GeekDad First Look: ‘Pokémon Brilliant Diamond’ and ‘Pokémon Shining Pearl’

With Metroid Dread currently making sure that my Halloween season is appropriately frightful—I’ve already been mercilessly killed by EMMIs so many times, y’all—I’m now looking forward to the quiet, thankful month of November. More specifically, I’m looking forward to the arrival of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl on the Nintendo Switch.

Last week, Nintendo of America was kind enough to give me a sneak peek at what these new takes on the DS classics have to offer, and suffice it to say I simply cannot wait to return to the Sinnoh region.

Don’t let the chibi graphics fool you; things can get rough on the mean streets of Hearthome City. image: NOA, TPCI

From all indications, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl seem to walk a delicate line between faithful recreation and modern reinvention. While the overall feel of the titles is much the same as the 2007 originals, the modern graphical upgrade alone dispels any notion that these are quaint retro games.

I was immediately taken aback by how much visual depth the overworld seems to provide, complete with shadows cast by passing clouds. Like 2019’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening before it, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl keep the squat, chibi-style of the original sprites, but unlike Link, your player character (not to mention all your Pokémon) is rendered in a more realistically proportioned, fully 3D-modeled view in the battle screen.

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You can access the same 3D models used in battle (not to mention their related sounds, movement animations, and size information) via your Pokédex. image: NOA, TPCI

Like the other more modern Pokémon titles, Poké Balls are mapped to the X button for easy access, and this is far from the only quality-of-life improvement. Move effectiveness indicators also make a return, and a permanent EXP Share feature assures that your entire party can scale together.

Longtime Pokémon fans will surely appreciate the ability to access your storage boxes on the fly, and players young and old will benefit from Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl‘s optional autosave slot. In fact, the entire menu system has been tweaked to make it more palatable for modern audiences, doing away with much of the cycling through nested menus that typified the early Pokémon experience.

Super Contests are back to help you hone your Cuteness. image: NOA, TPCI

Returning aspects, like stat-boosting Poffins and Super Contest showcases, mingle nicely alongside wonderfully updated idle animations and an overworld that teems with life. And your fully-featured map will not only tell you where you’re headed and where you’ve been, it’ll even highlight helpful berries and interactive honey trees along the way.

Much of my preview session was devoted to vibrant Hearthome City, home of Amity Square, wherein you can run and play or just relax with your party Pokémon. The biggest upgrade, however, was easily the Grand Underground, a new take on the subterranean depths of the Sinnoh region. Here you can mine for treasures, discover diverse Pokémon Hideaway environments, and even build your own Secret Base.

Deck out your Secret Base with Pokémon statues. image: NOA, TPCI

But that’s just a taste of what Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl have to offer! Why, I haven’t even touched on your handy Pokétch smartwatch—which includes a step counter, memo pad, and its own calculator—or the return of Generation IV’s Ball Capsules, which can be decorated with unlockable stickers.

In short, whether you’re looking to ply your Pocket Monsters with snacks, style your in-game avatar, or simply bask in the glory of a beautifully modeled Pokédex, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl promise all of that and more when they hit store shelves next month, on November 19th.

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This post was last modified on October 12, 2021 12:57 pm


Z. is a proud father of two, Managing Editor of the GeekDad blog, a multiple Parsec award-winning podcaster, and a lover of nerd music and culture. At this moment, he is likely thinking about clothes or playing video games. Possibly both.

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