Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have finally revealed some more information on the remakes that we have all been waiting for. I remember playing a lot of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, with the latter being my chosen copy of the two, and so I, like many of the fans I’m sure, want to see these remakes do well. In my last Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl article, my worries were mainly about how these remakes seemed to be almost too identical to the originals, considering the lack of information on really anything. But there was a Pokemon Presents recently that went into a lot more detail with their creative choices and I wanted to talk about some of that here.
One interesting thing to note is that there were a few mechanics that were not brought up at all, mainly the Pokemon Watch also known as the Poketch. Each generation of Pokemon games usually includes a tool for the trainer to use on their adventure, except for Gen 1 (though one could argue the Pokedex was the first-ever trainer tool). In Gen 2 you get the Pokegear which allows you to call trainers, access a Radio, a Town Map, and more. Gen 3 you get a Pokenav which has many of the same functionalities as the Pokegear. Gen 4 had the Poketch which was always accessible via the Nintendo DS touch screen and had a multitude of useful (and arguably useless) applications. The Nintendo Switch has a touch screen but it’s not accessible when it’s docked, so I’m wondering how they would implement the feature.
Pokemon Follow You Again
This is one of those features that fans have requested for some time and it’s a great feature to have if not to make the world feel more immersive. I wrote an article where I talked about certain aspects from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl which I thought might require a rework or might be silly to implement, and one of those features was the Amity Square. If you don’t know, the Amity Square in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl allowed you to bring 1 of 11 Pokemon to this secluded area where you could have them follow you. The idea is that you bring one of these specific Pokemon to walk alongside you in this small area where you can talk to your Pokemon and sometimes they find you some items. That’s about it.
Many of these items that your Pokemon could find were either berries or cosmetics related to dressing your Pokemon up. I remember taking part in the Amity Square a couple of times but it didn’t really do much for me on a gameplay level. In Pokemon Platinum, you could now bring your starter Pokemon and any of their evolutions to Amity Square to go for a walk. You could tell that they only had so many sprites to work with for this mechanic, and the entire point of it was to feel closer with your Pokemon and get some minor items. For many, I’m sure it felt like a pointless area, but now in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, your Pokemon can simply follow you everywhere it seems. This is a big step up over having a small enclosed area that only 14 Pokemon could take part in.
In the article I wrote, I suggested that Pokemon following the player might be a feature that returned, basing it on the fact that if the Amity Square would return it would feel like a major step backward if it wasn’t reworked in some way. I also thought about how in Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver you could have any Pokemon follow behind you throughout the entire game. This was a major selling point of those games, and it’s a feature that never returned until Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! It’s funny that except for Pokemon Yellow, it’s only Pokemon remakes that have brought this fan favourite feature back. My only gripe with this feature was that in Heart Gold and Soul Silver you couldn’t put your Pokemon away. I found your Pokemon in those games to impede your movement when running around in the field simply because they would get in the way. Since these new remakes will not have a tile-based movement, I can see this no longer being a problem.
Style Shop Replaces Veilstone Game Corner
Another Pokemon article I wrote was about what might replace the Veilstone Game Corner. In Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, there is a city called Veilstone City, and it is there that the now outdated Game Corner building was. The Game Corner allowed players to play casino-like slots to earn coins that they could exchange for rare Pokemon and sometimes even rarer items. The Pan European Game Information, also known as PEGI, gives games an age rating for European consumers giving them a better idea of what they may be buying into. PEGI’s classification standards for simulated gambling increase the age rating on games, and this included slot gambling in Pokemon games.
When Pokemon Diamond and Pearl came out, it had the Game Corner and slots accessible to players. When Pokemon Platinum came out afterward in Europe, what Game Freak decided to do was simply make the slot machines inoperable. This meant that players couldn’t play the slots to earn coins and instead were forced to exchange a large amount of in-game currency for coins so that they could exchange them for exclusive prizes. Ever since generation 4 of Pokemon games, the Game Corner has not been included in the games except for Pokemon Let’s Go where the player simply cannot interact with the machines.
