My Concern with Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is the next remake in the long line of Pokemon remakes and so far not much information has come out. What we do know is that the remakes will resemble the original cities, towns, and stories very close to the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. What we don’t know is what features from the originals will be carried forward, nor what new features the remakes might employ. The new remakes are currently 4 months away from releasing on November 19th, 2021 which is normal for mainline Pokemon games. They usually fall under the November release window, though Pokemon Legends: Arceus has a January release which is barely 2 months to Pokemon BDSP so we will see what’s what with that.

I wanted to talk about the new remakes of Diamond and Pearl because I am still quite a big fan of Pokemon despite my criticism of it over the last decade, and any time a new remake comes out I tend to pay extra attention. This is because the remakes are of games I grew up on as I am sure many other fans of Pokemon have as well, and Diamond and Pearl are very unique. They’re unique because they brought many new features to the table that made Pokemon much more accessible to many fans thanks to the Nintendo DS’s capabilities. Now that we are getting Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo Switch, I feel the need to question everything and so that’s what this post is all about.

The Lack of Information

This is the initial trailer for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl that was shown off in February 2021. Since the trailer’s release, the graphics of its Pokemon battles have been improved upon, but the look of the game is not what I want to talk about. If you notice, the trailer shows very little in terms of what new/old features Game Freak is bringing to the table. The BDSP portion of the trailer starts with Dawn in her room watching the television, exactly how the original Diamond and Pearl started off. Then the trailer shows parts of Twinleaf Town, Jubilife City, Floaroma Town, and then shows splices of what the battling will look like.

Up until this point, everything looks fine. It feels like what the transition from Pokemon Red and Blue to Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green felt like, with improved graphics and quality enhancements to the gameplay elements. As the trailer goes on, it showcases more familiar areas with a wider camera view that moves dynamically based on story events as seen when the player first makes it to Jubilife City. It also showcases Dawn running through the underground area, which we could presume will carry forward most, if not all the features that came along with that, including Secret Bases, Multiplayer, and Mining.

One thing to note is that the trailer showcases the Union Room, which if you don’t remember was a room where players nearby other players could congregate for trading, battling and other social activities. This was removed after Gen 5 and features such as Mix Records and Spin Trading were lost. There was never much incentive to use the Union Room especially now that multiplayer features are more streamlined, so unless there are some crazy new activities it’s questionable why it makes a return. Especially considering in Pokemon Sword and Shield players can see each other move about in the wild areas. In the Union Room players are represented as Ace Trainers, Bug Catchers, etc. instead of the player character making it feel outdated.

Speaking of the Underground, I have a lot of questions as to the limitations of this area. In the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, you could not use your Bag and thus couldn’t use your Bicycle. I feel like this was a limitation of the Nintendo DS at the time, as wireless communication was on constantly when exploring the Underground. In Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will players be able to use their Bag and Bicycle this time around? When running around in the Underground, your footsteps did not add to the Poketch step counter, nor did it count towards hatching Eggs. This seems like a missed opportunity, forcing players who enjoy breeding to decide if they want to do Underground activities or continue hatching eggs.

The Underground allowed players to go Mining for fossils, collect coloured spheres to trade with the NPCs, decorate their Secret Bases, and set traps and play mini-games with their friends. This was a truly unique set of activities that players could take part in by themselves or with their friends, and with the trailer for Pokemon BDSP showcasing the Underground, it might be safe to assume it will all be brought back. Though nothing has been confirmed yet, so my biggest concern thus far is that after 5 months we still haven’t learned of the features Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will have. It is the safest trailer of all the Pokemon remake trailers showcasing nothing new aside from the visuals and battle system.

I do not have a problem with how these remakes will end up because at the end of the day, I want my nostalgia fix and I am gonna get it dang-nabit. Still, the fact this trailer is almost the only thing we have to go on is worrisome. The reason is that no features or mechanics unique to Gen 4 were showcased or hinted at. Will the Underground have the old or new features? What purpose will the Union Room serve? With no second screen, what will the Poketch look like, and will it be capable of staying on screen while we adventure? Will the Global Terminal make a return? Wifi trading has been relegated to Pokemon Home which requires people to spend money, so it seems unlikely that feature will return less Game Freak wants to miss out on profit.

Other activities such as the Super Contest will probably make a return as they are an element of gameplay that can be reworked if needed. Other features that require the use of the touch screen, local wireless connections, wifi capabilities that are now obsolete in Pokemon games, are the features I wonder about. We are this close to release and still, there is a big lack of information (even with Bidoof day earlier this month). This has me worried that these remakes will be half-assed and bank on nostalgia for sales.

Pokemon Remakes of the Past

Let’s talk about how Game Freak handled their remakes in the past. The first remake was Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green and they were announced on September 13th, 2003. They were released in January 2004 for Japan. It wasn’t until E3 later that year that the rest of the world got a trailer of the gameplay. Of course, the game had already been out for a few months in Japan, as this was before Pokemon started doing simultaneous global launches.

This is the Japanese trailer for Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green shown off in 2003. It showcases a little bit more than the E3 trailer the following year, making the information readily available for anyone who would know to look for it. By looking at the trailer we can see it showcases a few new features aside from the improved graphics such as Wireless Communication battling and trading, the Union Room, the improved Town Map, and that’s pretty much it. Though it was the first remake in the series, it still showcased improvements over the original giving potential buyers some information to make an informed purchase. I feel this was important considering it had only been 7 years since the original Pokemon Red and Blue.

