The Pokémon Company has marketed Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as mostly faithful remakes of the original Nintendo DS titles, bringing what Diamond and Pearl did in 2006 to a modern audience on the Nintendo Switch. However, this doesn’t mean that every piece of content included in the remakes is a direct one-to-one translation from the originals.
The developers at ILCA worked closely with TPC and Game Freak to ensure that many outdated features would be replaced, quality of life improvements would be added, and specific areas of the game got the necessary attention they needed to make a successful return.
Striking that perfect balance between retaining the nostalgic spirit of an original game while also improving it across the board is tough for teams working on remakes. In the past, fans have criticized Game Freak for making too many drastic changes in certain titles, such as the generation three remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which released on 3DS in November 2014.
ILCA took a conservative approach with the story, gameplay, and feel of BDSP itself. But even once you look beyond the shiny and polarizing new chibi graphics, some of the most special aspects of these remakes seem to be seen in the intricacies made to very specific areas of the Sinnoh region. Here are just a few key differences that make the remakes stand out from the original Diamond and Pearl.
Updated graphics and movement
At a glance, the biggest change would obviously be the new graphics. ILCA has taken the original looks of Diamond and Pearl and translated them directly into a more modern, 3D style that still retains the general approach of those early DS Pokémon games.
Some of the Pokémon themselves have even had their 3D models or various other aspects of their appearance changed to more closely resemble how they appeared in the original games, whether that be idle animations or simply how they are sitting.
Outside of the HD models, textures, and animations, players will also be able to explore Sinnoh with a much less restrictive control scheme, moving freely off of a tethered axis as long as the area around them allows it.
Pokémon following you (kinda?)
One of the most beloved features ever introduced is the ability for the Pokémon leading your party to follow you while you traverse around the world of Pokémon. However, this feature isn’t entirely new to Sinnoh.
Some fans may have missed it in the original Diamond and Pearl, but in Hearthome City, players could visit Amnity Square and walk around the special area with a select number of Pokémon. This number was limited to just 11 of the available 493 Pokémon included in the National Pokédex at the time, but it was the start of the following feature that would be expanded upon in Platinum and later added in full to HeartGold and SoulSilver a full four years after DP launched.
In BDSP, players can not only have their Pokémon follow them around all of Sinnoh, but the feature will actually have several other functions too, such as playing a role in quickly increasing their happiness/affection/friendship stat—whichever one it is being called in this version, since it has changed slightly throughout the years.
Using this will increase the speed at which you can increase those friendship values, which will lead to a faster route to getting the bonuses that come with it. These include the usual extra animations, chance to survive knockout blows, increased experience, and more—with all of the added text boxes that slow down battles too.
Amity Square has even been updated to accommodate this feature too, so get ready for a lot of quality time with your team of choice.
Removing HMs and revamping TMs
ILCA did something a little odd in BDSP to try and stay true to the originals in that Technical Machines (TMs) have now become single-use items used to teach Pokémon moves again.
Sword and Shield partially did this through the use of Technical Records (TRs) that served the same purpose, but there were still TMs that could be used as many times as a player wanted to. Now, the feature has reverted to how it was in 2006, with a few slight differences.
As demonstrated in multiple trailers, HMs have not made a full return. Instead, players will use an app on their Pokétch which will allow their Pokémon to utilize the handy moves as they traverse Sinnoh. All of the HMs from Diamond and Pearl have been converted into normal TMs for use in battle too.
Expanding the Underground
The Underground is a sometimes overlooked feature of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, sending players into an area underneath Sinnoh that spanned the entire region.
Once inside the Underground, players could explore and dig for items, build bases, play minigames with other players, exchange Spheres for other items, and much more. BDSP has expanded on that, turning the Underground into the Grand Underground.
The Grand Underground has six areas compared to the original’s four segments and utilizes full online play for many of its features rather than wireless connections and the DS linkup. It still includes many of the standard features like excavation, Secret Bases, and the like, but now, players will be able to encounter Pokémon in the Underground too.
Pokémon can be discovered in areas called Pokémon Hideaways, which will have different natural biomes and contain several species that can only be found in those locations. This is where the original trailers showed players encountering rare Pokémon that couldn’t be found in Diamond and Pearl normally, such as Houndour.
Because Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of games from 2006, a lot of quality of life features for general gameplay, post-game content, and more have also been added.
When playing, you can expect BDSP to provide a faithful opportunity for fans of the Pokémon franchise or new players to enjoy an adventure in the Sinnoh region, regardless of if it is your first time visiting or a nostalgic trip back to memories from years gone by.