The Pokémon franchise finds itself in an interesting place (at least as far as this writer is concerned). As someone who has played a couple of the Gameboy and Nintendo DS iterations of the games, there was a certain level of joy in hearing that Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl were finally getting their remake. It’s a trend the Pokémon games have been following since they came out with Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen, and have done accordingly with a couple of other titles in their roster. The newest of these remakes will be Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you wish to buy this game, feel free to peruse the following discussion. Hopefully, it does well to inform your decision one way or the other.
The “Repackaged and Resold” Dilemma
Despite feeling that tinge of joy, in the back of my mind, a singular question resounded. “Will I get it?” Truthfully, it was a tough question to confront, mostly because of how loaded the decision is. To put things in perspective, the first Pokémon game I ever played was Pokémon Platinum, it was a hybrid successor of sorts to the games based in the Sinnoh region, Diamond and Pearl. If there is to be any choice between the two new games, Pokémon Shining Pearl has the most allure as Palkia is, personally, the preferred legendary to its counterpart Dialga.
As the decision-making process continued, something somewhat obvious came to mind. “I’ve played this game already.” Not just Platinum either, the actual game Pokémon Pearl was once a game I’d owned. It was at that point that the decision-making process came to a halt as a particular revelation reared its ugly head. There was a looming possibility that Pokémon Shining Pearl was going to be another instance of the whole “repackaging and reselling” scheme, which is essentially putting out the same game but with one, two, or a few changes that are supposed to separate it from the original. It’s not a practice that many gamers are fond of since it feels like a cheap and lazy way to make a buck.
With Pokémon, it’s somewhat difficult to discern though. For one, both Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl are going to be released on the Switch. What does that tell us? Well for one, releasing it on the Switch means they’re trying to reach the younger generation of their demographic as the platform is relatively new. One of two motivations at work here is that they’re trying to introduce the Sinnoh region to the new generation of players, which isn’t a bad thing really. Diamond and Pearl were games originally released on the Nintendo DS, which at this point, has become something of a relic of a time long past. On the other hand, the second motivation at work here is that these games are remakes of previously existing games. The move is without a doubt meant to invoke a sense of nostalgia to get those that played the originals to buy it. For those among the older generation that haven’t already done so, it also becomes a great excuse to finally get the Switch if you’ve been holding off. To give credit where credit is due, it’s an ingenious strategy, which is why it is hard to discern at a glance whether or not this is truly a case of repackaging and reselling.
But Where Is The Line Between A True Remake and A Repackaged and Resold Product?
As fuel for thought, an article by Digital Spy also provides some further insights into this matter. According to the article, “the original story [is] faithfully reproduced” but in addition to that, these new games see “vast improvements graphically and feature-wise, with new additions that include expanded minigames, Pokémon Hideaways, and a new character customization option.”
This is the part where the decision-making process proves most difficult. The updated graphics were a given, the Pokémon games have come a long way since their Gameboy/Nintendo DS days. One of the bigger, and arguably more interesting features is the addition of the Grand Underground. The Grand Underground, which replaces the Underground from Diamond and Pearl, will not only retain all of its predecessor’s features but expand on them. Utilizing the Pokémon Hideaways mechanic from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, it seems players will be able to customize spaces within the Grand Underground in order to, essentially, summon rare Pokémon.
To answer the question previously posited, it really depends on buyer perception. The line between a true remake and a repackage/resell lies in whether or not you believe these new additions are enough to call these new games remakes. On a personal level, the concept of the Grand Underground sounds interesting as it appears to add a new dimension to the Underground of the previous games. But this sentiment may not necessarily be held universally. To someone else, the new addition may not be enough to warrant spending another $50 or so on a game you feel you’ve already played.
As a fan of the franchise myself, I’ll admit I’m still on the fence as to whether or not Pokémon Shining Pearl will be this year’s self-addressed Christmas present. Nintendo walks a fine line here, skirting the line between remake and repackage/resell. To be fair to Nintendo however, these aren’t the only Pokémon games they’re putting out and have yet to put out. Enough so that perhaps it is worth giving these new titles the benefit of the doubt. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl will be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 19th, 2021.