Review – Pokémon Shining Pearl

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were two of the most important games in the mainline Pokémon series. Considering generations one through three have already seen remakes, it was only a matter of time before generation four saw a remake as well. This was the generation that saw Pokémon’s jump from 2-D to 3-D graphics, the physical/special split, and a huge rise in competitive play. With Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the Pokémon series saw a bit of change yet again. First notable thing, one that was incredibly decisive when this set of games was announced, is the change in graphics. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl went for a chibi art style while in the overworld, whereas the graphics are more akin to that of Pokémon Sword and Shield when you’re in a battle.

Pokémon Shining Pearl Choose Your Fighter

Choose your fighter.

In a lot of cases from a gameplay standpoint, Shining Pearl is similar to Pearl, barring a few changes that are for both the better and worse. As for the similarities, the music in Shining Pearl may as well be considered the same. The quality of the music is definitely a boost of course, since the Switch has much better capabilities than the Nintendo DS. The songs themselves though are the same, just remastered greatly in quality. If you’re anything like me, Cynthia’s theme in HD is enough to get you excited.

The Underground returns, this time as the Grand Underground, and boasts quite a few improvements. First off, it’s a stable connection to other players in the Grand Underground, it allows you to see others running around online, you can catch and battle Pokémon, and see their secret bases as well. Players can also work together to find Digletts and Dugtrios, which will boost the chance of finding shiny Pokémon in the underground. In the Grand Underground you can also mine, just like in the originals, where you can find fossils, shards, stones, and more.

Pokémon Shining Pearl Grand Underground

Rooms in the Grand Underground are full of Pokémon looking to mess you up.

One of the worst possible changes made to Shining Pearl though, is something that has been building up since Pokémon X and Y. The full party XP share has been in the Pokémon games for a while now, but hasn’t felt too intrusive. There’s usually the ability to turn it off and maintain the more traditional Pokémon experience. However, in Shining Pearl, there is no option to turn this off, which does make a vast majority of this game much too easy.

This also shows off the weird difficulty spike that Shining Pearl has, where the whole game all the way up to the eighth gym and victory road, is fairly easy. It’s simple to overlevel yourself compared to all the trainers you come across, but once hitting the Pokémon League, everything jumps significantly. Cynthia for instance, is nearly twenty levels higher than the eighth gym, meaning for the first time in this entire game, you’re likely to feel underleveled.

Luxray versus Starly

Yeah, not overleveled at all. This is a totally fair fight.

Following the end of the game, managing to complete the League, some new challenges await you. First off, after you have seen all one hundred fifty Pokémon in the Pokedex, you unlock the National Dex. This lets you find, catch, and log all the Pokémon up to generation four. No Pokémon past gen four appear in Shining Pearl, but Fairy-type is still in the game, so some generational changes do still exist. You’ll also get access to swarm encounters. This is an area that changes daily that is filled to the brim with a specific Pokémon. The biggest post-game event is the ability to challenge gyms again. Gym leaders are significantly stronger, have revamped teams, and absolutely want to take you on again.

League Championship

Congrats to my team that is incredibly susceptible to ground-type attacks.

Pokémon Shining Pearl was a nice way to revisit the Sinnoh region, and would be a great introduction to anyone new to the Pokémon series. For any returning players, the lack of what could be considered a “Legacy Mode,” letting players turn off the full party XP share, can take away from the “challenge” of the game. All around it was plenty enjoyable and definitely made more for fans who want to continue their adventure post-game and hunt shiny Pokémon.


Graphics: 8.5

Did you know that games can try a new visual style and not receive a ton of hate? Pokémon fans don’t. The chibi style works quite well, especially in contrast to the artwork in battles. Plus, if it wasn’t for the chibi art, you wouldn’t be able to walk around with an adorable mini Rayquaza.

Gameplay: 6.0

It’s Pokémon. There isn’t a ton to say to be totally honest here. If you’ve played Pokémon in any capacity in the past, I’m sure you know full well exactly what you’re getting in these remakes.

Sound: 9.0

While the songs in the soundtrack are almost entirely the same, the upgraded sound and remixed music makes for a nice blend of new and nostalgic tunes.

Fun Factor: 6.5

If you know you like Pokémon and don’t let an art style that has absolutely no baring on the game itself bother you, then this set of games is probably right for you. The only thing that takes away from the game itself is the fact it’s impressively easy, until it just simply isn’t.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Pokémon Shining Pearl is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.