With a month to go before Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl arrive on Nintendo Switch, the publisher revealed new gameplay footage, showing off some exciting new details about the Gen IV remakes. Beloved features return, but with some updates to keep things fresh. After all, it's been more than 15 years since players first explored the Sinnoh region.
First and foremost, the Great Marsh is back. This is Sinnoh's safari zone, and it still works much the same way. You pay your hard-earned Pokémon Dollars to enter, and you're given 30 Safari Balls to use. You also get bait to keep Pokémon from escaping, and you can hurl mud which makes them easier to catch. How rudely assaulting a creature makes them more agreeable to teaming up is beyond me, but let's not pull at that thread or the whole world of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl could unravel.
See the Great Marsh and more in this new gameplay video:
The Grand Underground makes a welcome return, too. This system of tunnels runs through the depths of Sinnoh, expanding as you progress through the game's story. Here, players can enjoy a mining minigame, where you dig for valuable items, such as evolutionary stones. Selling the items you don't want to keep is a very handy way of generating income, so be sure to mine often.
You can also make a base in the Grand Underground. You can decorate your secret refuge with cool Pokémon statues, but they do more than look good. They also affect which wild Pokémon appear in the Hideaways, new areas accessed via the subterranean world of Sinnoh. These isolated places are available in different biome forms, from lush meadows to arid deserts. Exactly which Pokémon can be found there is still a mystery at this time, but they look worth checking out.
Super Contests return. These events let trainers compete in a different way to the usual turn-based battle scenario we know and love. Instead, Pokémon will compete in a variety of minigames to prove they're the best in the Beauty, Cute, Cool, Smart or Tough category. As well as rounds based on aesthetic challenges, there's a rhythm game with adorable dancing. The whole thing is amazingly cute.
Poffins are back, too. To make them, you play a simple baking minigame. The aim is to stir your mix just right to make the best snack you can. Too fast and it will spill, but too slow and it'll burn. These sweet treats increase the contest stats of whichever Pokémon eat them, so think strategically about who gets what.
Not everything in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is from the 2006 iterations. For one thing, you can now change your protagonist's outfit. There are a range of styles available, each with their own distinctive appearance. Just to note, they exist as full outfits, so not quite as customisable as we've seen in later games like Pokémon Sword & Shield. Still, it's a fun addition, all the same.
You can also pick a Pokémon to follow you around in the overworld. This mechanic has always been one of my favourite parts of the series, ever since the original Pokémon Yellow when Pikachu was your shadow. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are more akin to Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver, as you can have any one of your companions following in your footsteps. Well, until you reach Amity Square, that is.
In short, it's clear Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are walking the line between honouring the past and embracing the modern. The chibi art style for the overworld is a cute callback to how things used to be, while still allowing for more detailed designs, not unlike Link's Awakening. When the battles start, graphics are closer to the Let's Go games, with more realistic human characters and detailed Pokémon models. It's an interesting contrast, especially given the full commitment to realistic style in the upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
While I've yet to play Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl, what we've seen so far hints at a departure from Sword and Shield, which many fans will celebrate. After all, if you're going to look to the past, you may as well go all in.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl come to Nintendo Switch November 29, 2021.
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