The Underground was always one of my favourite parts about Gen 4, so it’s safe to say that I’m absolutely delighted to see that it’s being brought back for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
If you tuned into today’s Pokemon 25 presentation, you’ll probably already know that Nintendo is remaking Pokemon Diamond and Pearl as Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. However, Game Freak isn’t at the helm of development for these new titles, instead working on a different game that’s also set in Sinnoh, but several hundred years ago: Pokemon Legends Arceus. The studio spearheading the Diamond & Pearl remakes is ILCA.
If you missed the presentation, don’t fret – you can check out the official Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl trailer in the video embedded below.
If you skip to 0:57, you’ll see the section I want to talk about in this piece. Those dark mines are undeniably ILCA’s take on Gen 4’s iconic Underground, which was introduced in Diamond & Pearl but – to my immense dismay – never appeared again.
Essentially, The Underground is a subterranean location that spans the entire Sinnoh region in Gen 4. You’re able to venture there any time by using a key item called the Explorer’s Kit. To be honest, it was mainly a bit of a gimmick used to highlight the new hardware capabilities of the DS’ touchscreen, although I was completely sold on the idea from day one.
The Underground encouraged you to explore the Sinnoh region beyond Pokemon’s conventionally linear narrative. In order to access certain areas of The Underground, you had to travel to pretty remote parts of Sinnoh – remember, this location is accessible from anywhere in Diamond & Pearl, but you obviously don’t dig down to the same part every time. As a result, it’s in your interest to plan out your entry point, especially if you’re using The Underground for its online component.
This area also added a new currency to the game called Spheres. Honestly, the idea of mining these alone was enough to keep me invested in it. Going from Pokemon trainer to treasure prospector was a remarkably interesting direction for the series to go in. I mean, there have been plenty of gimmicks over the years, from Ruby & Sapphire’s Pokemon contests to the fact you can make curry for your favourite ‘mons in Sword & Shield. Above all of these, though, The Underground has always been my favourite because it brought something different to the table. It was adjacent to Pokemon – I mean obviously, it’s in a Pokemon game – but it also didn’t rely on the core premise of Pokemon to bolster it. It was highly ambitious and I never understood why Game Freak removed it from future games.
Instead, it was all about mining – it was basically Pokemon Minesweeper, to be honest. Also the fact you could dig up useful items on top of Spheres made Underground expeditions genuinely valuable and an actual means of preparing for tough Gym fights or the Elite Four. That’s not to mention the fact you could uncover rare fossils – it was basically the Pokemon archaeology game I’ve always wanted. Digging deep underground, digging up a bunch of bones, and revitalizing it into a living, breathing, claw-punching Pokemon… amazing.
Anyway, the fact that the trailer has confirmed the resurgence of The Underground is brilliant news for me. I know some of you aren’t very impressed with the chibi art style, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Seeing Sinnoh in an all-new light, including the region-spanning Underground beneath it? That’s enough for me, thanks. I can’t wait for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Next: Pokemon Legends: Arceus, An Open-World RPG, Is Coming To Switch 2022
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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