While I was all for the new direction that Nintendo took with Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, I could not help but feel that there was something missing in the games. There’s nothing like a good old top-down, gym after gym Pokemon game as you try and become the Pokemon Master while juggling saving the universe during your spare time. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond takes things back to its roots and while it may be a remake of the 2006 Nintendo DS game, there’s a lot of new content here to enjoy. So much so that the package feels like a whole new game and the visual makeover is a welcome addition to the series.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl showcase why we love the Pokemon video game series so much. It is those moments when you think you’re over levelled only to get destroyed by the Gym Leader’s final Pokemon or the random fights in the middle of the town between you and your rival. It also leans heavily on its sense of discovery as I slowly unlocked new HMs to only head back to a previous area and smash the rock in the way or surf across the lake to pick up an item I left behind.
The new content in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond also expands on this even more as I was left in awe while exploring the Great Underground or came face to face against my first Legendary Pokemon. These moments made Pokemon Brilliant Diamond feel so much more than a copy-and-paste remake. There’s also a lot of tweaks to the game’s core that makes this feel like a modern game. Shortcuts let me quickly jump on my bike and the XP share eliminates the majority of the grind.
Unfortunately, the XP share system can’t be disabled so those of you who do enjoy a grind might feel left out here. Personally, I found XP share to be an important factor in the game. While it means that all your Pokemon level up without even participating in the battle, the sheer size of this game makes the system feel important to progress through the activities at a decent pace.
I would have hated having to go and sit through mindless fights for hours every time I found a new Pokemon I wanted on my team. Now, I just put them in the back and before I knew it, they were levelled up. With that being said, I do think Nintendo should add a way to disable this and allow the player the freedom to choose whether they want it or not.
A big new feature in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond is the new Grand Underground. This sprawling cave spans the entirety of the Sinnoh region and holds quite a number of secrets. For starters, there are a bunch of rare Pokemon to be found in the area. Think of the Grand Underground as a giant world on its own. Here, I was able to walk across tunnels, mine for fossils and Pokemon statues and build a secret base where I could show off these statues.
The Grand Underground also plays host to a number of Pokemon Hideaways where, unlike the surface Pokemon hide in the grass, these Pokemon are walking about and often chased me down. I was surprised to see how many more powerful Pokemon lived in these hideaways. I caught a number of them while I was at it. There’s also a decent rate of uncommon Pokemon to find too. While there’s no real goal to the Grand Underground, besides mining for fossils, it did provide a decent break from the usual game.
The Super Contest Show, which debuted back in the original 2006 game is also back here and there are some changes to enjoy. There’s a new music rhythm game and your character can equip some cool outfits to take on stage with them. However, these outfits are also available as normal ones that you can wear around the world. The Super Contents Show still relies on choosing a Pokemon across a range of categories like beauty and coolness which are ranked up by feeding them treats carried around in the Poffin Case made using berries.
There have also been changes to the HM system in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond. Instead of being forced to teach a Pokemon Cut, Fly, Rock Smash etc, now you don’t need to. When I used a move that I did not have taught to a Pokemon, a replacement simply popped up and did the HM move for me. Bidoof, which I did not own climbed up walls and even smashed rocks. This is a lifesaver as I didn’t have to worry about carrying a Pokemon around just to use these moves.
Of course, this is also a traditional Pokemon game so the usual three-starter, gym fight and super badass group of bad guys are all packed into the game too. Like most previous Pokemon games, I had to choose from one of three starter Pokemon including Piplup, Turtwig and Chimchar. I then ventured through the Sinnoh collecting more Pokemon as I progressed through gym fights and the drama Team Galactic were stirring up.
It also helps that Pokemon Brilliant Diamond looks gorgeous and the world, people and Pokemon have been brought to life in a wonderful way. The people, for example, all feature a Chibi design to them in the world while in battles you see them as the visual tall human body. It works and while it looked strange at first, the Chibi characters grew on me.
The world of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond is identical to the original 2006 game. So the Pokemon that spawned across specific routes are now found in the same areas. The towns are identical too so you’ll feel right at home if you played the older games. For those who are new to either Pokemon Brilliant Diamond or Pokemon Shining Pearl, this will especially be a refreshing adventure for you to experience that is both equally new and modern at the same time.
As for the multiplayer, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond features the usual online modes you can expect from the game. I didn’t get to dive into many of them during the review program due to the servers being empty but you can trade with friends, battle them and even participate in some online battles. There’s also the Pokemon Brilliant Diamond Wonder Trade which is available through the Global Wonder Station in Jubilife City.
Then there’s the Pokemon Brilliant Diamond end-game content which mainly revolves around a place called Remanas Park. Here, players can discover slates that resonate with certain legendary Pokemon. These Pokemon are limited to specific types on each game depending on whether you’re playing Diamond or Pearl. While I finished the main story in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond, I wasn’t able to test the Remanas Park out enough to give you proper feedback on it. I will update this review once I have spent some quality time in the area. However, from what I did experience, there’s quite a chunk of good content to play through once you finish the main game.