Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl: Too Close For Comfort?

Drawing+made+by+Angela+Carlton

Drawing made by Angela Carlton

Angela Carlton, Reporter

For years upon years, many fans of the Pokémon franchise shouted for remakes of the beloved Diamond and Pearl games. After all, Ruby and Sapphire (originally released in 2002) had received remakes in 2014 for the 3DS, called Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Then Sun and Moon somehow got UltraSun and UltraMoon during the same generation. Players’ dreams seemed to come true when Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were announced in 2021 for Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary, alongside Legends: Arceus. But unfortunately for fans, this pair of games would prove to be a massive disappointment.

When the trailers and eventually games were released, one of the biggest complaints was the toy-like style of the characters, comparable to that found in Link’s Awakening, a Legend of Zelda game. This style is strikingly different from the rest of the 3D Pokémon of the past few generations, where the models had more human-like proportions. It is a daring move indeed, and it comes with some problems, too. Some semi-realistic models do exist in the game, which are incredibly expressive with the movement of their body and have unique personalities to them. However, these models appear exclusively in battles. In important cutscenes, players are stuck with toy-like characters that can only use their faces to express themselves. Dire situations have no sense of danger, as the chibi-fied models can only stand stiffly with surprised expressions. Not to mention, it’s hard to take the main antagonist seriously when he looks like a grumpy Fisher-Price toy. 

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are also incredibly faithful to their original games. This doesn’t sound like a problem at first…until you consider the expectations set up by previous remake games. All previous remakes in the Pokémon series have had some notable differences in style and storyline. For remake games that had trios of Legendary Pokémon, there had also been some focus on the third Legendaries that had not been there in the original games. For example, both Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby featured an entire mini post-game storyline that revolved around Rayquaza, mega evolving it, and stopping a massive meteorite from devastating the planet. In UltraSun and UltraMoon, the storyline was centered around the threat that Necrozma posed to the region. Even in Sword and Shield, which are original games, Eternatus is caught before the box Legendaries are available for catching. Yet Giratina, the third Pokémon of the Sinnoh Legendary trio, is just…left in the dust. Some may argue that these are remakes of Diamond and Pearl, not Platinum, so there’s no reason to have any focus on Giratina. Yet several other traits that had been exclusive to Platinum make an appearance in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Despite this factor, poor Giratina is shoved back into the randomized puzzle cave, just like the original Diamond and Pearl games. It plays no significant role in the storyline or even the post-game, other than being yet another Legendary Pokémon to capture.

Speaking of post-game, this pair of remakes has very little of it in comparison to previous Pokémon games. Many Pokémon games in more recent years have some post-game content: things for a player to do after completing the storyline. In the main series games, completing the storyline is defeating the region’s Champion. But after a player manages to beat Cynthia, Sinnoh’s Champion, there are not many new things for a player to do. Sure, there is the Ramanas Park, some more Underground items, you get the Poké Radar… But what if you have no interest in catching Legendaries, hunting shinies, or filling the Pokédex? Well then, there is nothing else for you to do. There are no significant post-game storylines for players to go through. The most bonus storyline you get is through events that introduce Mythical Pokémon. However, these events have only been available for a small window of time in early 2022, with the exception of the Arceus event. Which is available so long as the player has finished all of the main missions in Legends: Arceus, on the same device. The timed events, however, are already over. Manaphy had ended on February 21st, Shaymin ended March 27th, then Darkrai just ended on April 30th. As far as we are aware, GameFreak doesn’t plan on re-releasing the timed events later on. Which means that a player who didn’t access those events, for one reason or another, will never have access to these bonus stories. Not without some form of hacking involved, at least. The lack of post-game stories to complete becomes yet another expectation that GameFreak failed to meet with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. They missed the opportunity to fix the post-game and Giratina issues by having Cyrus turn to Giratina to try and achieve his goals, after his attempts with Dialga/Palkia were thwarted.

Overall, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are major letdowns to all those that desired Sinnoh remakes. The issues noted above aren’t even the end of the many complaints about this pair of remakes, such as glitches that were present in the original games still being present in said remakes. Some may brush the complaints off as people finding even the silliest reasons to whine about anyone and anything. Post-game content isn’t necessarily a requirement, and some may still find the preserved toy-like style rather charming. Nevertheless, the problem is that Gamefreak set up high expectations with their previous remakes and proceeded to fail to meet several of these expectations while developing Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.