When the Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes came out they also featured the Game Corner, only the slots were replaced with a new mini-game that mixed Sudoku with Minesweeper called Voltorb Flip. Many fans were confused by this at the time, but it made sense that Game Freak would want to keep their age rating low to appeal to the largest demographic possible. The mini-game itself was much less random and you could leverage your odds using the clues given and I found myself playing it more than any other mini-game in the Pokemon series. So much so I have actually found an app on my phone that simulated the gameplay because it scratched that same Minesweeper / Solitaire itch.
Now that Game Corner history is out of the way, it was expected that the Veilstone Game Corner would be reworked to include different mini-games or even be completely replaced and it has indeed been replaced by the new Style Shop. The Style Shop is a clothing store where you can buy outfits for your character, similar to the more recent Pokemon games that allow players to truly customize their characters. Though from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like you can select separate articles of clothing like in Pokemon Sun and Moon or Sword and Shield, instead you choose the entire outfit and that’s it. It’s not a bad replacement because it allows players to customize their character (and from the website it seems you can pick your skin colour at the beginning of the game), though I do hope there are more than the small handful of outfits that were showcased.
Super Contest Shows Return in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
I figure since this is an old feature being brought back I should talk about it, though it was never one that I explored too much myself. In the generation 3 Pokemon games Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald debuted a new game feature called Pokemon Contests. Every Pokemon had a category of measurement based on their Beauty, Coolness, Cleverness, Cuteness, and Toughness which played into the judging component. It was the category that you would enter your Pokemon in that the judges would measure, so if you entered your Pokemon in a Cuteness Pokemon Contest then you better have fed it enough Cute Pokeblocks. Pokeblocks were the candy you made from berries that increased a specific Pokemon Contest category stat up to a maximum limit.
The Pokemon Contest in gen 3 had preliminary judging where your Pokemon was judged based on the category you entered it in where the Pokemon of the highest quality and best scarf would win. The second round had each Pokemon take turns using their moves and each move also fell under one of the 5 Pokemon Contest categories. In this round, each Pokemon had a number of attempts to use their moves to gain attention, disrupt other Pokemon, and other related effects. This was one of the more engaging aspects of the Pokemon contest, and after this second round of judging, the trainer and Pokemon with the most points ended up winning and rewarded ribbon for their Pokemon in the specific category.
This was brought back in the gen 3 remakes Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire which tweaked the mechanics and allowed you to take pictures that you could save to your Nintendo 3DS. In gen 4, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl brought this gameplay feature back in the form of Super Contests which, along with its gen 3 mechanics, introduced a dancing mini-game as one of the judging components. So in order, you had your Pokemon judged in the Visual Competition, then you had the Dance Competition which required simplified DDR-like timed presses, and finally, the Acting competition which was very similar to the second round of moves in gen 3’s Pokemon Contest.
It seems from Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s website that the ability to dress your Pokemon has been scrapped, as it was one of the main evaluations of the Visual Competition in the original games. This also seems to coincide with the Amity Square probably being removed in the remakes as finding items to dress your Pokemon up with was one of the main features of that area. Instead, it seems like the Visual Competition is mainly the quality of your Pokemon based on the category you entered it in and how well you decorated its ball. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl simplify the Super Contest by uniting the Acting Competition and the Dance Competition into one mechanic, where you use one move during the Dance Evaluation and depending on when you used it will contribute to how many Hype Points you get.
One minor feature of the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl was the ability to decorate your balls. The Pokeballs where you keep your Pokemon could be decorated with stickers, so when your Pokemon came out of its Pokeball, it would rain confetti or fireworks or whatever combination of stickers you put together. This will be a feature measured in the Super Contest Show during the Visual Evaluation along with the quality of your Pokemon. I can’t say I played much of the Super Contest in gen 4 because the Dance competition was just one layer too many from gen 3’s Pokemon Contest, but this streamlined iteration of the Super Contest seems like it could be easier to digest. I hope to bring the coolest Magikarp straight through to the Master Cup.
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh Underground Rework
The Sinnoh Underground was the main feature I was looking forward to in the upcoming remakes, mainly because of all the things you could do along with your friends. In the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, the Underground was a large sprawling maze that you could access from anywhere above ground with the Explore Kit. While underground, you could excavate an unlimited amount of times, earning evolution stones, shards, Arceus plates, fossils, and coloured spheres, among other items. Peppered throughout the Underground were hikers who would trade with you for the coloured spheres you’ve collected.
