Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 12/09/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
I’m generally a huge fan of Pokemon, but Gen IV has a special place in my heart. I’ve been playing Pokemon since Red and Blue, but I skipped Gen III; that was when I went through my unfortunate “I’m too cool for Pokemon” phase in middle school. When I got over myself in my freshman year of high school, it was Pearl Version that got me back into Pokemon. When The Pokemon Company finally announced that Diamond and Pearl were getting remakes on Switch, I was pumped. Unfortunately, this is a somewhat flawed remake, but despite the bugs and issues, I’ve had a ton of fun with it.
One of the stylistic choices made for the game that’s been a point of contention with the Pokemon fandom is the shift back to a 2D perspective. Personally, I was somewhat disappointed that the developers opted for a 2D perspective rather than refining the 3D perspective from Sword and Shield, but just because I’m not personally fond of a stylistic choice doesn’t make it bad. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look fantastic. Personal preference doesn’t affect quality. It runs really well, too…for the most part. The ball decorations return allowing you to add visual effects that trigger when you send your Pokemon out into battle. I managed to put enough smoke and flame effects on my Infernape’s PokeBall to make the frame rate plummet from an otherwise fairly stable 30 fps to a *maybe* 10 fps. Granted, I had to try intentionally to make the frame rate drop, but it’s worth mentioning. If you don’t try to crash the frame rate, it runs well; I didn’t notice any frame rate drops in normal gameplay, and I never had an instance of the game crashing.
It must be said, however, that this is, at least from my personal experience, the buggiest Pokemon game thus far. It must be noted first off that my experience is all after downloading and installing a 3 GB day one patch. Even after a patch this large, I encountered a lot of issues with randomly missing sound effects. Like, I’d be in the middle of a battle, and an attack would just be randomly silent; or I’d be in the Grand Underground, and all of my pickaxe swings would be randomly silent. It doesn’t ruin the gameplay or anything, but it’s definitely jarring and immersion-breaking, and it’s something that really shouldn’t have made it past QA. Most of it seems to have been fixed with a subsequent update, but I still encounter the occasional instance of it in the Underground. That’s the only major bug I’ve noticed in my gameplay, though, and I’ve put over 70 hours in thus far.
Some of the discontent I’ve seen in the community with the game is the lack of up-to-date national Pokedex. I can kind of see both sides. On the one hand, this is a remake of a Gen IV game, so of course, it only goes up through Gen IV; on the other hand, the Gen I remakes on GBA, the Gen II remakes on DS, and the Gen III remakes on 3DS all had support for all Pokemon that had been released in games up to that date. The aspect of the game that I think is a legitimate criticism, however, isn’t about the Pokedex but about online features. The Global Trading Station – a major feature in the original release of Diamond and Pearl – isn’t going to be functional until a later date in 2022. Integration with Pokemon Home also isn’t coming until some undefined date in 2022, and that one is especially big in my eyes since Home was touted as a central hub for your Pokemon across multiple games. The fact that they’re planning support but haven’t implemented that is just a pain for players who want to bring supported Pokemon over or fill in gaps in a living Pokedex. It’s not a game-breaker, but it’s definitely a massive disappointment. I would like to say that it’s because the Pokemon Company outsourced this remake (a mistake, in my opinion), but I know that it’s likely that there would have been a delay between the game’s release and the Home connectivity regardless.
There are a lot of People hating on Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and while it certainly has its issues, I absolutely think these are worthwhile games for Pokemon fans and great remakes. Sure, the difficulty is a little low, but the gym leader and Elite Four rematches are legitimately difficult battles. The Underground is fantastic now with a ton of Pokemon that aren’t in the Sinnoh dex appearing after you unlock the national Pokedex. In the same vein, most of the non-Sinnoh legendaries up through Gen IV are available after you unlock the national dex. It’s not a perfect Pokemon game, but it should fully satisfy any fan of Diamond and Pearl, and it’s an excellent entry for Switch that honestly addresses a lot of the complaints that people had about Sword and Shield. Between the casual Let’s Go games, the 3D Gen VIII games, and the 2D Gen IV remakes, there’s now a Pokemon game for everyone on Switch.