Charming Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire pixel art pieces made by a fan exemplifies an alternate Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl art style the Nintendo Switch games could have used. The Diamond and Pearl remakes have faced numerous criticisms despite enjoying general praise and high sales, and one of the most common complaints concerns Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl‘s graphics.
When Pokémon Diamond and Pearl became the first franchise release on the Nintendo DS, it was the start of a transition period for the mainline games. Since Pokémon Red and Blue on the original Game Boy, the JRPG monster collection series was a strictly 2D pixel art affair. The black-and-white original was followed up by Gold and Silver’s introduction of a modest color palette on the Game Boy Color, and Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire‘s GBA art style is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the franchise’s pixel sprite visuals. Gen 4’s mix of sprites and 3D graphics marked a major departure for how Pokémon games would look moving ahead (eventually culminating in fully 3D games like Pokémon Legends: Arceus), and many players of the original DS games expected Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl‘s graphics to reflect that hybrid art style.
Instead, there was outcry when Pokémon BDSP‘s overworld and battle art styles were revealed as entirely 3D on Nintendo Switch. Providing a particularly strong example of how an distinctive pixel art approach could have looked, artist Tundrarich used the recent Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl releases as an opportunity to reshare their Ruby and Saphhire concepts. The two pieces reimagine Gen 3 with more detailed sprites for everything from male protagonist Brendan to the peaceful Hoenn’s scene’s tall grass and trees. As in Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Wild Area, the fan art shows Pokémon like Lucario and Scyther evolution Scizor being able to freely roam areas rather than be restricted to Poké Balls or abstract random encounters.
It’s a compelling case for future remakes, remasters, or new releases altogether, one which some within the Pokémon community have been making since the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire took the series’ remakes into full 3D. Despite the addition of some new areas and mechanics, the gameplay content of remakes like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl have otherwise been essentially faithful to the original games they adapt. That potentially explains why the games’ art styles are viewed as jarring, whereas the idea of returning to the source material’s visuals while naturally layering new content on top of it is a popular one.
With other franchise media like Pokémon Evolutions outclassing the games’ visuals, The Pokémon Company, Game Freak, and Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl developer ILCA may eventually decide to take a different graphical direction with a future game or spin-off series. If and when that occurs, a full return to Pokémon’s pixel art roots is an option which shouldn’t be disregarded.