(And I guess Brilliant Diamond too)
I’ve spent about 40 hours with the recent remake, and whilst I haven’t done everything in the game, I’ve certainly done enough to warrant doing my review.
Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond are remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS Pokémon games, Pearl and Diamond. It also marks the first time in the long history of Pokémon that the games were not developed by Game Freak.
Overall, I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) my time with the game, but there is a lot that annoys me. As is the case with all recent Pokémon titles.
I really don’t like how much the game holds your hand every single step of the way. I have played these games since the very first one, which came out when I was 7 years old. I’m 31 now. I have played every single game in the series. I don’t need to be taught the basics of the game.
Even if I had never played a game before though, I can’t imagine needing my hand held so frequently and so tightly. I figured out Red Version when I was a child. I imagine if we gave children today the chance to figure out the games, they would be able to get there.
For me, part of the fun was teaching myself all about it. It saddens me that kids today don’t get that chance, because the game tells you what to do before you have so much as a second to think about it.
At one point, after a gym battle, I opened the menu to save the game. There was a big pop up text box that said “try leaving the gym”. Yes, thank you. I figured out that I had to leave the building. I figured that out all by myself! Is it really necessary to have that much instruction?
The game was insanely easy. With the exception of the Cynthia battle. Her Garchomp messed me up. It didn’t help that I wasn’t prepared for a Dragon Pokémon, but it was crazy strong regardless. That final fight took me almost 40 minutes.
I cheesed my way through it a little bit. Garchomp was one hitting everyone in my party. I was just switching out and reviving. I did this over and over (I used around 30 revives) until Garchomp ran out of moves. All he had left was Poison Jab, which didn’t effect my Magnezone. From this point I just had to wait for Cynthia to run out of Full Restores. I think she used 3. Maybe 4.
I also found myself agitated by the slowness of the game. Not in terms of pacing or advancement, but in terms of how long it took to do simple things, like a Pokémon battle.
The whole affection thing was the worst! When you add that with abilities, starting a fight can take upwards of 15 seconds. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to a lot of time over the course of a game, or even a single Pokémon battle. Every time a Pokémon is switched, you have to go over the abilities and the affection bonuses of everyone before you can do anything. I found it to be infuriating. I’ll probably break the “A” button before too long.
Actually, worse than the affection system is the stupid mining mini-game. I am so over it. All I want is a moonstone. I’ve spent hours mining now and am yet to come across a single one. What’s worse is I will need to continue this game, over and over again if I want to catch all of the legendary Pokémon that have been added to the game. I suspect it will be at least another 20 hours of just mining. I can think of better ways to waste my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still do it. I just won’t enjoy it.
The Poketch app has also made the transition from the DS to the Switch, but it was not a smooth transition. It is so slow and clunky to use, and you really notice that it was designed to be used with a second screen. As it stands, it’s just an awkwardly tacked on piece of equipment that is almost completely useless.
It’s not all bad though. When I get past the tedious nature of the game, it’s still the same old Pokémon that I’ve come to love over my life. There are also a lot of quality of life improvements that have been made. Some of them significantly speed up the game.
Being able to swap Pokémon from your party with a Pokémon in your box at any given time is very convenient. So is being able to access the global trading rooms from anywhere. It’s nice to not have to walk or fly back to a Pokémon centre.
Speaking of the Global Room, it’s really annoying that you can’t request a specific Pokémon when trading with a stranger online. It’s so annoying that you can’t just ask for what you need, you just have to keep offering Pokémon and hoping they offer what you wan’t back. Otherwise, you just have to cancel. And try again. And again. And again.
An auto save feature was probably long overdue, although I have disabled it for my game. It just makes me nervous. What if I miss a legendary and the game auto saves? I’d rather not take the chance.
As is often the case with Pokémon games, there is a decent amount of post game content that can be done after you are crowned the champion. There is Ramanas Park, where you can catch legendary Pokémon from previous generations (assuming you have done the stupid mining game enough). There is Battle Tower, which I haven’t visited yet. Also, all of the Gym Leaders are available to fight again, as are the Elite 4 and Cynthia.
I’ve decided to work on my Pokédex though. I have only ever completed a Pokédex once before and that was when there was only 150 Pokémon to get. This game has 493 different species of Pokémon, so I’ve got a lot of work to do. To make it harder, I’ve decided to work on a living Pokédex – which means I need to have all 493 Pokémon at one time. So I can’t just get a Bulbasaur and evolve it to tick all the boxes. I need a living Bulbasaur, Ivysaur and Venosaur.
It’s hard work, but it’s been a lot of fun as well. Fortunately I’m getting a lot of help from a friend/Pokémon Master, which makes the whole thing a lot easier and a lot more fun!
Actually, it’s not too hard. The only difficult thing is mining for evolution stones. It’s so tedious and I hate it. I enjoy hatching the eggs and evolving the Pokémon though. And it’s very satisfying to flick through boxes that are filled to the brim and in numerical order!
Lastly, it’s been reported that the game has a lot of glitches. I haven’t come across any though, so I can’t complain. Actually, I had one weird thing happen but it didn’t effect the game at all. I don’t even know if it was a glitch or not. Check out my tweet and see if you know what it is!
I think that’s about all! All in all, I really enjoyed this game and I can definitely recommend checking it out. It is very welcoming to new fans, but there is enough familiar about it to satisfy the old heads. As much as we complain, we always keep coming back!