It’s that time of year again, another wildly accessible Pokémon game. Honestly, that’s all you need to know. If you’re a hardcore Pokémon fan, you’ll be happy to know that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are just as accessible as they’ve always been. Yes, it is true that the game keeps some of the motion control mechanics, such as the poffin mini game, but all of these features seem to be ancillary and therefore don’t pose much of a barrier. Everything in the game is presented clearly visually, and the game has no critical sound cues that I have found. However, even with this high degree of accessibility, I found it hard to enjoy this game.

A friend of mine who is a devout Pokémon fan called Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl a soulless cash grab, and unfortunately, I can see where he is coming from. Nintendo seems to have only put the minimal effort into releasing the latest Pokémon game on the switch. While not a barrier, the awkward 4-directional controls in a 3d environment feel far from comfortable, and this game has absolutely nothing to offer that its 2006 counterpart doesn’t already have. Let me put this another way. In almost every facet of the game, the original Pokémon Platinum is better than Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl; better value, more complete Pokédex, and a more fleshed out story and by any metric is a better Pokémon game despite being 15 years old. This is especially frustrating because we have already seen incredible leaps in the Pokémon formula thanks to Sword and Shield. Things like Mystery Trade or Gigantamax raids made filling out your Pokédex so much easier to the extent that to this day, Pokémon Shield is the only game where I have completed the national Pokédex. The problem is that for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, all that seamless online integration is absent. Its much harder to trade with random trainers, since your only option is to enter a global union room, and in my several hours of gameplay there were never more than 2 trainers whenever I entered.

Admittedly, I have a habit of challenging Nintendo for innovating away from accessibility. Well, at least they didn’t do that here, but I’m not sure what they did do was any better, namely releasing a 15-year-old game with a few slight mechanical changes and a 3d graphics update while charging a premium compared to the original.

I hate to say it, but even though the underground is much improved from the original, that one change doesn’t add enough value for me to even bother keeping my copy of Shining Pearl.

So why do I bring this up here on an accessibility site? Because after the presence or absence of barriers, the next most important aspect of accessibility is value. Too many disabled gamers are on fixed incomes and have to live with their game purchases for several months before they can afford to buy a new one, and unfortunately for most players this game just doesn’t have as much value as previous games in the franchise.

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