I consider myself a Pokémon veteran, dating my time with Game Freak’s RPG since Pokémon Red/Blue on the Gameboy. I vividly remember focusing my eyes on that hue-green screen and boxing my way around pixelated towns being astounded by the idea of adventuring out into the world of Pokémon, training and evolving all 150(1) creatures and becoming the very best! Nothing meant more to me than reading up on GameFaqs magazine trying to find secrets and realizing that you can challenge the hidden elite, Red (or Blue) that represented the ageless Ash Ketchum! My 7 year old self tried and failed for so many days until it clicked and I won. It was one of the biggest gaming highlights of my life and ever since, Game Freak’s Pokémon has lived in my DNA.
With every iteration came with deep desire to know more about their games – Game Freak were known to keep things under wraps until their release and with Diamond and Pearl, it was no different. It was my Junior year of high school where I spent too much time scouring the internet for any information about starters, legendaries, breeding, EV/IV train, etc.. 15 years later, and I still find myself enjoying what made the originals so great – a timeless classic. Although, my nostalgia wasn’t strong enough to realize that the reboot lives too short to the astronomical level of Sword and Shield, which waned my excitement down to just mild disappointment.
This is How You Remake
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond is an absolute remake from the ground up – back in 2006, the world was entirely pixelated with some 3D building on the Nintendo DS, using the original box movement of the older games. It was a step up at the time, but not by a large leap like Pokémon Black and White for the 3DS. With the remake, it keeps the same format of the birds-eye view and box exploration, but with diagonal movement included. The world is entirely 3D, including the character models – although, I’m assuming to keep the essence of the original; they’re chibi-designed outside of battle – which is a choice I personally don’t like.
An excellent use of animation is displayed here including some impressive lighting, reflection and shadows. There’s heavy use of depth of field when moving around Sinnoh and one element I love dearly; I’m a sucker for depth of field.
Each aspect of the game has been retouched respectfully as all of the dialogue and story beats remains the same as the original. There’s different camera angles, animations with dialogues, closeups and more which is a delightful effort by the team.
I am especially keen of the effort behind the world’s design as it brings it to new heights for returning fans – having them replay such an amazing iteration of the series in this fashion really feeds well into nostalgia – I just wish this launched before Sword and Shield – with natural comparison of the two, it is sorely underwhelming in overall presentation and technology, which makes justifying the $60 price tag for Brilliant Diamond very difficult.
Same Ol’ Tips n’ Tricks
There’s a ton of quality to life changes in Brilliant Diamond – for one, auto-save feature which really benefits for portable players. Type differences during battle is included as well, an improvement since Black and White (I think) and the ability to swap Pokémon anywhere without the need of flying to Poké Centers. HMs are part of the Pokétch Watch which frees up teaching Pokémon to use outside of battle – ease of use baby! Additionally, the pause menu gives you objectives on your next quest as well as having experience share for your party. All of these are extremely welcoming.
Brilliant Diamond does not change up the combat formula; all the elements you love about Pokémon games are present here – breeding, EV/IV training, birth moves, item holding, shiny hunting, nature, inherent debuffs ect. There are some really nice touches however – your Pokémon would react accordingly with a cute bounce affect when you max out friendship, which would lead to additional dialogue during battle. This extends the combat from a few seconds to a few minutes though, depending on the amount of Pokémon you’re facing, which can be a chore.
Other cool aesthetic additions are the ability to add stickers to your Poké Balls, which can give unique effects when summoning them to battle. You can get stickers from random NPCs, Gym Leaders and more. I didn’t really touch on this too much, but I thought it was a nice for fans who wants to do more than just complete the story.
This time around you can change your outfit, but the cost is so great – might as well have left it locked until you finished banishing the Elite Four. Additionally, you can walk with your Pokémon, which I absolutely love – although they can get in your way often. Luckily, the developers saw to it and added a feature to respawn them if such a thing happens.
The biggest attraction for returning players is the new Grand Underground – basically serves as a miniature way to explore an ever expanding world with Pokémon roaming around zones, in 3D model fashion. Similar to Sword and Shield when you step out to these open zones and you actually see Pokémon walking around, except in Brilliant Diamond, it’s smaller and in zones. Additionally, you’ll get digging tools to hammer and pike through rock walls for rare gems and fossils to trade for gear or Pokémon. And yes, you can have your own unique hideout which can be decorated with Statues. Placing specific statues gives specific bonuses like a higher chance to Shiney Farm – which is highly sought after. I found myself spending a lot of time there and I can see enthusiast exploiting for some massive potential.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond is an astounding remake with a lot of love for the original. With its quality to life changes and the new Grand Underground, players who loved the 2006 version will find much to be delighted with. Unfortunately, the nostalgia falls quickly, at least for me, with the existence of Pokémon Sword and Shield’s superior technology; if Brilliant Diamond were to launch before Sword and Shield, it would have served with better impact.
REVIEW SCORE 7.5/10
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