Review: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Versions are the long-awaited remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS classics Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. These games hold the unique distinction of being the first main series Pokémon games to be made by a developer other than Game Freak with ILCA taking the wheel. These games stand as a faithful remake of Diamond and Pearl with some quality of life updates and modernization along with a few new features. This look at the games will help to paint a picture of just where these games fall in the storied franchise.

Story and Plot

The story from Diamond and Pearl is retold in its entity. This continues the now series staple of larger-than-life story lines that started in Ruby and Sapphire. In this story the player starts as a kid in Twinleaf Town who together with their friend and rival aspire to become Pokémon trainers. The pair decide to visit their local lake which is rumored to home a mysterious Pokémon and from there they end up encountering their starter Pokémon and embarking on a grand adventure.

The story is the standard Pokémon quest with the journey to defeat the 8 Gym Leaders and challenge the Pokémon League and become champion. Team Galactic will will encounter the player at several points throughout the adventure, this evil team is set on using the power of the legendary Pokémon to recreate the world. Since this is a remake those that have played the original will know all the story beats in and out, but it is a good story filled with fun and memorable characters so it is worth revisiting.

Game Play

The game play is a return to classic form with the battles being random encounters. Battles are streamlined and the game is much faster than the originals which were infamous for the slow game play. The battles are modernized and have all of the updates expected of modern Pokémon games, there is no Dynamaxing so the game is a marked return to a time before the super modes of Mega Evolution, Z-Moves and Dynamaxing. Those that miss the classic game play will be right at home with this experience. Quality of life improvements have been added to the game such as HM moves becoming a Pokétch app so it is no longer required to have a Pokémon that has learned the move in your party. The character moves freely and isn’t locked into grid-based movement. This being a remake of a classic Pokémon game the difficulty curve is greater than in modern games and unprepared players can find themselves getting wiped by boss characters like the Gym leaders early on. The experience share is permanent and always on which mitigates this difficulty curve a bit. This is an issue for the players that enjoy the challenge and it is a lingering question why this feature can’t be toggled on and off rather than being always on.

The Underground has been revamped into the Grand Underground which has enclaves called Pokémon Hideaways where players can encounter different Pokémon that wander around the over-world map, like they do in Sword and Shield, including many that are not in the Sinnoh Dex. This opens up a variety of Pokémon to players and helps to mitigate some of the issues like there being so few Fire-type Pokémon options available to catch during the story mode. The digging minigame is a perfect recreation of the original, and now players can find Pokémon statues that they can place in their secret base to influence the spawn rates of Pokémon. Secret bases have been entirely revamped and are no longer strictly decorative. Now secret bases impact the game via the Pokémon statues that players place inside their secret base. The main story will last about 40-60 hours, and there is near unlimited replay value with competitive breeding and battling, and completing the Pokédex.

The online features are standard. The games are missing the Global Trade Station (GTS) which was one of the major online features in the originals. In the modern series GTS has been removed from the games and is only available in Pokémon Home. It is disappointing to see this feature doesn’t return in the remakes of the games were the GTS originated. The games also have no ranked matches, and because of this aren’t being used as the games for the next season of the Pokémon Video Game Championships (VGC) official competitive format.

The post-game story content is limited but staples like the Battle Tower and Gym Leader rematches are present and provide at least some post-game content. Previous remakes in the series have had sizable post-game content including the acclaimed Delta Episode in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Compared to previous remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are somewhat lacking in post-game story content. Now that the franchise has fully entered the era of DLC there is a possibility that more content could be added via DLC.

Graphics

The art style for the over-world is a chibi style meant to imitate the pixel art of the original game. In battles the art transitions to full-sized models similar to those seen in Sword and Shield. The 3D renders of the characters are perfect reflections of their 2D sprites. The animations for the Pokémon and their attacks are vivid and smooth. The trainer animations during battle are somewhat static however. The backgrounds during the battle scenes are varied and impressive there are no empty void spaces for battles like would happen so often in Sword and Shield. The over-world environments are crisp and accurate recreations that capture the spirit of the originals. The menu sprites for Pokémon and items have been replaced with vector art. The vector art for the Pokémon in menus lacks some of the charm of sprite art, but it is a decent substitute.

