Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl review: Un-bucking convention

<em>Pokémon Brilliant Diamond</em> and <em>Shining Pearl</em> come with big visual upgrades over the 2007 Nintendo DS originals, but as remakes go they don't deviate much from the source material.

Enlarge / Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl come with big visual upgrades over the 2007 Nintendo DS originals, but as remakes go they don’t deviate much from the source material. (credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield may have disappointed some of the series’ most devoted fans with their truncated Pokédexes, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt them much with the game-buying public. The two titles are, collectively, the fifth best-selling game in the Switch’s history, trailing only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Switch iterations of Smash Bros. and Animal Crossing, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They’re the best-selling Pokémon games since Pokémon Gold and Silver were released at the height of late-’90s/early-’00s Pokémania over two decades ago.

Part of Sword‘s and Shield‘s appeal, as we explored a bit in our review, was that they used the Switch’s extra hardware power to create a truly console-sized adventure, crafting a world with an impressive sense of scale and the series’ first free-roaming overworld areas. There were still some weird quirks—story cutscenes with mouth movements but no actual spoken dialogue come to mind—but it felt like the series had finally broken free of some of the conventions it had been leaning on since the earliest Game Boy entries.

In that context, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl can’t help but feel like a bit of a letdown. The games are faithful to their source material, but that source material is a pair of games released on the original Nintendo DS in 2007, and both the originals and the remakes hew much more closely to the series’ Game Boy roots. It’s not that there aren’t improvements—it’s just that, even relative to other Pokémon remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl feel inessential.

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