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Pokemon Brilliant Diamond made me buy an old GameBoy Advance SP for Christmas

OPINION: I know it hasn’t received critical acclaim from everyone, but I am not ashamed to admit Pokemon Brilliant Diamond is easily one of my favourite Nintendo Switch games of the year.

The latest entry in the long-running series is as simple as Pokemon gets and it’s a virtually unchanged remake of the original Diamond and Pearl games that hit the Nintendo DS more than a decade ago.

My love of this game comes from its simplicity. It’s the original version, just playable on the Switch with utterly gorgeous visuals and a few quality of life improvements. After a few dud years of Pokemon games, this feels like exactly what I wanted.

The Pokemon Let’s Go spin-off lacked any depth, while Sword and Shield missed the point by spending too much time in the snooze-worthy Wild Area and forgetting to make the towns or characters interesting.

After sinking many hours into Pokemon Sword, I realised what I actually wanted was the Pokemon of old – not open areas or 3D graphics, but stylised 2D sprites and that classic topdown view.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond scratched that itch no doubt, but what I wanted more was to replay the classic Pokemon games of my childhood and for that, I needed to search out a GameBoy and one of my favourite Pokemon Games – Leaf Green.

I’ve got a very poor record of keeping hold of old gaming consoles. I hate clutter and tended to just give them away or trade-in old consoles as soon as a new one arrived, obviously this is a decision I now regret. I once had a complete collection of Pokemon games and Nintendo consoles – now I have nothing.

So, to eBay I went with the intention of treating myself this Christmas to some good old-fashioned gaming nostalgia.

I have always had a hankering for a GameBoy Micro – that dinky handheld that could slip into virtually any pocket with ease. My search was short-lived though – those things are pricey in 2021. So I moved on to the GameBoy Advance SP. This was a console I can vividly remember buying with my Dad from an HMV in Leicester when I was probably nine or ten.

A few days later a very well taped up cardboard box arrived, with a pristine navy blue GameBoy Advance SP wrapped in mounds of bubble wrap inside. The following day a smaller envelope with a Pokemon Leaf Green cartridge inside arrived. My search was complete.

I had forgotten just how much of a fantastic little console the SP was. Even all these years later the screen is bright and sharp, the folding mechanism sturdy and the dimensions absolutely ideal for gaming on the go.

I’ve spent numerous hours since playing Leaf Green and, of course, it feels great to revisit a game I have such fond memories off. I intend to spend many more hours this Christmas levelling up my Charizard on this miniature handheld.

As much as I love the Switch and Pokemon Brillant Diamond – nothing quite beats playing LeafGreen on an 18-year console I bought probably straight out of someone’s loft.

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