A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl is a role-playing game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. These two 2021 games are part of the long-running Pokémon franchise, which has created games, movies, TV shows, toys, and more. They also happen to be a remake of two games originally released in 2006, with updated visuals, gameplay features, and additional creatures that are unlocked if players have save files from previously released Switch Pokémon games. Combat is the main focus of play, but while players use elemental attacks to defeat their opponents, no blood or gore is shown, and enemies disappear in a flash of light when beaten. Aside from that, there's no inappropriate content to be found. Players may find that this title is actually easier to play than the original games thanks to some of the newer Pokémon Switch features; this makes it a bit more accessible for newcomers as well.
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What's it about?
POKÉMON BRILLIANT DIAMOND/SHINING PEARL is a title featuring two 2021-release games in the long-running monster-catching franchise. Remakes of classic games originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2006, Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl brings players back to the Sinnoh region. As in other Pokémon games, the people of the Sinnoh region love to capture, train, and battle their creatures, and your character is no different. Players create their trainer and their trainer's childhood friend, who's a friendly rival that wants to be an incredible Pokémon master as well. One day, on your journey to a lake just outside of your town, you run into the famous Professor Rowan, who's only recently returned to the Sinnoh region after a four-year absence. When you attempt to give him a case of Poké Balls that he left behind on the shore, he lets you keep one of the monsters you've chosen and tasks you with filling your Pokédex with information about the creatures of the land. This is no simple task, as players will have to move from town to town, collecting creatures and defeating trainers in gyms along the way to make their party stronger. There's also a mysterious faction known as Team Galactic that seems to be taking creatures and forcing other people to do their dirty work, so you'll find yourself fighting against their grunts and leaders in an attempt to prevent their schemes. Between these plot moments, players will be able to explore a vast subterranean region known as the Grand Underground for unique Pokémon and relics. They'll also have the option to participate with other players in Super Contest Shows to boost the skills of their Pokémon, as well as decorate their Poké Balls with stickers that will have different visual effects when creatures are summoned. Will you be able to become the very best trainer in the Sinnoh region and stop Team Galactic?
Is it any good?
While these adventures bring players back to a classic adventure in the franchise, the modern enhancements take away some of the challenge that made them so noteworthy. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl are remasters of 15-year-old games, providing a new generation of gamers a chance to explore the Sinnoh region. But this isn't just a basic retread of the older stories. A number of enhancements have been made to freshen the gameplay for a new audience, not counting the cute new visuals. These include an auto-save feature as you enter buildings or routes, and directions whenever you access your menu screen in case you're ever lost about what to do next. These are supported by massive enhancements, such as the option to use hidden moves to bypass barriers such as rocks and trees, instead of taking a precious skill slot that isn't necessarily useful in battle. Similarly, the option to always access Pokémon from anywhere you are, instead of having to trek back to town to remake your party, is a huge time-saver, and all Pokémon in your party share experience at the end of a battle, even if they've never been deployed in the match itself. These features are paired with improved connection options to help you trade Pokémon or battle with friends nearby or with other players around the world, as well as an improved Grand Underground that feels like you're getting a second massive area you can explore for hours.
All that being said, the largest issue with these two games is that while the enhancements make the game feel more responsive and updated, it also makes the gameplay incredibly easy. This is clearly tied to the experience-sharing feature, which can make your Pokémon so incredibly powerful that you won't have an issue taking on random creatures or opponents that you run into along each route. When you realize that you can also instantly swap out your party for other captured creatures without ever having to retreat to town (aside from resting your creatures), you'll breeze through gyms and opponents alike unless you send out creatures that are clearly weak to specific attacks. If these games had harder difficulty levels, or if it took these new enhancements into effect to scale the challenge, it would be more engaging, especially since these games are basically the same as they were 15 years ago. But the simplicity of the game doesn't ruin the fun, especially if you're a Pokémon fan or want to explore the Sinnoh region for the first time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. With no shortage of Pokémon-themed products available, how do you choose the best to spend your money on?
Do you think that remakes of classic titles are a great way to introduce a new generation of players to a game, or should designers focus only on new tales? Is there something lost in focusing exclusively on stories that are well known instead of newer adventures?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 19, 2021
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: November 26, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.