Gotta love Pokémon fans. They’ll spend years asking for something, then complain the moment they get it.
Not that I don’t entirely disagree. These Gen 4 remakes certainly aren’t perfect. For every few things I like, there are a few more that I strongly dislike. Even still, I’d argue that these are the best Pokémon games we’ve gotten in a long while. They may not be all that we had hoped, but they’re far from as terrible as we had feared.
You know how a Pokémon story goes by now. You’re given a Pokémon and set off on a massive journey across Sinnoh to get all eight Gym badges, become the Champion, and catch every magical animal you can find! But when a group of actual terrorists show up (friendly reminder that they BOMBED a lake), it’s up to you for some reason to stop them and capture a literal god to make your pet.
If you’re looking for a game with a gripping narrative, you’d best look elsewhere. This is your standard Pokémon story, filled with forgettable characters, one-dimensional villains, and bland dialogue. It serves no purpose beyond giving the player a reason to go to different places to catch and fight more magical animals. You won’t hate it, nor will you love it.
The same cannot be said about the art style.
Unlike every other recent Pokémon game, this game goes full chibi mode. In the overworld, every character looks like one of those tiny chibified figures you would buy at an anime store. Hate that look? Sorry, but you’ll hate the look of this game.
Personally, I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it is a unique way to try and recreate the original cute sprites of the DS games. On the other, this style just does not work for many of the characters. Basically every Galactic Commander looks like butt in chibi mode.
It’s especially odd since the battle models forgo the chibi look. And all of those look amazing! They animate well and they perfectly bring the original sprites into 3D. I wish this was the whole game looked like!
There are a lot of other technical problems with this game. Certain areas are oddly blurry. Some others have terrible camera angles that make going through that area miserable. The camera movements in cutscenes feel entirely unnecessary and totally distracting.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t hate it all. I love how the environments look; they manage to capture the original games and bring them into the new style beautifully! The Pokémon models all look pretty good, too! Both in battle and in the overworld, both environment and the Pokémon within them look great!
The music is great, too! Gen 4 has some of my favorite music in the series, and the new version of those tracks are amazing! Upgrading from a DS sound card to what sounds like a full orchestra is incredible! In this manner, at least, this game tickled my nostalgia something fierce!
It’s easy to see why the visuals are so divisive. I can see why people would like the new art style. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just that it didn’t work for me. It has its strengths, like the environments and the music. But overall, I’m not super into the look of this remake.
Now, we come to the gameplay. Which is where most of my real problems can be found.
At its core, this is indeed a remake of Diamond and Pearl. It follows the standard Pokémon formula. Catch creatures, beat up trainers, get Gym Badges, explore world, beat up Champion and become the very best like no one ever was. Simple.
This is not a one-for-one remake, however. Trainers will often have different Pokémon than they had in the original. If they don’t, their Pokémon will have new moves. And some of these get really tricky. Cynthia straight-up uses meta-level item strategies to make your life a living hell! That’s right! This remake actually makes Cynthia even harder!
Unlike the rest of the game. Which they made stupid easy.
My biggest problem is the same issue Sword/Shield had: the EXP share. This distributes EXP throughout the entire party and you cannot turn it off. Thanks to this, your party will get over leveled super quickly. For example: by the time I got to the 7th Gym, which features Pokémon at the level 40 range, my entire team was level 47.
*Side note: I played through this whole game with Nuzlocke rules. Aside from a few unlucky critical hits, I never struggled. Not once did I need to grind and I barely needed to strategize to win outside of the Elite Four. The damn EXP share made this run a cakewalk. Nuzlocking this game was a huge letdown.*
The catch rate is a huge issue, too. Mainly in that I almost never failed! It didn’t seem to matter if I threw a regular Pokeball at a full-health wild Pokémon; it would just end up going in on the first try. This only got easier when I unlocked quick balls! Literally the only ones that made me work for it were the legendaries!
TMs are an issue, too. Sure, HMs are gone; now, you just need to tap your Poketch and the game will do the work for you. Unfortunately, the TMs are once again a limited resource. You’ll get multiple of them at once (at least when an NPC gives you TMs; find them in the wild and you’ll only get one), but it’s still a huge pain. Why would you make them limited again? Making them reusable was the best thing Gen 5 ever did!
There are also plenty of glitches in this game. Some of them are fine, like being able to skip the entire 7th gym by walking diagonally onto the leader’s platform. Others are infuriating, like the soft lock issue held in the same gym. Others still are just hilarious, like when Riley got stuck on an NPC and stopped following me around the Iron Islands; I found it quite hilarious when I got a Riolu egg from the air itself.
Now, this isn’t to say that every change they made was bad. Some of them were actually really good! The Underground, for example, is far better than it was in the original! It has far more content, and using it to unlock Spiritomb is far less painful than before. Other legendaries have been added, too, making the post-game legendary hunt a much more fulfilling experience. Other post-game content got added, making the game past the credits much more fulfilling than the last few Pokémon releases.
Not that the bar for that was very high.
I have mixed feelings on Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. I wouldn’t call it the worst remake ever. But I definitely found it to be disappointing in many ways. It’s a game that desperately needs adjusting in many ways. It could have been better, but it isn’t nearly as awful as some people are making it out to be.
Now, I need to come up with even harder Nuzlocke rules for this one. I need something to really make me sweat!