At this point in Pokemon’s 25-year history, there have been nearly as many remakes as there have been mainline games, but the latest pair, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl for Nintendo Switch, are a little different. Rather than reimagining the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl versions, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are faithful recreations, right down to their chibi-like visuals and overhead viewpoint. Despite this conservative approach, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl also introduce a variety of refinements that should help make the 15-year-old games more palatable to a modern audience.
Nintendo recently gave us a fresh hands-off look at Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl ahead of their launch next month. Although the core experience stays true to the originals, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl incorporate numerous quality-of-life improvements from the series’ most recent installments, sanding off many of the rough edges inherent in the older titles.
This includes organizing Pokemon. Just as in Pokemon Sword and Shield, you can now access your Pokemon storage boxes right from the menu, so you don’t need to hoof it back to a Pokemon Center each time you want to swap out your team. Similarly, Exp. Share is enabled from the outset here, meaning every Pokemon in your party will gain experience points from a battle, even if they didn’t actively participate (although a greater share will be awarded to the Pokemon who did take part). Purists may bristle at this particular change, but it helps mitigate the need to level grind and improves the games’ pacing overall.
Perhaps the most notable quality-of-life improvement pertains to Hidden Moves. In past Pokemon games, players had to teach these techniques to their Pokemon and use them to overcome certain environmental obstacles, making them necessary for progressing through the adventure. Since these techniques were generally not very useful in-battle, however, most players typically loaded all the Hidden Moves up on one or two Pokemon that they’d only retrieve from storage when needed, making them a hassle to use.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl introduce a clever workaround. In the remakes, Hidden Moves are tied to an app for the Poketch — a handy smartwatch-like device you receive early on in the adventure. This app allows you to summon a wild Pokemon to perform a Hidden Move, so you no longer have to sacrifice your own Pokemon’s move slots to use these techniques — a welcome change that should make traveling about the overworld much smoother.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl also add a few embellishments of their own to the experience, most notably in the Grand Underground — a sprawling network of tunnels located beneath the surface of the Sinnoh region. Just as in the original Diamond and Pearl games, you can excavate secret bases here and mine the walls for treasures. This time, however, there are also new areas in the Grand Underground called Pokemon Hideaways. Unlike in the overworld, where wild Pokemon are found strictly through random encounters, Pokemon visibly wander about in these Hideaways, so you can choose which ones you wish to battle. Moreover, Pokemon statues you mine from the Grand Underground have special effects when placed in your secret bases, which will influence the types of Pokemon that appear in Hideaways — helpful if you’re hunting for a specific kind of monster.
Thanks to these quality-of-life tweaks, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company seem to have struck a delicate balance with Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pearl: appealing to fans of the original games while making them accessible to new and younger players. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl launch for Nintendo Switch on Nov. 19. As an early purchase bonus, everyone who picks up a copy of either title before Feb. 21, 2022 is entitled to a free Manaphy egg.