Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review: a return to form

Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl really feel outdated, however that’s what I like about them.

With so many Pokémon spinoffs, reimaginings, and new generations, the traditional Pokémon recreation feels buried in a slew of up to date mechanics and spectacular new options. However Good Diamond and Shining Pearl are low-frills remakes that take gamers again to that unique, easy journey, and so they’re the primary Pokémon video games I’ve loved battling by way of for practically a decade.

Good Diamond and Shining Pearl take potential trainers to the Sinnoh area, based mostly on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, with an enormous mountain vary bisecting it. (Sinnoh is similar area gamers will discover an historical model of in Pokémon Legends: Arceus subsequent 12 months). The plot and motion comply with the identical steps of each Pokémon earlier than it: A child and their buddy/rival stumble into Pokémon possession, tackle the health club chief problem, get wrapped up in bigger plots that threaten the world as they comprehend it, and ultimately problem the Pokémon League to turn out to be “the easiest.”

However not like the Swap’s different Pokémon entries — the Let’s Go titles and Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Protect — and a few of the late Nintendo 3DS entries, Good Diamond and Shining Pearl preserve issues traditional. Once I ship my Pokémon out to battle, I can’t Mega Evolve them for a brief increase of energy. I can’t faucet my wristwatch to make them develop to skyscraper heights. And capturing Pokémon includes the identical battle format as preventing a coach, not the gyro-enabled Pokéball-throwing minigame featured in Let’s Go. I battle till all of my monsters faint or the entire different crew’s do; I seize Pokémon by way of the cautious whittling of HP.

An artistic rendering of Sinnoh, the region Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl take place in

Picture: Recreation Freak, ILCA/Nintendo

For years, the sequence’ fashionable distractions have pulled me out of the primary franchise I ever cherished as a child. Every recreation has been one other mutation towards pointless new mechanics that make for cool moments however extend the sequence’ already prolonged battles. Someplace alongside the way in which, the franchise diluted the enjoyment of fixing elemental battle puzzles and constructing a crew able to countering any coach I could come throughout. The main focus turned about spectacle — large combatants, wide-open areas bursting with Pokémon to catch — slightly than technique.

Good Diamond and Shining Pearl do preserve a laser deal with the primary Pokémon path, however nonetheless supply helpful aspect actions. The Pokémon Tremendous Contest lets me parade my Pokémon round in a minigame, exhibiting off that they’re the good and hottest. I also can chill out with Pokémon in Amity Sq., ultimately permitting my Pokémon to stroll round behind me within the overworld. However all of that is non-compulsory, and by no means distracts from my mission at hand. I can play the tutorials, file the data away for the post-game, and transfer on.

Maybe the very best and most helpful model of this forget-it-until-you-need-it philosophy is the revamped Underground. The Underground, which unlocks a number of hours into Good Diamond and Shining Pearl, lets me dip into caverns at nearly any entryway within the overworld. Underground, I can set up a secret base wherein to hang around, hunt for treasure and, after all, uncover new Pokémon. These Pokémon reside in little pockets that act as miniature biomes for Rock, Water, and a bunch of different sorts.

It’s a system I nearly forgot about till I wanted a Floor or Hearth Pokémon to defeat the Metal health club chief in Canalave Metropolis. As a substitute of operating round by way of tall grass to discover a Pokémon that suited my wants, I ventured into the Underground. I used to be capable of finding a brand new Graveler near my degree, and head into the health club inside the span of about quarter-hour.

A Pokémon meditates and prepares for a move in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Picture: Recreation Freak, ILCA/Nintendo

For gamers who need to spend their time searching shiny Pokémon or, like me, want one thing in a pinch, the Underground is ideal. However for somebody who simply needs to journey by way of Good Diamond and Shining Pearl’s story, it’s a straightforward characteristic to overlook about. A extra fashionable Pokémon recreation may power me to grind by way of the Underground to achieve a story-relevant space. However the focus in these remakes is on the straightforward journey to the Pokémon League, and any additions are merely meant to complement that pleasure.

Which is all to say, the video games’ modernizations are all in service of a greater expertise, not remodeling Pokémon into one thing new. I can use HM strikes — required to swim or reduce down timber — with out instructing them to my Pokémon. I also can swap out my occasion members at any level (so long as I’m not in a dungeon), so I don’t must hoof it again to the Pokémon Heart as soon as I hatch the egg I’m carrying round.

Any long-running sequence must evolve, and Pokémon has undoubtedly performed that. And a few gamers have certainly cherished the brand new instructions the sequence has break up into. However as an getting old Pokémon participant, I’ve felt the sequence slipping by way of my fingers for a decade now, shifting away from the inventive, animal-based, elemental-matching puzzle recreation I loved in favor of flashier fashionable trappings. So I used to be shocked after I fell again into the Pokémon rhythm so shortly with these remasters. They’re secure, and should you’ve by no means performed this specific Pokémon era earlier than, they gained’t shock you. However after years of upheaval and alter, I reveled in Good Diamond and Shining Pearl’s security.

A Pokémon trainer and Piplup prepare for battle in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Picture: Recreation Freak, ILCA/Nintendo

Good Diamond and Shining Pearl aren’t for the youngsters that love Pokémon now — they’re for his or her college- and working-age older siblings and even their mother and father. They’re for Millennials like me who grew up with the primary three generations, and even Gen Z gamers, who maybe first got here to the Pokémon sequence with the unique Diamond and Pearl. These remakes are Recreation Freak and developer ILCA’s ploy to recapture these of us who solely see Pokémon as a reminiscence, or one thing to play on our cellphone whereas standing in line for espresso.

I’ve spent years — the higher a part of a decade, because the Ruby and Sapphire remakes on 3DS — going by way of the motions with new Pokémon video games, attempting desperately to battle by way of superfluous options and recapture the magic of my childhood. However the Diamond and Pearl remakes’ easy, by-product, and fundamental formulation helped refocus my love for a franchise nearly as outdated as I’m.

Pokémon Good Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl can be launched on Nov. 19 on Nintendo Swap. The sport was reviewed on Swap utilizing a pre-release obtain code offered by Nintendo. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You could find extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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