Rumors were swirling that The Pokemon Company would unveil remakes of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl as part of its Pokemon 25th anniversary celebration–and sure enough, we got our first look at Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl during the February 2021 Pokemon Presents stream. That the remakes are indeed coming is not in itself surprising; The Pokemon Company has been steadily remaking older entries in the series, and Diamond and Pearl were the next in line to be modernized. What was surprising, however, is the approach being taken with the Diamond and Pearl remakes.
The Pokemon Company stressed that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are “faithful” remakes, and they certainly look as much. The games deliberately invoke the aesthetic of the original DS titles. Not only do they retain the classic top-down perspective, but characters and other overworld elements also have the same squat proportions as they do in the originals, which makes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look more like touched-up versions of the DS games rather than full-fledged updates.
This is in stark contrast to the approach Pokemon developer Game Freak has taken to previous remakes. Each time the studio has remade an older pair of Pokemon games, it has updated them to modern standards. Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen modernized the original Gen 1 games in the style of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire; HeartGold and SoulSilver updated the Gen 2 games in the vein of Diamond and Pearl; and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire made over the Gen 3 games to match Pokemon X and Y.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl buck this trend. Rather than reimagining the games in the style of Sword and Shield, as many fans undoubtedly expected, developer Ilca (with longtime Pokemon director Junichi Masuda) is leaning in on nostalgia and sticking closely to the look and feel of the original Diamond and Pearl. While this is new for the Pokemon series, it’s reminiscent of the approach Nintendo and Grezzo took with Switch’s Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake. That game was likewise a faithful recreation of the original Game Boy title. The visuals and controls were updated, but the feel and aesthetic were retained, resulting in a modernized take on the classic.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the only clear Zelda parallel on display. Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the other new project announced during the February Pokemon Presents broadcast, , with its sweeping shots of sprawling, wide-open environments. The link–to continue the Zelda metaphor–that ties the new Pokemon games together is the Sinnoh region, which serves as the setting in both Legends and Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl. Juxtaposed, they present an interesting set of companion games–one lovingly revisiting the past, the other charting an entirely new path for the series.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl launch for Switch in late 2021, while Pokemon Legends: Arceus is slated to release in early 2022. You can read more about the titles in our roundup of .
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