Sinnoh Reimagined

When it was announced that a remake of the Nintendo DS classics Pokémon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo Switch was in the works, I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited. Nintendo has been remastering their Pokémon games since 2004 and it has become an easy way for them to make money off of established titles. I already played the originals, I told myself. I don’t need Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Yet when the release date came around last week, I budged and purchased a copy of the game the same day it dropped. Watching the trailer and seeing an updated version of Sinnoh, as well as the Pokémon I loved in middle school, go from pixels to 3D models made the kid in me extremely elated. With November break coming around, I figured what the hell…why not?

I spent my entire break finishing the game. Even after telling myself I would do things differently this time around, I chose the same starter Pokémon and even ended up with almost the exact same team I used when I first played the original Diamond and Pearl a couple years back. I didn’t realize it while I was playing but, in retrospect, nostalgia played a huge part in why I bought Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and enjoyed it as much as I did.

I found myself getting lost quite often in Sinnoh, something I remember doing as a child. I noticed that unlike more linear games in the series like Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, these games allow players to explore the region of their own accord and not just as the story advances. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl introduces the Grand Underground to Sinnoh, an expansive system of caves in which players can dig for treasure and catch rare Pokémon from other regions. I can’t say I enjoyed this feature to the fullest but it definitely added to the freedom Diamond and Pearl gave players originally, something that the recent Pokémon games lack.

The updated graphics of the remakes add a new liveliness to the cities and other locations in Sinnoh, and combined with other small yet thoughtful touches, improve the quality of these games. Having a selected Pokémon follow your character around just like in the original DS versions of Pokémon Heartgold & Soulsilver (which came out in the same generation as the original Pokemon Diamond and Pearl) as well as having access to clothing shops to customize your character, these changes are beautiful additions to Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and certainly make the games a more personalized experience. I really appreciated that it felt like I was traveling through Sinnoh as myself opposed to some default character.

Revisiting a region I explored as a child with the same team who helped me get through it the first time felt wistful. I’ve grown to be a huge Pokémon fan but since Diamond and Pearl were the first games in the series I played, coming back to them was surprisingly sentimental. As I played, I found myself reminiscing about times I spent trading Pokémon with my cousin or battling my friends at school. It was nice to think about simpler times over break. 

I’ve found most recent mainline Pokémon games to be very underwhelming. I’m aware that children are the target audience, which explains the unchallenging gameplay. However, playing Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl reminded me of the magic I saw in the series as a child. The storytelling in Pokémon is truly unparalleled, and I hope that reimagining Sinnoh inspires Nintendo to create Pokémon games as innovative as Diamond and Pearl were. 

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