By Zachary Barry
Not that there is ever a bad time to be a Pokémon fan, but in less than two weeks, the next entries in the mainline Pokémon series will be available on the Nintendo Switch. These upcoming entries, Brilliant Dimond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the 2006 games Pokémon Dimond and Pearl. Many fans have been clamoring for remakes of these games for years as the originals were incredibly well-received. The popularity of Dimond and Pearl can also be attributed to them being the first Pokémon games on the Nintendo DS, so many people have a lot of nostalgia for them. One example of how much players love Dimond and Pearl is a looping stream one dedicated fan has been hosting since June 2020, eight months before it was announced that remakes were in the works, which they said would continue until the remakes are released.
Character models in the overworld of Brilliant Dimond and Shining Pearl are best described as a translation of the Chibi style characters of Dimond and Pearl into 3D. This character style marks a departure from the more accurate proportions that the series has been moving towards since X&Y where released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. This Chibi style, though initially a little jarring to fans who hadn’t seen a new game in this style in 9 years, is a great call back to the original art style while still making use of the higher quality graphics of the Nintendo Switch. That being said, what we have seen of the human character models, the Pokémon models, and the backgrounds in battles are more in line with the more modern style.
Being a remake of a classic game, several features have been added to improve players’ experiences while playing Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. The one that I am most happy about is that HMs, a category of moves used to interact with the overworld, have been replaced by the ability to call on wild Pokémon to help you achieve the same effect. In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, HMs required you to replace one of your Pokémon’s more useful moves with one used to cut down trees, cross bodies of water, climb up steep terrain, etc. Accessing certain areas required your team to have more than 3 HMs, this would often mean that half your team would have moves you never used in battles, or one Pokémon on your team had only HMs. If you went the latter route, there would inevitably be instances where you would suddenly encounter a place where you need an HM and have to backtrack just to change up your team. It was frustrating when 20 minutes of backtracking was necessary, all just to get past a shoulder-high tree. When the design of Pokémon games moved away from HMs in 2016, many fans were pleased, and it’s encouraging to know that going forward, even remakes will move away from this archaic design.
Several other popular features from recent games have been added to Pokémon Brilliant Dimond and Shining Pearl. First up, from 2019’s Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’ll be able to access the Pokémon storage system from the menu while outside of a Pokémon center. Many players will be excited to see that Pokémon will be able to follow you after a point in the story, a feature that has been becoming more common in recent entries. Player customization is a returning feature, with the option for people who buy the game shortly after launch to dress their character in the protagonists’ outfits from Dimond and Pearl. Finally, the expanded grand underground will include Pokémon hideaways where players will be able to encounter roaming Pokémon, similar to Pokémon Let’s Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield. The updated grand underground offers players the chance to encounter Pokémon not encounterable in Pokémon Dimond and Pearl in these Pokémon hideaways.
Many features of Pokémon Dimond and Pearl that fans enjoyed about the original are confirmed to be returning. As mentioned in the last paragraph, the new and improved underground, deemed the grand underground, will allow players to explore, mine, and build a base underground just like in the original. The Pokémon contest feature is returning which gives players the chance to interact with their favorite Pokémon through more than just battling. Capsule decoration and the Pokéwatch are also returning to make the remake feel more faithful to the original.
The wait between Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and the games that preceded it, Pokémon Sword and Shield, was just over two years. For the first time in the history of the pokemon series, we know the release date of two major Pokémon games without either of them being out. Pokémon Legends Arceus is scheduled to release January 28th, 2021. Seeming to counterbalance the safe approach to designing a Pokémon game employed by Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Pokémon Legends Arceus is an open-world exploration game set in the Sinnoh region’s past. Several new Pokémon designs have been released for Legends Arceus, which have been met with universal praise. Though we know less about it and the art style and game mechanics of Pokémon Arceus are not as universally praised, it still has great potential. The only question to ask at this point is, how am I going to afford 3 new Pokémon Games in only 2 months?