Pokemon Brilliant Diamond Review

Pokémon Diamond was my favourite childhood game for the Nintendo DS. As soon as Brilliant Diamond was announced for the Switch, I was overcome with nostalgia and flooded with memories of the hundreds of hours I used to put into the original game. Pokémon as a franchise is and always will be accepted in my heart for as long as I live, so naturally, I had high hopes that the remake was going to be fantastic.
Members of Team Galactic in the shadows.

From the Ground Up

Once I booted up the game and chose the name and look of my character, I was sucked back into a world I loved so much as a kid back in 2006. Everything about the game feels so familiar, including the chibi-style character models, the brilliant battle music and the updated designs of all the Generation 4 Pokémon I fell in love with so long ago. I would have preferred a little more content in terms of customisation for my character, similar to Pokémon Sword and Shield’s clothing and hairstyle options. Understandably, the developers seem like they wanted to keep the game feeling as close to the originals as possible, the latter also having few customisable options for characters.
Engaging in a Pokemon battle.

Gotta Go Fast!

Controlling my character in Brilliant Diamond feels smoother than in the original game, the latter only having four directions in which one can travel. Brilliant Diamond grants full omnidirectional movement, meaning players can use the Switch joysticks to travel in all directions possible. Before we set off on our adventure, the player’s mother grants us the running shoes that offer a substantial speed boost when exploring. Pulling on the joystick fully gives the player the maximum boost of speed, whereas using the directional pad feels more reminiscent of the original game’s four-directional limited movements.
Roark, the first Gym Leader the player faces.

Where’s The Rest of Them?

New players being introduced to the remakes who have never played the originals may be somewhat disappointed that the Pokédex is limited to Generation 4 and not overflowing with hundreds and hundreds of Pokémon from generations beyond. However, it makes sense to me that a remake of a 2006 classic doesn’t include Pokémon from 15 years later because these Pokemon never existed at the time until the developers decided otherwise, so don’t expect to see Sword and Shield’s teacup or ice cream Pokémon. It just feels so refreshing to not have to grind for countless hours to find and catch every Pokémon that ever existed.
Slacking off work for Pokemon battles.

The Design of Pokemon Battles

Choosing between Chimchar, Piplup and Turtwig was difficult, but Piplup was my starter for my first playthrough. Here’s a tip: Make sure you grind a few levels before your first rival battle. I found the fight to be pretty tough and had believed the original game was slightly easier, but I guess it’s been a while since I played it. Speaking of battles, the music sounds more modern and helps to intensify a battle, especially trainer battles where the music is rapid and pulsating. Attack animations are well designed, and the names of each move are represented accurately on-screen. For example, Bullet Seed is portrayed in machine-gun fashion, hitting targets in rapid-fire motions, whilst Rock Smash has the Pokémon summon an actual rock in front of their opponent and strike through it to cause damage.
I took all her money after this.

Check Out These Colours

The limitations of the Nintendo DS meant that the environment for the world of Pokemon could only portray so much detail. However, Brilliant Diamond attempts to flesh out its world and immerse the player deeper by adding fuller textures, improved water effects, additional animations for characters emotions and NPC’s reactions to battle outcomes. The lighting is gorgeous, especially when the day and night cycle rotates to the evening, where the sun begins to set and casts a warm orange light on the world and allows characters and objects to produce outstanding shadow effects.
Rewarded after a great battle.

Sharing Is Caring

Levelling up is the key to victory in Pokémon, and Brilliant Diamond manages to make the process of building a strong team less tedious than its predecessor. For example, when a battle is won, the player’s party will all share some experience rather than just the Pokemon used in the battle. Previously, the only way to gain experience for specific Pokemon was to switch them in battle or swap them in the menu screen so that the player uses said Pokémon first when initiating a fight. Any Pokémon not used in battle would, therefore, gain nothing as they had not participated. I feel like Brilliant Diamond has made a pleasing change towards levelling in the game, and for myself, it hasn’t ruined my experience.
Stood with my rival outside Roark’s Gym.

Let’s Go Deeper…

The Grand Underground can be made available when visiting Eterna City and has some unique changes that were not found in the original Nintendo DS games. For instance, players exploring the underground can discover Pokémon Hideaways, areas where wild Pokemon can be battled and caught. Most of the Pokémon I fought were around level 20, much higher than previously encountered Pokémon in Eterna Forest, making Hideaways good options to farm XP Points.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond is a fantastic entry in the franchise, bringing back a beloved generation of Pokémon to a modern audience. Its unique design choices are charming and re-establish a world of nostalgia for Game Freaks’ older audience, even whilst Game Freak weren’t the primary developers of the remakes.
Developer: ILCA
Publisher: The Pokémon Company
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 19th November 2021

Gaming Respawn’s copy of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond was provided by the publisher.

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