There are rumors that (well by the time you answer this maybe it’ll be announced) this month will reveal diamond and pearl remakes. What would you hope to see implemented in the remakes?
So… I am on the record as not seeing any particular need for remakes of Diamond and Pearl, and I don’t think I’ve changed my mind about that. But we’ll probably get them eventually, whether that’s this year or at some later point, so just for the sake of argument let’s talk about it.
The whole notion of a Diamond and Pearl remake poses a couple of challenges to me, conceptually. For one, other than the addition of the Fairy type there haven’t really been any fundamental changes to Pokémon’s battle system since generation IV, so there isn’t really a pressing need to update the gameplay; for another, generation IV’s sprite graphics are kinda fine, they’re in full colour and have some 3D perspective, so I don’t think there’s a pressing need to update the graphics either. At the same time, these remakes, if they are indeed coming (and incidentally I’d like to point out that we have no official confirmation of this yet), will be part of generation VIII and have to use the same style and features – and… well, where in Sinnoh do you put a “wild area” (maybe the “battle frontier” island in the northeast?)? How do you work Dynamaxing into Sinnoh, when it’s so closely tied to the physical landscape of Galar and the Galarian culture of Pokémon battling as a mass spectator sport? Will the cities of Sinnoh have Galarian stadiums to accommodate Dynamax battles? Will all the grid-based area maps from Sinnoh have to be redesigned completely with naturalistic curves like those of Alola and Galar? As a designer, why put yourself through that? Honestly if Nintendo wants to cash in on Diamond and Pearl nostalgia my first inclination would be to just put out a virtual re-release for the Switch (and, y’know, bring the 3DS virtual console releases of Red and Blue and Gold and Silver to the Switch too while you’re at it; I promise I’ll buy them). The trouble is the Switch doesn’t have a separate lower touch screen and you’d have to rework all those interactions. I mean, you’d have to do that for a remake too, but it probably feels like less of a pain in the butt if you’re committed to rebuilding the whole UI anyway.
I’m prepared to be wrong about all this; like, I was also sceptical that there was any point to Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, but ultimately the result worked and I think I enjoyed it better than either X and Y or the original Ruby and Sapphire. So maybe it’s worth looking at what those games did right: they revised the story and gave the characters more depth (which the previous two sets of remakes, for the most part, didn’t do); they integrated the generational flagship mechanic, Mega Evolution, into the story surprisingly effectively; they completely redesigned a couple of areas like Mauville City to make better use of the 3DS’s more advanced graphical capabilities. The story of Diamond and Pearl, in particular, is something I have a few issues with – the central conflict feels very abstract in the same way as Ruby and Sapphire’s did; Team Galactic’s motives are vague and confusing; there seem to be background themes of energy and evolution that don’t go anywhere; the legendary Pokémon represent all these big, powerful concepts like Time and Emotion that seem like they ought to mean something significant, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is. I almost think Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl would have made more sense as part of generation VII, because then you have an opportunity to do something interesting by tying Dialga, Palkia and Giratina in with the dimension-bending Ultra phenomena (maybe they planned to do this and just had too much other bull$#!t on their plates for those three years, which frankly I can empathise with). I guess in generation VIII you have Dynamaxing, which… comes from space (???) and makes Pokémon really big, which… is sort of like manipulating dimensions (???).
So I suppose what I’m saying is that I don’t really give a $#!t about remaking Diamond and Pearl and Game Freak can put in whatever nonsense they like as far as I’m concerned, I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I could be persuaded to give a $#!t about rewriting them.