Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl for Nintendo Switch review: A fun but basic remake for new and old fans

Pokemon Bdsp Riley
(Image: © iMore)

iMore Verdict

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.

Pros

  • +

    The fun of any Pokémon game

  • +

    Gorgeous battle areas

  • +

    Updated mechanics from originals

  • +

    Fun Grand Underground

  • +

    Plenty of post-game content

Cons

  • -

    Invisible barriers

  • -

    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

Pokemon Bdsp Barry And Player (Image credit: iMore)
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CategoryPokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
TitlePokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
DeveloperILCA
PublisherNintendo
GenreAdventure, Role-Playing
Game Size6.7GB
Play Time35 hours
PlayersSingle
FormatDownload/Game Card
Launch Price$60

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

Pokemon Bdsp Grand Underground (Image credit: iMore)

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.

Pokemon Bdsp Statue Box Digging Rare (Image credit: iMore)

Pokemon Bdsp Statue Vespiquen Regular Vs Rare (Image credit: iMore)

Source: iMore

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

Pokemon Bdsp Bibarel (Image credit: iMore)

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.

HMs like Surf are performed by wild Pokémon so you don't have to teach them to your team.

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.

Pokemon Bdsp Move Effectiveness (Image credit: iMore)

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.