The next remakes in the Pokemon remake saga were remakes of Pokemon Gold and Silver 5 years later in 2009 for its 10 year anniversary. It was May of 2009 when Nintendo revealed the remakes Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver with their release in September of 2009 for Japan, and March 2010 globally. From what I could find, the first trailer was in July of 2009 and showcased more than the trailer for Fire Red and Leaf Green.

When the trailer begins to showcase gameplay elements, right away it is obvious there were lots of improvements made. Not only are the graphics improved upon from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, but it immediately showcases a highly requested feature since Pokemon Yellow with Pokemon following the player. The trailer goes further and showcases how the Pokemon that do follow the player have personalities, being able to interact with in the field. It goes on to talk about the new Pokewalker which allowed players to take one of their Pokemon for a walk in an interactable pedometer. It also showcases how if players bring over an Arceus into their HGSS game, that they will be able to experience the Sinjoh ruins sidequest.

This is already a lot of information and I remember when I was a kid after having fond nostalgic memories of Pokemon Gold and Silver I knew I was going to get the remake of Gold. Though I have my own issues with these remakes in particular (mostly nitpicking) they were fantastic remakes nonetheless. That’s two remakes now where their initial trailer showcased more than Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have thus far.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the next remakes that were revealed to the world 5 years later during E3 in June 2014. At this point, it seems like we would have gotten a remake every 5 years, but we would eventually find out this wouldn’t be the case. It’s around this time that Game Freak had split their team so that they could work on titles other than Pokemon, leaving their main series to be done by a smaller group. Throughout the last 9 years, Game Freak would go on to release titles such as Harmoknight, Pocket Card Jockey, Tembo the Badass Elephant, Giga Wreckerand most recently Little Town Hero. Even now, Game Freak is only overseeing the development of Pokemon BDSP, while developers ILCA is doing the bulk of development, a first-ever in the main-line Pokemon games.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were revealed in May of 2014 on the official Pokemon website. The trailer was showcased at E3 in June of 2014 in one of the best (in my opinion) Pokemon trailers to date. I usually just talk about the gameplay elements without acknowledging the fluff portions of the trailer, but this one was unique. It opens with a youngster traversing across the land until he finds a cave with a mural of Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre, already hinting at something new. Then as the gameplay starts you see the youngster flying atop a Latios, hinting at another new feature.

Once the gameplay portion begins it’s already evident how much better these remakes look over the original Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. This was using the Nintendo 3DS so it was no surprise the games borrowed many of the improvements that Pokemon X and Y introduced. It showcased remade parts of the world while also confirming the return of Mega Evolution as well as new Mega Evolutions. Finally, it shows off Groudon and Kyogre transforming into their new forms. Though the trailer did not show off everything that was new, it gave fans a taste of what’s to come.

The next remakes would be Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee released in November of 2018. I won’t go into detail but they were the second set of remakes of Pokemon Red and Blue that tweaked many of the core concepts and experimented with many new features and mechanics. They were fantastic as spinoff games as they lacked many of the mainline features but were still enjoyable by many, especially by those who ended up being disappointed with Pokemon Sword and Shield.

The Purpose of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

What are the purposes of each Pokemon remake? For Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green, it was to add more Kanto and Johto Pokemon for Ruby and Sapphire, as there was otherwise no way other than cheating to finish the National Dex. Heart Gold and Soul Silver had the same goal as during the 4th Generation it was difficult for many players to obtain Pokemon from the past in Diamond and Pearl. Again this was all to help players complete the National Dex, though at this point Wifi trading was a thing and so HGSS improved upon many other things on top of simply being a revisit to Kanto and JohtoOmega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire not only allowed Nintendo 3DS players to revisit Hoenn and its Pokemon but introduced new and unique features making them stand out on their own from their originals.

Though many of these remakes missed features from their third title, namely Battle Frontiers, they still introduced something new while also fulfilling something missing during that time period. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have taken a step backward in the graphics department instead of being closer to Pokemon Sword and Shield. The graphics aren’t really a big deal, but it is telling in the amount of work spent on a remake such as these. It looks like it belongs somewhere in between HGSS and ORAS.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl may serve one purpose and that’s to help fill the missing Pokemon in Gen 8. Currently, Pokemon Sword and Shield are the only Gen 8 mainline Pokemon games, though for the first time ever it is a mainline Pokemon game that does not include every single Pokemon within its data. As of writing this, 232, or about 20% of all Pokemon are missing and not playable in Gen 8. A good handful of them are from Gen 4’s Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, but many are missing from Gens 1 through 7. So while Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will allow fans to play with more Gen 4 Pokemon, that doesn’t make much of a dent in the total amount of missing Pokemon.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were not shown off at Nintendo’s E3, and while many fans expected a Pokemon Direct on July 14th of this year, it has not come. Instead, fans got a release date for Pokemon Unite. The fact that the initial trailer has shown a regression in quality as opposed to progressing forward with the Generation it was introduced in leads me to believe these remakes might end up being disappointing, compared to remakes of the past. The lack of detail so close to release, with mere snippets of graphical improvements in the Nintendo Switch OLED trailer, compared to how Game Freak would handle remakes in the past leaves me with little hope. Though I am open-minded to the possibility BDSP could be amazing, I, like many fans simply want to see another trailer. Something that will answer some of these questions.

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