Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are classed as some of the best work Game Freak has ever produced. It introduced a number of concepts into the franchise, including the PokéRadar, the Pokétch, and far a few iconic Pocket Monsters; most notably Lucario. Despite its pedigree, however, I found myself dreading the arrival of the updated/remastered Pokémon game. While Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee was a breath of fresh air, the mainline games have not been given enough TLC to warrant an entire £50 game in recent history. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are solid updates, but they still aren’t quite shining examples of the classic Pokemon gameplay.
Both Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl continue the standard Pokémon journey: Get Pokédex, catch monsters, defeat gyms, get legendary creature, defeat Elite Four.
Thankfully, everything that made Diamond and Pearl so great is still in their respective remakes, unscathed and as enthralling as ever.
Cut through battling trainers and gyms by visiting the competitions, breeding your favourite ‘mons for the best stats possible, and building your perfect team.
Of course, as these versions of the games follow 15 years worth of games, they are loaded with a bunch of quality of life features and better ways of traversing the world.
Hidden Moves (HMs) are no longer a burden, but instead used within an app, removing any need for one dummy Pokémon to carry the burden alone.
Your party also has a non-negotiable Experience Share (XP Share), meaning your favourite fighters will always be levelled up in line with one another appropriately.
There has been a lot of stink online regarding the XP Share and whether it should be on by default, but I personally love it. It makes sailing through some of the more mundane parts of the game a lot more enjoyable.
However, I do agree Game Freak should have given an option to turn it off – just as they did in Pokémon Sword and Shield. It seems a bit odd they actively took something away from players.
Perhaps my favourite update in the game is the ability to access your Pokémon Box anywhere at any time. This allows for a quick and easy swap-out of monsters at any point, essentially giving you hundreds of Pokémon at your fingertips at all times.
Some ease-of-use details have been ironed out in the Grand Underground as well, many of which are best left to be found on your own – but rest assured there’s a lot of content down there to experience.
There’s also some hidden bells and whistles in the adventure’s endgame that allows for the collection of some extremely powerful legendary Pokémon, so rare Pokéhunters have some tasks to keep them occupied.
So, mechanically, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the best versions of the Pokémon series yet, but it all seems a little hollow.
And, weirdly, it’s the aesthetic of the games that has irked me the most.
Game Freak has given the games a cute, toybox-like makeover, making each of the characters small and chibi in stature. A blinding lens-flare-esque filter is also plastered over the graphics that, in some brighter spots, makes it a little hard to look at as details begin to diminish.
Mostly, it feels like Game Freak spent a lot longer on making the game look good than actually filling it with content. And don’t get me wrong – the game DOES look really good! It just sometimes oversteps its mark. But, in 15 years, did they really have nothing else to give their best-loved games? Really?
The last remakes in the series, 2014’s Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, were prime examples of how truly great these remakes can be if Game Freak actually put some effort into them.
They were slammed full of new features, better landscapes, unexpected surprises and an endgame that had hours worth of content. It was a revelation -at least in terms of Pokémon games. Sword and Shield dropped the ball a little bit… but some of ORAS’ essence was in there.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, though? It seems as if nothing has been changed from the original games minus some improvements.
Still, as Pokémon games go, it could be a lot worse?
VERDICT – 3/5