Another big feature that made a return from gen 3 was Secret Bases, though you could only set them up in the Sinnoh Underground, you could have it anywhere you wanted. You could decorate your Secret Base with decorative items that you could earn from NPCs or by trading with the Hikers in the Underground area. Aside from those two major aspects, the Sinnoh Underground was also the first time you and your local friends could connect and see each other run around. If you found your friend’s Secret Base you could take the flag that is stationed in each base and upon returning it to yours, your Flag Retrieval ranking increases. This Flag Retrieval mechanic came with its own bonuses and gameplay quirks.
In Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, we expected this core feature to return and I am happy to say it sure has. It is now referred to as the Grand Underground and not only can you excavate for fossils and coloured spheres but you can now find Pokemon Statues which are used to decorate your Secret Base. One major new feature of the Grand Underground is Pokemon Hideaways, pockets of areas you can stumble into that have specific Pokemon show up based on the type of hideaway. There seem to be Ice, Fire, Rocky, etc type Pokemon Hideaways so far, and the Pokemon Statues that you excavate and place in your Secret Base increase the odds of certain types of Pokemon.
The Grand Underground also allows you to connect with your friends online instead of being restricted to local communication only which is great considering parts of the world are still locked down. I think this is the feature I am looking forward to most, as I always enjoy aspects that are more dynamic, and Pokemon overall has moved away from what dynamic experience it used to be. The ability to be able to find a variety of random Pokemon with random excavations and the like will surely not entertain me forever, but we aren’t expecting much in the way of a Battle Resort so you get what you get.
Final Thoughts for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
From what we can see on the overworld map provided, nothing that looks like Pokemon Platinum will be included in these remakes and that is honestly a bummer. This is because Pokemon Platinum, much like Pokemon Emerald, included many reworks and additions that extended the gameplay for some by tens of hours. This was mainly due to the Battle Frontier, which was a large theme park-like area that had many different battle houses with unique rules that defined the experience of each of them. Both Pokemon Emerald and Pokemon Platinum included this type of area, and for whatever reason, the remakes Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire did not include it, while it looks like Brilliant Diamond, and Shining Pearl will also not include it.
I still have questions that might across as an obsessive fan but I need answers dagnabit, like why was the Poketch, an integral tool for a trainer not shown off despite the protagonists wearing it in the trailer’s battles? According to the Sinnoh world map, we can see that the Global Trade Station in Jubilife City is as it were in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, but in Platinum, the building was changed to the Global Terminal with more functionality. Does this mean that the GTS will function like it did in the original games? If so, does that mean we will be able to deposit and search for specific Pokemon, a main feature in the paid app Pokemon Home? I imagine if we got that feature back (a feature that has been removed for a couple of generations now) it would cut into the revenue of Pokemon Home, so I am curious what function will the seemingly basic variation of the GTS will offer.
Speaking of trading, the GTS was important because it allowed players who didn’t have friends to trade with to complete their Pokedex. Game Freak still does that annoying trend of releasing two identical games with slightly adjusted available Pokemon, forcing you to have to trade in order to finish one aspect of the game. This feels like such an outdated and lame mechanic that I can’t believe they still do it. I understand for the sake of Pokemon remakes that they are able to capitalize on it, but why not release the same style of the remakes but for Pokemon Platinum instead? It’s really just a cash grab at this point, but with the upcoming Pokemon Legends: Arceus I feel like this will become a series that will stand alongside the main Pokemon games and will appease a different group of fans, possibly the older crowd. But who knows.
One aspect of these remakes I am noticing is that some features from the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl that stood alone, now are interlaced with other game mechanics. The Capsule Decorating was originally just a feature, but now it ties in with Super Contests. Digging for coloured spheres allowed you to trade for Secret Base items with Hikers, but now you can excavate statues that affect your odds in the new Pokemon Hideaways making Excavating have more than just a minor use. It hasn’t been confirmed yet but my guess is the Pokemon following you will find you items, much as the Amity Square Pokemon did. This would make sense because in Pokemon Sword and Shield random items were generated on the ground daily and you would quickly fill your bag up just by running around. Being able to acquire some amount of items from your Pokemon would make sense, but I am curious just how much deeper that mechanic will go when compared with Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver.