My mind had removed the chibi-style aesthetic from Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl. Gen 4 is one of my least favorite generations, at least in terms of the main games, but I did my best to be excited to give it another chance. Pokemon Pearl was the only Pokemon game I played in that awkward mid-stage of your teenage years where you hate everything you loved as a kid, and you’re not mature enough to admit that in fact, it is. is really good, this childish thing.
The problem is, Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl doesn’t look into these great kids stuff. The aesthetic isn’t consistent throughout the game and constantly switches between the chibi style we’ve seen in the trailers and something closer to Sword & Shield in battles. That, plus the allure of revisiting an old Pokemon game that will feel relatively fresh, was enough to keep my hype going. Then I saw the last trailer. No, I don’t like that chibi thing at all.
I don’t mind chibi like artstyle. It has its place, and a lot of chibi aesthetics can seem inventive, bouncy, and creative. Pokemon just never seems to have been made for chibi in the first place. I mean, look at Volkner. That’s the big deal here: most trainers translate well into chibi. Cynthia, Cheryl, and Riley all look pretty decent – in fact, Riley looks chibi-style with her over-the-top hair, long coat, and floppy hat. But when things go wrong in chibi, they look awful. I bet Volkner won’t be the only one getting dirty.
It just doesn’t sound deliberate. Not only was the game not originally designed with chibi in mind, but the remake also doesn’t feel so committed to being chibi. It looks, from the fact that it toggles between chibi and non-chibi, the pedestrianized interpretation of most of the characters and the bland color palette, like an afterthought. Chibi is the closest halfway house between the original pixel sprites and modern 3D graphics we’ve come to expect from Pokemon, and I guess it will be fine – that sounds like the attitude.
A total commitment to the chibi, leaning into all of its weaknesses and giving us more characters that were either good chibi like Riley, or so ugly it’s funny like Volkner, might have worked. Instead, it’s just a bit of nothing. And the worst part is that it doesn’t even happen to Pokémon.
Pokemon is successful for a variety of reasons. He basically invented his own version of the JRPG genre and fought several imitators – most notably Digimon – during his 25 years. The games are enjoyable and reliable, although a bit repetitive, and most importantly, Pokemon succeeded because it is Pokemon. The creatures themselves fetch millions of merchandise – while card games are popular, spin-offs add a slice of personality, and the core games will always be there for you, which Pokemon has over every other game. , is that it’s Pokemon. It’s the only series with Pikachu and Charizard, and it’s a huge selling point.
So why oh why are Pokémon just … normal Pokémon. I mean, some are Ghost or Water or Grass, but they’re all normal. They look like the Pokémon in Snap or Sword & Shield. Just Pokémon 3D. No attempt has been made to reinvent them, to imagine them as chibi caricatures. Chibi Pokemon exists, in plush toys, t-shirts and fan art. It is not a new concept. So why doesn’t the Pokemon chibi game embrace Pokemon chibi? That’s the only reason to chibi in the first place.
A Pokemon chibi game initially attracted nothing more than a “meh” from me – now that I’ve seen it, that “meh” has turned into an “uh-oh”. Chibi Pika would have turned that into a “wow”, but as the game’s launch nears, I’m firmly back on the “meh” team.
Next: Pokemon: There Is Nothing Worse Than A Bad Gloss
What is Mario doing hidden in a 1995 Sega game?
About the Author