As Kotaku reported last weekend, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond And Shining Pearl details have leaked online, a couple of weeks ahead of the Switch release date. As a result, Nintendo is attempting to play whack-a-mole against all the videos popping up, showing features from the game that were supposed to be under wraps, while fans are so outraged that the topic is trending on Twitter.
It’s worth noting that these are remakes of 14-year-old games.
YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit (especially the dedicated r/PokeLeaks sub) are packed with details about the latest remakes of Diamond and Pearl, themselves already remade in 2009 as Pokémon Platinum. Scroll through Twitter for “BDSP” and you’ll primarily see angry screeds about just how much the games haven’t changed since their original 2007 counterparts, with a special focus on how these appear to abandon the new content introduced in Platinum. Even with leaks floating about, we’ve seen little to no evidence that things like the Battle Frontier will return, for example.
Then, on the other you have those apoplectic that this information is being spoiled for them. You’ve also got memesters having a ball, reminding people that we already know the major bits and pieces that could be considered major spoilers, like what evolutions look like and what gym leaders we’ll have to face.
And in the middle, there’s Nintendo racing around the world with DMCA paperwork clutched in their fists, trying to fight back the tide as their meticulously planned PR effort falls apart in the wake of the leaks.
But what is most striking as I look at what people are pointing out as downgrades is just how uninteresting it all is. It’s mostly incredible specific, deeply niche stuff, like whether the layout of a specific level has enough details in the background, or if a small animation before a battle is faithful enough to the three second original. These are the sorts of arguments that will unquestionably have purists calling each other slurs on the internet for years to come, but won’t bother most players—especially ones new to these entries altogether—the slightest bit. Perhaps the apparent lack of Megas might miff more, but not many.
A lot of commentary focuses on how these new versions aren’t being made by original creators, Game Freak, but rather a developer called ILCA, a studio so unknown it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. Primarily a support studio, they’ve worked on big-name games made by other Japanese developers, but their only previous solo Pokémon effort is the abysmal Pokémon Home, an almost unfathomable app intended for sharing monsters between various Pokémon games. The inference is that not being Game Freak, they might have been too afraid to make significant changes to such well-loved games.
Equally interesting to me is how much Nintendo seemingly cares about this information getting out there. Not the code, but the information pertaining to remakes old enough to be a teenager now. The severity of this situation is very much in the eye of the beholder. For Nintendo, there’s a sense of urgency in keeping anything outside of a carefully-curated PR plan under wraps. This is, after all, a company notorious for enforcing review access restrictions that are sometimes as head-scratching as, “Don’t mention that Bowser from near the end of the game.”
Still, the reality is, all information about a game is advertising. And while some of that might be frustrating spoilers, it’s all word-of-mouth that money can’t buy. Right now, Nintendo is frantically issuing takedowns of YouTube videos showing the game running, which I always think is a bit like Coca Cola getting legal injunctions to stop people telling others how yummy their new flavor of Coke is going to be.
But more than anything else, you just don’t need to worry. You don’t want to know about the game before it’s out on the 19th? Log off some more. Don’t watch YouTube videos about it! Block the keywords on Twitter for a week or so. Accidentally catch something? You’ll be fine. The game is 14 years old. You could get incensed, or you could wait for reviews to drop that can confirm outright if that thing you want is in there or not.
Because, and let’s whisper it, dedicated pocket monster fans are going to enjoy playing it anyway. It might not be the platonic ideal you’d allowed yourself to imagine during the last nine months of hype. You might not now be surprised that TMs aren’t infinite, but it’ll still be a typical solid Pokémon game anyway.