LifeisXbox’s Pokémon Brilliant Diamond review | The day Pokémon fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. November 19th 2021 was marked in many gamers’ agendas as the brand new Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl finally saw the light on this date. In this review, we’ll be focusing on the first one. First released in 2006, Pokémon Diamond has gotten a complete remake 15 years later, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokémon. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond is the first main-series Pokémon game that was not solely developed by GameFreak, but ILCA took the lead as developer. A big chance, and hopefully the right call. The remake is supposed to be faithful to the original release, so expectations were high.
We were fortunate enough to receive a copy of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond so here is our review!
With Pokémon following you around, customisable pokéballs, and just an overall formula that works, ILCA stayed true to the original game.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we liked!
- A remake of a great game | Let’s first state the obvious: the original Diamond (and Pearl) release was a big success. For many players, this generation offered both the best games and the best Pokémon. No surprise that enthusiasm went through the roof when a remake of these hit games was announced. Some great features of the original game are, of course, included in the remake, making this one of the fan’s favourite games. With Pokémon following you around, customisable pokéballs, and just an overall formula that works, ILCA stayed true to the original game.
- Art style | Of course, the biggest and most obvious difference between the original title and the remake, is the art style. We all know and love the pixelated graphics from the OG games, but damn, I can definitely get used to the brand new chibi art style. The entire game looks very cute, and even though I can understand that not everyone will appreciate this, but the top-down framework stayed in place, and a modern approach just does the trick. The characters, the entire Sinnoh region, and the Pokémon all got a big makeover and this was done quite well. The moves used during battle are also improved, and I honestly loved looking at this game. I know there were mixed feelings among fans when the first trailer was released, but I think we can say the upgraded art style is a job well done.
- QoL improvements | The remakes have some very interesting quality of life improvements. Some of which you will definitely like, others some might not look as much. The first and foremost added feature, is the auto-save. In this day and age, I feel like this is a must, definitely on a Switch game, a console we take with us everywhere. You’ll often see ‘now saving’ in the upper-right corner of your screen, and I was honestly really happy to see it. Of course, you can still choose to save your game at any time, but an auto save is always a great addition. A second QoL improvement is the guidance you get. When you open your pause menu, or the menu you access when take look at the map, your bag, or trainer card, there is a clear indication on where to go next. If you want to follow the main questline right away, of course, because you can always wander of the path up to a certain degree. Besides a clear message (like ‘Defeat the Gym Leader of Veilstone City), there is also a little flag on your town map. I tend to forget what I was doing, so this new feature was very helpful to me. Other people, like my boyfriend, might feel less strong about this one as it takes away a bit of the exploration of the game, but you can choose to ignore the message and flag. The third and fourth improvements are in regard of the battles. When defeating an opponent, all of the Pokémon in your party will get experience points, whether they battled or not. And, super interesting, your moves have an indication stating how effective they are against a certain Pokémon. Of course, when you first encounter a new Pokémon, this will not be shown, you have to keep it a bit interesting! Fifth, you no longer need to have specific Pokémon in your party if you want to use certain hidden moves. They are saved on your Pokétech (your watch) and an app ensures that they are accessible at any time. Lastly, it’s interesting to know that you can change your party at any time and access the Pokémon Boxes so easily. All in all, some very convenient updates if you ask me!
- Grand Underground | A highlight from the remakes is definitely the Grand Underground, which is basically a giant area that you can explore, located undernearth the Sinnoh region. After receiving the Explorer Kit in Eterna City, you’re free to enter the Grand Underground a lot of the time, and I can assure you that you’ll be spending a lot of time there. In the original Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum games, this region was simply called the Underground and wasn’t as interesting one might say. In the Grand Undergrond, you can now see Pokémon walking around in Pokémon Hidaways, which is just amazing! Pokémon don’t walk around the map as they did in Let’s Go Pokémon so seeing this feature come back in the Grand Underground was really great, and something a lot of players will surely appreciate. You’ll also be able to locate some rare Pokémon here, so be on the lookout for them! Besides battling and catching tons of Pokémon, you can dig into walls and play minigames. The secret bases also make their return. Besides local play, online play in the Grand Underground is also possible now.
- Rewards for the fans | A nice touch in the game is the rewards (two Mytical Pokémon) you get when you have saved data for other Pokémon games on your Nintendo Switch. You’ll probably know this by now if you’ve played the remakes, but I’m still mentioning it as I think it’s a nice gesture for the fans. If you’ve played Sword or Shield on your device, you can collect Jirachi by talking to a certain guy located in Floaroma Town. The woman standing next to him will grant you a Mew if you also have saved data for Let’s Go, Pikachu or Let’s Go, Eevee.
- Movement | There was definitely some improvement when it comes to the movement of your character. You get to roam around more freely, which was definitely great. You can go diagonally and are not restricted to moving X or Y side. However, I feel like the movement motions could’ve been handled more carefully. I’m not the gamer that plays each and every Pokémon game, but I still felt like in this game particulary, movement felt off. I often bumped into things because I just didn’t feel in control and riding my bike felt altogether awful. I thought maybe I just had a bad memory, because I know I’ve always had a little trouble with this in Pokémon games, but a friend of mine (who is a big Pokémon fan and does play each and every game), came to the same conclusion within the first few hours of gameplay: it’s not a flowing movement at all.
What we disliked
- Bugs | As has been reported, both remakes contain quite some bugs and glitches. Of course, we’ll be talking about the ones in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond only, but I assume they are somewhat the same as in the Shining Pearl game. Camera glitches are common and shadows of clouds might suddenly shift to a completely different location. There is this one side quest where someone travels with you through a place and the person disappeared in the dungeon after a trainer battle took place. Just poof, gone. But dialogue went on like a ghost was talking to you.
How long to beat the story | 23 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | No achievements on Switch
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