Sound

The soundtrack is a faithful recreation of the Diamond and Pearl soundtrack. Memorable songs from one of the most acclaimed soundtracks in the franchise are vibrantly recreated in a way that invokes the nostalgia of these tunes while presenting them in a new way. There is an option that gets unlocked in the game that lets players listen to the original version of the soundtrack so players can switch to the classic soundtrack if they want to experience the full classic soundtrack in action. Because this is a remake there is little room for original compositions so players that have played the originals shouldn’t don’t go into this game expecting to hear music they’ve never heard before. The sound effects are crisp and clear, the Pokémon cries sound as good as ever. Of course Chatot’s ability that let players record a sound for Chatot to cry has been removed It’s a solid and rich sound experience.

Final Verdict

This game is a quality update over the classics with quality of life features and modernization. The decision to go with a faithful remake with minimal changes from the original was a bold decision that pays off in how faithful this remake is in story and plot setting. ILCA does a decent job as the first Non-Game Freak developers to work on a new main series game. The game is somewhat hindered by the lack of ranked matches and loss of features like the GTS, and the game has some bugs and glitches on release that are being patched. Its worth picking up if you are a fan of the franchise, especially if you like the originals, or just enjoy fun JRPGs.

New Details on Pokémon Sword and Shield

Today The Pokémon Company released new information on Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.

A 2-minute YouTube video showed off some new Galarian regional variations for Zigzagoon, Lineoon, and Weezing. The brand new Pokémon, Morepeko, was also revealed. The video also detailed two new Rivals, and the new regional evil team, Team Yell.

The official website was updated with more information on the reveals from the trailer as well as revealing a brand new feature, Poké Jobs.

New Pokémon and Regional Variations

The harsh conditions in the Galar region have produced their own brand of regional variation in some of the species that inhabit it.

Galarian Zigzagoon

Galarian Zigzagoon

Galarian Zigzagoon
Type: Dark/Normal
Abilities: Pick-up/Gluttony

Galarian Zigzagoon is actually said to be the oldest form of the species. The zig-zagging movements of the other variations of Zigzagoon is said to originate from this Pokémon’s restless nature. Galarian Zigzagoon love battle, and will try to provoke humans and Pokémon to attack it. Humans often misinterpret this behavior as playfulness, much to its frustration.

Galarian Lineoon

Galarian Linoone

Galarian Linoone
Type: Dark/Normal
Abilities: Pick-up/Gluttony

Galarian Linoone uses tackles and headbutts that are powerful enough to send cars flying. They often loose balance if they miss attacks. These Pokémon are fearless and will challenge opponents that are stronger than itself. This headstrong and direct nature has made this Pokémon popular with the disaffected youths in the Galar region, who have nowhere to vent their anger.

Obstagoon – The new evolution to Galarian Linoone

Obstagoon
Type: Dark/Normal
Abilities: Reckless/Guts

Due to the uniquely harsh conditions in the Galar region the Zigzagoon line has honed their survival instincts and developed a new evolution, that is exclusive to Galarian Linoone. Obstagoon is extremely combative, however, it never initiates attack. It prefers to goad opponents into an attack which ti will block by crossing it’s arms and using the new move Obstruct, then it launches a devastating counter-attack using its sharp claws.

Galarian Weezing

Galarian Weezing

Galarian Weezing
Type: Poison/Fairy
Abilities: Levitate/???

Galarian Weezing consumes poison gasses and pollutants in the air. The toxic gasses it eats are purified inside of it and the cleaned gas comes out of the spout on its heads. The gasses inside of its body leak out and form clouds around it faces.

Morpeko

Morpeko
Type: Electric/Dark
Abilities: Hunger Switch

Morpeko is always hungry due to the processing of electricity in its cheeks. If Morpeko is hungry for too long it changes forms to Hangry Mode. In Hangry mode the energy in its cheeks changes from electricity to dark. Morpeko’s signature attack, Aura Wheel changes from Electric-type to Dark-type depending on which form Morpeko is in.

