With more details coming out regarding the upcoming games Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, fans are excited to see how the original’s beloved mechanics translate over to Nintendo Switch remakes. In the latest Pokémon Presents showcase, several fan-favorites from Sinnoh were confirmed to be returning, including the Grand Underground, Pokémon Contests and Poké Ball decorations.
However, given the features available through Nintendo’s Online service, its possible that these classic aspects of the fourth generation Pokémon games will not simply return, but be improved upon. If done right, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl can take the best aspects of the franchise’s more recent games and apply them to the old mechanics that landed the Generation IV games so beloved.
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Hearthome City’s Amenities
Hearthome City, the bustling metropolitan city at the heart of Sinnoh, has many features that could be reinvented with access to global online play. The most obvious is candidate for an online-oriented overhaul is the Contest Hall, where players can dress up and show off their Pokémon to win ribbons and prizes. This mini-game could easily be reimagined as a replacement for Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s Max Raid Battles, where players from all over the world can connect and actually show off their favorite Pokémon.
Another tip that could be taken from Sword and Shield is the camping mechanic, in which players could set up campsites to play with and cook for their Pokémon along with whoever wants to visit you. While it isn’t a direct parallel, Hearthome City’s Poffin House allows players to bake sweet treats for their Pokémon that improve their Contest Conditions, a mechanic that has not been used since the Gen IV games. Still, just like in Sword and Shield, cooking requires participation in a small mini-game that could be incredibly fun with multiple participants.
The Grand Underground
The feature from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl that could gain the most from the Switch’s online capabilities is the Grand Underground. Sinnoh’s Undergrounf was always meant to be experienced alongside other players from across the world, but it was limited by the technology of the Nintendo DS. Now that the game is finding its way onto the Switch, online play in Sinnoh’s Underground can become what it was always meant to be.
In the original Underground, the primary activity players could do was excavation. Digging into a wall allowed players to mine for valuable gems, evolutionary items, fossils and more. Additionally, players in the Underground could set up secret bases, lay down traps and play capture the flag with each other. While this feature was largely overlooked in the original games, if Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl take a few hints from Sword and Shield‘s Wild Area, the Grand Underground could become an incredible online hub.
This interactivity would revitalize the Underground’s mechanics. One mini-game from the original, “flag retrieval,” involves sneaking into another player’s secret base, collecting their flag and returning to your own secret base undetected. This is complicated by the fact that you and your opponent can leave traps on the ground that hinder their progress, be it by launching them in another direction or by simply pinging your exact location. This mini-game could be made much more enjoyable if the Underground becomes an online hub.
Additionally, many features from the original Diamond and Pearl were only possible with online play in the Underground. Customizing secret bases was only completed when the player successfully retrieved 50 flags from opponents, and the incredibly rare Pokémon Spiritomb could only be obtained by interacting with 32 other players in the Underground. While it is unclear how these mechanics will translate over to the remakes, the Switch’s online capabilities will allow these features to finally reach their full potential.
Constant Access to Online
While Pokémon Diamond and Pearl have many features that deserve to be adapted for the Switch, others may be better off staying in the originals, depending on how they are executed. One such feature is the Union Room, through which players of the original games could communicate online or locally to trade, chat and battle. Though there is certainly nostalgia associated with the tennis-court-green room, the idea of relegating online play to a room separate from the rest of the game is outdated.
In Sword & Shield, for example, online battling, trading and other forms of interaction could be done in the background while players continued their journey across Galar. Online play became a part of the game rather than a separate feature that needed to be done on its own. This was a revolutionary change that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl should definitely maintain.
It has been confirmed that the Union Room will be returning, though we still don’t have the full details on what it will entail. It’s possible Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will keep this universally-accessible online format and simply use the Union Room as another option for online play. Either way, the days of spending hours of gameplay in a small room just to interact with other players are over, and Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl should reflect that.
So far, the remakes are diligently keeping up with what made the originals great bringing back classic features fans loved 15 years ago alongside new features like character customization and following Pokémon. With all of the potential for personal expression included in these games, it would be a shame if players couldn’t share these experiences with the world.
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