The fourth generation of Pokémon, it's no secret, it was one of the most popular with the public: Diamond, Perla e Platinum certainly represent a more than pleasant memory for many fans of the franchise, especially for the writer. And, considering the work of Game Freak with the remakes of the last decade, starting from the distant HeartGold and SoulSilver up to the most recent (so to speak, speaking of 2014) Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it was not at all difficult to predict that, sooner or later, we will have had our chance to return to explore the much loved Sinnoh region. Well, it wasn't the developers of Game Freak - engaged in the implementation of Pokemon Legends: Arceus - but the boys of ILCA, with Pokémon: Shining Diamond and Shining Pearl, available from November 19th on Nintendo Switch. Right from the start I would like to tell you that the nostalgia operation can be said to be successful, even if not with flying colors.
Sinnoh, exactly as you remembered it
It is necessary to start from a fundamental premise: Pokémon Shining Diamond and Shining Pearl are valid and fun titles. And it could not be otherwise, considering that the respective starting points were the same. Unlike the remakes that we have had the opportunity to play in the past, ILCA's willingness to propose is evident here an extremely faithful work to the original titles. And this is evident not only from the graphic style (with characters chibi which, despite their disproportion, recall the aesthetics of Nintendo DS titles) and the now obsolete camera setting; above all, it is the failure to implement any feature born after the fourth generation games to make this clear devotion to the past: forget - just to give an example - Mega Evolutions and alternative forms of pocket monsters extrapolated from other games (as in the Let's go). What you will find in your hands is rather the exact repetition of Diamond and Pearl, obviously adapted to the Nintendo Switch technology and rigorously polished. And this is true both for good and for bad: all the contents of the fourth generation have been, in essence, re-proposed exactly in their original formula. This, as we said before, translates into both a Pokédex (at least the national one) and from a quantitative point of view It is the same as Diamond and Pearl, both in the choice of the development team to ignore the novelties and differences introduced with Platinum. In short, no Fighting Park and no plot additions related to Giratina: and this, without detracting from the excellent work done and indeed perhaps precisely for this reason, certainly leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth and with the curiosity to see how certain scenes would have been realized.
The same experience as always, between past and future
Considering what has been said so far, it is no wonder that in Pokémon Shining Diamond and Shining Pearl, even the fights are, on the whole, unchanged from fifteen years ago. Of course, unlike in the past, we now have, as usual, indications about the effectiveness of a move if we have already met the Pokémon we are fighting against, but beyond this there is really no other element of novelty. Another consideration to make is the Share Experience made mandatory: needless to deny that, even if leveling your entire team simultaneously is a great convenience, it is a game design choice that has not convinced all fans of the saga in the past. However, I assure you that, despite this, the difficulty of the adventure settles on overall acceptable levels, with peaks of difficulty evident especially in the challenges against some gym leaders, the League and the Champion. In this regard, the improvements that ILCA has made to the AI of the enemies we will face are appreciable: not infrequently strategic and tactical replacements will be used that can seriously undermine the potential of our team, and this will be particularly evident. in the post-game: in addition to the Battle Tower, ILCA has added the possibility of challenge the gym leaders and the League again, decidedly more aggressive than they were during the main campaign and with levels that, albeit to a minimum extent, are close to what one would expect from real competitive fights. We are, fortunately, a step ahead of what we have seen (or rather, not seen) with the struggles of Sword and Shield: the progression is however also in this case decidedly linear, but, at least, not in a steep descent as it happened in the lands of Galar.
If in the fighting the game experience remains essentially unchanged, the same cannot be said of exploration. The Sinnoh map has always been remembered by fans as one of the most complex, varied and above all rich in secrets and hidden paths to discover. Well, if the pleasure of discovering every single crevice and apparently inaccessible place has remained unaltered in these remakes, however, it must also be admitted that thanks to precise choices of the development team, the game area is now accessible much more easily than in the past. This because le MN have been practically eliminated: obviously we can always find them in the form of MT - which among other things, are back to being for single use - but we will no longer have the need to teach them to the Pokémon in our team. On the contrary, it will be sufficient to interact with the current obstacle - be it a tree, a rock or a waterfall - so that the appropriate move is used through the application of the Pokékron and provided that, obviously, the corresponding MT has been found and the gym corresponding to the move we intend to use has been defeated. Personally, even if I know that many will disagree, I appreciated the choice to return to the disposable technical machines, if only because in this way the player is obliged to choose wisely which moves to teach and above all to which Pokémon (even if, to be honest, some TMs will be given to us in multiple copies, thus flattening our "management shrewdness").
The Sinnoh dungeons, here called, also make their return Great Underground. Inside them, as in the original works, it will be possible play solo or multiplayer, collecting gems, evolutionary stones but also chests containing statues capable of influencing the wild Pokémon that we will meet in the underground: yes, because inside the Great Underground there are rooms within which we will be able to meet Pokémon generally not present on the surface , of level basically higher than ours and with sprites visible in overworld. A gimmick that, on the one hand, allows you to further increase not only the variety but also the longevity of the game but that, on the other hand, risks to considerably undermine the difficulty of the title: This is because by capturing wild animals of a generally higher level than those found on the surface, facing the next challenges that await us becomes almost child's play. But not only that: we will also be able to find fragments of Plates: these, once the League has been beaten, will be fundamental for capture i Legendary Pokémon released up to the Fourth Generation within the Rosa Rugosa Park.
A pearl, a diamond ... in short, a gem for the eyes
From a technical point of view, Pokémon Shining Diamond and Shining Pearl are the result of painstaking work: consistently with what Game Freak has done with the previous remakes, also in this case the ILCA guys wanted to propose a style colorful and bright, which took both hands from the spirit of the original games and repurposed it in one improved appearance on the flagship console of the great N. As already mentioned above, obviously the Pokékron could not be missing, the tool introduced in the fourth generation to fully exploit the potential of the touch screen: and certainly just to pay homage to this feature, within these remakes the instrument in question is the only one to take advantage of the touch component of the Switch. A gimmick that will certainly make long-time fans smile, but that could certainly be applied and extended to other game features as well. The titles run stably at 30fps, in 1080p resolution in docked and 720p in laptop, even if it is almost natural to play them in the latter mode - if only to have a feeling as close as possible to the original experience. The titles certainly do not exploit all the potential of the Switch nor the developers had ever made promises in this sense: indeed, in contenting themselves with offering players a smooth and pleasant experience, it could be said that they have fully hit the target. Even the soundtrack remains essentially the same as always, with classic compositions re-arranged with modern instruments: perhaps, from this point of view, much more could be done, with some exceptions. Ultimately, completing the main campaign and getting to the Hall of Honor won't take you away more than twenty hours, unless you want to dedicate yourself meticulously to carrying out every secondary activity in the game and decide to complete the Pokédex, in which case the gaming experience becomes decidedly longer.
A gesture of affection: for the original games and for the fans
In short, in presenting their first work on the franchise as a very faithful and respectful re-proposal of the original games, the boys of ILCA have shown all their affection not only for the titles that were on Nintendo DS, but also for all those who, like myself, adored them out of all proportion. An operation of remaking and finishing that he finds in anchoring to the past all its lights, but unfortunately some shadows too. If, for some obscure and fortuitous reason, you are among the very few who have never touched the original games firsthand, the purchase is practically obliged. If, on the other hand, you are a longtime fan, the choice is yours alone: Pokémon Shining Diamond and Shining Pearl in essence they don't promise things they can't keep. They will surely make you relive in a new style all the fun that, in its time, accompanied you along with the dear, old Nintendo DS. But if you are looking for something new and never seen before, you might be disappointed.