New Rivals and Evil Team

Bede

Bede

Bede is one of your rivals in the game. This confident, and talented trainer was invited to compete in the Galar League by Chairman Rose. His goal is to become champion, but he seem to have some other motivation.

Marnie

Marnie

Marnie is another competitor in the Galar League. With her partner Morpeko, she is aiming to become the champion. Her battling style is cool and calculated. This has gained her a strong following among fans, most notably the rowdy Team Yell.

Team Yell

Team Yell are die-hard fans of Marnie. They take their fandom to extremes as they do what they can to sabotage the other competitors in the Galar League. These hooligans are known for being especially rowdy in the crowd during matches.

Poké Jobs

Various companies and organizations throughout the Galar region will post jobs that players can send their Pokémon to complete. The rewards for completing these jobs include experience points, and EV points in various stats. The player can access Poké Jobs through the Rotomi machine inside Pokémon Centers.

The future…

This information reveal brought news of new rivals, the revealing of the evil team, the introduction of Galarian forms, and the first new evolution to an existing Pokémon line since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl versions. With the games now a little more than three months away, there is certain to be more news forthcoming in the following weeks.

The Duck Game Coming to Nintendo Switch in May

Adult Swim Games announced today that The Duck Game is coming to Nintendo Switch on May 2nd. The Switch version of the game is being ported by Armature Studio and Duck Game Creator, Landon Podbielski. The Switch version will have all the features from previous versions of the game including online play.  The game will also feature exclusive touch-screen controls for the level-editor mode that allows for players to create and play their own levels with friends. Podbielski took to twitter following the announcement stating his satisfaction with the game, he wrote:

“the news is finally out and i don’t have to be all secret anymore, duck game comes out for Nintendo Switch on May 2nd!! it has online and a level editor and is the most complete and shiny version of the game ever. a big steam update will also happen at the same time”

“i’ve been working alongside @ArmatureStudio on the switch port for duck game and it’s turned out better than i could have ever dreamed. they are awesome, there are no compromises and i couldn’t be happier about the way it turned out”

The Duck Game is an 80’s-inspired 4-player battle game that features frenzied gameplay and wacky weapons, hats, and levels. The game has 4-player local, and online multiplayer, and several game modes where players compete to be the top duck.

The Duck Game releases on May 2nd on Nintendo Switch. Preorders are open now.

Source:

Pokémon Sword and Shield Versions Revealed

Nintendo just held Pokémon Direct today, and the 7-minute broadcast revealed lots of new information. The long-awaited main Pokemon games for Nintendo Switch were finally revealed as Pokémon Sword Version and Pokémon Shield Version this is the first time in the series that the games have been named after man-made objects. Thematically it fits the industrialized, almost steampunk aesthetic within the games. Traditionally the game logos incorporate design elements from the Legendary Pokémon in the games, so the Sword and Shield emblems on these game logos could point to  the story-central Legendary Pokemon being based on knights, and or wolves.

The game play trailer reveals several details, it shows the player entering a random wild Pokémon battle, this confirms the return of random encounters and wild Pokémon battles. It can be assumed that the rest of the core mechanics, natures, abilities, held items, will be returning as well. The models for the Pokemon and the attacks appear to be updated from the previous games. The trailer also shows a Pokémon Gym, and Ohmori, the director of the games, confirmed that there is a gym quest in the games. There is a shot of the player in a uniform resembling a soccer uniform as he walks into a stadium, this indicates that perhaps the Pokémon League will be treated more like a professional sport, I.E., Soccer, in these games.

The three starter Pokemon were also revealed, the Grass-Type Chimpanzee Pokémon: Grookey, The Fire-Type Rabbit Pokémon: Scorbunny, and the Water-Type Lizard Pokémon: Sobble. These were the only new Pokemon introduced in the trailer.

The games take place in the Galar Region, which is very industrialized, having lots of gears and large machinery.  The region appears to be based on the England as indicated by the climate and European-inspired architecture, this is something that many fans had speculated.

The games were reconfirmed for a late 2019 release date. No specific date was given, but following the typical release dates of previous games, it is likely the games will see release sometime in October or November.