Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review Nintendo Switch ILCA speedrun

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are here, invoking nostalgia for the fourth generation of games among longtime fans, including me for this review. This remake of my favorite generation doesn’t come without its faults, but it’s a worthwhile return all the same.

While the choice to go with a “chibi” art style over a Sword and Shield-like style for exploration was initially divisive, it does successfully translate the source material into a 3D setting. The cute aesthetic ends up working quite well for the overworld. Meanwhile, full-sized trainer character models and Pokémon return for battles. Unlike in the original, your Pokémon trainer can be customized, though it’s not as robust as in the last few games. Additionally, the developers at ILCA have retained the original style of HP bars with the simple white background, another conscious and effective effort at nostalgia in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review Nintendo Switch ILCA Team Galactic battle

For the most part, the music featured in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl comprises beautiful orchestral recreations of some iconic compositions. This was especially prevalent when I entered Route 201 for the first time. However, some of the soundtrack doesn’t hit quite as well as in the original version, with Cynthia’s battle music feeling a little bit lifeless this time around. If you want to revert to the old soundtrack, you can receive the “DS Sounds” item after completing the game, which is a nice addition for those Sinnoh veterans out there.

Unfortunately, the movement in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl isn’t as smooth as in other entries in the franchise, as I found myself constantly hitting walls when trying to traverse specific areas. This was a lot more noticeable when entering caves, especially Victory Road towards the end of the journey, as my trainer often decided that he wanted to stick to rocks for some reason. This would have been fine if it were an isolated problem, but there are a plethora of moments where you are required to navigate through small spaces, adding to the annoyances.

BDSP Strength Lost Tower

As per series norm with remakes, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl introduce a variety of quality-of-life changes and other tweaks. And just like with the last few Pokémon games, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl keeps experience share active at all times, meaning that your entire party will receive experience points after battles. This time around, the distribution of experience actually felt somewhat balanced, as my Pokémon team never felt overleveled, especially during the more challenging sections towards the end of the adventure.

The Sinnoh region was once notorious for its heavy reliance on HMs (Hidden Moves) to navigate the overworld, which made the progression of the game extremely tedious. In Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, you don’t need to eat up a Pokémon’s move slot to cut down trees and break rocks, as you simply need to use the Pokétch accessory to “summon” wild Pokémon to aid you in your journey. That being said, this doesn’t remove the monotonous amount of times you need to use an HM to progress, but it’s a lot better than what came before.

2009’s Pokémon Platinum is often considered the definitive version of the fourth generation of games, so it’s disappointing some of its enhancing elements haven’t been incorporated here. Notably, the lackluster Pokédex in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl not only feels restrictive but also underwhelming in comparison to those of more recent entries in this series. For instance, throughout the main story and until you beat the game, you will only have access to two fire-types, Chimchar and Ponyta. Pokémon Platinum had rectified this issue a long time ago, so it’s unfortunate to see it return.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review Nintendo Switch ILCA

Likewise, the absence of Platinum‘s Battle Frontier is palpable. The Battle Frontier was essentially a large postgame activity that saw you participating in a wide array of unique battle formats. For instance, one of them required you to only use rental Pokémon to defeat your opponents, making each playthrough feel unique. The mode’s absence doesn’t mean that the postgame content in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is bad, but it is a reminder that more could have been done.

The biggest and best change present in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is the overhaul of the Underground as the Grand Underground, which adds a substantial amount of new content to an already solid concept. Pokémon Hideaways, a “Wild Area” of sorts for the Grand Underground, are a highlight, and they allow the player to capture rare Pokémon. Furthermore, you can still go scavenging for rare items in the Underground, such as fossils, held items, and cosmetics for your secret base. However, searching for specific Pokémon in the hideaways is a somewhat addictive experience, especially during a shiny hunt.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review Nintendo Switch ILCA Hideaway BDSP

In short, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are faithful remakes of one the franchise’s best generations, despite some shortcomings. Your enjoyment of the game will heavily depend on your nostalgia or overall love of the franchise, so don’t go in expecting a perfect remake. However, my time with these remakes was a fun one, and I’m excited to continue to explore the Grand Underground in search of a shiny Pokémon.

Release Date: November 19, 2021
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Role-Playing
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: ILCA

A Nintendo Switch review code for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond was provided by the publisher.

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Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

8

Although Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are not the definitive way to experience the Sinnoh region, they are a nostalgic joyride worth revisiting for fans of the originals and a worthwhile investment for newcomers.

Pros
  • Cute art style
  • Faithful remake of one of the best generations
  • A mostly brilliant orchestral soundtrack
  • Robust additions and improvements to the Grand Underground
Cons
  • Lack of content from Pokémon Platinum
  • Movement is a little buggy, especially in small spaces
  • Underwhelming postgame content
Jaimie Ditchfield
Freelance Writer. Work seen on Zelda Universe and BackToTheGaming. Studied Games Journalism and PR for three years, and is relentless at spreading his love for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The chances are you'll also hear him scream Persona.

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