Upcoming remakes to the first Nintendo DS Pokémon games, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl from ILCA are two of the biggest releases set for Nintendo’s holiday lineup. With just over a month until their expected release on November 19, we were allowed to go eyes-on the games in a preview event. We got a glimpse at what’s staying the same in these updated games and which modern conveniences are added to the Sinnoh adventure.
Our demonstration began with a look at the world, which remains faithful to the vision of the original Diamond and Pearl. The camera remains overhead, and the characters populating Sinnoh are presented in chibi models. However, everything has been remade with 3D models, with new textures and all, which we had known since the initial trailer some months ago. What is new about wandering the routes from town to town is the option to let one of your Pokémon companions stroll behind you at all times. It’s a cool feature from Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee and the Sword and Shield Isle of Armor DLC that I’m very happy to see return.
If you want more Pokémon from your party out and about, head to Amity Square. It’s a location that allows predetermined “cute” Pokémon to spread out around the park, causing a sort of hide-and-seek game to play out. Your monsters will find items around the area, and as you find each one, they’ll begin to follow you wherever you roam in Amity Square. With more than one member of your party at your side, the developers allow you to have a little bit of fun by adding a zoom function to the in-game camera so you can snap pictures with your partners. Bring all of your favorites (deemed cute by the Amity Square front desk attendant, of course) and make some memories.
Speaking of cute, the Pokémon Super Contest Shows return as well. Super Contests are a way to compete in different categories, including Cuteness, Toughness, Coolness, and more. You’ll play a simple rhythm game during the competitions and try to unleash a pre-chosen move from your Pokémon at the perfect time to wow the judges. You’ll also be able to see the fruits of your Ball Capsule customization. With Ball Capsules, you can add stickers to specific Pokéballs, creating unique animations and flourishes whenever you bring that Pokémon out. I saw a combination of flames and water effects applied to one of the Pokémon our demoist brought out. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will have over 90 of these stickers, and some can be earned by winning the Super Contest Shows.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl aren’t going to be completely faithful to the originals, as the remakes are bringing in some well-tested features from the most recent mainline games. First, Pokémon battles use the full 3D models you’d expect to see in Sword and Shield. Your trainer is also given a full-sized model so that you can show off your character’s outfits in battle. EXP Share is applied to all Pokémon in your party when a battle concludes. However, it was confirmed that it’s not a feature that can be turned off this time around. Other quality of life additions like autosaves and seeing move effectiveness on your attacks also return.
A big question going into these remakes was whether Hidden Machines made the cut since they’re in a very different state in the modern Pokémon games. This time around, winning Gym badges will unlock HM moves that can be used in the world, but you do not have to teach them to your Pokémon. Using an HM like Strength to move a boulder will make a wild Pokémon appear and use the move for you. It doesn’t really make sense, but I’ll take the convenience over wasting precious move slots. You can call on these helpful wild monsters using the new and improved Pokétch, the watch-like device from Diamond and Pearl, which is now more like a modern smartwatch. Apps on this new Pokétch include a step counter, Pokémon friend checker, a calculator, an item dowsing machine, and a drawing pad.
My favorite part of the demo was when we ventured into the Grand Underground, a massive subterranean map that compares in size to the above-ground region of Sinnoh. Down in these depths, trainers can excavate items from the cavern walls. Here is where you can sometimes find Pokémon statues, decorations that can be set in your Secret Base. These Secret Bases are special customizable rooms found in the Grand Underground. Depending on which Pokémon figures you decorate with will affect which Pokémon you can find and catch in larger Underground rooms called Hideaways. Use certain bug Pokémon statues? You’re more likely to find more bugs in the local Hideaway. A device at the front of your Secret Base will let you know how the Hideaways will be affected. Statue collection will be a big part of the Grand Underground experience and your overall Pokémon collection strategy. Some statues even come in rare Shiny versions that give a different effect from their standard counterpart.
My demo with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl was short, but as you can see, very informative of the overall package. From what I’ve seen, I’m very excited for these remakes and to get back to Sinnoh and check out all of these changes for myself.