Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review: Worth revisiting?

Nintendo /

Title: Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy
Developer: ILCA
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on)
Release Date: November 19, 2021

So…it’s come to this. Before me lies a dilemma that everyone of any fandom must one day go through. It’s that moment when Doctor Who fans have to accept that many of the episodes of any season in the show’s 50+ aren’t great. It’s that moment when a fan of local sports moves to Cleveland and has to deal with what they got available. It’s that moment when Green Day fans had to deal with their political album and Blink 182 fans had to deal with…alien sightings. There comes a time in any fandom where you have to realize that if you like something, you also have to accept when it’s not great, instead of just rolling with the punch and pretending your beloved franchise, team, country, band, etc is letting you down.

This is that moment for me and Pokemon. See, I own both Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl, and, listen, it’s not great. And I want you to know that if you played the game and you’re a long-time Pokemon fan like me, it’s perfectly okay to accept that sometimes bad things will happen.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the original Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl. It wasn’t made by The Pokemon Company, but rather a company called ILCA who’s other main title is Pokemon Home. The program allows you to transfer Pokemon from one game to the other. And the fact that ILCA has made both but are not compatible is a sign.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is a faithful remake of Diamond and Pearl. And that’s about it. This is a game that takes every map, every piece of dialogue, every moment and recreates them with a different visual style. There’s some new end game content and a few quality of life features. But beyond that, this is the same game.

This is a very “for better or worse” type deal because the old Pokemon games were a slog. While they were really fun back in the day, it was mostly because we were making do with limited technology and we just had never experienced how good games could really be yet.

I put together a couple of quick moments from scenes so you can see how these characters move. The NPCs cannot move on diagonals so it equates to many moments in which a character is zig-zagging and turning in place. They also can’t turn their heads or emote beyond the image file on their face changing to a different one which in 2021 is weird to see.

When the game was pixelated, moments like this would be just fine. We were at a point where we were filling in a lot of gaps with our imagination; but, not only is this game devoid of detail, it constantly zooms in on the character as it really want us to focus on the extreme lack of detail.

The battles are a little better. When you get into a battle with someone you go through a series of transitions that almost seem like the characters fighting to get themselves into something better looking.

You got from your weird Funko Pop-looking characters to sliding jpegs of the characters to, finally, a moving three-dimensional model with surprising detail — especially after you’ve been looking at the rest of the game. It’s like turning on the lights at three in the morning. You can see the transition here as Gardenia, one of my favorite gym leaders of all time, goes through the metamorphosis into a real human.

It’s not all bad. Quality of life features like adding the HMs to your watch so you can use them without having to turn a Pokemon into an HM mule is a beautiful thing that I was genuinely worried about. And the watch still has all the various features you never used in the first place like the memo pad, the health meters, and, of course, the calculator.

PokeTch /

The battles still work exactly like how you’d want one based off an older game to work though, while the animation is pretty, it’s also stuck in a camera angle meant to replicate the original games which is a shame though because you can tell they went ahead and animated your trainer but you can only see it if it happens to wave a hand far enough where it gets on screen.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the worst Pokemon game. It’s still as playable as the original. But it’s just so slow-moving and slow boring that servers as an example to my kids as to what Pokemon games used to be like and why they should really be thankful for what they have.

If you never played the original, it’s worth taking a look at, mostly so you can see what happened in the game and experience Team Galactic before Pokemon Legends Arceus shows up and references them constantly. But if you’ve already played this game in the past — unless you really miss Starly’s, the best of the basic bird Pokemon — there’s really no reason to play this game as it just takes literally everything you remember and turns them into a lifeless facsimile.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (Nintendo Switch) Score: 6.5

Everything genuinely good about this game exists mostly because the original Diamond and Pearl games had a good story and interesting characters. This game takes all those and rehashes it only through the veil of basic 3D characters that have the mobility of Funko Pops. Boring textures and an almost purposeful lack of detail takes something that was originally served as a masterful dish and converts it into a repackaged microwaved TV dinner.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.