The long-awaited Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes had a lot to live up to, but do they pull it off?
Ever since the initial trailer was released, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have been the subject of many a controversy. As remakes of the beloved Generation 4 games, they most certainly have a lot to live up to.
The thing about remaking a game is that developers have to strike a balance between staying true to the original and adding something newer. If you go too hard in one direction, you risk alienating old fans, go too hard in the other, and you’ll end up with what is essentially a port or a remaster of the original game, not a remake.
The Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes attempt to meld the old ‘chibi’ style of the Nintendo DS games with a more contemporary 3D look, which has garnered many mixed reactions from fans. I personally feel like the game would be a lot more enjoyable with the full-sized models that are used in the battle cutscenes, but to each their own.
Unfortunately, one downside to this style is that it can ruin the immersion during the cutscenes. The close up shots lose some of their impact when three quarters of the scene is just the characters’ heads.
Also, is it just me, or are the floors in buildings just… abnormally shiny for some reason? I’m not just talking about the overworld buildings, even the PC boxes have reflective floors. It’s like someone decided to go ham with floor polish, except I’m pretty sure the party menu doesn’t have floors.
Gameplay-wise, a notable change in the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes is the Exp Share feature, made available at the start of the game. It distributes experience points among your entire party, unlike its original Diamond and Pearl counterpart, which was a held item and only gave experience points to the Pokémon holding the item.
All in all, it makes levelling Pokémon much easier, especially since Cynthia’s team can and will decimate any unprepared challengers, even in the remakes. I still remember grinding for hours at the Victory Road in order to gain a large enough level advantage to outspeed most of her team back in the originals, so this is a huge quality of life upgrade.
Another quality of life change is the Hidden Move system. Like the newer main series Pokémon games, Hidden Moves no longer have to be learned by a member of your party. Instead, trainers can use an app on their Poketch to call upon a passing wild Pokémon to execute the move for them, if a member of their party has not learned said move.
Among the wild Pokemon summoned are Bidoof and Bibarel, well-known as ‘HM Slaves’ in the original Generation 4 playerbase due to Bibarel’s ability to learn Rock Smash, Cut, Surf, Strength, Rock Climb, Waterfall, and later Whirlpool in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
The Underground has gotten a huge makeover, and the new Grand Underground has biomes that contain – yup, roaming wild Pokémon. It still allows trainers to explore, mine for shards and other treasures, and meet other players. This reimagined Underground has also fixed a glaring issue in the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl games – the lack of early game fire type Pokémon that aren’t Chimchar or its evolutions.
Amongst rare Pokémon like Absol, trainers can now snag themselves a Houndour in the Grand Underground, which was a Pokémon Pearl exclusive. And of course, the ever elusive Ralts, which was originally only available post-game in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Overall, it’s gotten a huge glow up, while simultaneously staying true to the original Underground, promising trainers many hours of hunting for rare Pokémon.
While the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes may not hit the mark for some, they have undeniably brought something new and fresh to the table with the revamped Underground and the quality of life changes.
The me from 10 years ago is greatly, greatly appreciative.