Pokémon Shining Pearl Review

Gaming
9

Amazing

Pokémon Shining Pearl

Developer: ILCA
Publisher:Nintendo
Platforms:Switch
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 – Available Here | $79.95 – Available Here

Overview

Pokémon has been on a path of evolution this prior generation. With the releases of Sword and Shield and Let’s Go!, it is obvious that Game Freak have shifted into a new gear, which have left some fans in the dark of that core experience they may be familiar with. Enter Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Being remakes of the 4th generation titles, these two titles look to offer updated visuals with a lot more of the same with a whole new developer. Is this formula still worthy of a fully priced release, or have we moved past that old style? Let’s find out. 

Story 

I think most know this narrative, or Pokémon fans will anyway. Based in the Sinnoh region, players are out to become a Pokémon master by conquering eight gyms that grant entry into the Pokémon league. Along your travels, you also encounter Team Galatic, who are out to completely recreate the current Universe, utilizing a few legendary Pokémon in order to succeed. It is up to the trainer to take them down and bring peace over the region, while still trekking along and gaining those badges while filling a Pokédex.  

For the remakes, the story is almost exactly the same, with no major changes outside of cutscene appearances. Sure, one could complain that more wouldn’t hurt on a system with greater possibilities, but for fans craving some nostalgia, this duo of titles still play out nicely, offering a good amount of post-game content after you finish the actual story. 

Gameplay 

Almost everything in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is shot for shot from the original titles. These games feel exactly like they did years ago, with minor improvements added that refine the experience for the Switch. The protagonist controls a bit easier this time around, with the ability to play with the D-Pad or the analog. The Pokétch is also back, but controls quite a bit differently this time around. Using the right shoulder button, players can activate the device – bringing up one of the many apps that still retain their touch-screen features. Sure, it was a lot more intuitive on the Nintendo DS, but it gets the job done here. 

Also updated are HMs and TMs. TMs are disposable yet again (as they were in the originals), but HMs now have a new take. Instead of HMs altogether, players are given TMs to teach Fly, Surf, and so on to their team. If you do not want to clog space, simply using the HM app on the Pokétch will allow a wild Pokémon to appear and perform the special move – which means more space for teammates you want to keep. It is an acceptable improvement that does enough to assist, without hindering the Diamond and Pearl you remember.  

Speaking of changes, the Experience Share is now on constantly, with no option yet to turn off. This does make training easier and eases the grind, but also takes away a lot of the exploration and repetition that veterans may crave.  Contests are back in bloom, but have also changed. Rather than dolling up your squad, these bouts revolve around a rhythm action portion, where the player utilizes capsule stickers and moves in order to get ahead of the competition. Out of all the additional content and tweaks, I favored the new contests the least, but most still are to enjoy what they have to offer as what is here is still decent enough. The Grand Underground now has is vast and feels a bit modernized, with new ways to capture starters, rare species, and so on. You may not love tapping away at those walls before, but there are a lot of statues and features to find within this section that players are sure to soak hours into. 

Pokémon has come a long way, but there is just something about going back to the roots of the franchise that makes these remakes special. From the random encounters in the grass, to the spontaneous trainer battles, there is a lot to appreciate here, and even more to be nostalgic for as not enough has changed to put off returning players. I was entering adulthood when Diamond and Pearl made its debut, and this may be the first remake of any title that simply made me giddy, simply reliving small moments that were more passive the first go-around. 

Visuals 

I know a lot of people will call these character models “chibi”, as they kind of are in the overworld. That said, it really fits as if you are going to upgrade the visual style on its own, this was the choice to make as those overworld sprites look great. Battles of course are a visual treat, and bring back a lot of what we saw within Pokémon Battle Revolution, but with far more polish and all new animations. The menus are also quite nice, streamlined for access – with available hints ready for those who may be a bit lost. One small hiccup is the overworld animations when a Pokémon is following. I don’t know what it was about this, but not one of the creatures seemed to be able to keep at the same pace as my own character, so I mostly kept that turned off as it just looked a bit awkward. 

Audio

As far as music goes, this is one of the best soundtracks in the franchise’s long history. Luckily, nothing was altered other than quality, bringing old tunes to life in a whole new way. I do think the cries take a bit longer to get used to, but there are even options to alter that if you please, as these developers tried to create something for everyone by including new and old.  

Overall

Years ago, I played Pokémon until I found myself burnt out, right as we entered the third generation of games. Diamond and Pearl are the titles that got me re-enthused with the franchise, and have managed to do it all over again by re-releasing at a time when Pokémon crosses into new territories that some of us “old-timers” feel weary to step. For most Pokémon fans, you don’t need a review to know if you will like either of these titles. It’s a pure Pokémon experience, with updated visuals and mechanics that streamline the adventure slightly, leaving enough meat on the bone so one can shiny hunt, breed, and train to their heart’s content. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the most true titles to date on the Switch, and the best way to stick your toe back in the water if you have been away for a while. 

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

Pokémon is back with two fantastic remakes that are sure to act as comfort food for newer and older fans alike.
9

Amazing

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