It’s all the time troublesome to know simply how a lot of a recreation to alter if you’re remaking it, and that’s actually true relating to the insanely-popular Pokémon sequence. Go too far, and also you threat alienating the viewers, as was evident with the pleasurable however considerably simplified Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee Change remakes of the unique Pokémon Purple and Blue. For those who handle to mix the weather which have superior the method within the years since, although, you may create a number of the best possible video games within the franchise, as was the case with HeartGold and SoulSilver on DS. Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl fall someplace within the center; a pair of titles that provides an incredible alternative to choose up a number of the Sinnoh Dex that’s lacking from the present mainline Sword and Protect video games, however finally an journey you in all probability received’t return to when you’re finished.
There’s an odd feeling of obligation to those remakes. Technology 1, 2 and three have all obtained stellar reimaginings, and Technology 4 felt just like the odd one out. Nonetheless, as an alternative of a Sport Freak-helmed remake and love letter to the era, ILCA, the studio dealing with Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl, has modified the artwork model for the more severe and failed to incorporate many parts from the era’s finest recreation, Pokémon Platinum.
Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl function a 3D ‘Chibi’ artwork model for his or her overworld, making all characters appear like impassive Funko Pops, and it was an actual mistake. Whereas battles have arguably by no means regarded higher – with some unbelievable arenas and backgrounds in your Pokemon to compete in – the overworld appears to be like low-cost as compared. It additionally robs some NPCs – who have been intimidating and critical within the unique 2D video games – of their tone fully. Why ought to we take this massive antagonist severely when he appears to be like simply as (un)threatening as another coach?
Each character you battle has a full-sized mannequin resembling the model adopted in Sword and Protect, they usually uniformly look so a lot better than the Chibi, toy-like fashions that cowl the overworld. This actually makes us want that they’d retained the overworld scale of the earlier Nintendo Change video games, quite than try to move the squat 2D sprites of the unique recreation right into a full-3D world.
Whereas the artwork model underwhelms, the music, nonetheless, is superb. The Sinnoh video games have been dwelling to a number of the finest themes in Pokémon historical past, they usually’ve been lovingly remastered right here. There’s an incredible ambiance to the whole area, you actually get the sense that it’s a lived-in atmosphere constructed across the imposing Mt. Coronet. In a wise transfer, throughout battles within the wild, you’ll usually see the shadow of Coronet looming within the background, making the battles really feel way more like they’re taking part in out on the planet, quite than in some cordoned-off space.
The core of the sport is identical because it was 15 years in the past. You’re travelling from city to city amassing badges and making an attempt to foil a plot to harness a Legendary Pokemon. For those who’re uninterested in that method, these video games will do nothing to sway you. Some good high quality of life modifications embrace the brand new HM system, which signifies that Surf, Fly and different strikes that have been relegated to the lone Bidoof in your get together at the moment are dealt with by… a Bidoof – however this time it’ll simply seem if you want it, and not take up a celebration slot.
In a extremely disappointing step again for the franchise, Pokémon not spawn within the overworld within the wild — as an alternative, it’s again to random battles within the grass if you’re strolling the roads of Sinnoh. We had actually hoped we’d gotten away from this antiquated system for good, however sadly not.
The place Pokemon do spawn within the overworld, nonetheless, is within the all-new ‘Grand Underground’. The Grand Underground is a reimagining of the identical system from the unique video games, whereby gamers might discover, mine for shards, and meet different gamers. In Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl, it’s been renovated with new biomes, which comprise roaming wild Pokemon. This not solely fixes an enormous downside in Technology 4 — the shortage of Hearth-type Pokemon — it additionally manages to incorporate a number of the Platinum Dex that has been omitted from the principle recreation.
There’s a slight difficulty, nonetheless: the levelling system feels considerably exploitable. As quickly as we gained entry to The Grand Underground, we started exploring its numerous biomes and got here throughout two uncommon Pokémon – nicely, ‘uncommon’ when you think about how early we have been within the recreation: Absol and Houndoom. These two highly effective ‘mon have been each simply sitting there, seven ranges larger than the remainder of our crew. We managed to catch them and, for the subsequent few gyms, we had fully damaged the extent curve.
Throw within the everlasting, non-removable EXP share and your crew will likely be completely stacked for the entire recreation. Nonetheless, that difficulty apart, the power to revisit The Grand Underground and hunt for brand spanking new Pokémon may be very pleasurable – particularly since they’re seen earlier than battling, avoiding the unbelievable annoyance of the random battles elsewhere in Sinnoh.
The sport runs nicely in each docked and undocked modes and appears very sharp on the shiny new Nintendo Change OLED Mannequin. It’s not pushing the boundaries of graphical constancy by any means, however all of the Pokémon fashions look good – even when their static animations are fairly lifeless. Strikes are properly animated, and loads of Pokémon have their very own distinctive animated signature assault. The frame-rate points that plagued Sword and Protect and the later DS titles are fortunately absent, making battling a clean expertise. The highest-down perspective additionally mitigates the pop-in problems with latest titles, as the world which the participant can see is mostly only some ft in any route.
These usually are not unhealthy Pokémon video games by any means — they’re nonetheless completely pleasurable — however having sampled all the Pokémon remakes, these are those that really feel probably the most caught prior to now. When HeartGold and SoulSilver got here out, they grew to become the definitive DS titles, and arguably the best video games within the sequence. Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl don’t really feel like they’ll make anyplace close to that stage of impression. We can also’t emphasize sufficient how a lot of a downgrade the Chibi artwork model is from the pixel artwork of the originals. Not solely does it make the video games feeler cheaper, it ruins the design of the sport’s predominant antagonist.
Whereas a number of the slower parts of the unique video games have been mounted, and The Grand Underground makes up for the comparatively weak Pokédex, Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl’s new artwork model and some different stumbles make this pair of video games a considerably disappointing retread of Technology 4. They’re additionally very clearly within the shadow of Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the upcoming open-world-like Pokemon recreation that has followers hoping it might take the sequence in thrilling new instructions past 20-year-old mechanics. If the remit of those remakes was to stay devoted to the unique Gen 4 pair, we want they’d additionally caught to the pixel-art aesthetic. Other than The Grand Underground – and the connectivity with the present video games within the sequence – there’s little or no purpose to play Pokémon Good Diamond and Shining Pearl over your unique DS copies.