The Pokemon Generation 4 remakes, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl have arrived, bringing with them a host of improvements and new features for the old Nintendo DS games. While Pokemon Platinum content is regrettably absent, the rest of that Generation’s features have returned and are built upon. The Grand Underground has been revamped to become a side game all to its own, not only with the old secret base and multiplayer interactions, but with unique Pokemon wandering through new chambers in the tunnels. HMs have been made more convenient to use without taking up precious move slots, and the postgame has had plenty of extra content added on to keep collectors and Pokemon battlers happy.
One system that may have gone under the radar is the Pokeball seal system. Seals, also known as stickers, are a mechanic exclusive to the fourth generation of Pokemon. This feature has not returned at any point in the series, which makes sense considering that it wasn’t particularly important. Even Pokemon Diamond and Pearl themselves don't give seals much attention after they're introduced. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl do more with the mechanic, and Game Freak should take notice of how it’s been expanded. Pokeball seals are an ideal mechanic to give Pokemon games a bit more character going forward.
How Pokeball Seals Work
The player does not start Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl with Pokeball seals available, but they are introduced shortly into the game. After gaining the Oreburgh City gym badge, as well as defeating Team Galactic during the second visit to Jubilife City, the player will meet Sinnoh’s Pokemon storage developer Bebe. In the remakes, Bebe will give the player the Pokemon Box Link, which allows them to open their storage box almost anywhere. She also provides twelve ball capsules, which the player can start using right away to spruce up their Pokeballs.
Up to twenty seals, now referred to as stickers, can be applied to each ball capsule. Upon throwing the affected Pokeball, a shower of special effects will appear based on the stickers used and their placement on the capsule. Many different effects, and even letters, can be used to personalize the player's Pokemon even further. Thus far, this has been the only lasting way in the Pokemon franchise besides getting a Pokemon’s alternate form to visually differentiate one player's team from another. It's not a major change, but even this little extra personal touch can enhance a player's relationship with their Pokemon.
What Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Did to Improve Pokeball Seals
Despite how small and cosmetic Pokeball seals may seem, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl actually went out of their way to put them in the player's hands and expand their use over the original games. Normally, Bebe only gives players an Eevee at her home in Hearthome City once they obtain a National Dex. Her appearance in Jubilife is completely new. The player can also get more than twelve ball capsules by showing Unown to a boy in Solaceon Town, which was previously the place where the player got a Seal Case.
The ability to buy stickers from Sunyshore Market in Sunyshore City is still present, but players can also get stickers from defeating gym leaders, purchasing from traders in the Grand Underground, and from giving their Pokemon massages. The amount of stickers that can be placed on a capsule has also been expanded from eight to twenty, and players can now rotate their capsules to place stickers on all sides.
The presence of stickers outside of the player’s hands has also been increased. In Pokemon Platinum, a few major trainers had stickers applied to their favorite Pokemon. This decision has been expanded greatly in Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Now, players will encounter many more boss trainers with stickers applied to a couple of their Pokemon, often marking a gym leader’s strongest partner.
The particular designs that gym leaders and the Elite Four use can be found in a special room in the Jubilife City TV station, where players can copy these customized Pokeballs. Stickers now also have an impact on Super Contests, where stickers of the right condition type can give small point bonuses. It's difficult to ignore how much the Pokeball seal system has permeated these remakes.
Future Pokemon Games Should Make More Use of Pokeball Seals
After so much expansion, future Pokemon games should not leave Pokeball seals on the cutting room floor again. These little cosmetic options can allow players to visually customize their Pokemon in a resource-efficient way. In an era where every Pokemon game is including outfits for trainers, it would be nice to get some sort of control over a Pokemon's appearance as well. Players would be able to show off their sticker sets, and mark Pokemon as distinctly their own in online play. There could even be a system where copies of a player's Pokeball capsule could be sent alongside traded Pokemon.
Player characters would not be the only ones to benefit from this system either. NPC trainers, especially gym leaders and the Elite Four, could have unique sticker sets that the player could earn by beating them. They would show these off in battle, often alongside their signature Pokemon. Even random trainers on routes could make use of thematically appropriate stickers to give them a little bit more personality.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl are already sitting at an impressive 96 unique stickers, which can be brought forward and expanded in other games. Perhaps there might even be a way at some point to apply a sticker to a Pokemon's attack, giving it a slightly different animation. Letting players customize their Pokemon visually in any little way is a valuable feature, and Game Freak would be smart to use seals for that in the future.
Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl are available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
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