What I wish I knew before starting Pokémon BDSP | Big Daddy Digest

Like many, I recently started my journey through the new games Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. I thought I knew everything that I needed to know going into these games because they were remakes of beloved games of my childhood. Turns out that I was wrong about that. Some of the changes caught me off guard and there are some things that I had just plain forgotten with the passage of time, so let’s go over a few things that might help you out if you are jumping into these games for the first time!

How to avoid foul tasting Poffins

Poffins are something that I didn’t intend to spend all that much time on, honestly, since I wasn’t planning to do terribly many contests. (I ended up doing a lot of them but that’s a story for another time.) Even if you don’t plan on them, if you’re hoping to catch them all, you’re going to need to make a handful. The Pokémon Feebas doesn’t evolve until it’s beauty contest stat is at the maximum, and unfortunately, this fish as about as useful as a Magikarp before it does. So you’re going to be spinning away in order to make these sweet treats for your Pokémon. Incidentally, here is a tool if you need help figuring out where you can fish up the pesky fish.

If all your poffins are coming out to be foul no matter how well you play the little game, you may have committed the cardinal sin of these pastries. Any poffin that is made with two or more of the same berry will come out foul, no matter what you do, so make sure you are varying your berry variety. Poffins can carry more than one flavor so that’s not something you have to worry terribly much about losing, but nobody wants to feed their Pokémon weak poffins that look burned, do they?

It’s going to take a little while for your Pokemon to follow you…

I love having my Pokémon follow me around. It’s one of the best features that the games ever introduced and while it has come and gone over the years, that we’ve been seeing it again brings me some joy. However, if you haven’t been paying close attention to talks online and only saw the trailers for the game, you might be a little confused why your sweet starter isn’t following you around from the moment that you get them.

That’s because following Pokémon is something that you unlock a little bit deeper into the game. You’re not going to be able to have following Pokémon until you reach Hearthome City at the earliest, meaning you’ll be two badges deep before you do. Once you reach this town, head on over to Amity Square where cute Pokémon are allowed to follow you around. The list of what counts as a cute one is narrow, but all the starters and their evolutions are included so you should never be entirely barred from entry. Once you enter and leave for the first time, you’ll be able to select any of your friends to join you on the overworld.

It’s also going to be a while before you can change clothes

Similarly, you might be wondering where the clothing shops are if you’ve seen the trailer that promises you outfit choices for your trainer. We don’t have full trainer customisation this time, but you can at least pick your outfit. (And the male character has just as many options as the female this time!)

This is something else that’s not going to be unlocked right away for you because not every town has a new place for you to shop for some new fits. You’re going to have to make your way all the way over to Veilstone CIty if you want that. Once again, that’s two badges deep, plus some more travel. You also can only change your outfits in this store so you won’t be swapping looks on the fly. Be warned, pokéclothes are expensive!

Mystery Gift isn’t available from the start this time

Let’s complete the trifecta of things I didn’t know weren’t going to be available to me right away with the last one of these features, mystery gift!

Yes, mystery gift is not available to you right away either, but there’s good news. In the original games, you would need to go to the Jubilife TV station and tell a man there “Everyone Happy Wi-Fi Connection” in order to unlock the feature. It was an obscure and random thing to do, which you were unlikely to know unless the knowledge had been passed on to you by a friend, online source, or guidebook. However, these days things are a little easier! While you can go to the tv station after your first badge and tell the man this same thing to unlock the feature early. If you forget or pass it by, mystery gift will unlock automatically after you defeat the third gym in Veilstone City.

Ball capsules come earlier though!

In contrast to all these things that you’re not going to have right away, I was pleased to see that there was something that comes to you earlier in the game than it used to! The decorative ball capsules and seals! In the original Diamond and Pearl, this was a feature that unlocked for the first time a decent way into the game, but it comes to us much sooner these days!

Now, you can get ball capsules to give your Pokémon a bit of extra flair after getting your first gym badge. When you head back to Jubilife City for the first time after getting your first gym badge, you’ll be able to have your first encounter with Team Galactic. In the original game this would have netted you a case for the accessories that you could use to dress up your Pokémon for contests, but with that aspect of contests being no more, you can get the ball capsules for decorating your Pokémon in battle much earlier. However, the game has done away with the feature that allows you to catch the Pokémon unknown in order to get letter stickers for your balls, for obvious reasons, really.

Challenge runs will be a challenge

Not everyone does challenge runs in Pokémon and that’s perfectly fine. This is one of those game series where how you play is up to you and the experience is somewhat customisable. However, for those who are considering a challenge run, such as a Nuzlocke, you should watch out. While the teams are the same as ever and are not the beefed up teams of the Platinum version, the trainers behind those teams may be smarter than you remember them being. This is the first time that I have seen an enemy trainer withdraw a Pokémon out of strategy! The later gym leaders have counters to their weaknesses. Be ready because this game is ready to chew you up and spit you out if you’re not prepared.

Walking with your Pokémon boosts their friendship a lot!

Walking with your Pokémon raises their affection and friendship (a pair of invisible stats that have been combined into one this game). This is great since it gives a benefit to something that you were likely going to do already! It also makes getting those friendship based evolutions a lot easier since there is a faster way to grind things up with your Pokémon than there has ever been before.

The thing that you need to be aware of is that this can grant a whole lot of bonuses to your Pokémon as well. They’ll land critical hits more often, recover from status effects on their own, dodge enemy attacks more frequently, and in the most extreme cases at peak friendship, tough out a killing blow from another Pokémon! If you’re a beginning player, this can be a great asset to you. However, if you’re someone looking for a little more of a challenge, you may want to be mindful of this as it can feel a little overpowered at times.

Completing the Pokédex doesn’t necessarily mean catching them all!

Obviously, one of the core pillars of Pokémon is that desire to catch every single one of them, but be aware, that there are two forms of Pokédex completion in this version of the game. While there is a reward for catching one of every single type of Pokémon that there is to get, there are some areas that don’t unlock until you have filled your Pokédex out. 

In these cases, what you might not realize that this does not mean having caught every single one of the creatures. In order to unlock these areas, all you have to do is have seen ever Pokémon that is available in the regional Pokédex. This isn’t even that hard to do, either. Yes, there are a few that take a little exploring and poking around to find, but so long as you’re not constantly spamming repels and are battling every trainer that you come across, you should be able to have seen every Pokémon shortly after beating the game.

Those are the things I wish I had been aware of before starting out. Is there anything that those of you who have played have as advice to give? Let us know! We always love to hear what you have to say!