Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remastered versions of the fourth generation of the Pokémon games. This is where we started meeting legendary monsters that could control time, space, and also one that seemed to literally be God. For those who played these games first, they’re probably the ones that they love the most. For the rest of us, they could be just another Pokémon game.
For me, I have a pretty shockingly bad memory, so I didn’t go into Shining Pearl, the version I played for this review, with any preconceived opinions. I’ve played nearly every Pokémon game that’s ever come out, because I love a good evolving monster, but after so many games it’s hard to differentiate between them without a copy in front of me. I definitely remembered more as I got more into the game, but this didn’t feel like a nostalgia-laden trip down memory lane.
With that out of the way, I have to say that I’m finding Shining Pearl to be an intensely refreshing Pokémon game. I enjoyed Pokémon Shield enough, but it felt lacking in a lot of areas despite some interesting ideas. It almost feels as though as lot of the features there were prototypes for the kind of things we will see in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The traditional Pokémon formula, however, hasn’t really been seen since Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, and even that was a fair bit different to what we’re used to.
The good old days
Despite not having my rose-tinted glasses on for this era of Pokémon, I’m absolutely enamoured with the remakes. They’re full of all of the little excursions and distractions that make collecting monsters and saving the world so damn enjoyable, and these remade versions are just adorable. I know not everyone is a fan of the overworld art style, but I think the chibi characters and getting to watch the big bads from Team Galactic run around with giant heads is great.
The world’s incredibly vibrant and absolutely filled with colour and character, and it’s a joy to run around in as a result. That’s all I really need from a Pokémon game for now. I’m never expecting them to push a console’s power to the limit, so I’m never disappointed. At least not with how the games look.
There’s also the sheer size of this game, which is substantially longer than Sword and Shield. I don’t want to keep making comparisons between the games, but if you’re looking for a game with content that’s going to keep you occupied for a long time, these are the Pokémon games you’re looking for.
The experience share system is very generous in Shining Pearl, which may upset those looking for the original grind. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the efficiency it offers, letting you catch a new Pokémon and then get them up to scratch really quickly. I don’t think many players expect a high difficulty from Pokémon games, and it’s certainly not on my list of preferences there, so it’s not an issue for me.
I didn’t do much grinding in my time with Shining Pearl as a result, but couldn’t resist farming Gastrodon in The Grand Underground once given the chance – they were easy to kill and gave a huge amount of experience every time too. I’d completely erased the subterranean cave system in this game from my memory, and ended up losing a fair bit of time unearthing treasures down there, including some almost eerie Pokémon statues.
As a remake, you shouldn’t expect major changes to the fundamental gameplay, and outside of the underground being larger now and the new graphics, the biggest leap comes from the way Hidden Machines work. Thanks to helpful Pokémon around you (often a Bidoof in the early game), you no longer have to worry about infecting your party with HMs, and can just leave the busy work to whoever shows up when you’re in need. It’s a huge change that makes the process of building a team far more rewarding, and I adore it.
Oh, there’s also autosave now. This hasn’t stopped me saving three times whenever I decide to close the game, but it’s nice in the event something goes horribly wrong.
A shining example
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are monstrous games. There’s an immense amount to do at nearly every moment in the game, and while the opening takes a little while to warm up, the dungeons and distractions here are a joy to take part in.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that there are some features that are missing at launch, per this article on the Nintendo website. If you’re keen on the Global Wonder Station then it’s worth noting that it’s not currently there. I can’t say I really missed any of this stuff due to how I play these games, but some people will likely want to wait until these planned features are actually in the game.