Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl should have chosen an aesthetic path

Pokemon the remakes are about as anticipated as the new titles featuring regions and their colorful cast of monsters. Fire Red Pokémon and Leaf green released in 2004, updating the original Kanto region games using the style of Ruby, Sapphire, and emerald. This established a model to be replicated by 2009 Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, as well as 2014 Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Shiny Diamond Pokémon and Shiny pearl are the first real remakes to really deviate from this idea.


While 2018 Pokémon Let’s go, Pikachu! and Let’s go, Eevee! also remade the original Kanto games in a unique style, they felt like spin-offs enjoying Pokémon GOafter the success of the mobile title. They also came out ahead of Generation 8’s official debut in Sword and Protect, which introduced the Galar region and a classic Pokemon updated adventure for the Switch hybrid console. Always, Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl – developped by Pokémon HOME creator ILCA rather than Game Freak – chose to be more “traditional” revivals of Sinnoh rather than updating it in the style of Sword and Protect.

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Many new features have been added to this year’s remakes, such as Pokemon tracking or revisions to the now Grand Underground. However, what perhaps garnered the most attention ahead of launch was Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearlThe aesthetic of, which is divided into a toy-like chibi style in the outside world and full-scale HD models during battle. Taking this approach has certainly yielded diamond and pearl remakes a flair of their own, but the project probably could have been stronger if he had chosen one of these paths and if he was really committed.

A more “traditional” remake of diamonds and pearls


The path that many fans of the franchise will undoubtedly take is a diamond and pearl remake in the vein of its predecessors. It’s easy to see where ILCA’s divided aesthetic comes from, as this style emulates the division between tile-based overworld sprites and battle pixel art detailed in the original games. However, before Pokemon remakes have chosen to innovate on the styles of their source materials rather than reproducing them so faithfully.

Fire Red Pokémon and Leaf green, as good as HeartGold and SoulSilver, are obvious examples largely due to the technical limitations of the games they remade. Gen 1 and Gen 2 may be beloved, but the original Game Boy hardware retained their visuals (even though the handheld established an aesthetic of its own). Using the models of Ruby and Sapphire, then diamond and pearl, meant that the Kanto and Johto regions could come to life in a new way. The characters and locations have all been updated, and in many ways these remakes established modern conceptions of what their worlds looked like in hindsight.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a slightly different case, as they brought Ruby and Sapphire in the era of 3D forged by Pokémon X and Yes while redesigning Hoenn more drastically to match. The differences between redesigns of a character like Falkner in Gold and HeartGold against Roxanne in Ruby and Omega Ruby are austere, and the same can be said for places like Mauville City. Regardless, the classically styled Gen 2 remakes and more drastic Gen 3 remakes have both managed to update their source materials to contemporary standards. Pokemon adventures.

Battles in Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl offer a glimpse of what full HeartGold and SoulSilver-Style reimaginations of the Sinnoh region games might have looked like. The trainer models are updated beautifully in HD based on their appearances solidified from DS pixel art, and the way they express themselves before and after a battle is compelling. Special kudos go to the various battle environments based on almost any indoor and outdoor location which all maintain a warm, painterly style contrasting with the abstract battlefields of the original DS games. Many of them have Mount Coronet looming in the distance, a reminder of the area’s most important landmark. One could easily imagine this aesthetic reproduced on the scale of the Galar overworld; a Sinnoh that looks more natural and realistic to walk around.

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A charming remake of toy-like diamonds and pearls


That being said, there’s not much fundamentally wrong with the idea of ​​creating a more toy-like overworld that stays true to Sinnoh’s original vision. When it comes to revamping older games, the 2019 success Link’s Awakening shows that this is a compelling idea. Fans can, in a sense, have their cake and eat it too: explore a Sinnoh that’s familiar to their childhood memories without the same performance issues.

Although Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl have their own share of bugs, what really holding them back is a lack of commitment to this potentially unique remake idea. If ILCA had dug the heels and only worked on a toy box version of diamond and pearl – the one that may have been offered at a discounted price of $ 40 – some issues people have with the chibi aesthetic, such as lack of expression on models or grid-based movements on stilts, could have been corrected.

When it comes to battles, the switch to HD characters reproduces the more complex pixel art of the originals, but it’s a bit more shocking to transition between the two styles in Brilliant diamond and Shiny pearl. Maybe these remakes could have taken a page of Let’s go, Pikachu! and Eevee! by turning battles into their own kind of toy-based brawls – something reminiscent of the Pokemon rumble series which recently saw its developer Ambrella disbanded.

A complete HD reimagining of diamond and pearl or a cutesy, experimental (and cheaper) return to Sinnoh as an aperitif for Pokémon Legends: Arceus could have worked just as well. The approach ILCA takes is good, but none of its aesthetic styles really get a chance to shine because they don’t get all the attention they need. It’s all the more unfortunate given that games are one of Nintendo’s big holiday releases in the same year that its Switch OLED model released. On the bright side, now that The Pokemon Company has shown its willingness to outsource core titles to developers outside of Game Freak, there is potential for Pokemon Black and White do something more radical like Dragon Quest 3the next HD-2D style remake.

Shiny Diamond Pokémon and Shiny pearl are available now on Nintendo Switch.

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