The Lowdown On Pokemon Shining Pearl & Brilliant Diamond

Joel GunnerNov 16, '21

A beloved Pokemon game becomes fissile, splitting into Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, coming to Nintendo Switch consoles on November the 19th.

The infinite models of the Nintendo DS were often an integral part of our teenage years and childhoods, yet the console was just the host, the platform – the games we played on said console were just as salient when we reminisce. A brand many of us look back on with fond memories is the Pokémon series, whether that be the TV series, the playing cards, or the games – we all knew and loved those magical little creatures. In the earliest rumblings of our gaming lives, one Nintendo game often featured: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Now 15 years later, a branched-out remake consisting of two games is set to release to the Nintendo Switch the 19th of November to celebrate 25 years of Pokémon – Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. ILCA, the developer company, have been reserved in giving out information. Despite any brevity, we think Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl could go down as staples in Nintendo history for a second time, bringing the equation of success back for round two - here's what we know so far.

Brilliant Diamond vs Shining Pearl – which is best?

The big question! Which game should you choose? Well, considering the content of the game is mostly parallel, the choice for many would depend on what Pokémon feature as part of the main story, which legendary Pokémon would you want to end up with, Palkia or Dialga? Pokémon like Scizor, Tyranitar, Pupitar, Aggron and Rampardos, along with their devolved forms, feature only in Brilliant Diamond. On the other hand, Slowbro, Houndoom, Walrein, Salamence and Bastiodon among others only show their faces in Shining Pearl. It’s a double-edged sword here; I had the cards of Pokémon appearing in both games, the scales are balanced – but we must make a choice unless you get your hands on the double pack!

A Pokemon trainer takes part in a gym turn-based battle.

What do we know about the games?

Irrespective of which Pokémon roster you go for, much of the in-game content is identical in both games. Pokémon Shining Pearl & Brilliant Diamond are both set in the region of Shinnoh and follow the same plot-arc only with different companions. Both games, built by ILCA, not Game Freak who rather oversaw the project, are a trip down memory lane than a completely revamped experience with fantastic gen-nine quality graphics of Pokémon Sun and Moon / Sword and Shield. If you’re looking the quality of Sun and Moon in these games, you’re on a wild goose chase.  Any detailed look at the game has been fiercely guarded by developers, instead trickling information through protected avenues. Consequently, reliable details are few and far between; much is conjecture. For example, Pal Park could include Shiny Pokemon according to whispers in the Pokevine, but no official confirmation has yet been uttered. What knowledge we are confident in is how the game begins and progresses; we choose either Turtwig, the beloved Chimchar or Piplup as our starter Pokemon to accompany us as we trek through Sinnoh, searching for a ladder to climb the lionised Pokémon leagues, earn gem badges and become the victor. It’s the same small fish in a big pond turned big fish in small pond formula we’ve loved all of these years, Pokémon or not.

Players use an overhead camera to view Pokemon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond Sinnoh's snowy landscape.

What can we get up to in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl?

There’s plenty lying around in Sinnoh to keep yourself entertained with: stir up some Poffins, take up to six of your Pokémon out for a walk in Amity Square or simply grab a Pokeball and explore the myriad environments the area has to offer. Plenty of our favourite Wild Pokémon lurk in the bushes ready for a quintessential turn-based battle. Overworld Pokémon, those are the assured creatures who wander in open spaces, exist only in the underground areas of the game. If you fancied a bit of human interaction, an assortment of characters lay around the map waiting to converse with you, gym leaders like Volkner and Candice will promptly test you out to see if you’re worth their time and attention, peppered around the map are various cities and their gyms, all of which have their preferred Pokémon type to use in battle – Fire, Water, Bug, Steel, Psychic – you get it. In the distance of our future in Sinnoh, the enigmatic ‘Team Galactic’ wait for us on Mount Coronet. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all revered trainers led by Cyrus, the ultimate Pokémon master, are the final opponent we must triumph against to prove our worthiness. .Before they are in touching distance, we must first climb the ranks, battle Legendary Pokémon, and build a squad strong enough to rule the leagues.  

Bidoof and Chimchar go head-to-head in a Pokemon turn-based battle on the Nintendo Switch.

Does the game look any different?

Back in the day, Diamond and Pearl was an arcade-style game in its design, big pixels and many colours infused the screen. Today, the games have been given a graphical remaster, but not in the manner we have grown accustomed to; the game stays in the cartoonish-arcade style now resembling an Animal Crossing game. It’s chic, cute, looks modern and feeds the flame of the starry-eyed innocence of the Pokémon gaming series – it doesn’t feature hyper-realistic textures as does recent Pokémon games, that is not the point of the remaster - but it does look like a game made in recent years. That said, the in-game modes, particularly The Grand Underground, look drastically improved compared to their forerunners; we can dig up treasure, fossils and create our own statue base (the formation of which influences the type of Pokémon we encounter) with the radiant but now crisp graphics that have always historically made Pokémon games such an addictive escape.

Has the game changed in how you play it?

Games made in the mid 2000’s are often very difficult to bring entirely up to generation nine technology, hence the recent focus on ‘Quality of Life’ and ‘Player Experience’ updates games like Grand Theft Auto have taken on. No, you won’t be doing any drive-by shooting or car-jackings with Bidoof or Chimchar, but Pokémon Shining Pearl & Brilliant Diamond adopts a similar ethos: make the gaming experience easier. We can now save an inordinate amount of time by using the A-button to traverse an area or complete an action rather than going into the Poketch menu. It’s the little things, eh! More, our cute little Pokémon have learnt to chaperone us through forest and field, facilitating a stronger friendship between the two of us. We can customise both our Pokeballs and our character with stickers and outfits (purchasable from Veilstone city) respectively, a nice touch that allows us to engrave our own mark on the gaming experience and make Sinnoh feel a little more like home. It’s good to see that the game now Online facilities too now embedded in areas like the Union Room and the (shorter version of) Super Contest Shows based in Hearthome city, a game mode that encourages us to get groovy with our Pokémon and compete in dance-battles against other teams. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write – such is life. Improvements aside, Pokémon Shining Pearl & Brilliant Diamond look to give the user the choice to turn off extra convenience upgrades, like Autosave and Experience Share, if they are more inclined to endure challenges.

City Gyms feature in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl - a nintendo Switch animated classic

Long-time fans of the Pokémon series have already expressed their adoration of the games chirpy, evergreen soundtrack and cheerfully re-designed Pokemon. Some remasters do have a slightly perfunctory feel about them, but it is already glaringly obvious that the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl revamps were enhanced earnestly with fans and nostalgia in mind. The two games bring an accessible taste of the mid 2000’s back to Nintendo consoles as they see release on November the 19th exclusively to the Nintendo Switch. In the meantime, we’ll keep this article updated with content as it is announced. See you in Snowpoint Gym!

Pre-order Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl here.

Images sourced from Trailer footage.

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