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‘Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’ Give Originals a Needed Makeover

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In honor of the franchise’s 25th anniversary, Nintendo and the Pokémon Co. have released “Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl,” remakes of the original DS installments, “Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.” This remake adds many new aspects to the original games, all while staying true to their roots.

These games follow the basic plot structure of most mainline Pokémon games. Players become a Pokémon trainer who must choose Pokémon to train through battles while traveling across a region loosely based on a real country or location. “Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl” features the Sinnoh region — based on Japan’s Hokkaido region —  and has players collecting eight gym badges. The player does so while fighting an evil organization known as Team Galactic, who want to recreate the universe. In order to accomplish this, they must harness the power of the Legendary Pokémon Dialga and Palikia who can control time and space, respectively. It is up to the player to foil their plans.

This original “Diamond and Pearl” introduced many famous Pokémon into the franchise such as Lucario, a Fighting and Steel-type jackal with the ability to harness its aura into an attack, and Piplup, a cute blue penguin who went on to have a prominent role in the anime’s corresponding seasons.   

Photo provided by NintendoLife.com

The remake’s graphics are highly reminiscent of the originals, utilizing the same top-down chibi style as most pre-2013 Pokémon games but in 3D. While some may criticize this development since previous franchise remakes have had significant graphical enhancements compared to the originals, the mildly revamped graphics of this installment give nostalgic feelings to those who played the originals. Considering that an anniversary is supposed to look back on a franchise’s impact, this seems like the perfect way to do it and provides a reminiscent look back while also enhancing it with modern updates.  

There are a significant number of modern enhancements that help improve the games which, at face value, seem to be a straight remake of the original. This includes an overhaul of the game’s leveling system. When an opposing Pokémon faints in the original version, only the Pokémon that participated in that battle would gain experience points that help them to level-up and become more powerful. However, in this version all Pokémon in the player’s team will gain experience, regardless of whether they have participated in the battle or not. This makes the game significantly easier, as players no longer have to train each Pokémon individually. While it may be a criticism to say that this game is too simple, people must remember that the franchise is targeted at children, and the game’s low difficulty level will help ease in young players who are accustomed to playing an RPG.

In addition, the number of available Pokémon in the game has changed. After reaching a certain point in the game, players will be able to dig into an underground area below the game’s overworld. While the original version of this space was only used for tracking down rare items and playing games of capture-the-flag, the new one features special locations that feature Pokémon not from the original game. This area notably has several fire-type Pokémon, improving upon the original’s infamous lack of the typing.

Photo provided by progameguides.com

A final change that these games have in comparison to the original shows up in regard to Hidden Machines (HMs). In the original game, these moves were used in the overworld by the player’s Pokémon in order to overcome certain obstacles, such as trees and boulders. In the remake, they are activated through a Pokétch, a special watch-like device that summons a Pokémon from outside the players’ party to overcome the obstacle. Most typically it summons a Bidoof, a beaver Pokémon infamous for its versatility in the original games.

The series’ trademark Gyms also appear in this installment. This time, players must work their way through Rock, Grass, Fighting, Water, Ghost, Steel, Ice and Electric-type gyms, solving themed environmental puzzles and fighting challenging trainers along the way. After beating the final gym, the player must head to Victory Road, a challenging cave-like area with winding trails and difficult trainers. Only then can they face the Elite Four and the Champion, the region’s most powerful trainers. On a particular note, this region’s champion, Cynthia, is notorious for being fearsomely difficult, even for a final boss. With powerful monsters trained to perfection and counters to intended moves at her disposal, players will have to train extremely hard in order to beat her.

For those who are just starting out on their Pokémon journeys, or people who just like easy games in general, the remakes feature access to many strong legendary Pokémon. These can come in the form of gifts. For example, players who have access to save data from the previous Switch installments, “Pokémon Sword and Shield” as well as “Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee!,” can obtain the mythical Pokémon Mew and Jirachi. There is also a special area known as Ramanas Park, which offers the opportunity to capture Legendaries from the first three generations.     

Overall, the game is good due to its balance of easy and difficult elements, and it offers Switch owners a chance to finally play this generation. However, its adherence to the originals and challenging final boss might turn some people off.  Let’s see how the next Pokémon game of “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” which is set to be released on Jan. 28, fixes those problems.    

Bailey Kanthatham is an Entertainment Contributing Writer. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu.