Midweek Video Game Review: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond

Monday was the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., Day (and Robert E. Lee’s Birthday, for those so inclined), which meant that many folks here in the United States had Monday off for the federal holiday.  Yours portly was one of the many societal leeches suckling at the teat of this paid holiday, and I enjoyed it to the fullest.

While I was quietly productive on the day itself, the rest of the weekend saw me lolling about in indolence.  For whatever reason, the last couple of weeks left me exhausted, and I indulged in some relaxation Saturday and Sunday.  Besides some light housework, I kept myself occupied with an excursion back to my childhood:  Pokémon.

I managed to pick up a copy of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, the 2021 remake of 2006’s Pokémon Diamond, last fall for half-price (around $30).  With work and lessons and what not, I hadn’t had time to play it, so I was more than a little excited to rip off the cellophane and pop this little baby into my Nintendo Switch Lite.

I vaguely remember playing some of Diamond on the Nintendo DS, but I know I didn’t finish it, and I’d forgotten a great deal of the game, beyond some of the starter Pokémon.  I have not finished the game—not by any stretch—but managed to put about eight hours into over the three-day weekend, and it was much like playing a classic Pokémon game.

That is both a good and bad thing.

I was one of those kids that played Pokémon Red and Blue way back in the late 1990s.  When I received Red for Christmas, I was obsessed (it helped that Nintendo rolled out a major marketing campaign ahead of the game’s release to hype up this heretofore-unknown franchise to American audiences), and played it until the batteries on my GameBoy Color died (somewhere in the Pokémon Safari portion of the game).  The combination of exploration, JRPG elements, and catching monsters with which one would do battle was addictive and fun.

That formula still holds up—mostly.  In playing the game, I love the thrill of finding a new or previously unencountered Pokémon, and then strategizing how to weaken it without killing it (they call it “fainting” when a Pokémon loses all its health—it is a kid’s game, after all) so as to make its capture more likely.  The joy of exploration and the rush of catching a rare Pokémon is still fresh and fun, and keeps the game interesting.

It also opens up the endless combinations of teams.  Part of the fun of catching a new Pokémon is figuring out how to integrate it into your existing team, or deciding whether or not it might be worth trading.  Sometimes I keep a Pokémon on my team long enough to get it to evolve into its next form, then swap it out for a new one to repeat the process.  I also like to have a balance of types to face any challenge the game might throw my way.

Here is my current team, although they’re all higher levels now, and Geodude has evolved into Graveler:

Pokémon Team

Where I find the game gets tedious is with its difficulty level; that is to say, it’s not.  Granted, Pokémon games are basically introductory role-playing games for kids with lots mini-games and collectables (“Gotta Catch ‘Em All!”), so I’m not expecting some murderously difficult slog, but most of the battles are easy.  In the eight hours I’ve put into the game so far, I’ve faced maybe two challenging fights, and even those were never in question.  There are far too many opponents who just use one Pokémon, so the battles are just seeing how quickly I can mash the “A” button.  I’m thrilled when I come across someone with three or more Pokémon in their lineup, as it at least gives some variety (although these games also tend to feature trainers with three of the same Pokémon, which is always annoying and boring).

Dual battles, where two of your Pokémon fight against two from your opponents add some spice and variety, but those battles are pretty rare, and it’s easy to turn those into single battles inadvertently.  Even then, both trainers tend to have just one or two Pokémon on their team, so the battles are still pretty brisk.  I would love to see more of these battles featuring unusual combinations of types, and seeing how they interact together.

I have also found the pace of the game interminable at times.  Typically, you roll into a new town to face the local Gym Leader to get a badge (the eight badges let you advance to the final portion of the game).  Usually the Gym Leader is not at their gym for some reason, and you usually have to complete some menial task or beat some local baddies before the Gym Leader will return.

These little tasks are where the game can get tedious.  Sometimes, it’s unclear exactly where you’re supposed to go, and the game often locks forward progress until you’ve played some silly mini-game or found the one person in town you’re supposed to talk to so you can get the item you need to advance further.

Those kind of telescoping objectives are routine in games—The Legend of Zelda games use them all the time—but here, they just seem tedious, put in more to pad the game’s length than to add meaningful content.  It’s doubly annoying because the Gym Leader battles are the few that are occasionally challenging, so throwing up unnecessary obstacles between the player and those fun battles is a pain.

That said, I’m going to stick with this game and try to see it through to the end.  I’m having a great deal of fun collecting Pokémon, and that’s ultimately what these games are about.  I’m also excited to play with the breeding feature, where you can breed different types of Pokémon to get offspring with unusual move combinations and the like.  I’ve caught a few unusual Pokémon that I hope to incorporate into my team, and the presence of a global trading system incentivizes catching duplicates to trade for other Pokémon with players all around the globe.

All in all, it’s a fun little Pokémon remake that is true to the classic Pokémon gameplay, but which suffers from a lack of genuine challenge and too many roadblocks.

Score:  7 Poké Balls out of 10.


10 thoughts on “Midweek Video Game Review: Pokémon Brilliant Diamond

  1. I’m glad you did a game review because it reminded me that I need to pick your brain on a game Tina bought me for Christmas. Never done Pokemon and never will – they’re not our type of game, but I did enjoy your detailed review for a game that I had no idea about; I thought Pokemon was physical, where you wander around in the real world collecting things.

    It’s a shame we can’t take more than your brain. We need a physical presence to navigate us through Civilisation 6. It’s very complex and after an hour or so of playing it, we’re still none the wiser. There don’t seem to be any tutorials but crikey, there’s a lot to read. Though you might be able to give us some pointers, I don’t think it’ll help us as we try to work out what the heck we’re supposed to be doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re thinking of _Pokémon Go_, which is an augmented reality phone app. You walk around and find Pokémon in the real world.

      I’m thrilled y’all are playing _Civilization VI_. There *should* be some kind of tutorial; at the very least, there are tooltips that will explain most of the game’s functions. Check the “Options” or “Settings” to see what is possible. I would also check under “Single Player” to see if there is a tutorial of some kind. It might be listed under “Scenarios,” but as I recall, it should be fairly clear where it is.

      The best advice I can give with _Civ_ is to play it and learn by doing. It is a very robust and deep system, but it’s also *very* accessible. It’s not like picking up _Europa Universalis_ or one of those games. The more you play, the more mechanics you’ll come to understand and appreciate.

      Give it a go and take your time with it. The exploration component is my favorite, and I love playing on a True Start Location Earth map and colonizing far-flung parts of the globe as oddball super powers. I recently won a Culture Victory as Australia, during which I conquered and/or colonized almost all of Africa, Europe, and Asia (not to mention Australia itself, a good chunk of the southern half of South America, along with a few colonies in North America). Imagine a world of Australian cultural and military supremacy. G’day, mate!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Let me just get this out of the way first … LOL! Port – read this: “so throwing up unnecessary obstacles”. I laughed out loud; I understand the flow of the idea but unless a character actually vomits unnecessary obstacles, lol, you may want to edit ‘up’. LOL!

    You and 39 have an incredible way of infusing your enthusiasm into your pieces about gaming. You know I haven’t got a clue about any of this and yet … I’m absolutely fascinated by the descriptions you offer. I always think, after reading you or 39 about a particular game (Little Nightmares is ALWAYS at the back of my mind …), that I’m going to play that game! Of course, I’m too cheap to buy the equipment required and without a desk buddy to help me out, I’d be lost anyway.

    But the two of you sure do get me amped!

    Liked by 2 people

    • HA! I’ve thrown up worse in my life, but that phrase is pretty bad! I think I’ll leave it for humorous posterity.

      I appreciate your kind words. I don’t get to game much these days, but when I do, I really enjoy it. I’m glad that enthusiasm comes across on the written page. I think you’d get caught up (“thrown up”?) in the fun of catching cute little monsters.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The equipment will go down in price as the new models are released. LN1 and 2, you can get for the PS3, 4 and 5. It’ll obviously be cheaper on the older model, the PS3 and there’ll be no loss in terms of gameplay and graphics. It might be worth a look. As for setting up, they’re easy. Mains plug into the wall/connector, wire into back of the TV and you’re set. Mere minutes to install and then you’re in.

      That is, of course, if you went for the console. It’d be much much cheaper to get the games on Steam and you should be able to get both for a pittance.

      Tina and I, for our 15th anniversary this year are buying a PS5 as a gift to each other, which means rebuying some of the games we’ve got. As for me, replacing GTA5 for the new console is a priority.

      Tyler, go onto YouTube and type in Cadre Liebre, GTA5, PS5. That one segment alone will make you want to buy the game. 👍

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yep. It’s an awesome mission, Nervous Ron coming close to it in fun and destruction.

    Shooting the plane down in 3 is tricky – I’ve only done it twice. You only need 3 for the gold achievement, as long as you get it down the mission will continue. But it’s chasing the plane on the motorbike that’s fun. That can be tricky too. After all, you find yourself watching the plane and you’re riding cross country.

    That is just one of the many missions that give you the wow factor. And as for variation, there’s so much to do in the game. Sports, entertainment, driving, random – choice is rife.

    I’ll finish my review for the game one day but as I said to you a while ago, it might have to be a 2 parter. It’s a huge game and I’d feel the readers were cheated if I didn’t cover as much as I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I watched that video while driving home from work (responsibly), and it was insane. Shooting down the plane, racing across the dunes after it, etc.—just wild! I want to know what happens after he kidnaps the dude’s wife.

      Looking forward to your two-parter, my friend! That will be a blast.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’ll find out when you play it and play it you should. For me, one of if not THE best game of all time.

        Trevor Phillips (motion capture and voice by Steven Ogg) is the most memorable character created in gaming. Psychotic but loyal. Funny but volatile. His missions are the best. There’s one where you have to pilot a crop duster plane into a jumbo jet. Potentially difficult but a lot of fun. The script is superb.

        Unfortunately, a lot of GTA fans are looking at the 6th instalment with trepidation. One of the main creative forces and founders of Rockstar, Dan Houser, left the company and it looks like they could be going the road most Woke. I hope not but the signs don’t look good.

        Liked by 1 person

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