Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are a bit different from the typical Pokemon remake, as they’re 1:1 recreations of the original 2006 games. We return to the Sinnoh region with the goal of helping Professor Rowan complete the Pokedex, perhaps defeating all of the gym leaders, stopping an evil team from conquering almighty power, and becoming Champion in the process. Developer ILCA honors a classic entry in the franchise with some excellent revamps that brings it up to speed with the modern entries.

Despite being a faithful remake, there are several aspects of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond that are different from the original versions, but make the game a much more convenient experience. The biggest change is the removal of HMs. Now, all HM moves can be used from the Poketch watch, getting rid of the need to waste move slots on Rock Smash, Strength, Cut, etc. The game also introduces automatic EXP Share for all members of the party, which ends the tedious hot potato of rotating Pokemon in and out in order to level them.

One of the other excellent changes that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl add are Gym Leader rematches. Once the Elite 4 is defeated, players can rematch any of the 8 Gyms once per day. Each Gym Leader has a revamped team, fit with competitive movesets, EV distribution, and held items. They’re actually quite challenging, and it’s a great change of pace from what we typically get with these games. The same is true for the Elite 4 and Champion.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl perfectly capture the magic of the original 2006 games, while also adding enough to make them feel like a substantial improvement. In a year that was fairly light on remakes, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl were enough to take home the award.

Watch the Shacknews Awards 2021 YouTube playlist or read our Year of the Games: 2021 article for all of the awards in one place. We will be announcing our Shacknews GOTY 2021 on December 31.