Friday, December 10

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl Review

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond /Shining Pearl Review
I played on: Switch
I paid: £39.99
Available on: Switch
Notes: n/a

 Pokémon Pearl was my first Pokémon game. Despite me being around for the earlier Gameboy Poké-boom of the ’90s my parents never allowed me to have a Gameboy. I brought a DS Lite and Pokémon Pearl as soon as I had my own money as a teenager. This brings me to my personal history with the Pokémon series. I’ve played Yellow, Silver, Pearl, Soul Silver, Black, Black 2, Let’s Go Pikachu and lastly Brilliant Diamond. Out of the games I’ve played, I’ve finished Pearl, Soul Silver, Black and Brilliant Diamond. Now I like the Pokémon games well enough, but I’ve never loved them. Brilliant Diamond /Shining Pearl (BDSP) are remakes of the generation 4 games and show what I like and dislike about the series perfectly. So, let’s look at them.

Honestly, if you’ve not heard of Pokémon by now then you must be living on another planet. With over 120 games, 19 films, a 24 season tv show and enough merch to build a second, Pikachu themed, Great Wall of China you have seen this series somewhere. I will cover the basics just so we’re all on the same page. The world of Pokémon is one filled with monsters known as Pokémon. These take the place of non-human animals in our world but with much more variety and paranormal abilities. As I write this in 2021 there are 898 Pokémon across 8 generations of games. The main series, of which there are 34 games, are turn-based RPGs in which you command a team of up to 6 Pokémon.

During the majority of the series, and this is true of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, you will have two main goals. Firstly, you will be travelling across the region trying to become the Pokémon champion. You do this by battling 6 Gym leaders and collecting their badges before taking on the Elite Four and lastly the current champion. During BDSP you will be exploring the Sinnoh region and it’s a truly beautiful area to explore. For all of the series faults, world-building is not one of them. Pokémon is a wonderfully charming world that I find myself coming back to when I need a break from the seriousness of the real world. Secondly, you will be taking down a criminal organization. During BDSP this is Team Galactic. They want to harness the power of the legendary Pokémon Palkia and Dialga who created the Sinnoh region. These guys are never much of a threat and offer a fun campy distraction from the Gym badge grind.

My issue isn’t that this is a bad story, or even that I didn’t enjoy my time replaying my adventure through the Sinnoh region. No, my problem with not just Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl but the entire mainline Pokémon series is one of stagnation. The majority of the stories told in this world follow people leaving home to chase their dream of becoming Pokémon trainers. The original manga followed this setup, as did the games and TV show. While some spin-off games have mixed things up this is still how the majority of the games go. From Pokémon Red to Pokémon Sword and all the remakes nothing has grown or changed outside of surface-level stuff. Look at the recent Resident Evil 2 & 3 remakes, or the Final Fantasy VII remake and you can see how much each series has grown and evolved since the original games. Then you look at Pokémon Brilliant Diamond /Shining Pearl and see it’s the exact same game now as it was in 2006. Sure, it looks prettier and there is little quality of life changes from later games here but it’s still the same game. The Pokémon outside of Pikachu and Eevee still have the same sound effects from the 2006 game. The animations feel extremely dated, lazy even. Despite the massive success of the series there still isn’t any voice acting here either.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, and by extension, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl did feature more to do than just battle Pokémon. You can take part in Pokémon beauty and dance contests in one of the cities. While the competitions themselves are about as deep as a puddle the preparation around them can get really interesting. You can plant, water and pick berries at certain spots around Sinnoh. Most berries give your Pokémon an advantage in battle but some can be cooked into poffins, Depending on the berries used and the quality of the poffin these will boost certain contest focused stats of your Pokémon. This means to win some of the hardest contests you will need to focus on growing and cooking food for your little pets. I like this, it's easy to pick up but offers depth if you want it. Then you have the grand underground. This is an underground area that you can explore, dig for treasure in and battle Pokémon that won't appear above ground. I spent some time here but it never caught my attention all that much. Despite these distractions being here the focus of the game is definitely on the battling.

Pokémon was a groundbreaking series back in 1998 when it was released here in the UK. Even when I played Pearl in 2006 the sense of adventure and companionship with your Pokémon team felt like nothing I’d ever played before. The thing is, now I have played something like that because every Pokémon game just ends up feeling the same. I enjoyed my time playing this remake. It really did bring me back to my first Pokémon adventure with Pearl. But I also couldn’t help but feel that nothing has changed since I last finished a Pokémon game back in 2010. I want to love this series. As an avid collector, this series is perfect for me to love. But I can’t because it feels unwilling to change or move forward.

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment