From a financial perspective, Pokemon has never been bigger than it is right now, but if you ask fans about how the series’ is faring in terms of living up to expectations, most of them will tell you that it’s certainly seen better days. That said, though Pokemon hasn’t been in the base shape of its life for quite some time now, back when the Gen 4 title Pokemon Diamond and Pearl first came out for the Nintendo DS back in 2007, the series was pretty much at the peak of its powers. Which is why faithful ground-up remakes of those games with the upcoming Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, even the most cynical and pessimistic Pokemon fans have reason to be optimistic. Unless things go horribly wrong, this has the potential to deliver the same excellence that the originals did on the DS (or similar, at least). So ahead of the imminent launch of the remakes, here, we’re going to talk about a key few details you should know about the duo.
Every mainline Pokemon game to date has been developed by Game Freak, but Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are breaking that mould. Though Game Freak is still overseeing the project, the development itself is being led by ILCA. That said, series producer Junichi Masuda (who also directed the original games, alongside several other games in the series) is the co-director, alongside ILCA’s Yuichi Ueda.
One of the things that scores of Pokemon fans love so much about the Gen 4 games is their setting. Sinnoh easily ranks as one of the best settings ever in Pokemon history. From solid design to plenty of optional content and dungeons to engaging lore, memorable locations and landmarks, and a ton of environmental variety, Sinnoh does everything you’d want it to do. Of course, the OmegaRuby and AlphaSpphire did make some changes to Heonn’s map that series fans didn’t like too much, so hopefully, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will be much more faithful recreation and bring over Sinnoh as is.
Story isn’t something that Pokemon has ever put too much stock in, and it’s not something fans focus on a great deal while playing these games either, but Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will have some interesting narrative stuff for players to latch on to, should they choose to. The central conceit, of course, is that you’re a young Pokemon Trainer who sets out on a journey to win all the Gym Badges in the region and then beat the Elite Four to become Sinnoh’s Champion. The central antagonists here are Team Galactic, led by Cyrus, who wants to use the power of Pokemon to create a new universe in his own image. Crucial to this plan will be various Legendary Pokemon, such as Dialga, who controls the flow of time, and Palkia, who has complete control of space and all spatial dimensions.
As remakes of games that are nearly a decade and a half old, you’d expect Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl to make various quality-of-life improvements, and thankfully, several of those have been promised. Like in Pokemon Sword and Shield, players will be able to switch the Pokemon in their PC and in their party at any time and any place, while battles will also show the type effectiveness of moves. Meanwhile, the Pokemon listed first in your party will also follow you around in the overworld.
The Exp. Share has been a bit of a controversial item for Pokemon fans in recent years, owing to the fact that in Sword and Shield, the item could never be turned off, and every Pokemon in your party would get experience from every battle, whether or not they fought in it. That’s going to be a thing in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as well, which is a little concerning, because an almost total lack of challenge has been one of Pokemon’s biggest issues with recent entries. Here’s hoping that isn’t the case in the upcoming remakes.
The Poketch is an item that fans of the original Diamond and Pearl will remember all too well. Unsurprisingly, it’s coming back, and like before, it will have various apps that players will be able to use throughout the game. Some of the apps confirmed for the Poketch so far are the Dowsing Machine for finding items, a Friendship Checker to see how friendly your Pokemon are to you, a watch app, a pedometer app, a memo pad, and more. Whether or not all apps from the original Gen 4’s Poketch will return remains to be seen, but there are a few that seem like likely candidates based on how useful they would be, including the likes of Day-Care Checker and the map.
HMs AND TMs
HMs are returning in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, they’ll work a little different than what you’d expect. While traditionally HMs have been moves that you have to teach a Pokemon in your party that then cannot be forgotten, essentially eating up one of four move slots, in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, HMs are now an app in the Poketch. Use this app and you’ll summon a wild Pokemon to help you by using whatever HM move you need to use to remove the obstacle in front of you. Meanwhile, the Gen 4 remakes will also see TMs going back to being single use items.
One of the areas receiving the among the biggest facelifts in the remakes is the Underground. Known here as the Grand Underground, it’s going to be much more than a collection of tunnels in the remakes. There will be several areas, unique locations and biomes, treasures to dig up, other players to meet with, battles against wild Pokemon spawning like they do in the overworld, and more. It is essentially being described as a vast underground world that spreads out beneath the entirety of Sinnoh.
One of the biggest attractions of the Grand Underground are Pokemon Hideaways. These are specific places scattered throughout the underground where wild Pokemon can be found in abundance. Open areas, each with their own environmental properties and set in different biomes, it seems like these will almost act like Sword and Shield’s Wild Areas. Different kinds of Pokemon can be found in different Hideaways, while there are some Pokemon that can only be found in specific Hideaways.
Rounding out the bullet points for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s expanded underground are Secret Bases, which are, of course, a returning feature from the originals, but have been tweaked in some interesting ways. For instance, while you’re out hunting down treasures in the Grand Underground, you’ll find certain statues that you can put in your base as decorations- but which statues you use will also influence what kinds of wild Pokemon you run into Hideaways, so that’s something that you’ll have to keep an eye on (and maybe use to your advantage).
One of Gen 4’s biggest features, Super Contents, will be coming back in the upcoming remakes as well. For those that are unfamiliar, these are essentially talent shows where you can pick a Pokemon to compete against three others in various categories, such as Cuteness, Coolness, and more. Your ultimate goal is to wow the audience more than the other three Pokemon to win the contest. Four ranks will be available- Normal, Great, Ultra, and Master.
Poffin baking was one of the new minigames introduced in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (and for fans of the DS’ touch screen, it was a pretty fun one). As you may have expected, Poffins are coming back in the remakes as well. These are snacks that can be made using Berries, and then fed to Pokemon to raise certain attributes for Super Content shows. How this minigame will control in the remakes (especially when you’re playing in console mode) remains to be seen.
Amity Square from Diamond and Pearl is also coming back in the remakes, and is going to be much more expanded. Found close to Hearthome City, Amity Square is a relaxing meadow of sorts where you can basically hang out with your Pokemon. You can feed them Poffins, play with up to six of them at a time, play a rhythm minigame, and interact with them in various other ways.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will have plenty of customization options on offer as well. Along the lines of what Sun and Moon and Sword and Shield did, the Gen 4 remakes will also have various options for cosmetic customization of your character, including things such as their clothes, their skin tone, and more. You can also collect stickers scattered throughout the world and apply a number of them in combination on your Pokeballs, which will determine what animation effect will be triggered once you send out that Pokemon. Meanwhile, with Secret Bases and Super Contents, there will be plenty of other opportunities for customization as well.
Nintendo Switch games aren’t traditionally the biggest where file sizes are concerned, and the same stands especially true for Pokemon games. The upcoming Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s file sizes have also been confirmed, and they’re about what you’d expect. Each game will require roughly 10 GB of free storage, which is about 2.5 GB less than what was required for Pokemon Sword and Shield.