Bottom line: While some of the issues from the original DS games are still present, this is a fun Pokémon game for people of all ages. The main game is enjoyable and there's plenty to keep you entertained after you've beaten the Elite Four and become the Champion.
The fun of any Pokémon game
Gorgeous battle areas
Updated mechanics from originals
Fun Grand Underground
Plenty of post-game content
Fire Type scarcity
Hardly any Platinum content
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There's been a lot of controversy with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, a remake of the original Gen IV games. When they were first announced, many fans were upset about the overworld's chibi-styled aesthetic. As more mechanics were sussed out, even more criticisms, both warranted and ridiculous, came to the forefront.
Unfortunately, these minute complaints are typical for any Pokémon games that release, so it can be hard to know whether a Pokémon game is good or not by talking to the fandom. After all, many fans threatened to boycott Pokémon Sword and Shield, but it ended up being a fun game (if nothing phenomenal) and became the third best-selling Pokémon RPG in the franchise.
After beating Brilliant Diamond, I can definitely say that this is an enjoyable adventure. It holds true to the original DS games while improving some mechanics that were troublesome in the originals. More could have been done to make it stand out as a remake, but it's a fun time for any Poké fans.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Nintendo. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl: What's good
|Category||Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl|
|Title||Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl|
|Play Time||35 hours|
One of the most beautiful things about Pokémon, including Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, is that it appeals to people of all ages. It can be a child's first introduction to RPGs with its cute creature designs and simple fighting mechanics, but it can also be a veteran gamer's dream, where they focus on complex attacks and EV training. It's no wonder Pokémon is the biggest franchise of all time.
The Pokémon formula really hasn't changed much since the first Pokémon games, Red and Blue, which released back in the late 90s. Considering this is a "faithful remake" of the original Gen IV DS games, there are even fewer things that break that mold than there are in later Gens. Running around collecting Pokémon, trading with others, and defeating all gym leaders and an evil team is pretty par for the course, but it's still a fun trip no matter how many times I experience it. Thankfully, there are a few standout things worth applauding in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Gorgeous battle areas
It's kind of silly that I can praise this part of the game so much, but most 3D core Pokémon games leading up to this point have had really bland and almost non-existent battle areas. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl's battle areas, however, are a treat to look at. Lots of attention to detail, including changes in the background depending on the time of day, were included and make these fighting sequences feel more developed than ever before. Sometimes I stop fighting just to admire the pretty scenery.
Grand Underground expansion
Players could go underground, dig for goodies, and create secret bases in the original games. However, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl adds Pokémon Hideaways to the Grand Underground. These areas basically serve like Sword and Shield's Wild Area where wild Pokémon can walk around in the overworld and be engaged in battle.
The kind of Pokémon that spawn here depend on the Hideaway or biome the player is in and some Pokémon only spawn rarely, which makes you want to visit regularly. Additionally, the Grand Underground map is vast with plenty of different biomes to explore, so there's plenty to do.
Fortunately, you can increase the chances of specific Pokémon types showing up by placing statues in your secret base. These statues must be mined from the Underground walls in a digging minigame. Fossils, spheres, heart scales, evolutionary stones like Fire Stones or Thunder Stones, and more can also be found down here.
With luck, rare green statues can be uncovered while digging, which increases the chances of specific Pokémon types showing up even more when placed in the secret base. I got so sucked into mining and statue hunting that I often went down there throughout my adventure. I even spent four straight hours in the Grand Underground before returning to the main story at one point.
HMs changes & other QoL Improvements
The original games had a total of eight HMs, or Pokémon moves, that allowed players to progress to places previously barred to them. For instance, teaching a Pokémon Surf allowed players to swim across water. Unfortunately, with this many HMs people had to settle for HM-capable Pokémon they didn't want. This is why so many people had Bidoof and Bibarel in their party since it could learn so many of these moves.
The remakes fix this issue by having HMs serve as apps on your Pokétch device. Just select the HM from your Pokémon Watch and Wild Pokémon jump in to perform the HM action for you. You don't have to make your Pokémon learn any of them. What's more, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl alludes to the original HM complications by having a wild Bidoof and Bibarel perform many of the HM actions like Rock Climb, Cut, and Surf, which is hilarious.
The game also allows for autosaving, but players can manually save as well. You can even turn off autosave, which is helpful if you're shiny hunting or if you accidentally defeat a Legendary without catching it and need to reload your last save.
Fighting has also gotten a little easier. If you've defeated a Pokémon species at least once, you'll be able to see whether or not your moves are effective against it when choosing an attack or another member from your party. That way you don't have to remember the large and sometimes confusing type system chart while battling.
The most controversial quality-of-life improvement is the inclusion of Exp. Share, which makes it so all Pokémon in your team earn EXP points when you defeat an opponent. While this is helpful for keeping everyone at a similar level without needing to grind as much, it's frustrating for players looking for a more challenging playthrough since it cannot be turned off.
Post game content
As with most Pokémon games, the post-game content in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl gives you dozens of hours of entertainment. More fighting-focused players can EV train in the Battle Tower. Anyone looking to complete the National Dex can track down the Lake Trio Legendaries or work on unlocking Legendaries from past games at Ramanas Park. There are also rare statues to uncover in the Grand Underground digging minigame or you can go shiny hunting with the Poké Radar.
There truly is something for every kind of Pokémon player to enjoy after beating the main game and you could easily spend another 35+ hours working on it all. But since you've already beaten the game at this point, it feels leisurely and more relaxing to accomplish anything you want.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl: What's not good
One of my biggest complaints with the remake is the same one I had for the original DS games. There aren't very many Fire Pokémon to encounter during your journey, so anyone who doesn't choose Chimchar as their starter is at a disadvantage.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl attempt to rectify this with the Grand Underground where certain biomes allow you to encounter Fire-type Pokémon from the National Pokédex before beating the Elite Four. However, they are still few and far between. Not to mention, it can be hard to find them unless you know exactly where to go in the sprawling expanse of caves. Far more Fire Pokémon appear after unlocking the National Dex, but at that point, you don't need them as much.
Another thing I found small but irritating are the invisible barriers within the game. You might be running around and then have difficulty getting around a rock because it takes up more spaces than it appears to in the overworld. This also comes into play with any Pokémon that follows you. Don't get me wrong, I had a buddy following behind me as soon as I could, but you bump into them and they can make it difficult to get around them when in a tight spot.
Where's the Platinum content?
The original Diamond and Pearl had a follow-up game called Platinum that introduced new locations and new Pokémon to the Sinnoh story. Many had expected to see some of this content in the remakes, but unfortunately, they barely have anything from Platinum.
Who knows. Maybe there will be some free or paid DLC dropping in the future that brings some of these things into the game.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl: Should you play it?
As a remake, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl aren't groundbreaking by any stretch. However, like any Pokémon game, they're still fun to play. You can't go wrong with that basic gym battling and Pokémon catching formula. While I do appreciate the HM changes, Grand Underground expansion, and the host of other quality-of-life improvements over the originals, I do wish more had been done to spice these games up. More Platinum content should have been included at least.
Finding a powerful Fire Pokémon if you didn't choose Chimchar as your starter isn't easy since there are hardly any of these fiery creatures before post-game. Still, I immensely enjoyed my playthrough and still have plenty to do now that I've beaten the game, so it's definitely something you can sink your time into. If you're a Pokémon fan or are curious about playing these Pokémon games, you should definitely check them out.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.