Pokémon Legends Arceus and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl only came out months apart, but if you had to pick between either of these two games (and yes, I am bunching Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as one, since they are practically the same game.) which one should you choose? Pokémon Legends Arceus vs Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. In this post, I will consider the gameplay, the story, characters and content, visuals, and soundtracks of both games.
Let’s start with some of the similarities between these two games. First and foremost, both games are set within the context of the fourth Pokémon generation, which was based in the Sinnoh region. Pokémon Legends Arceus is actually set during the Sengoku period in Japan around the end of 1800s. The land is called Hisui (which eventually becomes the Sinnoh region) and it shows a vast continent before cities and town sprouted into metropolises. Many of the Pokémon, locations and characters are similar, with some characters having obvious links such as Volo and Sinnoh Champion Cynthia, and Commander Kamado and Professor Rowan.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is a very faithful recreation of the original Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The game follows the typical Pokémon role playing formula where you train, capture and battle with your Pokémon from your humble town to the pinnacle of greatness at the Sinnoh Pokémon League where you face the toughest trainers and go up against the reigning champ. Along the journey, you will have to defeat eight gym leaders, test yourself against various trainers and your rivals, and defeat an evil organization called Team Galactic and its leader Cyrus. There isn’t much deviation from the tried and true formula in this game.
The only true deviation comes in the form of the Pokémon Grand Underground where you can dig for rare treasures, including fossils and stones, and hunt exclusive Pokémon, many of which become available after beating the Elite Four and the Champion and also seeing all 151 Sinnoh Pokémon. In my view, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is a very safe game and because of this it did feel a bit stale having to battle every gym to advance and then to finally get to the real challenge, Cynthia herself. Thanks to modern preferences, such as the Exp Share, it made the game less challenging and easy to cakewalk through to the end. My only struggle came when I was up against the fourth and final battles at the Sinnoh League.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is a whole different beast. It brings a new twist to the typical Pokémon formula with the ability to capture Pokémon in real time using a variety of lures and ninja/stealth tactics, e.g. sneaking in grass. The thrill of hunting and capturing your target becomes all too fun and ‘real’ (in a sense) as you either catch an unsuspecting Pokémon or come out of hiding to engage your foe. Best of all, all the Pokémon appear on the screen so you can be in for some chance encounters. Imagine my surprise when a shiny Pokémon just popped up in front of me and all I could think of was I have to capture it no matter what. With that, I couldn’t trust throwing a ball, rather I made sure to initiate a battle and then capture it.
Here’s the thing with Pokémon Legends Arceus, battling is still a thing but it is entirely optional. But if you do decide to battle, you are introduced to a new way of battling which tracks your Pokémon’s turn based on its speed stat and whether it executed a Strong or Agile move the turn before. In effect, it is very possible to have multiple turns before your opponent even lands a blow.
My peeve is that my Pokémon in this game felt weak and defenseless, since they kept fainting every now and then, because the battle mechanics in this game make it horrifying hard to keep a party at full strength. One of the new features is multiple wild Pokémon can battle you at the same time, so you can have three Pokémon take on your lonesome partner. But in a way, this kept it challenging and forced me to approach things differently. It was also hard because if I wanted to capture a Pokémon, I’d have to have a Pokémon out as a sitting duck while I tried to capture my target.
Gameplay-wise, it is much more thrilling and exciting to play Pokémon Legends Arceus.
Given all the new improvements, the winner for this round is Pokémon Legends Arceus. Pokémon Legends Arceus 1 and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl 0.
Story, characters and content
Pokémon games are not known for having rich stories. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl has the exact story as the original games. There is practically no difference. In fact, one downside is that many of the bonus content that was found in Pokémon Platinum is absent in this game.
Pokémon Legends Arceus has the clear advantage here, because it’s story is completely new and fresh. I loved how the story introduced a time traveler to the Hisui region where we learn about the world through the eyes of a newcomer. The story revolves around a mystery rift that has appeared in the sky and the Sinnoh’s legendary Pokémon, including the titular Arceus.
It was great to meet all these characters and work out who they were possibly related to in the modern Diamond and Pearl universe. Some of the characters subverted my expectations and it was a great surprise to see certain characters become the villain, while others were genuine allies.
There is plenty of new content in Pokémon Legends Arceus thanks to its expansive map, huge roster of Pokémon, side quests and things to do and explore. One of my favorite things to do was explore places for rare Pokémon, engage in the Interdimensional Rifts and capture the Hisuian variants.
Given the all new story, content and Hisuian Pokémon, the winner for this round is Pokémon Legends Arceus. Pokémon Legends Arceus 2 and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl 0.
In Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the team opted to use the chibi style during every moment, including cutscenes, except during battles where characters take on normal proportions. The team played it really safe with the visuals and so there were only ever a handful of moments where I was wowed by the visual presentation when they used the chibi to great effect, e.g. when Palkia/Dialga makes an appearance at the top of Mount Coronet.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is literally Pokémon Sword and Shield level visuals. I feel like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl should have been given this treatment. Pokémon Legends Arceus looks great and it’s full of visual pleases during the totality of the story. The are two let downs, though overall the game is graphically impressive, where Pokémon in the background will have reduced framerates and so you see Dustox in the background flapping its wing really slowly and most of the overworld is surprisingly bland and uninteresting.
Given the incredible graphics in Pokémon Legends Arceus and the fact that it looks like a current gen game, the winner for this round is Pokémon Legends Arceus. Pokémon Legends Arceus 3 and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl 0.
The soundtrack for both games are similar, though when I consider the battle track and overworld theme in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as superior. The music is much more catchy and playful in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl than Pokémon Legends Arceus, where the music is strong in sections but often takes a backseat to the visuals and there are moments where there is no music. Music in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl gets the heart beating in battles, while town themes are pretty cool as well.
Given the music in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is much more upbeat and engaging, the winner for this round is Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Pokémon Legends Arceus 3 and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl 1.
Overall? The winner is Pokémon Legends Arceus and my results tally is Pokémon Legends Arceus 3 and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl 1.
Pokémon Legends Arceus is a bold, refreshing take on the Pokémon franchise. It takes enough interesting steps with its catching and battling mechanics and hope they continue with the innovations. Maybe, and a big maybe is if they introduce a modern Digimon World battle mechanic in the future. Wouldn’t that be cool.
If I had to purchase between these two games, I’d definitely go with Pokémon Legends Arceus.
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