to give Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl a 6/10. When you look past the nostalgia you will see that this game has the exact same gameplay formula as all of the previous entries, and this gives it a major disadvantage compared to the originals. The originals had the advantage of having fresher gameplay and newer ideas. The lack of innovation here not only highlights the problem with this remake, but with the series as a whole at this moment. And it comes down to new locations, but the same formula.
And that is where I am going to leave this review, feel free to drop a comment if you want to add your own feelings on the game. But that’s all for now.