There’s a saying that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It works well for the Fast and Furious movies, and it’s much the same for Pokémon games – but that doesn’t mean Pokémon Shining Pearl or Brilliant Diamond are any less fun.
Pokémon Shining Pearl and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond have just released on the Nintendo Switch, acting as a 3D remaster of the original Nintendo DS games that released back in 2006, and they act perfectly as a “my first Pokémon” for young fans of the series. However, if you played either Pearl or Diamond back in 2006, then you already know what you’re in for.
Just like all Pokémon games, you start with a quick and simple character creator before picking your starter Pokémon, with options being Chimchar the fire monkey, Piplup the water penguin or Turtwig the grass turtle (of course we picked Turtwig and named him after the best Ninja Turtle, Raphael). From here you set out on an adventure to battle gym leaders, train your Pokémon and become the very best, like no one ever was (cue iconic Pokémon TV theme song).
Besides Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond being great first stepping stones into the world of video games (and the digital Pokémon world, not to be confused with Digimon, the digital monsters), the combat mechanics work as a great introduction to Final Fantasy styled games too. Just like in the TV show and the trading card game, players take turns commanding their Pokémon to attack, intimidate and defend against either wild Pokémon or Pokémon trainers.
“Graphically, well obviously it’s a night and day difference between the DS version and the Switch version.”
That’s where the challenge comes in, as you need to know what your Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses are, on top of what those of your opponents are. Fire is weak to water, while water is weak to grass and electricity. Thankfully the game doesn’t throw all of this at you at once, as you slowly learn this mechanic. You begin with your starter Pokémon, and when going up against a gym leader, they’ll have a certain Pokémon type they’ll use. From there, you’ll want to capture and train wild Pokémon and level them up to give yourself a well-rounded team ready for any challenge.
For example, if you’re a fan of fire type Pokémon and you’re carrying six fire Pokémon on you, you’ll be dominated when going up against water-based enemies. Thankfully though, your Pokémon doesn’t just know electric or rock attacks, but standard abilities too (tackle, quick attack, bite, scratch) that’ll help when you’re going up against an enemy that’ll brush off your elemental attacks.
Graphically, well obviously it’s a night and day difference between the DS version and the Switch version. While it’s not as visually stunning as, or a break from the mould as Pokémon Sword/Shield, it does look a little similar to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So, you won’t see Pokémon walking through tall grass like you can in Sword/Shield. Simply put, Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond are just graphically updated games with Animal Crossing-styled graphics for the traversal portions of the game.
Just like all Pokémon games there is a bit of a grind here, which will likely keep little ones entertained, but may not keep older audiences glued to the screen. You’ll need to level up and, in some instances, evolve your Pokémon in order to keep progressing with the story. If you’ve found yourself stuck at a gym leader, but you don’t have the required types of Pokémon to effectively battle him/her, then you’ll need to do some farming. Not only will you need to backtrack to some areas to find the relevant Pokémon, you’ll then need to spend time levelling them up in battles, and running back and forth between Pokémon centres to heal them.
So, if you played Pokémon Diamond or Pearl in 2006 (or since then) there may not be a compelling reason to return to it now. Still, while the latest Pokémon games like Pokémon Sword/Shield (or the upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus) have shown how far the series has come since Red and Blue released in 1996, these newer entries aren’t overly accessible for younger players. That’s where Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond come in! Their cute, simplistic graphics are suitable for anyone, and when combat starts, it looks like it’s been pulled from 1998’s Pokémon Stadium (we need a remake of that!). If you’re a Pokémon master, but haven’t ventured into the Sinnoh region, then you’ve got a fun adventure ahead.
Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond are available now on Switch.